I’m sorry I haven’t written sooner, I’m very easily distracted.
I was reading over my last post and I noticed I didn’t write anything about packing… probably because I wasn’t done at that point.
Well obviously that’s in the past – but I can tell you this, I was very lucky.
Before officially coming to Belgium, I was on vacation with my parents for two weeks. The first week we spent with family, and even my brother came, so between our stuff and presents, we could bring four large suitcases out of Canada.
That was really handy since I took up more than two all by myself. One was for [mostly] just parents’ stuff and one was full of presents for our friends and family in Belarus. My brother took his stuff in a carry-on because he didn’t have very much.
Then, between my parents and I, we had six available carry-ons (three suitcase types, and three “personal items”). Well, who’s going to tell a lady her purse is “too big” to be a personal item… Anyway, I had my own stuff and one of the carry-ons my parents brought was also filled with my stuff.
The reasoning was that I’d be living here for 10 months…
Now my reasoning is that I don’t want to do laundry, so I’m glad I have lots of clothes that I can go through!
Mostly I packed clothing, shoes and toiletries, but I didn’t bring something I now wish I had made room for…
Back in first year of university, when I lived on res, I brought tons of physical family photos and I taped them all over the walls near my bed.
I wasn’t even far from my family, and I went home every weekend, but it was nice to see them, and to personalize the space.
It was also a good way to talk about my family to other people because I could point to the people I was talking about, or even remember the actual circumstances of the picture.
Now, I don’t have that…
But I have plenty of empty wall space which I could have filled up with pictures of people I love.
One more note about packing, people will tell you not to pack too much because you’ll buy clothes once you get here and leave with more than you came with, but I’m on a budget here. The priorities for where I spend my money are rent, food and necessities for school – not clothes! Anything extra will be for entertainment and memory-making.
On to things that are not packing-related.
As excited as I was for this opportunity, it’s still hard to leave all your friends and family back home and come to a new country, with a new language and a new culture all by yourself. Having never experienced it before, I didn’t know what to expect, and while I’m still happy to be here, it’s tough.
I’m incredibly blessed back home, surrounded by people who love me, but here, at least for now, I’m alone and it’s kind of boring. There’s no one to talk to, no one to visit or explore with and no one to share anything with… Thank God for the internet!
Skype has been really useful to talk to friends and family wherever they are in the world and now I’m back to writing here. I share pictures on Facebook (and I’ll add the links here for those who don’t have Facebook so you can see the albums too). Email is a great way to stay connected, and regular mail exists too. It was so nice to come home on my second or third day alone and see a postcard for me from Canada!
Speaking of posting letters, I have some postcards to send home, but everything I’ve read makes the posting system seem complicated and inconvenient. I think I might have passed by a post office on one of my walks, but it might be a challenge to find it again 😛 Hopefully I’ll get this sorted out soon enough.
As I mentioned, I’ve been walking a lot. This serves a few purposes; one, to save money; two, to learn a little bit about where I actually live – this really helps me to feel more at ease and ultimately more at home; and three, it doesn’t hurt to lose a little weight/take in some sun.
I’ve had quite a few important things to do as well. I’ve registered at school (classes start on the 16th), I’ve registered with the local/communal authority (an officer still needs to come to my house and I need to wait for my ID card in the mail), and I’ve set up a bank account.
Eventually I’ll set up something with my cell phone… if I can find a place around here.
And soon enough, school will start so I’ll have some kind of routine. At the moment, it takes less than 25 minutes to walk to school (though this will depend on which building I’ll have to go to) and it seems like all my classes are two hours, from 8 am to 10 am on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and two classes a little later on Wednesdays. That seems pretty manageable 🙂
I don’t want to guarantee those times though because they don’t have class registration here, and everything’s a little complicated so nothing is certain until you’ve been doing it for a few weeks.
Anyway, some other general impressions include cute houses all over the place! But also a lot of public urination because public bathrooms cost money… I think it’s cruel to charge people to use the bathroom.
I’ve seen a lot of hairdressers here too. Way more than necessary.
And just today I caught myself walking with my head up and smiling, but I thought about it, and I’m not sure why. Is it something I’ve noticed people here doing so I want to fit in and make a good impression? Maybe. But I’ve also seen a lot of people who don’t do that at all. Am I just trying to make myself feel better because smiling release endorphins? I don’t know…
One thing’s for sure though, I’ve greeted a lot more people here than I normally do at home. And everyone I’ve spoken to has seemed genuinely friendly.
Anyway, I think that’s all for now. I’ll try to post updates more regularly. Also, watch out for French posts. I was asked by the French department at school if I’d be willing to write some short blogs in French about my experiences here, and I did, so I’ll send those to Carleton, but also post them here 🙂
So far, I have an album of my house here: New House
and an album of plants/flowers here: Flora
(I know it’s a big album [200 photos] but some of them turned out really well and look almost professional)
So for now, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy my updates from Brussels!
Until the next time I sit down and make myself write, God Bless! Love you all ❤