French Fries are not French, and Belgium is not boring!

As promised, I am making a second post this week to try to catch up since I missed a week. I couldn’t let down my viewers! (Hi mom and dad). This post will be all about my trip to Belgium last weekend, where I stayed in Brussels and visited Bruges for a day.

Similar to what I said in my last post about Morocco, going to Belgium was never something I necessarily planned on doing. But when some of my friends said they were planning a trip there, I thought, “why not?” And like Morocco, I am definitely glad I decided to go. Traveling there took a pretty long time, because we had to first take a train to Malaga, and fly out of Malaga to Brussels, where we then took a bus from the airport into the city. By the time we finally got to our hostel it was around 11 or 12 at night, and we were all pretty exhausted. We got a quick look at the city as we walked to our hostel. The Grand Place at nighttime was breathtaking, and got me really excited to explore more the next day.

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The Grand Place
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The Grand Place

Friday morning Megan and I went to a restaurant to try some waffles, and they definitely did not disappoint. Afterwards we headed to a free walking tour of the city. As I have mentioned before, I have yet to experience a boring tour guide. The guide for this tour had the most complicated name I’ve ever heard, so he told us to just call him P.J. He was hilarious, and extremely passionate about the history of Belgium. He majored in Biology but ended up doing tours because he loves it, and his passion for it really showed. He also kind of looked like Ed Sheeran, so overall no complaints.

He showed us around the city, and we went into St. Michael’s Cathedral which was beautiful. He also showed us the Manneken Pis statue, and explained some theories and history behind it. For those of you who have no idea what that is, it is literally a tiny statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain. It is considered a landmark in Brussels, and the people of the city take it very seriously. Mini versions of the statue are sold all around the town, many wearing weird costumes (I saw one dressed as Santa Clause). I may not fully understand it, but hey, I give Brussels props for being different and owning it.

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Manneken Pis
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St. Michael’s Cathedral

P.J. told us many interesting facts, some that he was very adamant about us passing on. He made sure we realized that French Fries were not actually invented by the French, but by Belgians. He also made sure we promise to tell everyone that Brussels is a beautiful city (which it is), full of fun sights to see and things to do. He seemed to be under the impression that most people don’t visit Belgium by choice, but rather as a way to kill some time before going to a more “desirable” location like France or Germany. So for all of you reading this, I would honestly recommend visiting Belgium! (And I swear I am not just saying that to fulfill a promise to an Ed Sheeran look-alike).

After the tour Megan and I explored the city on our own a little bit. We stopped at a restaurant that is famous for fries, and I have to say, if I was doubting whether or not fries originated in Belgium, eating those fries convinced me. They were fuller and tasted more potatoe-y than American fries. Absolutely delicious! We ended up taking a metro ride to something called the Atonium, which is a big structure with a bunch of different spheres, and the top sphere provides a panoramic view of Brussels. Unfortunately, we got there after it had closed so we didn’t get to go up but it was still cool seeing it from the ground. We also walked around a park that was nearby which was really pretty.

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The Atonium
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Sunset picture at the park

Saturday we went on another walking tour, again with P.J., this time in the city of Bruges. Unfortunately my phone died, which is my only form of taking pictures, so I didn’t personally take any pictures of our day there. The pictures below were taken by my friends.

Bruges was very pretty, and a lot smaller than Brussels. It had a very old-towny-feel and all of the architecture was beautiful. We walked around the city for a few hours, and go to go inside a few cathedrals which were just as breathtaking as St. Michael’s. We also went to Lover’s Lake, where there are swans and many tourists riding in canoes on the water. It was indeed very lovely and romantic. Overall I really enjoyed my day in Bruges, and would recommend taking a trip there if you are ever in the area.

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The group in Bruges
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Lover’s Lake

Sunday morning Lauren and I went to the Museum of the City of Brussels, which is located in the Grand Place. It had a lot of photographs of what Brussels looked like in the old days, which was really interesting to see. It also had an entire section devoted to Manneken Pis, of course. I told you they take him seriously there. After the museum we made our way back to the airport for the long journey back home. The flight was about 3 hours, but felt much longer because I couldn’t fall asleep due to a crying baby. Gotta love when that happens.

Regardless of the less-than-desireable flight, the weekend in Belgium was a definite success, and I would recommend everyone visit! From the delicious food to the beautiful architecture, Belgium really does have a lot to offer and shouldn’t be overlooked. Paris may have the Eiffel Tower, but Brussels has a statue of a baby peeing. You be the judge of which landmark is cooler.

Until next time,

Shelly

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My Life in Sevilla

My Life in Sevilla

When I sat down to write this blog, my first thought was “oh no, what will I even write about? This week was so boring!” But then I thought about it and realized that this wasn’t really true. Sure, I didn’t travel to a different country or visit another city this week, but why should that make it any less exciting? I’m living in SPAIN for God’s sake, every week is more exciting than the average person’s dull week (no offense).

So if you are expecting to hear of adventures and new experiences in this post, you may be disappointed. But I spent this week in Sevilla, a beautiful city in Spain, so I should probably not be complaining.

This past week marked my first full week of classes at UPO (Universidad de Pablo Olavide). I haven’t written much about the university yet, so let me just give you a quick mental image:  the campus is bigger than I expected, but still pretty small compared to most universities in the U.S. There are no flower patches that change every week like at TCU, nor are there statues of the mascot (what even is the mascot here?) or fountains around the campus. It is basically just a grouping of buildings, that vaguely look like either a prison, insane asylum or rehab center (though at the orientation they tried very hard to convince us otherwise).

Basically, going to TCU for the past two and a half years has severely altered my perception of what a “normal” campus should look like. As it turns out, not all campuses around the world look like TCU’s. So those of you that are there right now, take a second to get out of bed/off the couch, close your computer, and go look out your window at the beautiful campus that we call home. We definitely take it for granted.

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UPO Campus
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TCU Campus

Now that you are back from admiring the 8th Wonder of the World that is our beautiful campus, I’ll continue. I signed up for 5 classes, but I ended up dropping one so that A) I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed since all of my classes are taught IN SPANISH and B) So that I will not have any classes on Thursdays, which makes traveling a lot more convenient.

My four classes are: Spanish Civilization and Culture, Intercultural Communication, Tapas, History of Spanish Cinema. So far, I like all of them a lot! My tapas class is literally a cooking class, where each week we learn to make a different tapa, and we get to eat everything we make! I’m just slightly excited for this class. And for those of you who don’t know what tapas are, it’s a traditional Spanish food, basically like an appetizer in the U.S. Spaniards go to a tapas bar to try different small plates of food, and to socialize with friends. I have already promised my friends at TCU I will cook tapas for them when I get back, so hopefully I’ll remember what I learn in this class!

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Tapas for days!

For about the last two weeks I’ve been sick, so this weekend I stayed in every night trying to get some rest. My host mom had two 15-year-old boys staying with her this week. They were from England and on a high school trip (wish I got to travel in high school!) Because they had a curfew and I didn’t feel up for going out, I spent Thursday AND Friday nights playing various card games with them. Yeah, be jealous of my oh-so-exciting life. They taught me British slang words like “safe” (apparently it means “cool”), and I taught them them how to say “y’all”. Basically it was a friendship made in Heaven.

Unfortunately, my new besties had to leave early Saturday morning. On the bright side, I am now feeling almost completely well again. Maybe card games cure colds? This weekend I will be going to Morocco! So excited! And as of yesterday, I am officially going to Belgium the weekend after! So expect more exciting blog posts in the future.

Your travel-happy friend,

Shelly