A Lesson From My Belgium Adventures: Embracing a Commute Using Public Transportation
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A Lesson From My Belgium Adventures: Embracing a Commute Using Public Transportation

This is a guest post by Danielle Smith, an agricultural communications student at the University of Arkansas who spent part of her summer in a work study experience abroad.

In the summer of 2012 I wandered across the big pond for my first European experience. I don’t consider myself to be untraveled — I have been to many states and out of the country before — but living and working in Europe for three weeks was a whole new experience.

The goal”; to spend three weeks in Belgium working for the Ministry of Agriculture developing an open house for the community to learn more about agriculture.

The other students and I each stayed with host families while in Belgium. What we did not know was that we were going to be spread out across Gent, each staying in separate towns from one another. This meant that we where each in charge of getting to work on our own each day.

Before we left for the trip our advisors had told us that we would be using public transportation frequently.  Little did I know that I would be spending a total of three hours a day on public transportation. That’s right, I spent 36 hours of my trip on public transportation.

Now you may be thinking, “wow work must have been really far away from where you were living.”  Actually, it was only about 15 miles, but that was the problem.

Most Belgians bike to work each day if the commute is 10 miles or less, but 15 miles was just a bit to far to bike each day.

So, this is what my commute looked like instead: 

  •  I walked one mile to the train from my host family’s house;
  • then I took the train to a station where I waited for the bus;  
  • then I rode the bus 30 minutes to the town where I worked;
  • then I finished my commute with another mile-long walk to my work location from the bus drop-off point.

 Total trip time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

 Whew, just thinking about it makes me tired all over again!

Looking back it is hard to believe that I spent this much time commuting and that I still managed to make it on time to work everyday.

This experience taught me a lot about how other countries do things differently than we do where I’m from in the United States.

It was a challenging change for me — compared to what I am used to — but I did it.  I survived commuting in Belgium!

Here is a short video documentary that I created about my Belgium Adventure:

 What is the longest commute time you have ever had? Do you think we should use more public transportation in the states? Please share your thoughts below in comments.

A native of Stilwell, Kansas, Danielle plans to return to the Kansas City area upon graduation. 

Danielle  is currently working as a social media intern with VentureTime Travel. When she isn’t working or in classes, Danielle enjoys traveling the world with her fiancée Will.

Learn more about Danielle here

Other posts on the transformational power of travel you may enjoy:

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