From Sep-19 till Sep-28 I stayed in a Hostel.I found a rather neat place with lots of friendly faces (of the guests) and in a great location. The hostel was crowded with students who were all doing their first baby steps in the city, looking for a place to rent and exchanging tons of information. It turned to be the best support group I could expect to get. Only Matthias from the International Office gave them a fair fight over friendliness, but these people were staying with me hours over hours at the hostel and outside, thus became my definitive survival kit. Many decisions and researches were saved when someone else already did that and shared with everyone, including in which university residence has free places in order to tell so to the housing office.
The group included people from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Brazil, Fiji, Albania, India, Pakistan, Czech Republic and your humble servant of course.
The hostel itself was weird in certain things. First of all it looked cleaner than any hostel I've ever been to, had a nice public space, a fully equipped kitchen and a nice yard. On the other hand, the so called 'breakfast' was merely bread, jam, butter or chocolate spread, apples and cornflakes. Ha...and there was the hot drinks machine.
The hot drinks machine was the first place were we all met the Belgium deadline…8 pm...no more hot drinks. Everyone in Leuven go to sleep…sorry, did I say 8 pm? I should have said 7 pm. I promise to keep complaining about this.
So, the rules of the hostel said that the kitchen and hot drinks machine aren't allowed to be used after 8 pm. It felt a bit like a military camp - if you want to cook you need to arrive at 19:00 and get done by 20:00. The official explanation was fire security, i.e. that the reception is getting closed.
In two cases the owner went nuts, shouting all over the hostel. B/c of a misunderstanding he threw an Albanian girl to the street in the middle of the night and kept shouting for minutes. In another case Portugues-Spanish lads used the hot drinks machine after midnight (plugged to another power outlet) and later rudely handled the security camera. In the morning the owner was again roaming the place and interrogating everyone who appeared in the night cctv-tape of the kitchen as soon as we finished to brush our teeth.
There were also some none students. Those I remember most, were the two Hungarian villagers who drove all the way from their village nearby Budapest's airport to the UK to meet their daughter and now they stopped for a rest in Leuven before driving back. We had a pleasant conversation, in which they were explaining me why I should believe in god (b/c that what the bible says) and telling me that once there were lots of Jews in Hungary and that they contributed a lot. They also asked whether it's right that we (Jews) 'learn all the time'. I got a very tasty sweet defined by them as 'cottage cheese covered with chocolate'.
After finishing talking and drinking a tea, the two went to sleep in their room. Moments later they hesitantly approached me. The man mumbled 'there is black man in my wife's bed'. His wife kicked him and he soon made a significant change to his recount of the events 'sorry, a brown man is sleeping in my wife's be'. I went with them up their room. The Indian guy who was peacefully sleeping, was very nice and moved to another room (another girl was by mistake in his bed, and he took what he thought was a free bed).
In the past days some of the girls from the hostel complained they got bitten by bed lice. I didn't experience it.
We are still meeting with the hostel people. In a place were you are a foreigner this is like an adoptive even if defective family - after all, you don't chose your family nor did I in this case.