Sunday, March 17, 2013

Update On Me

Well it's been 3 weeks since I've written anything, which I blame on the combination of the following, all of which I will tell you about in detail:
1. My social life
2. Actually having homework
3. Being really busy on Sundays
4. The Red Sox
5. Travel Travel Travel

Some of these reasons may seem more reasonable than others. Either way, I will simultaneously give you my best excuses for being lazy for 3 weeks and tell you what I've been up to since we last spoke.

1. Social Life. 
OK, maybe this isn't a valid excuse for not sitting down at my laptop and writing for half an hour once a week, but when I spend more time out with my friends, I like to maximize my laptop time by prioritizing (websites like Facebook,, and, and watching movies).
In the past few weeks we have:
-celebrated a few birthdays, usually with a cake in the kitchen, though once at the Hard Rock Cafe
-gone to Celtica, Brussels premier Irish pub/sports bar, to watch Tottenham trounce Inter 3 - 0 (and subsequently squeeze through into the next round by losing to Inter 4- 1 at the San Siro, by virtue of winning the "most away goals" tiebreaker)
-gone to the museum of fine arts, because it's free the first Wednesday of every month. It was unspectacular
-explored the Botanical Gardens (located about 4 feet from our apartments), and enjoyed the rare sunshine by reading on the grass
-hosted a cheese and wine party at my apartment. Met lots of Belgian students (because most of my apartment is Belgians who live too far to commute home every day, so it was mostly their friends)
-watched Remember the Titans with Camille, a Belgian apartment-mate and tried my best to explain to her both football rules and racism in Virginia
-visited the famous Atomium, the king's residential palace, and the parks in the area

Me, Camille, Claire, and Louis at the cheese and wine dinner
Celebrating Simone's birthday. Simone, if you're curious,
is 4th from left, leaning forward holding a cider
Eeva, Lera, me and Lucia (hiding a bit) are welcomed to Belgium at Atomium

2. Actually having homework
Much less fun, schoolwork has begun and, while not strenuous, at least requires some actual work. Two of my classes are just straight lectures, taught by the same teacher, one in English and one in French. We go to class, take notes, and are responsible for understanding it ourselves. No mandatory out of class work, so mostly I just read over my notes between classes so I'm sure I'm caught up.
One of my classes, Corporate Finance, is similar, but we also have an ongoing group project: each group has $1,000,000 to "invest" in the stock market, and in May whichever group has earned the most money wins. We are only allowed to make purchases/sales on Wednesday nights/Thursday mornings, which means three-hour meetings once a week plus some simple calculations throughout the week.
My fourth class is "Seminaire de Gestion" which basically means "Learn about management through lots and lots of group work." The first day of class I knew no one, so I joined the group sitting closest to me, and we stay with the same groups all semester. Fortunately, my group is as smart and motivated as I am, which helps make up for the fact that I can't write too well in French (at least not formally). We meet a couple times a week, and each of us does research and writing independently. I've been asking Camille, the Belgian who lives on my floor, to help me edit my writing. Hopefully with her help my French doesn't look like an 8th grader's anymore.
Lastly, I'm taking a French for Foreigners class. This class is a little jumpy - we are the "advanced" group, so we start class learning something planned, but we almost always end up talking about some other topic for an hour and a half. Most recently, Niklas and I gave a presentation on recent improvements in French baking, which (d)evolved into a discussion about why Finland doesn't eat any pastries other than CinnaBons and how much a cake from Carlo's Bakery might cost.

3. Being really busy on Sundays
Sunday has become my favorite day, both because it adds some familiar structure to my life and because I really enjoy the structured activites.
First, I have begun to attend LifePoint Church in Ixelles, a group that moved here from Tennessee and is trying to reach the local population. As such, the entire service is conducted in English and French. Half the songs we sing are in French, and the pastor (very American) always has a translator standing next to him, and pauses after each sentence for the French rendering. The church is tiny (in the four weeks I've gone there have never been more than 50 people) and very kind. I have been going to a potluck dinner/Bible study at the worship leader's house, have been ice skating with a group of youth, and now that a group of college-aged interns have arrived, am making real friends in the church. The girl interns are staying in the same building the church is in (just an apartment building), but the guys are living a block from Place Jourdan, i.e. 4 blocks from where I used to live. It's cool to have American friends to hang out with.
Second, every Sunday after church I hop on my bike (or the 83 tram to the 39 tram) and race over to Woluwe St Pierre for Baseball Practice! I'm playing for the Brussels Kangaroos, who I played for back in 2005. Not a single player remains (that I recognize at least), but I have been welcomed with open arms and I am having a fantastic timr with them. The youngest player to train with us is probably 16, the oldest at least 30. Some are a lot better than I am, some are just learning to play.
It's all really great because I fit in, there's some players I can learn from and some I can help coach, and I like my teammates; but frankly, even if everyone there was a total jerk, I wouldn't care: playing baseball is so fun. I forgot how much I loved just playing catch, taking soft-toss, hitting off a tee, or running outfield drills. I usually end up staying after practice for an hour or so, throwing long toss or hitting off a tee.
Third, after practice, I usually stop by Guy Thys Stadium to watch the Etterbeek men's team play. They're really bad, and if I lived closer, had more time, and was in better shape, I would try to join. As it is, it's nice to have a team to identify with, and I like watching soccer. Besides, they have a clubhouse so I can stay warm while I watch.

4. The Red Sox
Speaking of sports, spring training is in full swing!!! Whether I'm reading about Jackie Bradley Jr.'s incredible defensive instincts (not to mention his .467 spring average) or watching Jon Lester throw six perfect innings today, I'm hopping right back in to the Sox swing of things. I can't wait for April 1st, in the Bronx. Bring it on.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
5. Travel
This is gonna require it's own post. Promise it'll be up soon, but its 12:47 AM now.

Here's a preview while you wait:

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