Today, me and my roommate Courtney had a nice trip planned to Amsterdam. It’s our last weekend here in Europe so we figured we would end with a bang! We woke up at 4:30am to catch the first tram before 5am to go downtown and catch the MegaBus. We made it out the apartment in 25 min. Halfway to the tram stop I ask Courtney if she has her passport…we run back to the apartment. As I wait outside for her in the distance I see a tram pass by. She comes back down and when I told her what I just saw we run back to the tram stop (that’s the most I’ve worked out this entire trip.) We get there and look at the times… indeed that was our tram and we just missed it. We were freaking out trying to find our best alternative to get downtown on time. The MegaBus was suppose to leave Brussels at 6:10am. We call the 2 taxi cab numbers that I have stored on my phone and none of them work. The likelihood of finding a taxi where we live is so slim. Fortunately, Courtney was able to stop one that was driving by. We end up getting downtown extra early and we lounge around the train station until it’s time to head to the bus stop. I kid you not we waited 1hr and 20min for this bus and it DID NOT arrive. It was ridiculously cold and we couldn’t take it anymore. After conversing with the Spaniards that were also waiting we decided to head back home. As soon as we get back home Courtney calls MegaBus to get our money refunded and turns out the bus was stuck in London and hadn’t even made it to Paris yet! Thank goodness we left and didn’t wait around any longer. All of this happened before 8am without the sun being out. What a start to our day… Can’t do much but laugh about it. Everything happens for a reason.
Saturday, I decided to treat myself to the movies. I also really wanted to experience a Belgian movie theater. Since I’ve never seen a James Bond movie I thought why not see 007: SKYFALL. It’s apparently the 23rd installment of James Bond on screen. The movie starts British actor Daniel Craig and was directed by Sam Mendes. The movie also featured an amazing song by Adele, Skyfall, written strictly for the movie. It created a great opening for the movie! Definitely a good set up for the ambience the movie was trying to create (which doesn’t really show until the final scenes.) Overall, the movie had good action scenes and some really good quotable lines from various characters. However, I didn’t find the plot interesting and I felt like nothing really stuck out until the end. I didn’t really get where the movie was trying to go because there was just too much going on. In my opinion, the movie had a lot of potential to have a really good storyline but wanted to say too much so it ended up just making a mess. It had too many stories going on at once. I felt like some points didn’t even finish developing by the end of the movie. (This is as good of a review I can give without ruining the movie.) Either way, I would still go see the movie because I was entertained by the action scenes, characters, beautiful settings, and all the good lines from the characters.
I went to Kinepolis movie theater and of course getting there was an adventure. It was ugly out rainy, windy, and cold. I had to take the tram a direction I’ve never taken before. As I rode the tram I passed through 2 to 3 stops where the walls were filled with the most awkward graffiti art I’ve ever seen. I was actually pretty disturbed by it. When I get off at my stop, which was the last stop on the tram, I instantly became amused by this building made of circles! Turns out to be the the Brussels Atomium build for the world fair in Brussels in 1958. It has 8 levels spread over 5 spheres! It’s apparently a very big tourist attraction! I am definitely returning to visit it! Right next to it it’s a small amusement park called Mini Europe. I fell in love! It was the cutest thing! I’m definitely returning to that too. I shall attend BOTH attractions!
So I ended up walking around the back of the theater before I found the front and the entrance. >_< Once I finally found the front I was in shock! It looked so fancy! Inside the theater has all the posters of movies that are currently in theaters and some posters of movies that are about to be released. I found it funny that “Ted” JUST came out Oct.10th. The theater also has a lot of self-buy ticket machines! I’ve never seen so many in a movie theater! It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t arrive ridiculously early! I had 3 hours to kill and they had no waiting seats ._. Every employee was practically on lunch break. They weren’t even selling the popcorn yet, and I was craving some popcorn bad! I ended up sneaking into the bathroom so I wouldn’t pay the 35cents (since everyone was on lunch break,) listening to my iPod, and watching previews to this movie “Hobbit” and “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt.2” on this huge flat screen about 3 times.
Eventually I got my popcorn and got myself a twix bar to sweeten my life up. When I walked into the room I literally said “wow.” It was HUGE! That had to be the biggest screen in a theater I’ve ever seen. The movie was in English and there were French and Dutch subtitles. I thought that was pretty interesting. What caught me off guard was the 10min break to use the bathroom in the middle of the movie. I thought to myself, “they must really want those 35cents!” Whelp! they definitely got mine because I needed to pee! I still can’t believe they charge for bathrooms in Europe! I went back to my movie and left the theater pretty content. It was a good adventure for such a crappy day.
Have you ever walked around with a broken umbrella and attempted to somehow still protect yourself from the rain with it? Well I’ve had too for the past week! The weather in Belgium is absolutely Bi-Polar! I’ve experienced the freezing cold, strong chilly winds, rain, and hot sun all in ONE day! One minute is cloudy and the next is bright. Talk about mood swings! You never know what to expect here! For instance, yesterday, I wanted to just be under my sheets ALL day! I was so cold! I had 2 sweaters and my jean jacket on! That night I realized I was also a bit under the weather. I felt so fatigued the entire day! I ended up taking some ibuprofen and drinking some tea before bed and woke up today feeling like a million bucks!
Today, after a failed attempt to try to fix my umbrella, I went to the copy center to make some copies. As I was there I decided to also print some stuff. I realized how I can never type a paper in the copy center’s computer! The keyboard is so different here! It’s bigger with more buttons! I felt like a novice who’s never used a computer attempting to type “Gmail.com.” It really took me a good 2 minutes to type the whole thing ._.
On my way home I thought about how I seriously needed to buy an umbrella before it really poured on me! I couldn’t continue using the broken umbrella it was getting pretty embarrassing! But I just really didn’t feel like walking all the way to the supermarket from the tram! It’s a good 15min walk and I was feeling lazy. So when I got off the tram I was determined to find a shortcut to the supermarket! Miraculously, I did! ^__^ And I didn’t get lost looking for it! I felt so proud of myself! I ended up buying not only the umbrella I needed but nail polish remover, Q-tips, and cotton patches! Talk about a productiveafternoon!
I ended my night doing something I loved as a child! COLORING! My host sister, roommate, and I had a little bonding session! I will always be a kid at heart! Moments like these are the ones you will always remember at the end!
After almost 3 weeks of being in Belgium, Brussels yesterday is when I get horrible culture shock!
My day started good so since I had some free time after class I decided to go pick up some posters and fliers I needed to go hand out today, Friday, for my internship. I had to get off at the tram stop Montgomery, it was on my way home. I Googled maps the directions and it didn’t seem too far… I was hoping Google maps didn’t screw me over. Well… when I got off at Montgomery I find myself in the biggest circle I have yet to encounter in Belgium. There was a beautiful fountain in the middle! Who knew something so beautiful could be so freaking confusing!! Crossing the streets in that circle was like trying to find yourself out of a maze. I think I made every possible turn in the circle before going the right way because the map I took a picture of with my iTouch, from Google maps, was not so useful.
I’m finally around the area Google maps directed me too and it turned out NOT to be the right place! I seriously must of asked about 20 people where the street was located and no one knew the answer!! I even called my roommate to look up the address again for me and of course it told her to go where I first ended up.
I became so frustrated because I was 2 minutes away from the place and I couldn’t figure out where it was! I walked all over the area and as the minutes passed I became increasingly angry! New York isn’t even that complicated! I can always find my way around there even if I don’t know where I’m going! Google maps has never disappointed me in New York! This nice lady ended up helping me by using her phone to direct me because of course she had no idea where the place was either.
She directed me the right way and when I realized what street the office was located on and that the office was closed I seriously just started
crying in the middle of the street! I was sooo frustrated and angry at the situation!
1. The street was literally hidden and the sign with the name of the street wasn’t visible till you made this small turn! 2. I was so mad I couldn’t just take out my Galaxy SII and GPS the place! 3. How was it possible that NO ONE I asked knew where the street was!! 4. I was angry that the place was just a huge circle inside another huge circle! 5. I felt like I failed for the day! and I do NOT like to fail!
When I got home I just burst into tears! I was so tired, frustrated, and upset! Nothing like feeling useless in a foreign country to bring you some culture shock!
These past two days have been so long! I took the tram a lot! I’ve never taken public transportation so much! Unbelievable! I seriously took the tram 4 times and the bus 3 times on Friday! Public transportation has seriously become my life, especially the tram, and boy do I hate public transportation! That’s what I get for complaining so much in the states. First, I had to take the bus to my internship at Accessible Art Fair. I managed to find my way there without getting lost! I was so proud of myself. I remembered most of the way from last time I got lost trying to get back home. I also took pictures of the map online with my iTouch JUST in case. It took 1.5 hours to get there with traffic!! Just not real! Sheesh! So I’m at the internship meeting my new co.interns and they tell me there’s a more direct way to get to the internship and back from where I live… with the tram! .__. (I prefer the tram than the bus) Google Maps in Europe Sucks!! That’s the conclusion I came to after the heinous way it was telling me to go when the tram takes me a more direct way!!
Once I got back home I had to take the tram again to finally get my hair done! I must say that the French lady did a good job! I was a bit uncomfortable the first few minutes there because there were only old ladies at the hair salon. I was also really scared to how the French lady was going to handle my dominican hair! Luckily I got this hair relaxed before going to Europe! The struggles a girl goes through when she doesn’t know how to do her own hair! I must say when she was washing my hair the massage she gave me was absolutely heavenly!!! I felt like I was in the clouds! Everything came out to 18 Euros, which is not bad because they put some amazing stay in conditioner on my hair.
Finally, it’s night time! After taking the tram, yet again, to get back home I get dressed to go to another VeCo social event. This time is a “beer chugging competition night.” Apparently this is normal here. There was like a reigning champion and everything. I decided to join the competition! I figured, “what the hell! How many times can I say a joined a beer chugging competition in Europe.” Surprisingly, I managed to make it to the second round! I was pretty proud of myself! But I definitely keep underestimating the amount of alcohol percentage in Belgian beer! I also never seen people chugg beer so fast!!! I was impressed! Overall, It was a really good night with friends! Even met some new people including a Belgian student that studied abroad in RU! Glad I went out and bonded with my new VeCo family!