Tag Archives: Belgium

My Last Night in Belgium

17 May

The time has come for me to say goodbye to Belgium. Some days I feel like I’ve been here forever, while others I feel like I just got here last week. It is hard to put into words what this experience has meant to me. I can honestly say that I am not the same person I was when I got to Europe 9 months ago. I have had so many opportunities, has so many experiences, and befriended so many amazing people. But I have to say goodbye for now Brussels. It’s been an crazy, amazing year.

In honor of this moment, here are some pictures from my last night out in Brussels with cousin Caleigh and roommate Lindsay. We had a great dinner out, had some Belgian beer, and enjoyed waffles!

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Where In The World Is Agnes Irvine Scott?: Episode 7

27 Apr

Flat Agnes did spring break Europe-style! She spent 2 weeks doing 9 cities in 4 countries. Check out her updated map below, as well as some of her selfies!

Map of Flat Agnes's travels

Map of Flat Agnes’s travels

France

Luxembourg

Flat Agnes's travels in Luxembourg

Flat Agnes’s travels in Luxembourg

Belgium

Italy

For a more detailed map of where Agnes has traveled so far, go to think link!

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zzJvgL802O74.kHDO49BIkIng

My Goals–Revisited

19 Jan

When I got to Brussels, I made a list of my 5 goals for studying abroad. Coming into the New Year, I decided to revisit those 5 goals and reevaluate them for the new semester. Here they are!

Goal 1: Try New Foods!

I think this might have been one of my more exciting goals of the semester. I’ve had frites, waffles, and beer in Belgium, frites speciaal in the Netherlands, bratwurst in Germany, fish and chips in London, and Guinness in Dublin. Also, I no longer despise fish! This semester: I want to try and cook some of these dishes. I have a great kitchen at my host family’s house, so I intend to use it!

Goal 2: Travel in Country!

So, I kind of failed at this one. I did a lot of traveling, but not much through Belgium. I spent a day with Hannah in Namur and a week playing tourist in Brussels with Alex, but nowhere else. This semester: Just do it! 🙂 I just need to get out and take those day trips. I still want to go to Bruges, Ieper, Bastogne, Antwerp, and more.

Goal 3: Make friends!

This was the most successful of my goals. I made a TON of friends! The hard part is that they are all back in the US now. This semester: I guess I’ll just have to make new friends. Oh darn. 😉

Goal 4: Learn the Language!

I don’t think I did as much as I could with this. I had a French host family, but I didn’t really speak to them much in French. I didn’t end up getting into the French class that I needed for Agnes, so I guess I’ll have to do this on my own. This semester: I think what I’m going to start doing is getting a French newspaper to read on the 45 minute tram ride to or from school everyday. That should give me plenty of time to brush up a little.

Goal 5: Study, study, study!

Okay, so I probably didn’t do as much as I should have. I didn’t have the best of grades, but I didn’t have the worst either. I did get to have a ton of out-of-class learning though. One way was through the European Peace and Security Studies program where I got lectures from Karen Smith of the London School of Economics, Johan Galtung, the founder of peace studies, Dr. Christian Koch of the Gulf Research Center, and many more. I also found some great museums both in Brussels and in other cities around Europe. This semester: Spend more time studying for my actual classes.

In front of NATO HQ

In front of NATO HQ

Where In The World Is Agnes Irvine Scott?: Episode 1

23 Dec

In honor of its 125 Anniversary, Agnes Scott College has started a “Flat Agnes” campaign. What this campaign has done is sent little cut-outs of our school’s namesake, Agnes Irvine Scott, so that students and alums can take pictures with her around the world. That being said, I will not be taking Flat Agnes around with me in my study abroad travels.

Agnes’s first introduction was to–surprise–Brussels! However, we were lucky to be joined on this trip by the wonderful Agnes student Alex McLellen, who is currently studying abroad in Northern Ireland. Below are the pictures of our trip, as well as the map of Agnes’s first step abroad!

Agnes's First Stop: Brussels, Belgium

Agnes’s First Stop: Brussels, Belgium

 

 

 

 

Video

Noël à Bruxelles et les Plaisirs d’Hiver

10 Dec

To start of the Christmas season in style, I spend the first weekend of December exploring the Plaisirs d’Hiver, or Winter Wonders, in central Brussels. This celebration of the holiday season in the history center of the city consists of a Christmas Market (2km of shops), attractions (including an ice skating rink and Ferris Wheel), and light show at Grand Place.

Below, you can see a video of part of the 15-minute light show at Grand Place. This year’s show is entitled “Magical History City” and uses light and music to depict the historic events that have taken place in Grand Place. This includes the medieval and baroque eras, 1695 bombing, reconstruction under the aegis of Charles Buls, and the entry into the twenty-first century.

For more information on this show, check out http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_en/minisite_winterwonders/content/21949/grand-place.do

NATO HQ (Fall Break Day 4)

2 Nov

I know I skipped day 3, but all I did on fall break day 3 was relax and buy a top-up for my cell phone. I decided that day was okay to skip. However, I think my adventures on day 4 completely makeup for being boring the day before.

A couple weeks ago, I attempted to get in contact with the commander of American Legion Paris Post 1 to try and arrange a visit. Between the time I contacted him and when I got a response I decided not to go to Paris, but he had an alternate suggestion for me. He informed me that he lives in Brussels and works at the U.S. Mission at NATO Headquarters and invited me to get a personal tour of the grounds. He later emailed me and asked for my resume and topics of interest so that he could arrange for policy experts to sit down and talk with me.

When I arrived at NATO, we instantly went into a tour of the main area of headquarters. He even got special permission from security to take my picture at different places around the headquarters!

My first meeting was with a Lt. Colonel who is one of the leading experts with the U.S. Mission to NATO on the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. We discussed the future of the ISAF mission, what will possibly happen in regards to NATO involvement in Afghanistan after the 2014 exit, and the future of NATO missions in general. My second meeting was with a Foreign Service political officer from the state department whose job is to keep apprised of the changes in the status of potential member states to NATO. We discussed the future of NATO expansion and what it is like to be a Foreign Service officer, which is what I want to be in the future. She then introduced me to another Foreign Service officer who came to the state department through a fellowship program. He and I discussed the specific steps I could take to ensure the best chance of being accepted to the state department.

All in all, it was a very successful and informative day in which I made amazing contacts for the future!

Aller au cinéma! (Fall Break Day 2)

30 Oct

I don’t know about most high school introductory French courses, but one of the first phrases I learned how to say is, “go to the movies,” which is the title for today’s blog post about what to look out for when going to the movies in Belgium. 

For me, going to the movies is a relaxing enterprise. I do it when school or life is stressful and I just need a couple of hours to escape into another world. I know that many other study abroad students may feel the way, but not know what to navigate the system that is international movie theaters. Due to some research, I have made a step-by-step guide on how to do the movies in Brussels (which I’m guessing can translate relatively well to other cities and countries outside of the US). 

Step 1: Find your movie theater 

Remember everyone, Google is your friend, even in a foreign country. All you need to do is Google “Brussels movie theaters,” and they will help you with the rest. Personally, I enjoy the UCG De Brouckere. Not only can I easily get there with the 71 bus, but it is in a good location, has a good facility, and has a student discount price. 

Step 2: Decide on what movie you want to watch

This may be the biggest problem with going to the movies abroad, because not all of the movies are in English like we are used to. Luckily for us, different countries have established different ways to tell you what language the movie will be in. In France, if you see “V.O.” next to a movie, that means it is in the original language (without voice overs) and will have subtitles in French. This becomes a little difficult in a country like Belgium that has two different languages that are important (French and Dutch). Their identification system goes like this:

  • VOSTBIL: This means that the movie is in its original language and has subtitles in both French and Dutch. I believe a majority of the movies that I want to see are in this format. 
  • VF: This means that the movie is either in French or has been dubbed over so that French is the language heard. Pretty much any  childrens’ movie that you want to see will be in this format. 
  • VNL: This means that the movie is either in Dutch or has been dubbed over so that Dutch is the language heard.
  • VOFSTNL: This means that the movie is in French, but there are Dutch subtitles. 

Step 3: Make sure to have cash

I think this is something that all Americans (at least) need to remember when going through other countries, whether on vacation or study abroad: not everywhere takes debit/credit cards. Sometimes your bank card will not work in the stores. European bank cards are made different than American cards. They have a chip in the end of the cards that makes it so they don’t need to slide the cards. Get used to it! Sometimes bank cards from one European country won’t work in another European country. Therefore, be smart, and make sure to have cash on you when you go out of things like this. It sucks trying to find an ATM in the middle of nowhere. 

Step 4: Know your popcorn

I don’t know about other people, but I don’t think the movie experience is complete without a bag of popcorn (I’m a little obsessed). Well, just because you’re in Europe doesn’t mean you need to change that habit completely, just alter it a little. When you order popcorn at the movies they will ask you if you want it salted or sweet (“salé” or “sucré”). They do not load on the butter like us Americans. However, don’t let that discourage you. I am a big butter lover, but I still love the salé popcorn at the movies. Especially with some gummy candy. 🙂

Step 5: Enjoy the movie…

But not just the movie. Enjoy the experience! If you think about it, something as basic as going to the movies is culturally different just between us Western nations. By going to the movies in another country and getting used to their system, it is a way of slowly integrating yourself into that local custom. You don’t have to have a certain culture or custom to enjoy a nice relaxing afternoon at the movies. 🙂