Love this. K-state pride!

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Differences

Don’t get me wrong-I love it here in Belgium. I have made wonderful friends, have amazing professors, and live in a charming city, but I’m starting to miss a few things.

Supermarkets! There’s nothing I love more than a trip to the Super Dillon’s in Wichita. I love looking at all the products on the shelves. Plus the convenience of having everything from food to beauty products to medicine in one location. I have managed to find one Supermarket near my faculty.  It was a glorious experience. I found raspberry nectar there-it’s the best juice! Trust me.

Ranch for dipping. Every time I order fries or pizza I find myself craving some ranch to dip my food in.  I keep forgetting to see if there are any at the groceries, but I feel that it’s doubtful. Good thing ketchup is extremely easy to find, although a payment of 60 cents is usually required.

My Volkswagen bug or as Rachel named her, Neely, you know as in “Whoa, Nelly!”. I do feel very “fit” and healthy taking the 30 minute walk to my faculty everyday (sometimes twice a day), but I miss just hopping in my car and going for a casual ride with the windows down and music blasting. Walking everywhere has made it possible to frequently eat fries, waffles, and chocolates without gaining weight, so I guess it has it’s perks!!

K-State football games (& tailgating).  I might not be a sports nut, but I love Saturday games in Manhattan. More for the social aspect. Tailgating with friends before a big game is one of the greater things in life! Along with dressing in purple and donning your favorite cowboy boots.

CHIPOTLE. I’m a huge Chipotle addict. I might have once said that if I died with a Chipotle burrito in my hand I could die happy…but seriously, I love Chipotle. I’ve spotted one Tex Mex restaurant and you better believe that I will be checking the place out.

Netflix, Hulu, Pandora. Sad news for future study abroaders. These websites are not accessible from abroad. I know, I know, depressing? After a long day in classes (usually, eek, 6 hours) all I want to do is lay in bed and watching a cult classic like Buffy or My So-Called Life (I miss the Angela and Jordan drama). The one good thing about this is that it forces me to do other things. Like BE SOCIAL. Or do some homework. I also luckily have pretty much every episode of Glee on my computer, that helps the loss of Netflix a bit.

Normal “fresh milk”. I’ve never been much of a milk drinker, but the fact that UHT milk is all that is offered in Belgian really grosses me out.  It might as well be formula.  Good thing the only time I drink milk in in my coffee.

An oven/grill. Our student kitchens are lacking one major appliance-an oven.  I don’t cook a lot back home, but typically my major appliances were a stove and oven.  The stoves, thank goodness, we have.  Although they have a switch that you have to remember to flip every 5 minutes or so or they will turn off.

Of course I miss my friends, family, and puppies too. I’m lucky to have made a nice group of friends here though! Also, my parents will be here in 12 days! We are hitting up Paris, yo! I couldn’t be more excited to stay in an adorable flat in the center of the city of love! Anyone know any cute Parisians?!

One thing I’ll never have to miss here is late night pizza. I live on a crazy party street, overpoortstraat. On top of having a plethora of pubs and clubs, there are plenty of late night food options-burgers, fries, pizza, pitas, and durams.  So many choices after a night out!

Also there is more than enough beer to go around. It is Belgium!

All in all, I LOVE IT HERE, but of course, while abroad, you are bound to miss a few things from your country!

What would you miss most abroad??

Have a splendid, marvelous, joyous day!

A bientôt mes amis!

Cheers to Belgian beers!

A brief tale of life in Ghent

Greetings!

I have been insanely busy since classes started two weeks ago. I need to start writing more though, and I will try to do so, starting this week.

I’m taking the maximum amount of course credits here. It’s already exhausting and unfortunately it only transfers back to 12 of the US credits.  Oh, did I mention I’m taking master level classes too?! It’s great though. My professors are exceptional and most are extremely entertaining while teaching the daunting subject matter.

My weekly course schedule (for most weeks) is as follows:

Monday: Food Processing 8:30-11:30 and Food Microbiology and Analysis 11:30-2:30

Tuesday: Food Microbiology 8:30-11:30 Food Colloids 1:00-4:00 Food Processing 4:00-7:00

Wednesday: Milk and Dairy Technology 8:30-1:00 Food Colloids 4:00-7:00

Thursday: Tropical Animal Production 8:30-1:00 Food Processing 1:00-4:00

Friday: Food Marketing and Consumer Behavior 1:00-5:30

Anyway, no more of this boring stuff.  I have joined the ESN group here at the UGent campus. Basically, they set up a bunch of events for exchange students. If you’re thinking of studying abroad and your university has an ESN group, make sure to join! It’s a great way to meet people.

Last weekend through ESN I went to a Speed Dating event with a bunch of other students from all over the world. It was perfect because you only had a few minutes to talk to each person, duh, so you were able to avoid awkward conversations.  It also was a great event because I now see lots of people around the city that I can have a casual conversation with.  After the Speed Dating event a Stop Light Party was held.  We didn’t last long there due to the fact that, well, that no one was there.  My group of friends and I opted to go to a quaint pub where we sat in their upstairs seating area, only dimly lit by candles.  After finishing our “small” beers we tried going back to the stop light party.  Things had changed in the meantime and it was PACKED.  It disappointingly reeked of body odor, as well.  Thoughts of staying at the partying were dismissed. The night was finished with martinis at a dance club and then some glorious Belgian fries. Then my friend and I made our 30 minute trek back to our dorm through the eerily deserted city streets.

The next day a trip to Bruges was planned by ESN.  Luckily the event wasn’t until 1:00, so we were all able to get a decent night’s rest after the previous night’s festivities. (Did I mention there is no last call/closing time? Slightly detrimental.)  We arrived in Bruges by train a short 20 minutes later.  The train tickets on the weekend are cheaper, a good thing to note.  I believe a round-trip ticket was 5 euros. Shortly into our walk into the city we ended up getting lost from our ESN leaders, but found our way back to them miraculously. We walked through all the main sights of the beautiful city, that is known as “the Venice of the North”. I had my first Belgian waffle at a stand that was set up in the middle of an antique market by the river.  It was covered in chocolate and powdered sugar and was seriously better than any waffles that I’ve had in America.  Once the tour was finished with our leaders my group of friends and I sat down for a late lunch at a cafe.  The rest of the day was spent wandering around the city, stopping at various chocolate shops along the way.  In the early evening we took the train back to Ghent.  The night ended after one final beer at a nearby pub.

The weekend ended with a lovely dinner last Sunday prepared by one of my new friends and her parents who had come to visit for the weekend.  It was splendid!

Nothing overly interesting happened between last Sunday and Thursday. Classes. Sleep. More Classes.

Friday however, the afternoon was spent shopping with my friend Nanna.  Then that night we all had our own international dinner. I can’t remember the names of all the dishes, but there was German bread and Spanish enchiladas? I made rice krispie treats, one of my favorites.  Of course we had lots of wine and beer to go along with our meal.  We didn’t eat until well after 9:00 and then we stayed in the kitchen for a long while, talking and…drinking.  Eventually, we made it to the “Flag Party” hosted by ESN, at a club called Twitch.  The place was packed, to say the least.  I also think I was one of the only ones dressed in the colors of my country’s flag. I donned a red hat, blue blouse, and white scarf.  ‘MERICA!

The rest of my weekend was spent watching movies and putting off reading 100s of text pages for my classes.  Occasionally, I left my room to go to the kitchen to prepare meals. Side note: I FINALLY made mashed potatoes tonight.  Anyone who really know me, knows that I’m the “potato Queen”.  Nanna also made some delicious chocolate cake today and I was lucky enough to be given a couple pieces. I can go to bed happy now.

It’s around 10:30pm now in Ghent.  Hopefully I will fall asleep soon. I have an early morning tomorrow along with a 30 minute walk to the Bioscience and Engineering faculty.

A bientôt mes amis 🙂

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Our own International dinner at Student Housing 🙂

English speaking princess

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!

Note to self: Don’t get the quiche

So, yesterday I officially began my journey alone.  The grandparents dropped me off at my dorm one final time and then it was just me.

After 3 hours and with much difficulty I was eventually able to set up my internet connection after downloading two software programs and applying them with one another.  Setting up technological devices is a mystery to me, even when instructions are provided. But now, finally, I’m all set up to stay in touch!

In between the frustrations of setting of internet connection I ventured out to find myself dinner.  In the last few days I have become fairly familiar with the center of Ghent, but the area that my dorm is in remains a complete mystery.  I left my building and walked around the block checking out the surroundings.  I discovered a bar where locals were hanging out, a natural foods store, and a pizza hut.  The bar seemed too intimidating since those there were with friends and I was by myself.  I felt that going to pizza hut would not be very adventurous of me, so I skipped that one as well.  That left me with the natural foods store.  I went in and found a nice looking quiche.  The sign appeared to say broccoli and some other word I was not familiar with (it was all in Flemish).  I thought it would be a different meal and decided to try it out.  Along with the quiche I thankfully decided to purchase some cranberry soy yogurt. With my food purchases I made the short walk back to my dorm.

I skyped my parents and struggled to eat my “broccoli” quiche.  It was taking me so long to eat that I had to walk down the hall to the kitchen twice to heat it up.  It tasted to me like that broccoli had gone bad and acquired a fishy taste to it.  No. I soon found that I was actually tasting fish in the quiche that I had purchased.  The rest of it must have been ground up, but halfway through eating, I discovered a huge fleshly piece of fish.  I do not like fish, at all.  I quickly swallowed my current bite and ran to throw the rest of the quiche into the trash.  After that experience I settled with eating half of my huge container of soy yogurt.

Today’s meal experience was more enjoyable.  I figured out that the student restaurant is located right underneath my building.  After walking in there was a display set up of today’s meal options.  The style of the cafe was similar to that of Van Zile at K-State.  There was a main meal area, a soup counter, and a pasta counter.  I decided to go to the main course counter because I’d seen chicken at the display.  After I received my food I went into the line to pay.  I couldn’t scan my student card, so the guy behind me in line took my card and showed me how to scan it the correct way (we’ll see if I remember tonight).  Once I had paid I made my way into the large eating area.  I found at an empty table and sat down to eat my meal.  In the cafeteria I could hear many different languages being spoken, although I could not tell you what they were, they all blended together into a mess of foreign words.  I watched others as I came close to finishing my meal to see where they put there trays after eating.  I found it easily and then left the cafe and went back to my room.

Now here I sit, writing a blog post. Window open and sun shining in.  Pondering if I want to go to the center of Ghent to visit the shops, or work on fixing up my room.  I probably should do the later.

Tomorrow I start welcome days, very exciting!!

A bientôt mes amis! 🙂

Me and my room-bed and cupboard on the left

If you send a chocolate enthusiast to Belgium…

Seriously. Belgian chocolates. Wonderful. Everywhere.

I think I have died and gone to chocoholic heaven.

There are artisan chocolate shops in every direction, especially in the tourist filled areas.  Prices range-most of the time I purchase 2-3 pieces for under 2 euros.  Such a yummy treat.

Chocolates are also commonly given with coffee (koffie) purchases. At nearly every place that I have dined at, whether a casual cafe or fine restaurant, chocolate and biscuits are delivered with coffee.  It is splendid.  The perfect way to end a meal.

You get it for free. This morning on the way to central station in Antwerp we were stopped by a young girl. We did the common “no thank you” not knowing what the girl was promoting. She replied, “You don’t like free chocolate?!” Of course I do! Immediately I retracted my no and walked away with a delicious Zero milk chocolate bar. She explained it was called Zero because it is a chocolate that is to be served cold, although since we were heading on a train from Antwerp to Amsterdam ours did not stay so cold. It was delicious none the less.

Finishing the Zero bar back at the hotel inspired this little post.

A bientot mes amis! 🙂

Have a wonderful rest of your day! Eat chocolate!