What I Miss from Belgium

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My last semester in Belgium, studying at the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven (KU Leuven), was an eyeopener.

KU Leuven was found in 1425 as the first Catholic university in Europe. It is about 15 minutes away from Brussels via train, and Leuven itself is a large university town with 90,000 inhabitants. Partially because KU Leuven has a strong European studies program, more than 7,500 international students both from inside and outside of Europe are studying at KU Leuven.

Every Friday afternoon, you will see long lines of local students dragging their suitcases to the train station to spend their weekend at home. Riding a bike is the most popular way to move around the city. When you walk on the street, watch out–you can get run over by bicycles if you do not pay attention. Those intense bicycles were, though, less intimidating than a group of hundreds of scooters spreading a full-road and rushing to the same direction, which I encountered in Taipei.

All architecture in Leuven were so pretty. Even when it rains, I enjoyed walking down the street seeing how the pavement stones changed their color from pinkish gray to jade green. Even it is windy and snowy cold outside, it was still fun to look into the windows of shiny clothing shops, or cozy cafes and bakeries on a street.

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There was my favorite park near to my residence. It had a small waterfall, a huge ruin-looking rock monument on the lawn, and its beautiful tree-lined street leading toward the main library building. In December, the park hosts a small Christmas market, where you will find hot wine, candies, lanterns, and all those festive stuff that can warm up everyone’s heart.

I can keep going and going describing the beauty of the city, but I must say, what I miss the most from Belgium is its multi-lingual environment.

Well, so… I have never really experienced living in the environment where I speak both Japanese and English, until I visited the Belgium: I grew up only speaking in Japanese, and I really had no one who spoke Japanese with me in Indiana, US.

It was truly a struggle for me at the beginning. As I switch my speaking language

ベルギーにあるルーベンカソリック大学(KU Leuven)に留学して、人生の見方が大きく変わるような体験をいくつかしました。

KU Leuven1425年にヨーロッパで最初のキリスト教大学として発足しました。首都ブリュッセルから電車で15分ほどの距離にあり、90,000人の住むルーベンという町全体が、大学のキャンパスのような所です。ヨーロッパ学が強いこともあってか、現在7,500人以上のヨーロッパ圏内外からの留学生がKU Leuvenで勉強をしています。

毎週金曜日の午後には、地元の生徒が週末を実家で過ごすため、スーツケースを弾きながら駅へ向かう長い列ができます。自転車が町の中で一番一般的な交通手段で、道を歩く時は気をつけていないと、ものすごい勢いで走ってくる自転車に轢かれそうになります。そんな自転車も台北で見たスクーターの大群よりは怖くないかもしれないと思いますが

ルーベンの建物はどれも素敵です。雨の日でさえも、桃色がかった灰色の石畳が、雨に濡れて翡翠のような緑色に変わっていくのを見るのが楽しみだっだり、風や雪の寒い日も、道に並んだ綺麗な洋服屋さん、可愛らしいカフェ、ベーカリーを窓から覗くと幸せな気分になったりしました。

住んでいた寮の近くには公園があって、小さな滝や、遺跡のように見える大きな岩のモニュメントがある芝生のエリアがあり、図書館の方に伸びる並木道には、12月になるとクリスマスマーケットの出店が立ち並んで、ホットワインやお菓子やランプといった、見ている人がクリスマスの気配にワクワクするような商品が所狭しと置かれていました。

こんな風に、ルーベンの綺麗な街並みをずーっと語っていられそうです。

Thank you for reading! And see you soon.❤️

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