Tuesday April 21st 2016
Wednesday April 22nd 2016
Thursday April 23rd 2016
Friday April 24th 2016
The next stop was to Jaques chocolate factory! Yum! We of course got a taste test before starting the tour. We had a guided tour through the museum, and even though I’ve learned about chocolate so many times now, with the guide it made a big difference. I think he was pretty high up in the factory as well. He told great stories and made a very enjoyable guide. One of our ‘tastings’ was walking into the factory and taking seven deep breaths, because the smell of the chocolate was so strong and delicious.
From there, we went to the nearby reservoir for lunch with a view. It was quite beautiful place to look out.
The next stop on our tour was to the town of Eupen. We had a nice walking tour of the town where we got to learn all about the history of the city. One of the most interesting things is we were shown a man wearing two different military uniforms. Because the country that owned the area went back and forth, he fought at different times in the Belgian and the German army. I spent a lot of time talking to the leader of the trip, who works for Pangaea. I was very curious about Belgian patriotism and pride. I have found that there is not a lot of identification with the state. Almost every Belgian I meet asks me why I choose to come to Belgium. In fact, I learned that most Belgians don’t even know their national anthem. Coming from a country where patriotism is incredibly high and essential to our ideals, it was quite the surprise for me to be in a place so very different. What she taught me is that they like being Belgian, but aren’t passionate or show it. This is all because the country’s borders have changed so many times and it is made of multiple groups of people
We finished the day in Monshau. It is a beautiful city tucked into the mountains right over the border of Germany. I loved walking around the winding streets and seeing the beautiful bridges and canals. I had a lovely dinner with some girls that I met at lunch, all who spoke German, but were speaking English for me! It was a wonderful evening and a great day. I was exhausted by the time I made it back to my place.
Saturday, April 25th 2015
Today Gwendolyn and I went on a trip to the coast. I kept hearing about the Belgian coast, so I wanted to make sure I visited before time ran out. We got on the train first thing in the morning and took a nice rest. It was a long ride across the country to Oostende. (well, long meaning a couple of hours, which is nothing compared to crossing the US). When we arrived, we wandered towards the water and ended up in the middle of a great open air market. On the grote market they had a lots of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, clothing and everything in between. We loved just wandering through and seeing what everyone was selling. The Mediterranean stand with dried fruits, spreads and dips had tons of taste tests. I think we tried every type of dried fruit, spread and snack. It was all delicious and truly quite fun. We took our time, chatted, and discussed of course the things we were trying. I ended up loving the dates, so I bought some of those and some flour coated figs to bring home with me. We then got on the tram to go to the Atlantic Wall museum. In this outdoor museum, we got to walk through trenches and bunkers used by the Germany army in the World Wars to hold the allies from arriving on the coast. It was a very cool experience, and I very much like this historical period. I was thrilled when I walked into a room and saw an Enigma machine! I had just done a project on it before I left Olin, so it has a lot of meaning for me. I really enjoyed the exhibit and the ominous clouds made the perfect environment. We walked through lots of trenches, some long winding corridors and I really could feel the atmosphere that it might have been down there.
Sunday April 26th 2015
Monday April 27th 2015
Tuesday April 28th 2015
Today was like any other Tuesday (which is still one of my favorite days!) I went into my placement, then went to computer vision, then had dinner with Rik before heading to Frisbee! After showering, I convinced Marvin, one of my friends from the kot to get a beer with me in the Oude Markt. We sat outside and relaxed with our beers and enjoyed the Oude Markt atmosphere. I still love sitting outside and the culture around it. I visited Jens at his bar and he gave me beer glasses to bring home! I was so excited. We got some fries and continued to try the large arrangement of sauce options available.
Wednesday April 29th 2015
This morning started like any normal Wednesday, I went to lecture, ran some errands and picked up a few groceries. But, when the afternoon hit, I made my way back to Ladeuzeplein (the area in front of the Library where this Kiesweek was happening) to attend the Lipton Big Splash. This was all still a part of Ekonomica's kiesweek, which is a crazy but amazing Belgian tradition. When I arrive, I was immediately made happy by Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. We also got fries and something that is essentially meat and onion in spicy sauce breaded and fried, all for free. I then registered for The ESN (exchange student network) team to experience what might one of the most insane things of my life. What was described to me as a water balloon fight was very much an understatement. I wasn’t in the first battle, but it started before I even understood the rules (of course, because they were said in Flemish) but I just saw a sea of yellow water balloons filling the sky and exploding all over the hordes of people in yellow shirts within the arena.
Thursday, April 30th 2015
Friday, May 1st 2015
Saturday, May 2nd 2015
Sunday, May 3rd 2015
When I made it back to Leuven, I got showered and was blogging in bed, when Gwendolyn and I decided YOLO, let’s go out. We went to Maximo’s to dance and enjoy the cheap Jenevar shots (Belgium’s Liquor, which is really good!). After we were bored of that, we went to Oude Markt to get a beer, chat, hang out and relax before heading home to get some sleep.
Monday May 4th 2015
I stayed the night at Inge’s to prepare for the workshop in the morning.
Tuesday, May 5th 2015
After a quick shower I headed to Rik’s house to go out for the night. It was crazy fun. There were lots of nice people to talk to there. Everyone was dancing and having a blast. I love the girls that he is friends with. They are so welcoming and fun! We then went out to the Oude Markt. The night was so much fun. It was filled with dancing and bar hopping. It was certainly one of my favorite nights. Unfortunately, it was too much fun, because the door to my kot was broken, so in order to get in, someone had to let me in from the inside. But, by the time we were ready to go home, I was not ok with waking anyone up. So, I decided to sleep a few hours on Rik’s bean bag before having to get up and drag myself to class.