First Week in Belgium

Okay well, better late than never.

Saturday September 6
I got on a plane to Europe.  They had indian food for dinner, which was great.  I read Bonaventure’s Itinerarium and part of Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos and saw an interesting documentary on Irish music, so it was a nice plane ride.

Sunday September 7
-I arrive in Dublin before sunrise.  While there, I learned that before their speakers have had their coffee, Irish English, Irish Irish, and Dutch are the exact same language.
-I got in Brussels early morning, completely exhausted.  Eventually I figured out how to get some money from the bank and catch a train to Leuven.  Unfortunately, I arrived 5 hours before check-in at the hostel I’m staying at, so I had to wander the city with all my luggage and no sleep, which was miserable.
(Pro Travel Tip: Unless you’re a really heavy sleeper, you can safely take naps at airports / in public parks by turning all the zippers on your luggage towards your body and wrapping your arms through the handles.  That way, no one can touch your stuff without waking you up.  You look like a hobo but after a 12 hour trip you don’t care.)
-I checked into my hostel, took a nap, and wandered out late at night to find some food.  I found a fast food shop run by a Tibetan and ordered “frieten met halve kip,” which I took to mean “fries with half chicken” in the sense of being half  chicken fingers or something.  Actually it means “fries with half a chicken,” because somehow in this country French fries can be a main course and an entire half of a chicken can be a side.  Well anyway it was a good dinner and I learned a little Dutch along the way.

Monday September 8
-I was woken up by lots of shouting and loud noises out my window.  It turns out Monday was “Leuven Day” and the fair was right on my street.  Oh well, I needed to get up anyway, and as a Chicagoan I’m an expert at speeding through crowds like a ninja.
-I registered at the school and was told what my next steps are.  Which are: desperately try to find an apartment before the hordes of students move in next week, because I can’t do anything else until I’m registered at city hall.

Tuesday, September 9
-I couldn’t sleep the night before and ended up falling asleep at 10AM and waking up at 4PM.  Since it was too late to visit anywhere, I sent tons of emails to renters.  God was gracious to my laziness and I got more appointments than I could handle in one day.

Wednesday, September 10
-Spent the whole day running around looking at apartments.  One was great, but was taken by that evening.  Another one the landlord never showed up to, which tells me it was taken.  A third was in a good neighborhood, but the building gave me the creeps and the renter seemed desperate.  Another one was taken an hour before I got there.  An appointment with a rental agency for Thursday featuring 4 apartments had only 2 by evening, and only 1 by Thursday morning.  It’s getting crazy.

Today – Thursday, September 11
-God is good!  I signed off on a place today.  It’s a tiny, tiny studio on top of a bakery with a small but private kitchen unit, but a bathroom shared with the other tenants.  The neighborhood is neat: very international and lots of interesting grocery stores on my block.  The apartment won’t be ready until the 15th, but that’s perfect because my reservation at the hostel is until the morning of the 16th.

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