'Network of support': Alternative study locations for students ahead of exams

'Network of support': Alternative study locations for students ahead of exams
Students studying in the museum in Leuven. Credit: Museum M

The infamous "blok" or studying period ahead of the summer exams has started for students in Belgium. To bring some change during what can be a very challenging time, unexpected locations are offering them alternative studying spaces.

In Brussels, can find peace in a single room in one of the residential care homes in the city from 23 May to 30 June, the Public Centres for Social Welfare (CPAS) of the City of Brussels announced on Wednesday.

"Many students do not have the space to prepare for their exams in good conditions, because their accommodation is too cramped or their family situation is complicated, for example," a statement from CPAS Brussels read.

One residential care home opened an empty wing of its building for them, equipping single rooms with all the necessary equipment to live and study independently in optimal conditions. Up to six students can be accommodated here.

"Participating students will also be able to use the collective facilities of the nursing home: eating in the brasserie, taking a break in the garden or studying in the library, a convivial space where everyone can meet."

The initiative was first launched in 2021 when 27 students (16 for the June session and 11 for the August session) were given such a space. Most of the students stated that they had performed better during their exams as a result of living and studying here temporarily.

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The CPAS plans to activate this project for the second session as well, from 1 August to 9 September 2022.

Since April last year, four study halls have also been opened for the same purpose across the city. They offer 146 places accessible to all students over the age of 16, on simple presentation of their student card. Find all the locations here.

Study at the museum

Museum M in Leuven, which has been welcoming students every year since 2015, announced this week it would once again be creating a free pop-up study environment for students in the city from Monday 13 June to Sunday 26 June between 09:00 and 18:00, including weekends.

"More and more students are looking for places to study together. Libraries have been opening their doors for some time, but alternative places like theatres are also following this trend," said Denise Vandevoort, alderman for culture and chair of M's board of directors.

"M's spaces, with their silent white walls, are the perfect stimulus-free place to study. As a break, students can enjoy the exhibitions or join one of the break activities such as chair yoga in the garden."

Students don't have to register, but there are just 60 places available. Coffee and water are provided in the study space.

"Studying together provides a network of support in a stressful period that can be emotionally draining. Hanging over the books together means facing the same challenge: the next exam. Shared sorrow is half sorrow, right?" Sofie Vermeiren, Head of the Public Mediation Department at Museum M, said.

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