By Gabrielle Bellamy
I have arrived! *in my Ne Ne Leak’s voice*
My classmates and I have finally arrived in Belgium for our summer international experience. After a long flight from Atlanta, we landed in the capitol city AKA Brussels, or Bruxelles. My initial thoughts on the city after getting a wiff of the smell of cigarette smoke and trash in the streets and glancing at the sights of graffiti was, “Oh, I must’ve accidentally gotten on a flight to NYC” because I was totally reminded of Greenwich Village. The area seemed small and close knit; a type of place where you can easily walk everywhere (which I like). The major difference would be the language, or should I say languages. Although English is spoken here in Brussels, the official languages are French and Flemish (Dutch). EVERYTHING is in BOTH languages: street signs, business signs, menus et cetera. Because I know French, I am able to easily read things and communicate with people. As a matter of fact, I’ve already become so accustomed to the French language that I am struggling to remember certain English words while typing this post.
We arrived on a Sunday morning (2 June), so many of the shops were closed, and many of the locals appeared to still be in mass. The weather was warm and sunny; very nice compared to the sweltering heat in the southern USA. Around lunchtime (noonish) there was more hustle and bustle. Out hotel rooms were not ready to check into yet, so we had a chance to explore the city a little. We were really trying to stay awake since there is a 6 hour time difference between Atlanta and Brussels.
After 1 day in Brussels, here is a list of other interesting experiences I encountered:
– Cobbled streets and sidewalks
– La bise greeting (French greeting that includes cheek kissing)
– A “Food Lion” grocery store
– UPS trucks, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut
– Exchanging American dollars for Euros at a Western Union
– A gross, smelly outside urinal
– All of the TV channels were in French, BUT my roommate figured out how to change the language to English
– Lots of lace
– We had a friendly conversation with our server at the restaurant where we ate supper
– Manneken Pis statue
– My first Belgium waffle (I had one topped with powdered sugar)
– It gets dark around 10 PM
CAUTION: I am a listaholic, so expect to see them throughout my blog!