First of all - turns out I'm getting a ton of practice writing in French (I've already submitted two assignments!) so I'll spare all of us much pain and agony and stick to my mother tongue.
Well, I must have settled in because I hosted my first dinner party last night. It was a wine and cheese at Robert's pad for his friends who welcomed me to their place a couple of weeks ago. On my first visit to the market I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the amount of cheeses I wanted to sample - how would I ever get through them all? That's when I thought of a solution: why not have a party and get everyone to bring a different cheese and wine to sample? Robert provided the venue and I the accoutrements. I also made a decadent dessert - a double chocolate mousse cake with raspberry coulis.
The guests - (Robert is on the far left)
Me, enjoying my third portion :)
My classes are going brilliantly. Everyday I'm reminded of why I chose to come to ULB - there are opportunities here that I simply would not have had back home. In one of my classes a judge from the International Court of Justice is coming to speak to us and in another, we're making a field trip to the Hague to observe an international trial first-hand. I'm finally that irritating student who passionately completes class readings way ahead of time and has to hold back from over-participating in class. One particularity that took some getting used to, was that not every class is taught every week of the term. My WTO law class, for example, is being taught by two different professors - one was visiting from Columbia University so he taught his half over two very intensely long (but interesting) days. We haven't heard yet when the other half will take place - I guess the admin wants to keep us in suspense!
I have almost locked down a place to live. The search has been quite a struggle. I despaired so much at one point I actually had to play a string of Bob Marley songs in attempt to convince myself that "every little thing" was actually going to be all right. I found a room through a friend of Robert's that is located in a house shared with 7 other people. I went to see it and it looks great! Most of the other tenants are stagiaires at the European Commission so I think it will make for a very dynamic living environment. I'm only able move in March 1st but Robert has very generously offered to let me squat until then.
Now that my lodging has almost been sorted, I've started to hunt for a part-time job. I hope it won't be too difficult to find something suitable. I've applied mostly to cafés and restaurants so far. I would love to work at this hip joint called Café Belga - I fell in love with the place my first weekend here. It was where I consumed the fresh mint tea I spoke of last time. They have live Jazz on Sunday evenings and generally, it just exudes a very cool vibe.
I have yet to figure out what I'll be doing for exercice. I'm not sure whether I want attend the exercice classes at school, join a gym nearer where I live, hunt down a squash club or just go for runs. Even though exercice is an integral part of my life, for some reason it took all the will power within me to force myself on a run last week. My only goal was to break a sweat (not so easy when it's only 3 degrees out!). My efforts were rewarded by the discovery of a random patch of forest - it has a lake and chalet in the middle of all the winding paths and reminds me so much of Mount Royal in Montreal.
Tomorrow school is cancelled due to Mardi Gras. Apparently the thing to do is to trek to the town of Binche to witness the Carnaval celebrations. I'm not sure what it entails exactly - I've only heard it involves dancing, mask-wearing people who throw alcohol-infused oranges at the crowd - sounds like a good time to me! I'm heading there by train with a group of friends from school.
So Bon Carnaval!