September 30th, high time we started this Edinburgh Erasmus blog. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Allie, and I’m spending the first semester of this Erasmus year at Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. One important thing to note is that I am not British, and will not be writing about how much I miss squash, Tetley, Irn Bru, clotted cream, Yorkshire pudding, etc. But I sure do miss Edinburgh.
My first couple weeks here I came to know what real homesickness is. In Edinburgh I lived in Pollock. My parents moved me in and I met all of the friends I still adore on the first day. I knew everything was going to be okay. Brussels was different. I felt so lonely, and stayed in bed and cried all day. My feelings were more, “Oh my god I’m gonna be sick,” than “What a wonderful place this is! I’m so looking forward to all of these new and exciting opportunities!” But I’m slowly getting there. I tell you this not to scare you, but to let you know that it is normal. Everyone has different experiences, and everyone has different reactions to new places and loneliness. Just know, that even when your friends on Erasmus are broadcasting their good times on facebook (and why shouldn’t they?), it doesn’t mean they aren’t having bad times as well.
Skype helps. And so does facebook. It’s the same as when we were starting our first year of uni, but at least for most of us we were going through that in our native language. We need to be told by our friends and family that everything is going to be okay, that we will make friends–even if we know it already, buried somewhere beneath all that anxiety. The thing about my accommodation is that access to the internet is shaky, and when I have trouble connecting I feel like I’m going to die. But that’s getting better too: both my ability to manouver Macs’ network preferences, and my ability to hold back tears.
I’m now about to begin my 3rd week of classes, and things are not going too terribly. Making friends was and is difficult when you’re generally a shy person, and on top of that, shy about speaking French. However, I have met a few people: 2 Erasmus students, my Belgian Tandem partner, a 70-year-old mature student named Michele, who associates me with Ally McBeal and raves non-stop about Scotland, and a cat. The cat belongs to the family I’m living with, and up until now had always run away from me. However, he has been sleeping on my bed for the past 6 hours. I fed him some raw salmon from my sushi so he should now be eternally indebted to me. Boy do I love a good furry companion.
I promise next entry I’ll tell you more about the university and city and less about my sniffles. Brussels has so much to offer and despite what some say, it really is a beautiful city.