October 11, 2010

First few days (original post Sept.8)

Alors, Je suis arrivée!

My flight(s) were long and not uneventful.  For those who haven't heard, my departure was delayed an hour and a bit because of a loading problem with the luggage onto our plane and previous ones.  Thus, after many assurances that they could make up the time and land pretty much on schedule, we landed an hour late and I missed my connecting flight to Brussels :( .   I was re-booked without a problem at Heathrow for 1:50 flight rather than 12:35 (which is of course 8 hrs ahead of Vancouver time).  I then waited to see which gate i would need to head to - which was posted on the boards about an hour before my departure :D.  In the mean time I payed for internet at the airport and managed to get the phone number of my landlord - who was to pick me up from Brussels International, send her an email and give everyone a very quick update on my travels... before my computer totally ran out of power :P

And so...  I caught the 40 minute flight to Brussels, which seemed very short after 10 hrs on a plane!  But figuring out how to bus to my place?  Really not going to happen when it's about 5:00 am, you've gotten 1.5 hrs of sleep and you can't do it in your own language.  My poor landlord ♥ Sabine had come to the airport and waited almost an hour before despairing and returning to her abode to find my email about the missed connection.  But there were positives of the experience.  I learned how to use a payphone in Brussels (with a credit card!) and took my first taxi outside of Québec :).

It was a very quick drive (I'm convinced the driver sped the whole way :P) but it was also quite pleasant for conversation and a huge plus that i probably saved a bunch of euros!

And then, j'étais chez moi!  Sabine and her son Boris were very welcoming and we ate dinner together after i unpacked, explored a bit and signed my forms!  I now have a home for the next 10 months and am awaiting the flatmates' arrival to see how much i'll be staying at the abode ;P jk jk

Oh, I guess I could give a bit of info on those guys.  The boys are named Boris et Luis.  Apparently they are both 18 and are studying engineering at ULB.  That's about all I know for now except that Boris speaks very little English and I'm not sure if Luis speaks any at all.

On to school matters for a bit.  I'll be studying at l'Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) for the year, taking courses in French and Spanish.  The system is very different from the one at UBC and some would even say that it is "disorganized" ...  One thing that I find cool is that you attend whichever courses you want - as many as you want for a couple weeks and then decide which ones are interesting to you and thus you want to take.  Then, you fill in a form (on paper!) and submit it to the offices.  Also, their sports card is 40€ and with that I can do all their classes all year! Anything that I want... which includes: modern jazz, tango, salsa, stretching, yoga, oriental dance, etc. etc. :D

I'm still getting used to people not understanding English here :S. Plus, the second language is flemish... so those that learn another language learn néerlandais.  And that is something that I really need to work on :P.  So far all I know is that if a word has straat on the end it means it's a street.  So I live on Henri Marichal St.

I didn't venture out much yesterday or today. Jetlag is still prominent in my life and my sleeping schedule is as wacked as it's ever been :P.  I did go out on my own today though... 5 minutes up the street to the grocery store :P.  I now have a ten ride bus pass! Yay! (and food too)  Tomorrow it will be over to the university to get my student card and other stuff done and then on to downtown and city hall to register my temporary residence and get an identity card.  Other things I'm considering pretty important are opening a bank account and getting a cellphone and plan.  Along with non-essentials like buying clothes and yarn!

Oh, just to give an idea of where I live... it's a 20 min walk from my house to the University and a 30 min bus in the other direction to downtown!  Not too bad - especially now that I can take busses.  Mayhaps I can get a permanent bus pass with the uni!  The address is Rue Henri Marichal, 43, 1050 Bruxelles in case you are interested.

Last details for the future as it now stands...  I'm not planning on returning to Vancouver for Christmas - it's just too expensive.  But I am planning on hopping over to England for a visit.  Other than that my plans for travel are very vague.  I really want to go to Venice and pretty much everywhere else, so I'm looking forward to meeting some ppl who will accompany me :D.  Hopefully very often on the weekends!
That's all for now folks.  Enjoy!


  1. Thanks so much for the well written account of your life far from home. The Skype is great as well. We are so looking forward to more news on your adventures.

  2. First comment on your blog! Yay! Sounds like a great start Tracy… can’t wait to hear about more adventures. *hugs*

  3. Hey blondie!
    Good to know that I’ll be able to read you every now and then!!!
    A tiny bit about Vancouver… The long weekend of orientations has come and gone leaving me excited and really tired. However, today I forgot how tired I was and went to my first class of my last year as an undergrad!!!
    Sunny and warm for now, we’ll see how long it will last.
    Have fun in Brussels, go to Gent for a day and make the most of every moment!
    Miss you already around here.
    Lots of love, xoxo

    ps: I have dates!! I almost forgot. Will be back in Switzerland Dec 21 til Jan 3… Hope to see you there!!

  4. Non-essentials like “yarn”. I think you mean an absolute essential to a knitter like you ;)
    Dad xoxox

  5. Thanks for the e-mail. Glad you got there safe, looking forward to more news of your adventures.

  6. So... I hope you guys don't mind. I copied all your comments over to here :)