Summer of the Belgians: Clemson's Transient Population

By Zan Parker on July 26, 2012

Photo by M-j-H on

If, in the past three weeks, you had been shopping in the Bi-Lo on 93, you may have overheard a conversation like this one:

‘Ou sont les biscuits?’

‘Il n’y a pas des biscuits, juste les Pop-Tarts.’

‘Pop-Tarts? Non non, c’est trop sucré.’

If you were a Francophile perhaps you would have smiled inside and agreed, Yes! The Pop-Tarts are too sweet! Otherwise you’d probably pause, oatmeal in hand, and wonder–French? In the Clemson Bi-Lo?

Living on Clemson’s ‘culturious’ campus, it’s common to hear students conversing in Hindi, Chinese, or any number of other languages. But French? Not usually. The office of International Affairs lists on their website that 7 French and 7 Belgian students attended Clemson in Fall 2011. Comparatively, 444 Chinese and 352 Indian students were registered for classes. So many American high school students are encouraged to learn the French language, but sometimes doubts arise. With relatively few native speakers in the area, who are we supposed to talk to?

Clemson’s partnership with Belgian business school ICHEC helps. The bulletin boards in Daniel Hall are papered with flyers announcing an opportunity to study abroad there for the summer, but what they don’t mention is that while our tigers are off enjoying chocolate and waffles, ICHEC students come here. Near the end of June, fourteen of them arrived in the Atlanta airport, ready to learn the ropes of American business.

Meeting one and not knowing the language should not result in fear; their English is excellent. Most speak at least three languages, and some four or five. But they’re not the overly-studious type. So far they’ve taken Charleston, SC by storm in rented muscle cars, sampled the barbeque at a faculty picnic, toured CNN and World of Coke in Atlanta, and chilled with members of the Clemson football team in Death Valley’s West Endzone.

Program coordinator Allison Kidd is the brain behind these adventures. She faces the particular challenge of giving the full American college experience… in the summer. Those students who have braved our dormant campus in the wet July heat will understand–Clemson just isn’t the same. Still, a splash in lake Keowee , a swing dance at the Handlebar, or a game of capture the flag behind Brooks can be just the fix to enrich the experience of these students.

Official site of the Clemson University Brussels Center:



Uloop Writer
I love God, theatre, nature, and language.

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