Loyola University Maryland

International Programs

Leuven: Information for Parents

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Program Director

Ms. Renee Harris
Associate Director
Office of International Programs, HU 136
Phone: 410-617-2910

Thank you for your interest in our study abroad programs! The goal of this page is to help you better understand the Leuven study abroad program and highlight distinguishing features and components that will interest you as a parent. More detailed and updated information are given to your son or daughter in information sessions, academic reviews, workshops, and predeparture orientations. Once you read this information, we strongly encourage you to discuss this with your son/daughter who might be able to fill in some of the gaps. Please know all information is given to the students and we ask students to share all of this with you.

Sending students abroad is a partnership with students, parents and the university. We realize that you will have questions and if our website or your son/daughter cannot answer those questions, we will be happy to discuss the study abroad process and program information with you. Please keep in mind that due to the FERPA federal regulation, we will not be able to discuss specific information regarding your son/daughter; however, if your son/daughter is willing to sign a waiver form indicating the specific information to be shared with you, we will be more than happy to discuss specific matters regarding your son/daughter.

We hope you find this information helpful in assisting your son/daughter to accomplish his or her goal of learning, living, and serving abroad.


Founded in 1425, K.U.Leuven is the oldest Catholic university in the world and one of the premier academic institutions in the Lowlands.  This picturesque, historically rich university has a vibrant intellectual and social life. The K.U.Leuven has about 40,000 students; almost 6,000 of whom are internationals. It is world-renowned for philosophy and theology, but our students take courses in many other departments as well.

Belgium is a very small country located in the heart of Europe. It is bordered by four countries: France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg. It is less than three hours by train to Amsterdam, Cologne, and London, and just one and a half hours from Paris. In Leuven, the campus is the city and vice versa. With its cobblestone streets and impressive gothic architecture, it is a quaint and charming city that pulses with the life of the university.

Travel to Leuven

  • Please make sure you arrive at least three hours early to the airport for proper check-in and to go through security. Students should carry with them: their passport with visa, money, ATM card, credit card, any prescription drugs they might need, and clothes in case their luggage gets delayed.
  • Students fly into Brussels International Airport. The students are met at the airport on the official arrival day by the director (and associate) and they travel together by bus to Loyola International Nachbahr Huis (the student residence is approximately 35 minutes away).
  • Loyola will not be financially responsible for any changes a student and/or parent makes to existing arrangements. Students and parents should consult the Office of International Programs before making any changes to confirm if Loyola will reimburse for any additional costs.


It is very important that your student be checking the airline website to make sure that their luggage complies with weight restrictions and number of bag restrictions. International flights are very strict about luggage size and weight and it is something that can change, so checking the website periodically as your student prepares to go is highly suggested. 

On-Site Support

Loyola has an associate director who is a Belgian native and who is responsible for the resident community and assisting students in their acclimation to Leuven. The associate director is in constant contact with KULeuven’s Student Affairs Office to coordinate any other student affair and needs. The on-site director works with the students to ensure academic success and leads trips to various historic and relevant sites.  

Housing in Leuven

Loyola International Nachbahr Huis is a student residence where students of different nationalities live together. The residence is located in the center of Leuven, in a 17th century convent. One wing of the Black Nun's Convent was restored in 1991-1992 by Loyola University Maryland, a Jesuit university from which every academic year a group of around 20 students come to study a year abroad at the KU Leuven. These students live together with approximately 45 mostly European students (Belgians, Italians, Spanish, Polish, Irish, etc.). Usually there are 12-14 different nationalities represented.

Criteria for Acceptance

For the Loyola study abroad program in Leuven, students must have a minimum of 3.00 CQPA. They should apply to Loyola’s Office of International Programs office by December 3 (Wednesday after Thankgiving break) of their sophomore year, in order to be considered for spots in their junior year. Disciplinary records from the school’s Office of Student Life are taken into consideration when reviewing applications. Students should mark down second and third choices in the event that we cannot offer them a spot in the Leuven program. There are usually 30 available spots for the each semester. Lastly, it is required that students can find enough classes to be full time during the academic year.

Money and Banking

Students are encouraged to open up a Belgian bank account. The associate director assists students with this task over the summer. By opening an account students become eligible for medical insurance while abroad. Students should still keep their U.S. bank account. They will still have access to their U.S. bank accounts through the ATMs throughout Europe. You should check with your bank to make sure that the student’s debit/credit card will work overseas, and find out what fees are associated with using the account internationally (do the same with any credit cards). Students in the past have recommended withdrawing the maximum allowed from ATMs while in Leuven, and then keeping their cash in their bedrooms while bringing out only the amount that they need each time they leave home. This will save on ATM fees. Students will be able to withdraw money from any ATM in Europe (as long as the account has a debit card instead of an ATM card). You should also check to see if your bank is partnered with any European banks. Usually in that case, students can use the partner’s ATMs for free or for a very low fee. Credit/Debit cards are not as widely accepted in certain European countries as they are in the U.S. People tend to use cash more frequently. Students should make sure that they are signed up for web banking for all accounts that they will be using overseas. That way they can monitor any fees that are being charged, as well as know their balance in American dollars. When using ATMs in Europe, all information and dispensed currency will be in Euros. Check www.xe.com for the current currency conversion.    

Expenses While Abroad

Living in Europe for ten months can very expensive. It seems that most students who studied in the Spring 2014 semester spent from $4000-$9000.  It is very important that students are conscious of their money from the very first week.  It is easy to not think about it until they realize that they have gone through half of their budget in the first month. The Leuven program includes some meals while on trips and dinners, so that does help controlling costs.


  • Students are required to obtain a student visa to study in Leuven. Loyola assists students in obtaining a visa and facilitates the process. We will go over the required paperwork and procedures in our individual meetings and pre-departure workshops.
  • The Belgian visa process requires preparation and patience. Students fill out the visa application with guidance from the Office of International Education. In addition to submitting a passport, application and photos, students must also submit financial information on themselves and from their parents.  
  • Students who will be 21 years of age or older BEFORE departure will have to obtain an FBI background check to submit with their visa documents.
  • The Belgian visa is only good for 90 days to allow students entry into the country. Students will be required to submit additional paperwork and register with City Hall in Leuven once they arrive in Belgium. The director and associate director will assist Loyola students with this.

 **Please keep in mind that study abroad information, dates, benefits, and fees are subject to change without notification. You are encouraged to contact the Office of International Programs directly for the most up-to-date information regarding any study abroad programs offered at Loyola.