23 Nov

Growing up in Belgium – Sara



Hello! My name is Sara Helsen. I am born at home in Haacht as second of four children and I am now twenty years old. My father is civil engineer and my mother is midwife who gives birth to children at home.





Until my fifth year of High School (where I studied Ancient Greek – Mathematics), I followed my one-year-older sister Heleen in quite everything she did. Heleen started to go dancing, me too. Heleen started to go to the “art academy”, me too. Heleen started to do athletics, me too. But then, in my fifth year of High School I went abroad with AFS to France for one semester. I came in a family without kids. If I wanted to do something I had to organise it myself. That experience really learnt me to be independent and opened my mind. After one trimester I came home as another person. My sister went to study in Leuven. I went to Ghent, where I am very very happy. The people, the atmosphere, the shops, the organisations, the activities, the encounters with people from different backgrounds … I love it all.

I study bioscience engineering with lots of love. We have a lot of courses, and I like to attend them. Together with being athletics trainer that’s the most fixed thing in my daily life. Besides that my agenda is filled with varied kinds of things: meetings with the sustainable agents of the Ghent Dorms, with professors to represent the third year of bachelor Bioscience engineering; I think on projects; Green Office activities, Swap Shop events, running, debates, parties, spending time with family, baby-sitting, youth conferences and other things. I feel very free.

I love life and I often feel my life energy, but it’s not all roses. I feel it’s very difficult to take other people into ‘my projects’ or ideas. Sometimes I am so filled with my idea that I tend to do it on my own without listening enough to what would make other people more enthusiastic for the idea. For example last year as sustainable agent of the dorm I really wanted to organise an “ecological breakfast” where we would offer French toasts made from old bread from shops in the neighbourhood; fruit mousse from fruit that shops didn’t want to sell anymore and other food. Because the sustainable agents from the other Ghent dorms weren’t that enthusiastic, I did it myself. Communication is my biggest trap I think.

“Collaboration is the key”

I am really happy with everything that comes into my life. I would like to finish this letter with two quotes that came into my mind during the last months:

“Everyone lives to be happy and everyone chooses for himself how he/she wants to do that.”

“You often learn the most from disappointment and failing. Don’t try to avoid them.”

Best regards,