Friday, August 31, 2007

Paris Prep!

I feel at home in Leuven...already. It's hard to believe that this place feels more comfortable to me than Loyola College. Obviously I miss my home in Gibsonia, but I feel like I am not missing anything. Also, it's nice having everybody just a walk down the wall, and it's also really nice that people leave their doors open for anyone to visit. I guess that I got used to being isolated after being forced to live in an apartment last year. This setup reminds me of my freshman year, and I'm loving it. I can really see myself living here for ten months now, whereas prior to the trip I was super super nervous about feeling welcome in a foreign country.

I have been riding my bike into town the past few days in hopes of fixing my camera. First I went to a computer store, bought a memory chip, and then it was too small. Then, I went to a photo store. The guy there really creeped me out, and made some comments that worried me, so I just left, thinking that he had fixed my camera. Nope. The camera still only held 12 pictures. Sooo I went back to town today with Cristina, and I went to this best buy type of place. This cute dutch boy messed with the menu button and turns out that my chip holds like 300 pictures. Soo long story short, my camera is now able to hold a lot more pictures. The riding of the bike has been very difficult, but fun as well. People here weave in and out of people and cars and they do fine. I, however, am struggling. I almost hit a few people today. It's going to take awhile to get used to the whole biking system here. Somebody told me that you can get a 50 euro fine for dribing the wrong way or not having your headlight on when it's dark. I don't think I'll be out when it's dark. It's hard enough to drive during the day.

Last night we wnt out again and it was fun...the beer we got wasnt thast great though. It was called" Maes". It tasted like bud light or miller light. Dissappointing, to say the least. Ireally like Stella and Hoegaarden the best so far. I havent tried anything else, bc stellas are like 1- 1.20 euro. I'm cheap here. Big time. I heard Duval (devil) is like drinking 3 beers. I want to try that soon! haha. I have been staying up really late herew, because I;m still adjusting to the time change.

We had presentations on France today, just as we did yesterday. This took up a few hours. I did mine today,a nd it went pretty well. I just can't wait for is going to be amazing! We get to see Normandy, Mont st. micheal, Paris, and the beauyex tapestries. We are actually going to stay right by thre shore where the invasion occured. crazy. I am so glad that I bought a backpack for this trip...all of my paris stuff fits.

Well, I need to go get some help with my neck, for one. I got two marks on it last night, and now they are swelling. I am really scared, seeing as I am a hypocondriac of the worst kind. I think it might have been a spider in my bed....AHHHH. They say that bugs can easily get through the windows here, and I did leave my window open for a bit the other day. I need to put my screen up that I brought. Okay, I need to go take care of this neck issue, and then we have to go watch a movie for our France trip.

I want to add that I love my group though, and that our director/his wife are amazing! Everybody here gets along sooo well, and there is definately diversity within the group, which is refreshing after two years of attendingTHE most homogeneous university known to man. Nobody here is spoiled or selfish...we are all saving as much money as we can and trying to get a job asap. It's nice to be with people who appreciate the value of saving. I am glad that I finally met some down to earth, nice as can be people that accept me. I have never felt like I fit in at Loyola, but these kidfs are different. We all came here for the same reasons, and it's just nice to know that they'll be here for me not just this yrear, but in the coming years as well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Ahhh...finally in leuven. I got connected to the internet today, which was fabulous. I don't think I've been this excited to get connected for awhile haha. I just felt so disconnected with America and all of my friends without the internet in my room. It just goes to show how dependent we all are on quick communication and technology. Well, I am basically all unpacked and moved in; I just need to put up my pictures and organize a few more things. Yesterday we arrived by bus from the airport, put our suitcases in our room, and had a long meeting about things. Then we took a tour of Leuven, which was great, but extremely difficult. We were dragging our feet the entire time. Everybody was so tired from jet lag. The town is small, but has plenty to do. There nice cafes, restaurants, and bars everywhere, and plenty of cute boutiques. The cafes have seats outside, which really adds to the atmosphere. We went to a cafe for lunch called Alexandre today, which was delicious. Their coffee is the best I've ever lie. I hear there's a place down the street where you take pieces of chocolate and put them in milk, which is considered hot chocolate. I hear it's the best hot chocolate ever haha. We'll see...I'm a conosuier ( sp).
We rented bikes today after our registration at the town hall. The bikes are old, but it's only 50 dollars to rent them for the whole year. You pay 100 euro, but that includes insurance, and you get 50 back at the end of the year when you return it. Al;mosdt everybody rides a bike or moped around here, which I think is awesome. You get so much excercise...I've been hungry nonstop since I got here. However, the food situation is a bit difficult considering there is no meal plan. We are in charge of getting our own groceries. I don't think I mind that though, because there are organic grocery stories and everything is so fresh compared to America. Well, I have to be off; We have a "practical" walking tour of Leuven in about 10 minutes. Then we have our first culture class, where we discuss our France trip ( I am soooo excited for that trip!!!) It is weird to think that it's only 8 am in's almost 2 here and the day's half over. It's going to take some getting used to. I put pics up on facebook...check them out. I'll be putting more up after our tour. I miss everybody!!! Love from Leuven.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Three days until I leave for Leuven, and I am reallllly anxious about the whole thing. I have been packing for quite awhile now and preparing for the trip, so now I'm basically just sitting here ready to go. Most of my friends have already left for school...sigh. I feel like everybody always leaves before I do for school. Oh well. I think I'm just nervous because I honestly don't really know what to expect. Everybody says that your study abroad experience is the 'best time of your life', which I truly believe, but people also caution you as to the homesickness that is a part of studying abroad. I have never really been afraid of change for as long as I can remember, but when it comes to this whole adventure I'm about to embark on, I have to admit that I'm hesitant. For some reason I just feel as though I'll be missing things (not at Loyola!), but at home. However, when you go away to college, change happens without you, whether you like it or not. I think Leuven is really going to be awesome, but I think I'm just getting the jitters, which is natural.

Looking on the bright side, next year is going to be a year for me to get to know myself better, and will, without a doubt, be a year of new beginnings for me. I have not had a satisfactory college experience so far, and I am hoping that Leuven makes up for the other three years. However, no matter what happens, I know that it will be the biggest learning experience of my life; it will expose me to so much. I think I definately need a change of pace after the last two years. I was restless and unhappy at Loyola, which is part of the reason that I chose Leuven. Transferring and studying abroad for a good length of time just wasn't an option for me, so I chose to stay at Loyola, in order to fulfill my dream, which has always been to study abroad and see the world. I think this road I'm going down is definately for a reason.

I'm sure that there will be challenging moments involved with this whole excursion, but there will also be great times that I will never forget. Studying abroad is definately an opportunity that I am grateful for. I do not that that too many people get to experience studying abroad, much less a whole year abroad. I think that I definately need to take advantage of what is ahead of me, because it is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Getting Ready

I decided to start this blog because I figure it will work as an electronic journal, just in case something should happen to my other journal during the course of my trip (which is very likely, considering my luck with life). I think that it will also give my friends and family a chance to hear all about my travels in Europe during my year abroad, and will help me develop my writing skills, seeing as this is very important to me.

Anyways, I am really excited to go to Leuven. I will be flying into Newark, NJ this Saturday, the 26th, and I will fly to Leuven on the 27th at night. We will arrive in Leuven on the 28th in the morning. We're going to settle in for three days, and then we will depart for Paris and northern France for 8 days. I am sooo excited for the France trip! I am doing a presentation on Sacre Coeur and Montemartre, which looks so interesting. Montemartre is an old bohemian village surrounding sacred heart, that is home to many vagrant artists. The Moulin Rouge is there...can't wait to see that! Montemartre is the only village left in Paris, which I find fascinating. During my trip, I will get to see things such as the Musee D'Orsay, The Eiffel Tower ( of course), the Louvre, etc. I absolutely love art. One of the things that excites me most about this whole trip next year is the history that I will be exposed to while abroad. I don't really care for the minute details of history, such as dates, etc., but history overall fascinates me to no end. I think it will be awesome to stand inside of old castles and walk down old cobblestone streets, etc.

After our France trip, we will be taking an intensive Dutch class ( they speak Dutch in Flanders, which is the region we'll be living in), for 5 days in a row, 5 hours per day. I am not looking forward to this AT ALL. I love languages, but not that much. I also heard that everybody speaks English very well in Leuven. However, I feel obligated to at least attempt to pick up some Dutch, as this is part of the whole immersion experience, and will most likely prove very valuable to me. After this intensive, we have a week off. I may try to see a city in Germany or go to London during this time. I hope to see most of Belgium, France, Ireland, England, Scotland, Netherlands ( paid trip there in Nov.!), and also maybe some Germany and Spain by time I return for Christmas. Exciting!! Now for the packing... ( ughhh)