Mostrando postagens de Setembro, 2010

Atomium, Flea Market, Fête de la BD... biking around Brussels

Yesterday it was very sunny so I decided to go for a bike ride in the morning to enjoy the day. I went to the Atomium, one of the big tourist attractions in Brussels, which consists of a huge metallic-looking structure representing an atom. I didn't go in because I wanted to spend the day outside and save the 8 euros of admission fee, but it was nonetheless a pleasant trip. The Atomium is very shiny on a sunny day (and at night too, thanks to the lights they turn on at sundown).

Later in the day I joined Courtney (an American girl from Florida/California I met through Couch Surfing) at the Flea Market at Place Jeu de Balle. It was interesting to see how much random stuff can be together in the same public square. The prices are not cheap, specially if you are chatting in English and look like a tourist, but the view is quite peculiar. From old cameras, to China, to 70's furniture, you could find mostly anything there. One very annoying thing: many of the salesmen don't see…

Finally, a bank account

I overheard that Belgium is one of the most bureaucratic countries in Europe but I guess I could only believe after having gone through the system myself.

It took me 6 visits to different institutions to be able to open a checking account to receive my scholarship. Good heavens! I suspect that they are closing off the banks as one of the efforts to make the lives of illegal immigrants more difficult, but I feel like they are taking the wrong approach.

For one: if you come to Belgium on a student visa (or mostly any long stay visa) you have to register with the Commune (city office) and get a Permis de Sejour (permit to stay). They must believe that will help keeping track of the people who come live here. Sweet delusion. Most of the people "without papers" (as they say) simply ignore that rule and never show up to register.

Well, when you do have papers and go to register, they are not very friendly or smiley to start with. Then, after you registered and gave them your addre…

Settling in Brussels

Good day to you all! I know I have been absent for a while, but you have to forgive me - from precarious sleeping places to intermitent internet connections, a bunch of things got on my way of sending news to you.

I am finally settling in Brussels. Today I move into the place where I will hopefully spend the whole year. I will finally have an address and a stable home.

My first couple of days on the old continent were a little messy. I arrived here on Friday at 7:30am, but for me it was like 1:30am. I really just wanted to go to bed and sleep. Dimitri, my CouchSurfing host could only receive me at 7pm, though, and wanted to go partying after that. Thank heavens that my new classmate Marta (who graciously went to pick me up at the airport with Carla) offered me her house for the day. She and her boyfriend Alberto, both from Italy, were very nice and cooked a delicious Cabonara pasta to welcome me to Brussels. I even took a nap at her place.

In the evening, I went to meet my CS host at …