Today I went on a group excursion to Belgium with CEA. We visited a small town on the northern coast called Bruges. The town is ancient and has a lot of historical relevance, for example it is nearly 2000 years old and was an important European trade center in the Middle Ages. Belgium, as we all know, is famous for its waffles and chocolate. Prior to this week I was unaware that Belgium is also well known for its beer! We had lunch today at De Halve Maan, or The Half Moon, one of the oldest breweries in Europe. We were served a delicious three-course meal and a glass of their very own beer brewed on site. I had never tried beer before and I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was really bitter…sorry Belgium! I think I will stick with French wine…
We had plenty of time to walk around and enjoy the town so I did a little souvenir shopping and ate a famous (and amazing) Belgian waffle (une gaufre) with melted chocolate on top. So delicious! I also tried some frites (french fries), which Belgium is also apparently known for. And of course I bought some Belgian chocolate to take back to Paris with me.
One of the most interesting parts of visiting Bruges was their language. Although Belgium is a French speaking country and Bruges is only an hour away from the French border, Dutch (also known as Flemish) and German are also official languages of Belgium. Bruges is a Flemish town, so I understood very little of the written language or of conversations on the street. However like most tourist destinations in Europe, many merchants spoke English.
Here is a photo of the market square in Bruges:
So far, adjusting to Parisian life is going smoothly. I have spent enough time in New York City and Boston that I kind of know what to expect and am not constantly panicking, so I am grateful for that. I started my intensive French language class on Thursday, les cours pratiques, which will meet each and every day of the semester for 2 hours a day. My electives and my phonetics class will start next week. I am anxious to improve my French and know the immersion program was definitely the right choice for me. In an effort to jumpstart this process, I bought a short used novel called “L’amour dure trois ans” or “Love lasts three years” on Boulevard Saint-Michel, near the Sorbonne campus, which I am enjoying thus far.
In other news, I have taken a few walks to visit my neighbor, the Eiffel Tower, (pictures to come!) and have sat at a Parisian café and ordered a coffee all by myself. I still need to buy a French cell phone for the semester, figure out where to do laundry, and get a metro card, or un passe Navigo découverte. I have lots to do but fortunately lots of time to do it all. I am a little stressed but I am trying to manage one day at a time. The French tend to take things as they come and not over-plan, so I am glad to be here and have the opportunity to learn this calmness and sense of faith from them.
Thanks for reading!