I really enjoyed today because it was such a simple yet productive day. The day started out cold and wet, the usual Brussels weather, but in the afternoon the sun came out and was shining bright!
I spent the afternoon with my host mom. She took me to a bookstore called filiber very similar to Barnes & Nobles. I was very pleased because I love Barnes & Nobles so exploring the store was fun. There were so many people and Frenchbooks everywhere. There was even a small section in the middle to eat and drink coffee/tea while reading books. We had quiches for lunch at the store. After my host mom showed me around the store and we ate lunch, I ended up spending most of my time in the history section. I browsed through the Mythology and Cleopatra books. It was interesting browsing through books in French about subjects that interest me.
Dans La Maison
Afterwards we went to go see a French movie. This time I experienced a new theater called UGC. This theater felt more old school than Kinepolis. The seats were ridiculously comfy though. We went to see the movie Dans La Maison “In The House.” The movie is directed by François Ozon and it is based off the Spanishplay by Juan Mayorga, “El chico de la última fila.” The movie is about a 16 year old boy, Claude Garcia, and his passion for writing. Claude uses his classmate’s, Rapha Artole, family as the main characters in a series of essays he writes for his French teacher, M.Germain. The teacher becomes very intrigued by the boy and his essays and persuades him to continue to write. This leads to a series of events that makes it impossible for the audience and the teacher to decipher what is fiction and what is reality. It is truly a movie that plays with your head and leads to an ending no one expects. You are left with a series of questions and left to write your own ending.
The movie only had subtitles in Dutch. I had to depend on my French listening skills and surprisingly I understood a lot of the dialogue! I was extremely proud of myself! French movies never cease to amaze me though. They always take a step further. The intense sex scenes, the sensitive subjects they cover, they just aren’t scared to cross the line. The movie was very good and it was hard to not pay attention.
I can’t believe my study abroad experience is almost over! I sit here writing this realizing how much I’ve experienced and how much I have grown as a person. The days are quickly flying and December is around the corner. Each day I experience something new.
For instance, Friday I had my first digestif. My host mom took my host sister and I to an Italian restaurant named Phenix. I ordered this delicious pasta that had a creamy orange sauce, peas, mushrooms, and this italian pork, lardo. Afterwards, my host mom insisted I tried Limoncello. It is an Italian lemon liquor mainly produced in Southern Italy. It was a pretty strong drink. Definitely after 3 Limoncello’s the capacity to function normally lowers because the one shot of Limoncello I had made me so tired. You don’t see people drinking digestifs in America after a meal. Interesting to know that in some cultures that is completely normal.
So far I’ve visited Antwerp, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria and I have a trip planned for Budapest, Hungary this upcoming weekend! I love that I’m visiting places I never would of even imagined myself in. Most of these places I didn’t even know of! This experience has shown me how much there is to see in the world! How the world is just filled with opportunities! Dreams and determination can take you a long way!
Today, I took the second part of my French midterm and handed in my annual report assignment (we made up a company) for my Business Writing and Social Networking class. All I have left is a French presentation on Wednesday. After that I have no big assignments due until November! I just hope I get good grades on all my midterms and assignments.
E Building Classroom
My French exam was inside the actual VUB school. Since VeCo is just a partner school with VUB we have classes in a building next to Citi Bank across the street from one of the exits of the VUB campus. The building is shared with other institutions so we only use 2 floors in the entire building. It felt nice to actually walk around a campus building. The classroom was in the E building and it was a lecture room. When I walked inside I was reminded of Rutgers! I have always had at least one lecture class every semester since my Freshman year. I’m not used to a small school at all! It felt nicebeing in a big room with seats and desks.
Side note: No idea why there was a random sink in the room
Carbonated Ice Tea
I also decided to get myself one of the famousEuropean “snack subs…” I felt I deserved it. I usually get a Kaas when I buy them at school (cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots, lettuce, and honey mustard.) This time I decided to try the Mona Lisa(Italian ham, parmesan cheese, lettuce, and dressing.) To drink I ordered an ice tea. Once I take a sip I realized the ice tea is made with carbonated water! Seriously everything here has carbonated water! I don’t mind it but the ice tea!!! Really? .__.
I am officially convinced that midtermssuck in any continent! This week I had 2midterms, French and Intercultural Communications. For my Intercultural Communications exam I felt way more relaxed than I did for my French exam. The day of my French midterm I had to be up at 9AM for my internship… by the time I got out I was so exhausted and tired I had the biggest headache ever! I have no idea how I took that French exam! I had about 100 vocabulary words to memorize! x_x The days this week just seemed ridiculously long. The struggles of a student!
To feel better and release some stress I treated myself 2 times this week.
1. I went to get my eyebrows done at this place by my internship called Wax Zone Beauty Center. It was an interesting experience. Definitely different than from when I’m back home getting them done. For starters I pay $5 back home here I payed 10 Euros! Back home it’s way quicker. Here not only did the girl lay me down but she mostly plucked them. At home it’s mostly waxed with some plucking here and there. She used a wax that hardens and you could tear off. That was also new to me.
Beer and nuts
2. After my last exam on Thursday I went out for drinks with a couple of friends. We went to this bar right around the corner from school called “QG.” I had a large beer and an excessive amount of nuts and cheese! They were just so good! I ordered a second beer but my clumsiness got the best of me and I spilled it all over the table. I felt so bad I apologized to the waiter about a 100 times(he probably thought I was drunk and I wasn’t!) What annoyed me was when he went “the worse part is now you don’t have any beer”.__. Jeez Thanks!
Sigh! I’m still not done with the nonstop assignments and work! This week coming up I have 2 assignments and the second part of my French midterm to finish!
Yesterday, I cooked in Brussels for the first time. I went to Carrefour (European supermarket) with my roommate and I had no idea what to make. There are absolutely no hispanic (I’m Dominican) ingredients in any regular European supermarket. No Adobo, platanos, salami, sopita, “vino de cocinar,” etc.
“C’est fini” It is finished
Once inside the Carrefour I figured I would get an idea of what to make in the meat section… so I first headed there. I found a small piece of beef for about 2 Euros. I decided to make “bistek guisado” fried beef in red sauce usually with peppers and onions. I went to find some tomato cooking sauce but all I found was sliced tomatoes in a can but luckily it had a lot of tomato juice so I settled for that. Instead of adding onions and peppers (I wasn’t about to complicate my life) I decided to add some mushrooms since I found canned mushrooms. To go along with the “bistek” I bought pre-made Uncle Ben’s rice(it was seasoned with tomato sauce and olive oil.)
Ready to eat
To start off I sliced the beef into strips and seasoned it with the saźon my friend mail me, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. I then put some olive oil in the pan and waited a couple of minutes until it was hot. After the oil was hot I threw the beef in and waited for it to cook. Then added the tomato sauce and mushrooms. I let it all cook for a couple of minutes while I microwaved the Uncle Ben’s rice.
When I took a bite of the food I was so happy because it tasted amazing! I ended up eating the entire thing because it tasted so good! A Dominican can definitely cook in Europe! ^_^
Last night was a pretty eventful night. I went out to downtown Brussels with a couple of friends. We started off at St. Catherine’s square, then Delirium, and ended the night at a dancing club.
St. Catherine’s square is a beautiful place. At the beginning of the square there’s St. Catherine’s church and in front of the church there are beautiful big fountains. Since it rained all day yesterday the fountains were turned off so it looked like a scene from a horror film but when it’s dry out and the fountains are turned on the square looks absolutely breathtaking. After we all met up at St. Catherine’s we walked to this section around the square full of bars. This section had bars on the corner of each street, which connected at an intersection. The intersection was packed with people it looked like a big party.We ended up going into this museum/bar. In the morning the place is a museum and at night it turns into a bar. (I don’t know the name of the place yet but I will soon figure it out.) There I decided to treat myself to a Piña Colada for 8 Euros. I felt like it was a well deserved cocktail.
After the museum/bar we headed to Delirium. I mentioned Delirium before in one of my previous blogs, basically an alleyway full of bars. It’s always crowded there but somehow we managed to grab a table outside one of the bars. A couple of the people I was with decided to chip in for one Absinthe drink. The drink originated in Switzerland in the 18th c. It is apparently a mix of neutral alcohols. I ended up taking a sip and OH MY GOD! It was the most intense drink I have ever tasted in my LIFE!
Intense face after tasting Absinthe
The face I made was a true description of how I felt at the moment after drinking that! —————————————————————->
Happiest man alive! Lol
Then we headed to the hip-hop/spanish club. It wasn’t really packed and the hip-hop they played was a little old school but it was still a fun experience. I enjoyed watching my friends get on stage and dance, with this random guy, who I’m sure enjoyed every second of having so many girls around him. I couldn’t stop laughing at the happiness displayed on this guys face!
It was definitely an eventful night full of new experiences! ^_^
These past few days I have been so busy. If it’s not school/school work it has been my internship. I am on the go from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. I’m either taking the tram, bus, or metro, studying/doing HW, checking my e-mails, at school or at my internship. Days go by so quickly! My only type of relaxation is when I take a bath. Back in the states I only take showers but here I have no other choice. The bathtub is big (I can lay down and I’m 5’4) and it’s bright green in the middle of the attic. At first I was a bit disturbed but I’m used to it now. When I get back home I might even miss just laying down and relaxing from time to time. I lay in the tub and just think about my experience, what’s in store for me next, and what awaits me when I return back home.
The back of Schaerbeek Town Hall
I really feel like I’m living the typical Belgianlife(school and work.) I’m glad that my study abroad experience here is like this. Getting an internship in Brussels was one of the best decisions I could have made. I’m living the 9-5 life just like most Belgians. I feel like I’m seeing things from a different perspective than tourists do. I’m really getting to know the trueBrussels. I even feel 10x more comfortable with transportation and finding my way around than when I did the first couple of weeks I arrived here. A lot has changed in a month.
Lately, here in Brussels, it’s been pouring like non-stop rain. It’s the worse because it’s that windy rain where having an umbrella is pointless! So I decided to have my hair curly for the next 2 weeks! Wish I would of brought my rain boots but they would of taken way too much space in my suitcase!
Well today after it decided to pour in the morning my roommate and I went to register at the town hall. The building is absolutely beautiful! It was built by Jules-Jacques Van Ysendijck in 1887. Europe is filled with old buildings something you don’t see much back in the states. I love architecture that looks like that! The details on the building are truly impressive. To think that people with less technology than us built such marvelous creations is absolutely impressive.