Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Living In Leuven: Week 2 | Moving In & Classes Begin


On Sunday evening, I narrowed down my accommodation choices to two: a room in Residence Rosa Parks (part of Het Amerikaans College, 100 Naamsestraat) and Waterview Residence (Engels Plein). As I preferred to have a room in Waterview, my aim was to head there first thing on Monday morning to explain my situation to the Residence manager and hopefully secure myself a room that day. If this was not possible, I would contact the manager of Rosa Parks. After a long stressful week of 'kot' hunting, time was of the essence and it's fair to say I was pretty desperate!


I checked out of my temporary flat on the 21st of September and made my way towards Waterview, determined to leave with a new set of keys in my hand. As the residence is almost brand new, there were still plenty of rooms available and I was successful! I was asked to put down a deposit and come back later while the manager prepared my contract. broke down as soon as I left - I didn't realise how stressed I had been the week before! Of course, they were happy tears as I'd managed to secure myself a perfect room with an en-suite looking out onto the residence gardens.


It was the law faculty welcome ceremony in the afternoon, where we all gathered for tea/coffee and cake afterwards. It was then time for me to head back up to Waterview to collect my keys. I was thrilled. With the keys in my hand, I met a friend who had kindly let me store my luggage in his room that day and I moved into Waterview!


I had planned to clean the room before moving my luggage in, but of course things never go to plan. My room had no electricity, no bathroom door and the heating wasn't working. Just my luck.

Armed with blankets and a mattress protector my Mum sneakily packed into my case after my moaning of not needing bed sheets (I was wrong, of course), I battled through the night duvet-less and without electricity. Thankfully, a new friend on my corridor let me use his Wi-Fi log-in so I could update my family back home.

First thing on Tuesday morning, I went to the residence manager to ask for a room change as I had concluded my room was the only one without electricity/heating out of the few other residents I had spoken to that morning. I was given another set of keys and then bumped into an electrician who had informed me my previous room had a leak in the ceiling which would have taken up to a month to fix - I'm glad I had the balls to complain, otherwise I would've politely stayed put, I was incredibly thankful to have a roof over my head nonetheless!


With an almost perfect room (my bathroom sink is leaking!), I was ready to focus on University and started going to classes on Wednesday. I don't have to confirm my finalised course choices until the 7th of October so my timetable has been pretty hectic this week as I'm trialling all the courses I'm interested in to see if I want to continue them on for the rest of the semester.

I have met a couple of law students in lectures. One of which I knew previously through Facebook and another in a Terrorism and Corporate Crime lecture who also happened to live at Waterview too. He kindly cooked my dinner after the lecture as I was cooking utensil and food-less and we've also met up during the weekend to take photos on the roof of our residence (where the three photos above were taken from).


In amongst going to classes/socialising, I have been buying bits and pieces for my new room. My bank account has definitely been hit hard this week - I've found myself buying bits and bots I didn't think twice about having to buy - including a wireless router and coat hangers!

I've found the shop HEMA an absolute god send during my moving in period, I've bought everything there from bed sheets to kitchen utensils and cleaning products. Apparently, there is an IKEA in between Brussels and Leuven, but it's not so convenient for me as I'm purchasing everything on my own and solely by foot. I even made four trips to HEMA in ONE DAY. I really think the staff thought I was going slightly loopy.


I love the area around my residence. It's situated at the very north of Leuven and is a good 15 minute walk to University, but because I'm used to living slightly out of all the hustle and bustle of the city center back home in Edinburgh, I actually prefer it out here. From walking around the center of Leuven to walking around Vaartkom in the north feels like a completely different city. I'd say this part of Leuven is more industrial - the old Stella brewery is currently in the process of being demolished and the new one is a 5 minute walk away. The stretch of water on the Vaartkom is beautiful and peaceful and I'm really looking forward to sitting out on one of the nearby benches on a nice day to read my book for a couple of hours and watch the boats go by. I really love it here!


I finally managed to register at the Town Hall. As I didn't have a permanent address until Monday, it was almost impossible for me to register here, but thankfully that's now out of the way. I was given a reference number (which allows me to open a bank account) and an 'Annex 8', which I'm supposed to carry around with me 24/7 in case I happen to be stopped by the police and asked for proof of residence in Belgium. I've also been told to expect a visit from the police within the next few months to check my address is correct.

Of course, I'm having to do all the chores/errands expected of me when I chose to move out. I'm not terribly experienced when it comes to cooking in the kitchen, but I've thoroughly enjoyed shopping for my own food and cooking/preparing my own meals during the day. There is a LIDL and ALDI within walking distance of my residence and we also have an Albert Heijn store on the ground floor (more expensive, but great for the odd necessity).

The only element I'm finding slightly challenging is doing my washing. The nearest laundrette is a 15 minute walk from my residence and the machine instructions are all in Dutch. I would say I'm somewhat capable of doing my washing but today's episode of putting coloured detergent in with my white wash and setting my coloured wash to 60 degrees says it all... It's all part of a learning process, I guess.



I've attended a few interesting lectures this week including 'Terrorism and Corporate Crime', 'International and European Human Rights Law' and 'Psychology and Law'. I'm enjoying them all so far, which is slightly concerning as I can only choose 5 courses this semester and I have 5/6 lectures on other courses I'd quite like to attend.

I turn 20 on the 30th of this month, so I'm hoping to take a few days off towards the end of next week to celebrate and explore more of Leuven and Belgium. Next week's post will be a good one, I promise!
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