Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Finally in Brussels

It seems like I have been awake for days, and honestly have no sense of time. I left New Albany at noon Monday, and now it is 9pm in Brussels Tuesday. I guess that’s not so confusing, but I still have no idea how many hours I’ve been awake. I was lucky to get a nap in this afternoon.

After eight hours in the very back of the 747 I escaped a seat that was impossible to sleep in and gossiping flight attendants. I found myself only slightly disoriented under florescent lights and blue signs directing me towards immigration. I found my bags, one housemate, and driver. In a huge blue van we drove in what seems like circles until we arrived at our new home.

Months ago when I was signing up for a homestay I fretted over the prospect of moving into a strangers home half-way across the world. However, my homestay is so lucky! My host Kathleen could no be more nice or helpful. She has truly prepared and anticipated all our needs. Plus she is young and a French professor (I know so lucky considering I am young and don't speak French hehe). She lives in a walk up built around 1700. You have to walk through this wooden gate that just looks ancient. The house it self is nicely renovated and modernly furnished. We live in the ‘heart’ of Brussels. We are literally a six-minute walk from everything. I have my own room, and it is perfect. I’ll post some pictures of the house when I get a chance (I know Dad wanted to see it). It’s a small lavender room with a white metal daybed. There are a set of wooden French doors that lead out into a small garden with a cute cafĂ© table and chairs. The doors are covered with perfect white curtains and the bedding has a pretty floral design. Kathleen even left me a big bar of Belgian chocolate on my desk. Everything about this room feels European and feminine. Each minute I spend in it reminds me that I am here, and yes my adventure has finally begun!

Tonight Kathleen took us out to dinner and a quick tour of the surrounding area. As we walked through the streets I heard the buzz of languages I couldn’t identify. Restaurants of every fashion and ethnicity line the cobble stone streets that intersect at such odd angles. Hair salons and huge plate glass windows guarding chic fashions intersperse the building line streets. As we walked into Grand-Place my breath was literally taken away. The buildings in the square are covered with glided facades, gables, rooftop sculptures that feel old, but timeless. I felt like a tourist for gawking, but I didn’t care. It seemed like everyone in the square was gawking at the sight. Kathleen says when the weather gets nice people just grab some beer and sit down in the square and talk far into the night. It’s the perfect backdrop and so far from America. It reminded me of one time we simply sat down on the SLU mall and were gawked at and eventually run off in less then 15 minutes. I am in a different world, and it is beautiful.

We ate French fries and strange meats for dinner. Not my favorite meal, but Kathleen says it is very typically Belgian. The restaurant was filled with young and old. Freitland is open 24hours a day and caters to the inevitable bar patrons at 5 in the morning. Now everyone is jet lagged and falling asleep. I have a huge day tomorrow filled with orientation and filling in details. It is just so good to be here and feeling so comfortable.

I love you all. I am safe and looking forward to tomorrow and days after.

Peace and love,
Amanda Mar


Rebecca Gorley said...

so glad to hear about your travels! your new chapter! smiles
and lots of love!

Anonymous said...

hi, i am going to visit brussels in end of the june. i am looking for the homestay. maybe you can give me some advice where i could find the informations about it>??