I have been in Belgium for over 2 months now, and now that the initial craziness has passed and I’ve comfortable settled into my new home I’ve been able to calm down and explore.
I’ve been taking a French class and have made a few local friends which have really helped with the language, and which has given me the confidence to travel to other cities on my own since communication is no longer such a big issue.
Antwerp Part 1
This trip was basically to Street Art Belgium, an outdoor /indoor graffiti art expo. Artists showed more traditional work on canvas in a little gallery space, while several others painted huge murals in Luchtbal, a suburb of Antwerp. Free and super, super awesome!
Lier/Antwerp Part 2
This second trip was a visit to two family friends who live in Lier, a really tiny town really close to Antwerp. I spend the evening with them in Lier, and then they took me to see “the sights” in Antwerp, which were fantastic.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing that I learned there, and probably so far in this trip, is to LET YOURSELF GET LOST. I had an hour to kill pre-concert and got lost the way back to the venue, which resulted in me running into 3 members from Local Natives on the street and getting to chat and take a picture.
The following day I did a hop on/hop off bus tour of the city (which is worth it!), and met a girl on the bus which I ended up exploring the whole town with.
It’s all a matter of giving out good vibes.
Unfortunately it poured all day so I wasn’t able to shoot much, but I went to the KIKK Festival here, which was basically a really awesome design convention. I sat in a theatre and listened to designers give talks from 10-6pm, and it was wonderful.
Also, if you’re here, go to Okawa if you like sushi, but don’t get the sushi lunch box. Get a simple roll or Sashimi/Nigiri, and tempura. They seem to do that best.
- CityMaps2Go iPhone app- Get it! It’s awesome and it will save you! It works on GPS so you don’t even need WiFi and shows you exactly where you’re at. It also lets you bookmark places and look for places by name and address just by downloading the map of the city.
- At least in Belgium, a GoPass 10 train ticket (available if you’re under 25)- 50 euros gets you 10 train rides, which can be used during an unlimited time span. Perfect if you’ll be staying in a place for a while and are planning to travel a lot.
- Make friends with the locals! Don’t stick to hanging out with people who came with you from your school, and try to be in different classes since it will force you to speak to people you otherwise might be too shy to interact with. You will get to not only practice the language, but also get to go to awesome things you might otherwise not have run into.
- Look for festivals and events! If you’re a student or under 25 you get insane discounts to things that are absolutely worth it! For example, the KIKK Festival in Namur was free (!), and a ticket to go to the opera will cost you 15 EU for a good seat vs. 80 EU if you didn’t meet the criteria.
- Don’t get an ombre dye here. DO. NOT. DO. IT. Or a haircut, honestly.