Tuesday, March 01, 2011
On 20 September 2010, the great adventure started: I arrived in Leuven to begin my Erasmus stay. Before the beginning of the courses, some “orientation days” were organized. I’d warmly advise them to the future Erasmus Belgica students. During these days, different activities were organized so that it was possible to meet other Erasmus students, to get to know the town, the university and all the good places to go out. After these days, I felt a bit more at ease in the city. When the school year began, I had to choose some courses and it wasn’t the easiest thing to do as there were several conditions which had to be fulfilled and as there were too many choices. At the end, I decided to follow Nederlandse Taalkunde III: diachroon-theoretisch, Engelse taalkunde III: synchroon-theoretisch, populaire genres, Nederlandse volkskunde and communicatiewetenschap. My favourite course was Dutch linguistics. It was about historical phonology and syntax. After these lectures, I was able to explain, for example, how the Proto-Germanic word “hafjan” became the modern Dutch word “heffen”. I also learnt a lot about the development of the modal auxiliaries, prepositions, conjunctions… In total I only had 12 hours classes a week, but it did not mean that it was relax. I had to work a lot by myself: writing papers, reading, leading a survey…
Despite all this work, I still had some time for going out and meeting new people. The best place for that was undoubtedly the café “Pangaea”, since a lot of Erasmus students often hung out there. It was also really cheap: if you were a member of the café, you had free coffee and tea and you could participate to different activities. Moreover, it was also possible to follow some conversation classes in Dutch, English, French and German. But my favourite activity was definitely theater classes. It took place once a week, except for the week before the performance during which we had a rehearsal every day. It was also a good opportunity to practise English, as most members of the group were Erasmus students. Here is a short video screened during our play. After the weekly rehearsal, we used to go out and have a drink so that we became friends. In the cafés, I discovered the famous “chococcino”. I had never heard about that before I came to Leuven. It is actually a hot chocolate with whipped cream. It is really tasty and the best place where you can savour it is the “chocoladebar”. Cafés or bars were not the only place to go out. Parties were regularly organized (e.g. Halloween party, talen zuipen,…) and I could not help noticing that Dutch parties were much cleaner than the Bunker of Namur, except for the Erasmus parties. In my opinion, these last ones were the funniest.
As far as my room was concerned, it was really spacious and well-located. It was near the university and the city centre. Furthermore, my housemates were friendly; even though I did not have many contacts with them, they gave me some advice when I needed help and we had a nice talk when we met each other in the kitchen. Actually, it was quite easy to find a room in Leuven. I began to search for it at the beginning of July. I went to the housing service where I received a list of all available rooms for the first semester and then I visited a few rooms and made a choice. The housing service was not the only service that was really good: the whole organization for Erasmus students was perfect. The Erasmus coordinator immediately answered students’ questions, signed all the papers and was always ready to help students.
Now that I have the opportunity to take a deeper look at my whole Erasmus stay, I’ve realized I spent a very good time in Leuven and I met really nice people from all over the world. I’ll always keep sweet memories of my stay. So I can only wish to the future Erasmus Belgica students to enjoy their stay as much as they can!
Posted by Sylvie Cujas at 12:50 PM