It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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And yes, I am saying that in all seriousness.

Sadly, I cannot say I have been avoiding this wave of festive cheer, instead revelling in the fact that Christmas is nearly upon us!
All throughout Liège, the lead up has begun; gingerbread St. Nicolas biscuits in the local supermarket, posters indicating when “St. Nicolas” is coming to visit shopping centres, Christmas lights, and lets not forget the Christmas markets! Since the middle of November, stalls have been popping up in several locations across the city, all ready for the rush that will come with their opening in early December. I am incredibly excited for the markets  (as you can probably tell) – hot chocolate, peket, local delicacies and masses of stalls to peruse at my leisure! Christmas shopping European style!

I’m not the only one getting into the festive spirit, as Christmas gives the chance for 99% of the foreign students here the chance to go home and spend time with our families and friends. I can’t deny that it’s been hard to be away from home for a lot of us, so Christmas is doubly exciting this year. In the student residence, where we’ve gone another week with a day or so without water, we’re all talking about holiday plans, as well as decorating the residence, and even getting a tree! Christmas tunes have already been blasting through the halls, and it’s still November… A bit embarrassing, really… But we all accept it with good will and cheer, because of course, that is the holiday spirit after all!

In other news, the workload is coming in thick and fast, and it’s getting pretty hard to keep on top of it. At this point in Edinburgh, I’d probably head to the library, but here the library isn’t exactly on par with that of Edinburgh. The system of taking books out is pretty strange, especially considering the ease of which one can borrow a book back home. It’s all manual, ie. you have to ask someone if you can take the book out the library, then they write down your details etc. If the book is in the main University library, you have to submit a brief application form in order to get the book you need. Like I said: strange. And at times, infuriating. There is also a huge difference in computer numbers, and places to work, but you can usually find a small spot without too much difficulty.

In the next couple of weeks, we will have 3 days off because of strike action; we can’t say we weren’t warned about the Francophones and their striking. It’s really interesting to note that the strikes are incredibly well supported here – well, more so than back home! The rector of the University sent us an email regarding the strike on the 7th, while maintaining neutrality, also suggesting solidarity with the workers, which, from my point of view, is great to see.

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