Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Living in Leuven: Week 6 | Visiting the Court of Justice & A Weekend In Edinburgh

European Court of Justice, Luxembourg

As excitement levels were high regarding the trip to Amsterdam next week, my friend and I went to Brussels on Monday to search for a Halloween costume. I returned to Leuven empty handed except from a huge 150x90cm Belgian flag I picked up for my room. It's currently placed on the wall beside my bed and I'm extremely pleased with how it looks - I'm planning a post all about my residence here in Leuven, so you'll see that soon!

On Tuesday, we were heading off to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg with my Constitutional Law class. With the bus leaving Ladeuzeplein (KU Leuven library square) at 4:20am, an early night on Monday was inevitable.

Grand Chamber, European Court of Justice

It took approximately 4.5 hours by coach to travel from Leuven to the court in Luxembourg. After constantly hearing about the European Court of Justice (ECJ) throughout my 2.5 years of studying law, I was really looking forward to the visit. We were briefed in the conference room upon arrival and entered the grand chamber to witness our assigned case of the day - Caner Genc v Udlændingenævnet.

Grand Chamber, European Court of Justice

I found the case really difficult to follow as it primarily involved a conflict between European Law and Danish law - the latter I'm not familiar with. As the language of the case was Danish, we had to wear in-ear interpreters throughout the duration of the case. The interpreters were housed in little booths at the side of the Grand Chamber, speaking languages from all over the world. With 15 judges present in the Grand Chamber and the majority of boxes filled with interpreters, it baffled me how important this case was to the European Court.

If I'm honest, I was a little bit bored after hearing pleadings from both parties and an exchange of questions and answers from the judges, so I switched to the German interpretation a couple of times. I haven't heard any German since the end of my 4th year at high school, so it was quite challenging, yet humorous, picking out single words I recognised amongst the foreign jargon.

European Court of Justice, Luxembourg

After the case had finished, we gathered for a quick coffee break then received a lecture from our Professor (who is also a judge at the ECJ!) back in the Grand Chamber. We were then escorted into our coach where we stopped for a quick lunch, then headed back to Leuven. Overall, the visit left me feeling quite deflated. We entered through the back entrance of the building and missed seeing the flags outside the main entrance, so my expectations from google images were not satisfied. I also only saw the Grand Chamber, so I have no idea of anything else that exists in the ECJ. It had me questioning what my 25 euro trip fee was actually for. Regardless, it was fantastic seeing the Grand Chamber and I'm really glad we visited. I know of very few law students who can say they've studied within driving distance of the European Court of Justice and have witnessed a preliminary ruling in the Grand Chamber!

Forth Rail Bridge, Queensferry

On Thursday, I headed back home to Edinburgh for the weekend. My Dad got married to his partner on Friday the 23rd and the only flights to Edinburgh available from Brussels International around this period involved a quick stop in Amsterdam. After realising I only had 20 minutes to jump on my connecting flight in Amsterdam, I had to sprint to the gate! Amsterdam Schiphol airport is HUGE and I even managed to sneakily jump to the front of the passport control queue with the permission of an airport attendant. I was utterly humiliated arriving red-faced at the gate after realising my flight to Edinburgh was delayed 20 minutes, just my luck.


Upon arriving in Edinburgh, I was re-united with Gourmet Burger Kitchen and had a Chinese takeaway with my family later on in the evening. I also got my hair cut and had up to three inches cut off my hair - I'm still in awe and keep doing double-takes in the mirror as I miss my stupidly long hair even though it feels and looks a LOT healthier!


It was my Dad's wedding on the Friday and we celebrated it at the Orocco Pier in Queensferry. My Dad is originally from England, so half of my extended family are from Essex and we rarely see them, so it was lovely to catch up with them again throughout the day.

After the wedding itself, we enjoyed a lovely three course dinner at the Orocco Pier restaurant, followed by a reception in the function room. Traditionally, at a Scottish wedding, ceilidh music is played during the reception. It was really entertaining teaching my English relatives the moves. If it was a ceilidh with professional dancers (or people who actually knew what they were doing!), there would be a lot more bruises involved!


I had been craving a British roast dinner for weeks after moving to Belgium, so my Mum kindly treated us all to a Roast on Saturday. The rest of the weekend was spent catching up with family and friends. The weekend was incredibly hectic and I felt absolutely exhausted when I left Edinburgh for Brussels on Sunday morning.


I picked up my lunch at Edinburgh Airport before boarding my flight and made conversation with the lady at the checkout. She asked where I was going and I replied saying I was really nervous to leave my family until Christmas and she left this lovely note on the back of my receipt! It definitely was a lot harder leaving Scotland for the second time, although everything was exactly how I had left it, seeing my family again made me realise how much I miss having their company in the evenings. The note the lady left really did make my day and restored my faith in humanity - there are still some genuinely lovely people around in the world!

Whilst being home for the weekend, I actually had a signed copy of Zoella's new book Girl Online: On Tour waiting for me, so I had my nose in the book for a good three hours as I waited on my flight to Brussels from Amsterdam - I'm loving it so far!

This week has tired me out completely, so I'm definitely going to rest for a few days next week. Also, next weekend is the big ESN trip to Amsterdam, so expect a lot of photos from Amsterdam in my next post!
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