Saturday, July 3, 2010

Au Revoir, Bruxelles

Well – it’s my last night in Brussels and I am absolutely exhausted. It’s been six weeks of interning, touring Brussels, traveling throughout Europe, and trying to make the most out of our time here. Here’s an update of the last week:

About 8 of us were supposed to go to Barcelona last Thursday night, and we were incredibly shocked to show up at the airport only to find out that the Vueling flight had been cancelled due to the labor strikes in France – which meant we couldn’t fly over France en route to Spain. (IMPORTANT – if you buy a flight on a low-cost airline, beware of the major lack of customer service and likelihood that your money will not be refunded.) I think all of us went through various waves of anger, depression, laughter at the absurdity of everything, and sadness that we were not going to be have jugs of sangria or plates of paella, and no Mediterranean beaches or Gaudi sculpture to enjoy.

After that great disappointment, I went to Paris for the weekend (again) and was able to enjoy some of the sights this time. Monday – Thursday were extremely hectic at work; I was unable to finish my projects within the given time, but my supervisor and I decided that I would continue to work remotely from California. She took me to an Ethiopian restaurant near the Grand Place, and it was pretty good. I should also note that we’ve been having some incredibly warm weather these past few days. As much as we complained about cold and rainy Brussels for the past 5 weeks; it’s been humid and near the 80s and 90s – just like home!

We had our pool party on Friday at Dr. Sheridan’s house and went out at night for a final time (coordinating this outing was far more difficult given that we no longer had our cell phones – we felt so handicapped). I finally saw the Jeanneken Pis and Delirium Café, so my Brussels experience became a little more complete. On Saturday, I visited the Musee des Beaux Arts (Magritte and Art Moderne), the BelVue Musee (Belgian history – really cool!), and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History (there was a special exhibit on Congolese soldiers).

Overall, it has been a great experience. I learned a lot during my internship, I met some really great people (both within the AU program and my host family), and I learned a lot from Dr. Sheridan’s lectures and Belgian tours. I’ve gotten to travel to some amazing places, get first hand access to Belgian culture and politics, and get wrapped up in World Cup madness. As excited as I am to go home to California, I am grateful for this experience.

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