Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Speculoos and the New European Parliament"

Wow this has been a crazy couple of weeks! 
The title is just a combination of the three biggest places and FOOD that have been taking up a lot of my time the past few weeks.
I'll have a couple of blog posts between now and the weekend (hopefully) to catch up on the cool things that I've done. 
I wanted to start this one just absolutely raving about the Speculoos in Europe! I was really missing my peanut butter and this is so much better! If you guys find it in the states, you should definitely pick some up and try it. It is just like a cookie crunched up into a butter form!
I posted a picture of it so you can check it out!!

As I mentioned in my last post, I have now started my internship at New Europe newspaper, but I was waiting until I received my Press Pass to post anything more about it. 

I am working at New Europe three days a week - not on a consistent schedule just yet - like I said - things have been crazy. 
Julie and I had our first story published last week online (www.neurope.eu). It was just pretty much a summary of the World Radio Day from last Thursday, February 13th!
I do have my second article topic and I will start work on it tomorrow, but I'm going to let it be a surprise. All I will say is that I plan to have a lot of fun with it! ;)

After this past month of living at Van Orley as the only Americans, Zach and I finally got some company from the rest of the Hendrix students, who moved over in the last couple of weeks from the temporary housing on campus.
Last night Van Orley International Student House threw a Welcome Drink Meeting, where they hosted a Meet and Greet. All of the residents were encouraged to drop by for a glass of champagne and to meet all of the other international residents! There are students here from around the world, which is really cool and adds to the diversity that is part of the Brussels program! Here's a shot of the full group and one of Zach and I at the Van Orley Welcome Meeting. 

We had a visit to the European Parliament last week during the week with one of our Institute of European Studies leaders, Madgalena Sapala. She comes here from Poland and used to work in the European Parliament, so she got us VIP access and let us tour the Parliament and even meet the Polish elect to the Parliament. I've attached our group picture below:

Zach and I went to Ghent last Tuesday, but I will do a separate blog post on it later this weekend. 
Thanks for keeping up with my blog! I'll have another post about Ghent later this week and we are going to Antwerp this weekend, so be on the lookout for more pictures!

Monday, February 3, 2014

When in LUX, do as the Luxumbourgish do!?

Well, I survived my first trip away from the Brussels area to explore new regions in the beautiful European continent. In a trip almost too far to make a day trip to, four of us rode a train to the tiny country that is Luxembourg and explored the highlights of its capital city!
Except for the train to Bruges two weeks ago, this marked my first true train travel and I have to say, it was pretty cool. We had the train mainly to ourselves, except for a few crying babies on the way down there (not pleasant). 

When we arrived in Luxembourg, the first thing we noticed was just how clean it was. Brussels is a really pretty city, but it still maintains some qualities that a big city has, a large number of homeless people sleeping with the accumulating trash piles on the sidewalks waiting for pickup. In Luxembourg City, there was no such problem. The weather was absolutely terrible, but every side street and alleyway was clean and very safe looking. 
Our first stop of the day was to see Luxembourg's Golden Lady, who is a reminder to the great suffering that this small land endured during World War I. Her presence above the city commemorates those who lost their lives protecting the land of Luxembourg, a breathtaking sight indeed.

From the Golden Lady, we ventured down the cobblestone streets looking for somewhere to eat. We passed several options, looking for the one that enticed our stomachs (and our wallets). Ultimately, we ended up at a place called LOL, which was quite ironic because there was not any laughing inside. After the lengthy three hour train ride, Ally, Del, Zach, and I were just glad to find somewhere we could eat and relax for a few moments and find where our next destination was located. 

The food was just alright, but it was cheap so we did not mind. From the restaurant, we began trekking in the snow, sleet, rain and extreme wind toward the Museum of Modern Art (known as the MUDAM) which was near the north side of the city, perched upon the top of the hills that overlooked the metro below. On the way, we passed a couple of very beautiful sights, including Sint Michael's Cathedral (which someone had left the door open to, so we don't know if we were actually allowed to be there or not, since nobody was around) and the Grand Ducal Palace, where the royal family lives. 

After seeing the beauty of St. Michel's, we resumed our journey to the MUDAM, which then took us by the Corniche - the most beautiful natural balcony in all of Europe!

After stopping for directions, we figured out that the MUDAM was still quite far, so we headed onward and upward on the steep climb up the cobblestone (sleet and rain covered) to get to the museum. At times we questioned whether it was worth it, but there was no doubt that it was once we reached the Philharmonie Concert Hall and the MUDAM next door. 


As I took many photos from inside the museum, most of these are already on facebook, but I just wanted to highlight two or three that were the most amazing exhibits in my opinion. 
The first area was devoted to Lee Bul, a South Korean artist, who challenged the boundaries of space and perception. We thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits, as it was almost like a mind bending experience. 

This is the Maze of Mirrors, which it is very common to get lost in:

The second is just one object, but uses the properties of reflection and refraction of light to cause a stunning piece of art. 

After seeing the beauty of the museum (for free might I add because we were students), we then decided to make one last stop on our journey through Luxembourg - to the Cathedral of Our Lady Luxembourg. This too was an enormous building that radiated beauty, with the intricate design and proper upkeep. 

As you can probably tell by now, we were thoroughly exhausted by the end of all of our walking, so we ended up eating dinner at a quite Americanized restaurant called the Independent Cafe. They had amazing food (I had a bacon cheeseburger) and quite reasonable prices on drinks. We stayed a few hours and then walked back to the train station, where we began our long ride back to Brussels! We had a great trip and were very satisfied with the beauty of the small nation - smaller in square foot than the state of Rhode Island, for all of you who might be interested. (:
We are already in the talks about our next trip, but I will be sure to post some after I start my internship this next Tuesday with New Europe newspaper! Until next time everyone! Thanks for keeping tabs on my blog!