Today I woke up bright and early at 6:30 am. Not my usual waking hour by any means. Today started UGent’s exchange student Welcome Days. We received e-mails notifying us to arrive at the campus UFO building between 8-8:30, and were reminded to not be late. I assumed I’d have some trouble getting there so left my dorm around 7:40.
For some reason, I trusted my iPhone map system to be able to guide me through the public transportation system. I knew that I needed to get on bus 5 to arrive on the street with the UFO building. I headed towards the nearest bus stop and waited for a few minutes. When the first bus pulled up I inquired to the driver if the 5 bus would stop there as well. He told me that it eventually would, but he thought it would be better if I stayed on his bus (I believe it was 72?). So, I listened to the driver and sat down, wondering if I should have just waited for the bus I originally wanted. I was on the bus about 5 minutes then I heard the bus driver say, “to the English speaking princess-this is your stop”. As I made the way out of the bus the driver instructed me to go to the info desk and they could tell me where to go from there.
Making my way to the info desk I realized I had no idea where I was in Ghent and that in fact, no one was currently at the info desk. I saw a man wearing a shirt with the bus company name on it, “De lijn” and tried to ask him where to go for the 5 bus. To my dismay he did not understand English, but the man he was standing with was able to speak some broken English and direct me to one of the stops across the street.
When I got to the bus stop at the other side of the street I was that the sign said the 5 would be arriving in three minutes. I waited patiently then realized that there was a 5 bus leaving across the street too and going a different direction. Not knowing which one to take I looked at my trusty iPhone map. It appeared to say E.Z. as the bus stop final destination. Thinking that was the 5 bus that would be leaving from across the street I switched my location.
After boarding the 5 bus heading supposedly towards E.Z. I was still on edge as I watched myself move further away from the building that I needed to go to on my map. Then, I discovered myself at the bus stop that I started at, right by the dorms. With frustration I got off the bus and tried to find someone to ask for walking directions, clearly public transportation was not in the cards for me today. I found a young girl who spoke English and showed her the address I was trying to get to. The girl was recently new to Ghent but knew that the UFO building was basically a straight shot down the street that I had taken to leave the dorms. That would have been helpful to realize earlier. Whoops.
At this point it was 8:27. I was dangerously close to being late. I booked it down the correct street. I verified with another girl that was walking down the street that I was indeed heading in the right direction. She was thankfully going to the welcome days too so we finished the nearly 10 minute walk together. I arrived only 5 minutes late.
I received my student packet with information and went to sit in a huge auditorium filled with exchange students from all over the world. Later on, around lunch time, we split up into our faculty programs. My department is bioscience and engineering and we had a 25 minute walk to our building. Once there we had lunch and learned more about the department. Games were played and names were learned. The day lasted until around 5:45pm. I left with my head full of too much repeated information, but everything in the days events was extremely helpful. I walked back to the dorms with a small group of students from various countries. Then two other girls and I checked out the local grocery and bought a couple items.
I’m meeting with the students that I walked home with in the morning to walk to our Ghent Museum tour for day two of Welcome Days! So it does not look like I’ll be getting lost on the public buses tomorrow.
It’s only 8:40pm, but I am beyond tired from this long, confusing, information filled day. I’ll be sleeping like a baby within the hour.
A wrap up of this post– I still don’t know how to take the bus from my dorms, but it’s completely unnecessary since it’s only a short walk!
A bientot mes amis!