Monday, October 4, 2010


So I am interning at the Western European Office for the State of Illinois. They are part of the Department of Commerce and help with FDI and getting European Firms into the state and getting Illinois' firms to expand to Europe.

So far it has been really great. The office has four other staff members; one British woman, one French woman, one Irish woman and an Italian woman.

It is also great because I hope on the tram a block from my house and just ride it down about 20 stops.

Amsterdam: The Trip

I can only apologies for the long pause in blog posts!

Amsterdam seems so long ago but it was only two weekends ago. I had a wonderful first weekend in Europe.

We got to the bus station and sat down for a three and a half hour bus ride. I got to see Rotterdam along the way.

 Here is what our hostel looked like. The bathroom was just a floor with a toilet and the shower came out of the wall. We had a great view of the canal and we were about a block from the hopping area of town.

 This was our staircase of doom. Three flights of death.
 Our group in front of the Can Gogh Museum. Which was amazing!  It liked it because for like 5 euros you got in and also got an audio guide. My favorite was one of Van Goghs paintings that he did for his nephew and was this deep blue color. 
 Me in a clog. It took a lot to not buy a large clog to take home...
After we took pictures we went to the Anne Frank house which was very moving. 

Sitting outside the Rijksmuseum. It was supper nice there. Lots of Vermeer and Rembrand. My favorit was this painting called Old Woman at Prayer.

Oh yeah. We also did a two hour tour of Heineken and got to drink three beers for 15 euros. Good deal.

Saturday we went on a pub crawl and made friends. All and all an exhausting weekend filled with lots of touristy activities.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Royal Museum for Central Africa

Today I only had one interview so I decided to go to the Royal Museum for Central Africa. It is outside of the city in Tevuren. It was built for the 1897 World Exhibition to show off the Belgian Congo by Leopold II. The exhibition displayed objects from Africa, stuffed animals and in the "Hall of the Great Cultures" Congo's most important exports were displayed: coffee, rubber and tobacco. In the park, a copy of an African village was built, in which 60 Africans lived (imported from the Congo). The exposition was a huge success.

This museum was super awkward.

1) The STUFFED ANIMALS: Like real stuffed animals.

It was so sad to see all the baby animals there. They specifically went hunting for them!

2) It had an awkward "White Man's Burden" feel to it.

They had status of Africans seeming weak and like they needed protection and made the Belgians seem the the protectors.

It was uncomfortable to walk around and see the results of the raping and pillaging of a country 180 times the size of the Belgium.

In Bruges

We went to Bruges as a class on Saturday. It is one of the best preserved pre-motorised cities in Europe.

Bruges used to be a MAJOR port city during the 13-15th centuries. It was blessed with a natural harbor and a connection to every river in Europe. This allowed for almost all of the commerce coming into Europe to go through Bruges and because trade=money the city flourished.

But by the 1500's the river to the North Sea was silting up and ships could no longer pass though. The end of commerce caused the city to stop building and tearing down old buildings.

Here is a photo of me with the Belfort.

One of the many cannals in the city. Most homes have a little door that is right next to the water.

Lace is a big deal in Belgium. Bruges has a lace making school that attracts people from all over the world.

The Belfort is right on the town square and they had a beer festive there this weekend and it was packed!

Style in the Grand Place

Below you will find two interestingly dressed people at the Grand Place.

Note that she is wearing 4.5 inch stilettos on a cobblestone street. I can barley manage this hike in flats.

I loved how this guy was dressed. So chic and practical, also look at that hat.

The First Week + 2 Days(But not Bruges)

Well I survived the first week. We had classes on Thursday and Friday after what seemed like weeks of orientation.

We did classes in the history of the EU, how Belgian politics work, and the history of Belgium. The history class was taught by a 70 year old man from Ireland who like to tell jokes and talk about some random thing.

He started off the class with some real classics:
1. A doctor, architect and politician were fighting over what job was created first.  The doctor said that “Eve was made from Adam’s rib, so God needed to do surgery”.  The architect said “Yes but the chaos needed to be organized and planned before the creation of Adam”.  The politician stood up and said “Who do you think created the chaos?”
2. I asked the new mother what she named her child and she said “Jimmy”.  I responded “What?  Every Tom, Dick and Harry is named Jimmy”
3.The Irish laugh at jokes three times: The first time they hear it, when they tell the joke to someone else, and six month later when they finally understand it.

We spent Saturday in Bruges, which will be covered in another post!

Monday we had one political class and one econ class that was just an overview. I also had two interview( one with the state of Illinois and the other with Lilly[the chemical company]). I really like the state of Illinois office where I would be doing research of FDI and getting FDI to Illinois. Lilly not so much- moral qualms about working for a chemical company.

Today I had a meeting with the Belarus business council(WHICH I LOVED) and I went to the Museum of Central Africa-which will be covered in another post. It was super awkward.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A More Coherant Description of My First Three Days PLUS Pictures

So I re-read the post from last night and realized it did not make a lot of sense. Take two.

When I got to the airport I meet up with 3 other AU kids and we took a cab to a hotel and arrived at 10ish. We could not check in until 2 so we had to walk around the city and grab lunch. I had mussels and fries. Wonderful. Something I guess I just forgot about Europe was the not tap water at restaurants and most of the time beer, wine, or soda just costs the same. 

While we did not eat here I had a little AUWRFC moment when I saw this restaurant. Which I will be returning to. 
We went back to the hotel after lunch and napped before meeting up for dinner-which ended up being at the same place as lunch. After that we walked around and watch the soccer game at a bar. And went to BED.

Saturday we toured of the Grand Place and we saw all of the old Guild halls and the Beer festival, people were lining up at 10AM, and it is a celebration of all the Belgian beers, which is WAY up in the 100s. During our tour the a copy of the Manneken Pis was being paraded around because they were going to change his costume. Because yesterday was the anniversary of the liberation of Belgium from Germany in WWII, the he was dress him up as a soldier. But I think they were going to change him into a beer tasters costume.

Did I mention that they hooked up the statue so that the statue peed beer?

At this point you may be saying "Kelsey, why do they have a statue of a little boy peeing?" Here is why: In 1142 there was a battle between two lords.  Back then battles were an event so the lords had brought there family to watch the battle.  One of the lords boy ran out into the battlefield and started to pee.  This was the so funny they made a statue about it.

After we metroed out to AUBC and got the "Don't do XYZ with your host family" speech. I have another AU student living with me so I am not awkward alone. And I am SUPER awkward with not knowing French very well. Also I have been woken up for meals twice already- dinner last night and lunch today(even though I was at breakfast at 9)- I just keep laying down to read and falling asleep.

Today we went to a castle about an hour away that my host mom's cousin owns. See photo.
It was built in the 13th Century as a fortress and converted into a home in the 15th Century. It was super cool with a large garden and we had a picnic with GREAT apple cider.

Orientations tomorrow!

Also these are wonderful:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The First 48.

I have been in Europe for two days.

I will be here for 112 days.

Part of me feels a sense of sensory overload that is more than a little bit hard to describe. Everything is new and exciting with infinite possibilities. While this may sound like the first week of college it is a little different because language has to be taken into account.

So far we have only had orientation and moved into our host family's home. I have a roommate but we each have our own room and share a bathroom.

We went as a group to the day to tour the Grand Place where all the old guild halls are located. BUT our tour group was made difficult by a few interesting factors. 1) The HUGE beer festive happening in the square, 2) Weddings happening in the town hall, 3) A man in some sort of cat costume walking around asking for kisses (Jerry told us bachelor parties are taken very seriously here).

I just noticed I have glow stars on my ceiling. WIN.

P.S. Tomorrow we are going to a castle. A castle that my host mom's cousin OWNS. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Flight

I may be alone in this-but I long for the days when this is what air travel looked like:

And not this:

It would be hypocritical for me to suggest that you need to dress in a suit and heels to fly because, lets face it, times have changed and that is just not practical. Now that does not mean that one has to look like the just came from rugby practice.

Here is my suggestion for a good trans-Atlantic crossing outfit that does not look like you are going to a cocktail party or yoga.

The keys for this look are ease, comfort, and style:

First-say it with me Jersey Wrap Dress.

This should be in a dark color because it is forgiving- both because it will be hard to notice if you spill something and two it will hide anything you need hidden.

Next-a wrap/large scarf. Because do you really want to use the airplane blanket? No.

Pick a bright color that you like. It will give your outfit some pop and keep you warm of an arctic airplane.

Shoes- your itinerary will dictate how many airports you need to hike through but no matter what remember flats are your friend. You will have to take your shoes of at security and those caged heels that take you ten minutes to get on and off won't earn you any friends at TSA.

This is another chance to have fun with your basic black dress. No need to match to scarf but pick a fun pair of flats.

Keep jewelry limited. Especially if you have a long flight a head of you. Those chandelier earrings may rock now but in 10 hours you will not be happy.

A simple necklaces and a watch will do.

And last but not least-the bag.

My favorite topic.

With rules limiting you to two carry-on's the best way to get around it is have a bag within a bag. You need your computer, cell, book, ipod, wallet, magazine, makeup case, glasses case, sunglasses case- the list goes on. But you really do not need any of that from the point you are dropped off 'till you check in.

Keep the necessities, passport, secondary ID, a credit card, some cash and your ticket in a clutch that you can grab easily.

Here is the big bag.

And here is the clutch.

I love this clutch more than anything else.

Try not to draw TOO much attention to yourself- flashy jewelry, clothing, or accesories. Otherwise you will be a target for thieves at the airport.

I may have a little over a week left until I leave and a bag to pack but I am already thinking about what to wear on the plane. What do you wear to fly?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Packing pt. 2 The Pain of Packing

So I have been procrastinating packing for Europe... I do not want to think about taking so few bags for such a long time.

But tonight I finally started to pack. And by pack I mean that I stared at my closet and decided to try again when all my clothes were clean. That way I should have a clear look at what I really have at my disposal.

I am also waiting till my suit comes in to start.

And I have clothes at the dry cleaner.

It will happen...really....

And that ladies and gentlemen is how one rationalizes procrastination.

UPDATE: I still have not started to pack for the trip I leave for in 48 hours.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Packing pt. 1

Anyone who I have had even the most limited travel experience with will know three things:

1) I cannot pack well and I hate to pack
2) I over-pack
3) I never pack the right clothing

Because of this-as you can imagine-I have been stressing out about packing for Brussels for, oh, seven months.

I know that the first day I will want to wear all the clothing I don't have the first day. Alas, I shall just have suffer through.

I am limiting myself to two bags going and three coming home.

I have also decided that I will take pictures of all the outfits that the clothing I do plan to take will make, shoes, jewelry, everything. That way I know I have outfits for every occasion and it will be easy to get ready in the morning.

My mother on hearing this asked why I needed photos. I said it was because I need input from people(mom, sister, friend, roommate ect.). She still thinks I am a little delusional for taking pictures to be able to get dressed in the morning. Has she met me? I need a little help in the morning whether it be coffee, a splash of cold water, or just pictures of acceptable outfits so I have one less thing to think about.

How do you pack? Are you a careful packer or do you throw things in and hope for the best?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The First Post

You may be wondering why the first post of my study abroad blog is happening over a month before I leave the good old USA. Two answers exist to that question.

1) I need your help in figuring out what to pack- I will be gone for 3 1/2 months with drastically different temperatures, lots of travel to places with a different climate, and limited space. Any input/suggestions/outfit choices you may have are much appreciated.

2) I also wanted to set up the premise of the blog. I will be exploring European culture and a major part of that is style. The goal will be to embrace the style and feel for the fashion of the city I am in. I will post outfit that either represent the city, I have seen in the city, or that I wore in the city.

And one final thought:

If Washington, D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people does that make Brussels the Paris for ugly people?