Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The quest for an apartment

It must be said that the people of Leuven are very peculiar about their will for you to find a place. I guess they believe that if you do not know how to get to a certain place, you just do not deserve getting there. I agree that this is a great starting point for a worthy philosophical debate. However, in daily life it translates to 'How the fuck do I find Fonteinstraat 68 when there are no numbers on the buildings!? &$(@#$&@#$'

There is light till 20:00, but as of 14:00 it is quite dim. In the early morning and around 16:00 you may get a few 'sun pings', but that's all. I still don't find it depressive, but interesting...still...

Another interesting thing is that there are almost no grocery shops. You can find lots of small and ultra expensive supermarkets (e.g. Tesco), but almost no grocery shops, no neighborhood bakeries....maybe I'm missing something which I'll learn to see later on.

Just to keep you on the loop - today, my main occupation was calling immo (real estate) agencies and 'landlords' as they are called here, just to hear that they have either rented their place already or that they won't rent it for a couple/one semester. It was pretty frustrating, but on the bright side - I got to know a significant part of the city by foot. Another positive side effect is that I ran into an amazing discount-if-you-buy-6 packs-of-something supermarket. You can imagine that I ran like a mad-rat from shelf to shelf enjoying  calculating prices and comparing them to Israel.

I managed to get back to the hostel on time to prepare dinner (they shut down the stoves at 20:00) and got a great pasta with broccoli. In another post we'll further discuss the daily schedule of the Leuveneans. But just to tease you a bit I will just tell you that it's the safest place I've ever seen for bike riders, and it's getting even safer after 19:00...just because there are no cars in the streets after 19:00.

That's all for today. I still have a list of 20 possible apartments to review and prepare a list of phone calls to be made tomorrow which is also the first orientation day at the university.

And for Jen, get ready, there is a cute guy here at the international office who learned Semitic languages and would be happy to talk with you about Ebla, Yiddish or how difficult is Russian compared to Hebrew.

Love you all,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A first shiny day

Landing in Brussels was swift. In 10 minutes I was passed the border control and picking the luggage. The police in the border control asked whether I was coming to work and showed interest in what am I going to study.
I've never been to an airport in which the luggage arrived so quick. It was quite an expectations build up!

Got myself a SIM card and headed to the train station. The two vending machines were broken and everyone had to queue int the tickets office. There was one queue significantly shorter than the others, which no one approached, so I did.

In 15 minutes I arrived to Leuven to a great shinny day. The city looked great from the train station, I great square and renovated buildings around. A university kiosk awaited just nearby the station, everything was great. The hostel was pretty nearby and the guy at the desk antipathetic. Though, the atmosphere here is great. Lot's of stressed international students without a permanent place to stay and only talking about apartments. :-)

The local population has a weird life, if you can call it that way. They work from 9 to 12, 14 to 17 and than everything gets closed. The supermarket turned off the lights at 18:30 while I was paying. In the hostel we can cook or get hot water for drinks only till 20:00.

Another thing I observed is that they have no grocery shops, only a few small supermarkets.

The university staff was till now very friendly, but not very efficient till now. But that for another post.
Here are some pictures.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Every story has a start

Our story starts in an hectic Sunday when Jenny was born....

Don't worry I was just joking.

I'm in Ben Gurion's airport, after an exhausting day in which I once again found that Pelephone's system is the dumbest in the world, that I have a favorite hairdresser (who would believe it?!), that I still can manage to install an PC in 30 minutes (not without Omri's help discovering that I've unplugged the electricity from the motherboard). 

Today we also went to the doc, purchased travel insurance, got food for the cats, made our wardrobe's winter-summer clothing switch, finalized the last PC backups and prepared my suitcases....

What a day!

But the most important thing today was saying goodbye to a bunch of wonderful guys (and girls of course) who made with me a long way, working on a great product and creating our own micro-society.

Many times at the airport they go nuts with me. They probably don't manage to 'profile' me.....Today the security check was swift. I was 'just' asked whether I have family in Israel. They didn't try to indict me for mission or just being 'unusual'.

The girl in the check-in was helpful assisting me to 'smooth' my luggage overweight.

Now, I'm awaiting to board the plane to Brussels. I'm expected to land at 10:00am. After a 25 minutes train ride, I must register at the university by 12:00 and in the way drop my luggage at the hostel.

When all this will be done, my next task will be finding a place to live for me and J.

Jen also still has tons of things to do at home before her flight.

This is going to be a hell of a ride. Love you all and see you here soon!