I hate to say it, but life here in Liège has kind of gained a mundane normalcy to it, that I never thought it would. I thought I’d feel like an outsider for the 5 months, a Brit in a sea of Belgians. But, in fact, I’ve got used to it all, and I’ve settled in so much, that even the strangest sight of Liège doesn’t surprise me any more.
I’ve got my regular supermarket which is dirt cheap and good quality (FYI it’s called Delhaize); I’ve got my timetable in order and I can even survive the 8.30am starts and 8pm finishes! Even more impressive, being surrounded by the French language, or even the Belgian dialect, doesn’t seem so terrifying anymore. In fact, I have found myself giddy with surprise on several occasions when I’ve heard someone around me speaking English, which, I suppose, is good in the long run for this Erasmus business. Even people in weird ensembles getting on the bus doesn’t shock me anymore, as it’s unusually common in this city (it can vary, but today there were several Smurfs on board).
My favourite thing about Liège so far is though, apart from the Schtroumpfs, obviously, is that there is always something going on. Whether it’s a cultural event in the city centre, or an event organised by the Student Union or even the students themselves, there is always something to do or see or visit. In fact, at the moment, there’s a rather bizarre initiation like event taking place on our front lawn… I’m not asking any questions or risking a sneak peek.
Classes are pretty much in full swing, and I’m going to be completely honest and say I’m going to have to work exceptionally hard this year. Keeping up with notes and readings and everything else is a lot of work, even for the local students! But thankfully, all the teachers I’ve met have been incredibly nice, and even more so when you say you’re an Erasmus student. Even just introducing yourself before the class is handy because then they will take you into account; talk slower, write things on the board, or ask if you understood everything afterwards.
Despite the stresses of previous weeks, most international students here have found that if you want something doing, do it yourself. It requires a lot of effort on your part, especially in the first week of classes, but it will help immensely in the scheme of things. And then, you’re just like a regular Belgian student… Eeep.
I could totally be Belgian. Waffles and I get on extremely well together.