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.