Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of these typically ‘I have to be on Facebook every day’ kind of people (although it would be nice); however, my Erasmus exchange has just made me realise how much we rely on it here. Events are co-ordinated via Facebook by students and even by the Université de Liège itself. Pub crawls, trips to Paris, masquerade balls and all sorts – all the info is sent on Facebook. Not to mention the importance of Facebook when you meet millions of people through Erasmus and the University courses and they all look similar (the Italians are still confusing me somewhat). It always gets so awkward when you can’t remember someone’s name, but Facebook once again comes to the rescue! Simply find a mutual friend and you’ve got their name for life and will no longer seem like a slightly rude, if not forgetful, person. I know of one person here who doesn’t have Facebook, and of course they survive, but I can’t deny that it has been a lifesaver on many occasions.
I’ve found Liège to be brilliant with organising events, as I’ve previously mentioned, but recently they’ve done one better and invited Erasmus students to a social involving regular Liégeois students too, so we can practice our French as well as making connections with students which will be so helpful whenever we’re stuck about work or places to visit or cheap shops or whatever. Integration is a key part of ULg and I really applaud them for it. Oh, and at all these events, they give away free drinks and sandwiches, so even if you don’t go for the French, at least go for the free food, cause it’s not that shabby either.
At Sart-Tilman (my residence and your likely residence too if you’re an Erasmus student and book well in advance) it’s getting cold and autumny. While it’s not an incredibly aesthetically pleasing building, the surrounding area is beautiful, boasting fields and forest 2 minutes away from the student accommodation. For me, this gives me the opportunity to exercise for free by running through the forest, where you usually bump into a fair few people on a circuit, and gasp a wheezy ‘bonjour’ their way. Depending on your preferences, there is also a gym a couple of bus stops away, which is also very popular and offers classes from boxing to yoga to archery and everything else in between. Personally, I prefer running as it’s free and I enjoy just crawling through the forest at my snail’s pace; however, the gym is very inexpensive at 25 euros for a year membership, although most classes do cost on top of that.
All in all, I have settled into life here remarkably quickly, mostly due to the incredible people I have met here and the friendliness of the whole Erasmus and Liège community and I think most students have similar experiences of this warmth from a place nicknamed the ‘Fiery City’.