Interview with Ève-Line Cadotte, Quebec doctoral student in engineering sciences, chemistry and material sciences at the Université libre de Bruxelles. 

Hello Eve-Line! Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?

My name is Ève-Line Cadotte, I am 31 years old and I am a doctoral student at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Previously, I completed a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). During this first university experience, I had the opportunity to do an exchange in the United States, more precisely in West Virginia. This exchange made me want to multiply my experiences abroad. This is why, as soon as I returned, I applied to come and study in Belgium, more precisely at the ULB, at the time, as part of a second exchange. After this short experience in Belgium, I went back to North America to finish my bachelor's degree before going back to Belgium to do a Master's degree in Energy and Electromechanics and now a PhD in Chemistry and Material Sciences.   

How did you get the idea of going to study at the Wallonia-Brussels Federation? Why did you choose the Université libre de Bruxelles?

During my first exchange, I still felt in a North American context, because I hadn't left my native continent. So I wanted to change the landscape, but this time without putting a language barrier in my way. Belgium seemed quite nice to me, especially because of the French-speaking side.  The ULB seemed to me to be a very good choice, especially for its location within the capital. Moreover, I had a teacher in Montreal who had a contact with another ULB teacher, which reassured me and comforted me in my choice.

Tell us about the scholarship you received. Did it work in favour of your choice to study abroad? 

Yes, it really did! This scholarship enabled me to complete my Master's degree in Belgium. I was stressed at the thought of receiving the answer and when I got it, it was a relief!  The scholarship covered the two years of my Master's degree. It's a pretty big amount that allows me to live decently and it really changed the course of my studies, financially at least.

What did the completion of your doctorate in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation bring you in your career as a researcher?  And from a human point of view?

The ETS was practice-oriented and at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the learning was focused on the theoretical side, a component that was sorely lacking in my personal and professional experience. On a human level, my role as an assistant allows me to be in contact with many students and thus to popularise my knowledge and explanations in order to test my understanding of the different theoretical concepts. Also, having trainees and memorandums allows me to see the other side of the coin, to work in a team and to accompany students in their learning, which helps me enormously in my PhD.

What advice would you give to students considering going to study at the Wallonia-Brussels Federation? 

You have to find a kot! It's a shared flat specifically designed for students, where you can rent a single room. Living in a kot allows you to meet a lot of people. That's what helped me build my social circle when I arrived in Brussels. There are also Facebook groups dedicated to Quebecers who have immigrated to Brussels, which can help us feel less lost when we arrive in a new city. Getting involved in the sports programmes of the Université libre de Bruxelles can also help you stay in shape while meeting new people.

Interview conducted by Charlotte Evrard, project manager at the Délégation générale Wallonie-Bruxelles in Quebec.