Monday, February 21, 2011

Settling into Louvain-La-Neuve

I was dead tired and super bummed, but it turns out that everyone in our group is pretty great. We all had a pretty tough time settling in, so swapping stories made us feel a lot better.

But even so we sort of trudged around the city, "getting spit on by angels" as my friend says to describe the weather. There were only three of us: Alyssa, Nick and I. We hadn't seen anyone in hours, and only one restaurant looked really warm and cozy through it's giant windows so we went inside finally to rest and eat. Funnily enough for us, about every ten minutes someone in our tiny group would walk by and one of us would run outside to grab them. Before you knew it we had about eight people crammed into a booth. With the warmth and the light and the kir and beer and being surrounded by happy French speakers, things started to look up :)

That night was the night I noticed most people left their shoes outside of their room. I wondered why that was.

Knowing that it was exam week, I didn't want to bother anyone. But I really wanted to meet them! I took the marzipan shaped like strawberries I picked up in Brussels and I wrote a note to my roommates in my awful French, telling them who I was and that I was excited to meet them.

Sadly, the next morning, there was no response, so I went off on my first day of duties in Louvain-La-Neuve. We all met up at the ILV, got instructions for even more important paperwork, and started off to the Town Hall to register as temporary citizens. Then some of us went to go get our new Belgian-to-Belgian sim cards so we could actually call and text people we met. After that we thought we were giving ourselves a break by going to the mall and shopping during the soldes (winter sales). We should have known how tiring shopping could be!

We all decided to take a break and go home. We were supposed to meet up for dinner at the university's dining hall. I arrived home, like always to an empty apartment, but this time there were three notes left for me on the table! How exciting. However, I didn't even get to read them as I crashed into bed and powernapped until my alarm went off. That alarm was so scary! I wasn't used to the new cellphone and I jumped out of bed and started rushing so I wouldn't be late for dinner. I run downstairs and who do I see? Two of my invisible roommates.

Of course that would happen to me, the moment my roommates appear, I'm late and have to be somewhere else. I rushed through the kitchen yelling hello's and I'm sorry's to them and in my terrible French mixing up words like "maintenant" and "ici." But that was not the worst of my worries.

We were given meal tickets worth a certain amount at the dining hall. I was just going to get some delicious frites and a drink with desert. I'm waiting patiently in line, talking to a friend behind me, Mike. The guy behind the counter asks him what he wants. He skips directly over me. I was sort of sad so I just stood there. Everyone in line was getting the same thing. I thought, oh man, I got in the wrong line... I guess I have to get this set plate, but that's okay it looks okay, I'll eat it. So the plates are lining up and finally since no one is asking me anything I take mine and I'm about to walk off when a guy says "non!" It turns out I took his plate. Yep. His plate. Oh and it happened to be THE LAST ONE OF THE NIGHT. Yeah, that's right. I kept trying to say "take it! I don't want it!" but the guy behind the counter kept saying "no you take it, it's my fault" and I was just like "All I wanted was frites, please take this plate!!" But my french just came out like garbage to them and they kept telling me it was okay.

So embarrassing.

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