Monday, February 11, 2013

Belgium: I Have Arrived!

So last semester I told you all I'd be studying Belgium this semester. Well guess what? Endless paperwork, 3 trips to the embassy and 1 trip to to consulate later, I got my visa, and I am currently sitting in my apartment in Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode, a highly Turkish neighborhood in Brussels, Belgium.

NOT my apartment, unfortunately 

I’ve been here for 11 days. So far, it’s been a whirlwind and I’ve spent money at an incredibly unsustainable pace so far. I’ve been all over the city, both walking and on public transportation, I’ve been to classes in English and classes in French, I’ve eaten lots of foods and tried lots of Belgian beers. I’ve been overwhelmed by how awesome Europe is and I’ve been overwhelmed by how much I miss America. I’ve bought a cell phone and a Skype webcam, and impressed lots of Belgians with my French skills. I’ve done so much it feels like I’ve been here for 2 months, not less than 2 weeks.

The Highlights:

-Meeting tons of Europeans. The program I’m in (“Erasmus”) is designed to allow European students to study somewhere else in Europe for a semester. So most of the time I’ve been exploring the city with my new Italian, Finnish, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Spanish, Moroccan, Canadian, and Turkish friends.

-French Fries are from Belgium. They are so good here. They are also served everywhere, in fancy restaurants and in Greek restaurants and in Chinese restaurants and just everywhere. The best thing to get that’s frie-inclusive is a mitraillette (a machine gun): they take some french bread, cut it open, put some meat and if you’re lucky some veggies inside, then toss in a bunch of fries, then pour a few ounces of your favorite sauce on top, then try to close it. It”s so yummy.

-Walking. I walk so much here. I walk to school and back to my apartment and then back to meet some friends downtown and then we walk together to get some food, and we walk around because the sun is finally out and then we walk to Grand Place to check out the cool gargoyle-ish statues and then we walk to Rue Neuve to do a little window shopping and then we walk back to Saint-Josse because it’s late and we have some homework to do.

-The Italians can cook. Marco and Simone, both from central Italy, can cook as well as anyone I’ve ever met in my life. And they love to do it. So every couple nights I find myself eating some variant of pasta, always with a homemade sauce and complimented with deliciously cooked veggies. I’ve never eaten better in my life.

-Being allowed into bars. Makes life a lot easier.

From left: Kaan (Turkey), Lucia (Slovakia), Hind (Canada), Andrea and Heni (Hungary), Minttu, Eeva, and Niklas (Finland). 

Marco and I play with the ears of an injured stuffed elephant 

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