Back by popular demand, I have accepted to blog about my experiences in Brussels. My objective is to write a least once per month and, to put a spin on things, include the occasional post in French (believe it or not, I need practice!).
My immediate arrival was fairly smooth - I have the fortune of staying at some luxurious digs while I hunt around for a more permanent abode. Robert, (occupant of luxurious digs), was away for the first 5 days so I had his whole place to myself! I fell quickly into a new routine of going for 2-hour exploration walks, organizing my life (opening bank accounts, acquiring a telephone, etc.) and searching for a place to live. Ideally, I am looking for a roommate situation in a nice apartment, situated in the quaint neighbourhood of Ixelles which is within a 20-minute walk from school. That being said, I'm getting closer to the point where I'll accept anything! Robert is being most kind, but I can't stay here forever (unfortunately).
School starts today - I'm excited and nervous. Due to the way l'Université de Montréal evaluates European credits, I have to take 6 classes here even though I would only be taking 4 were I at home. The reason I came to l'Université libre de Bruxelles was to take advantage of the specialized courses they offer in international public law. They're all at the Masters level so I hope I can keep up. I went to try and register this week but to my surprise that's not how they do things over here - everyone just shops around in the first few weeks for the courses they deem of interest, and they only officially register once exam period comes around. In theory, I'll be taking international criminal law, economics and the law of the WTO, international immigration and refugee law, current affairs in international law, international peace and security and international responsibility. Ask me again next week however, and my timetable might have changed!
I'm also looking for an internship with a major international organization. I've had my eye on International Crisis Group for a while and as luck would have it, their offices are only 5 minutes away from where I'm currently residing. Through a contact back home, I've set up a meeting with the Senior Policy Adviser there this Friday. He said that unfortunately Louise Arbour (the President and also a Montrealer) is away but that I'd meet her another time for sure. I'm determined to!
Brusselian eccentricities I've noticed so far:
- all the doors to enter a building PUSH to open. It's crazy how one becomes so accustomed to pulling open doors - I must have looked like a crazy person trying to get into the bank the other day
- instead of calling the number 90 "quatre-vingt dix", they say "nonente". When I was looking for a certain shop, I was instructed to go to numero "nonente". I thought that was its name or something. When I searched in vain for what seemed like an eternity, I momentarily suppressed my ego, and asked someone to literally tell me what number "nonente" was. Ohhhhhhhhhh. Shop found.
- they give one or three kisses on the cheek, not two.
- they don't wear hats even though it's cold! (even for this Canadian)
I promise to post a pic of me la prochaine fois, but for now, here is the fresh mint tea I sipped on yesterday while people-watching at my neighbourhood café. (The level of croissant consumption was out of control)