Sunday, June 6, 2010

First couple days back in Belgium

Well, I just flew into Belgium last Thursday, June 3rd. I flew from Houston to Newark and then from Newark to Brussels. It was the identical flight that I took last year. Overall I think that the total time it took me to get from the ground in Houston to Brussels took about 15 hours. The flights weren't that bad. Airplane food is still not that great, but it's definitely better than it was a decade ago.

I arrived in Brussels around 8 am on Thursday. After checking into my hostel and dropping off my luggage, the first thing I did was head over to the bike rental shop to pick up a set of wheels. Like I mentioned before, a bicycle is essential in a city like Leuven where the greatest distance between any two points in the city is probably 3 or 4 miles.

It just so happened that on the same day I arrived, a Ph.D. student from IMEC was giving his public Ph.D. defense. After checking into IMEC for a couple hours and revisiting some friends, we all left to attend his presentation at the university. Unfortunately for me, his presentation was in Dutch. Somehow I managed to stay awake for the entirety of his talk, despite not being able to sleep on the plane. I can't really attest to my understanding of his defense since I didn't understand a word, but at the end everyone was clapping, including the judging committee, so I'm assuming he did well.

After the reception, we headed out to the city center for drinks and then met up with everyone else for dinner. Almost everyone ended up getting some type of spare ribs, since that seemed to be the restaurant's specialty. I didn't take pictures of my food this time, mostly because of the fact that I was too tired to bother with it.

On Saturday, I met up with Kayla, a Hopkins grad who's also spending some time this summer working at IMEC. We went on a bike tour around Leuven in order for Kayla to get familiar with this small city and also to refresh my own memory. We biked around the city to the town hall, a local botanical garden, IMEC, and the city center.

A spent the first couple nights in a hostel, but after 4 days I found somewhere else to live. I'm actually staying at the same flat that I stayed at last year. There were very few openings throughout the city, so I resorted to a place I already knew.

This coming weekend I'll get a chance to post an update of what I've been up to this past week.

Until later!

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