Sunday, 11 October 2015

Living In Leuven: Week 3 | My 20th Birthday & A Visitor

Universiteitsbibliotheek KU Leuven

It's been another jam-packed week here in Leuven. I'm slowly beginning to finalise my course choices now - I have a list of possibilities including EU Constitutional Law and Human Rights Law along with a list of courses I'm staying clear of (European Family Law and Discrimination law - too practical based for me!).

I'm feeling as though I'm finally settling down here. I opened my Belgian bank account at the start of the week and I'm actually getting the hang of doing my own washing - the correct temperature and even the right detergent this time!

Grote Markt, Brussels

Things were pretty slow and boring towards the start of the week, which mainly consisted of classes and running errands, but I cheekily gave myself a few days off Uni Wednesday-Friday as I TURNED 20!

My birthday actually wasn't terribly enjoyable. I've made a couple of friends here, but not enough nor is there anyone I'm that close enough to to ask if they wanted to celebrate it with me. So I made sure I kept myself busy with classes in order to keep myself occupied. Unfortunately, my 9am European Family Law class was pretty horrendous. We were assigned to do a presentation on the Family Law in our home countries in the middle of the semester, which actually counted towards our final mark. It did have me wondering why on earth a presentation about Scottish Family law (which I spent a semester studying in first year) would appeal to me - so I'm hoping to drop that class indefinitely.

A class on Terrorism and Corporate crime followed Family law. I really enjoyed the introductory lesson, but since it's a criminology course, I'm struggling to understand some of the terminology used by the lecturer. All it takes is a little more effort outside of class though!

Finally, my long academic day ended with a lecture on Discrimination law. I, embarrassingly, left this class during the 10 minute break an hour into the lesson. A series of mooting competitions scheduled for the year alongside a different approach to teaching - putting an individual on the spot in front of approximately 150 people - didn't appeal to me at all. Plus, I realised I wasn't overly interested in the course after the short introductory PowerPoint.

Grote Markt, Brussels

Overall, my birthday wasn't terribly great but meeting Ken at the train station in the evening made things a WHOLE lot better. It's scary thinking I've been here for three weeks already but after seeing a familiar face from back home it really did hit me how much I missed home and the people back in Scotland. A lot of tears were unexpectedly shed at the train station and he very kindly treated me to an Ellis Gourmet burger meal in Muntsstraat.

Place Royale, Brussels

I've been bombarding Ken with photos of Leuven - from the Law school to the supermarket where I grab any urgent essentials - so the first couple of days were spent showing him around. We even treated ourselves to our first ever Belgian waffle (which I didn't actually like so much - the caramel topping made it too sickly even for a sweet tooth like me!).

Galerie Du Roi, Brussels

I have found the whole buying household essentials business quite stressful. Waterview is only a 15 minute walk away from the city center, so I've coped with making trips to and from HEMA for my room and kitchen essentials, but I was really in need of an IKEA trip. With Ken visiting and an extra set of hands to help with shopping bags, we took the bus from Leuven to IKEA Zaventem (just outside Brussels), where I bought some bits for my room. As Ken travelled with only hand luggage, he very kindly gave me Euros for my birthday instead of a gift so we decided to put that money towards making my room more homely.

I bought a set of fairy lights, a lamp for my desk, cushions for my desk chair, a new duvet set, a mirror and a bath mat. I still have a few more things to buy but once my room is finished, I'll show you what it looks like!

Mont De Arts, Brussels

On Friday, we decided to travel to Brussels for the day. I visited Brussels when I first flew out to Leuven in July, but we only spent a couple of hours there so I was interested to see what else Brussels had to offer. We first went to Brussels on the Belgian National day, so the atmosphere was completely different this time around. The city was still jam-packed with tourists, but it had more of a chilled out vibe.

Mont De Arts, Brussels

We visited the typical tourist attractions including the Cathedral of St. Michael and St Gudula, Mont de Arts (one of my favourites) and Galerie Du Roi. We then took the outside lift down to Ascenseur Des Marolles, had a drink outside and headed back to Leuven. 

I do enjoy visiting Brussels, it's completely different to Leuven, but it reminds me of the busy city life I'm used to back in Edinburgh so I like it in that respect. I'm not sure if I would live there though - it is very big and as a student I much prefer settling down in a small town like Leuven. I still find it fascinating the main language spoken in Brussels is French and the main language in Leuven is Dutch, despite being only a 20 minute train journey apart!

Once arriving back in Leuven, we went to Burger Folie for dinner. The cheeseburger I had was to DIE for and it was so lovely having a meal outside with the heaters on and blankets on our chairs to keep us warm - I would highly, highly recommend eating at Burger Folie if you're ever around Leuven!

Kasteel De Arenberg, Heverlee

We rounded off Ken's second to last day in Belgium by walking down to Heverlee, just south of Leuven. There is actually a KU Leuven campus in Heverlee also - the campus itself is very peaceful and is surrounded by acres of greenery and bridges crossing the river. Just next door to the main campus is Kasteel van Arenberg. I'm not entirely sure what the castle is used for nowadays, but I assume it's part of the KU Leuven campus as I spotted some 'KU Leuven' posters inside the building. To be honest, Kasteel van Arenberg looked a lot more beautiful in photos online than it did in person, but I heard it was a must-see living in Leuven, so I'm glad we visited nonetheless.

As it was Ken's last evening in Belgium, we treated ourselves to an Italian dinner. Within a 5 minute walk from Kasteel van Arenberg is 'Restaurant Paolo'. Situated in a lovely building off the main roads, we felt like we were dining in someone's house! The food was fantastic and the staff were super friendly and very kindly explained the Dutch menu in English to us.

OH Leuven vs Royal Mouscron Péruwelz

As the OH Leuven football stadium is in Heverlee, we decided to watch them play Royal Mouscron Péruwelz on Saturday evening. We stupidly gambled and bought a £30 ticket in the front row of the AB block - where we sat right behind a horizontal pole and could barely see the pitch! After analysing the seats behind us, we realised a few seats behind were free and watched the second half without having to sit on our legs to see the pitch. The game itself was very exciting and ended with a score of 1-1 (both penalty goals for both teams).

After a relaxed few days, Ken left on Sunday and it was back to reality for me. I cleaned both my room and communal kitchen from top to bottom on the Sunday evening - my parent's couldn't quite believe it! 

Next week is another week full of lectures, but I have a few days off towards the end of the week with an exciting day trip planned - so stay tuned for my next post!
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