You could say that the summer has "started"-- especially in the U.S.: school is out, the weather's getting nice, and the days are the longest of the year. Here in Belgium, however, school hasn't completely finished, and it's currently the end-of-the-year period of craziness. I'm completely immersed in it-- I have been trying to cram everything I need and want to do here before I leave on July 9th. So, needless to say, there are quite a few things to do.
This spring that I have passed in Belgium has been a spring unlike one I have ever experienced, and unlike I will ever experience again. Describing it in words would be pretty tough, so I will do the majority of the description with a somewhat random assortement of photos. Scroll down the page--the text that is above the photos corresponds with each one, and the asterisks divide ideas and places.
I took a bike ride to the Waterloo lion (about 10 km from my house), passing beautiful old farm houses on my way down the Chausée d'Alsemberg...
and arriving at the famous Waterloo lion, marking the battlefield where Napoleon was finished.
Tulips on my street....
Each weekday morning, I rode the bus...
Passing the Square des Heros (the monument to the war veterans) in the middle of Uccle, which is in the southern part of the Brussels-Capital region, or about 20 minutes on the bus from my house in Linkebeek.
After getting off the bus, I walked up this street...
Toward my school, Notre Dame des Champs.
Up the creaky wooden stairs...
To the "rassemblement," where the teachers take roll, and then to class...
A classic classroom scene...
The corner where my group of friends and I meet for lunch
With the English class one day in March, we went to see an exhibition called l'Amerique: c'est aussi notre histoire (America: it's also our story). It told the story of the interactions between Europe and America from the European colonialization up until modern times.
In that exhibition was an old American Field Services ambulance... the American Field Service ambulance drivers during World War I were the ones who started the AFS exchange program.
This year, I particpated in the Belgian scouts-- I helped organize activities for kids ages 5-8. The Belgian scouts aren't at all like American scouts-- it's a bigger deal here, and much less formal. Their final party of the year was in April--here are a few pictures:
My friend Trey (another American exchange student) and I photographed his AFS backpack in St. James' park while we were in London in April. AFS rocks!
My friends and I at the Bal de Rhetos-- the Belgian equivalent to the senior prom, only a lot more relaxed. No worrying about grand marches, dates, prom king or queen, who drives to the dance....just dressing up European-style (cool yet fashionable) and dancing to a DJ who plays the right music. And--the strangest thing for me as an American-- I bought a (totally legal) beer from my geography teacher.
Odd violins in the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels-- a collection of musical instruments from all over the world.
Belgian countryside taken from the bus between Libramont and Bastogne. I went to visit the town of Bastogne with some other American exchange students-- Bastogne is where an important part of the Battle of the Bulge was held during World War II.
A couple weekends ago, I took a two-day trip to Amsterdam. On train at 6:20 A.M. Saturday morning from Brussels, and back to my house Sunday night at 11:30. I took around 200 pictures...here are some:
My camera was straight...the buildings were slanted.
I have grown to love bright red flowers with a European city background.
Recently, I explored a part of Brussels called Ixelles, snapping pictures along the way.
A classic Brussels street, somewhere near Avenue Louise...
one of the older Brussels trams-- they go all over the city.
One of the Ponds of Ixelles
The streets in this area are lined with houses that look like these...
and you sometimes find cars like this...
I wandered around the grounds of the Abbaye de la Cambre, an abbey that dates back to the 13th century...I walked between the hedges and took a look inside the beautiful church.
As I returned back into Linkebeek, the bright red flowers that I passed in the planter in front of the Delhaize supermarket seemed almost flourescent with the sun shining through them.
The blue, patchy-clouded sky provided a beautiful background for the church in the center of the main square.
I slid down the handrail rather than walking down the stairs toward my house.
It seemed like the right thing to do.