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Europe

The Belgium Experience Part II | Christian Ying

One of the best parts about studying abroad in Belgium is the fact that there are so many cities to see within Belgium. My program, CIEE really made an effort about explaining the cultural differences within Belgium and wanted to expand our knowledge beyond Brussels by taking us on day trips all around Belgium.

Here are just a few places we visited:

Leuven:

 Leuven, which is the capital of the Flanders portion of Belgium was one of my favorite cities. Leuven is in the northern portion of Belgium called Flanders. Flanders is a Dutch speaking territory where Brussels is actually located in. I was very interested in seeing the cultural differences in the Flanders portion of Belgium because even though Brussels is technically in the Flanders territory, most people in Brussels speak French. Personally, as I walked around and talked to the locals, Flemish people were a lot friendlier than the French-speaking residents in Brussels. Also, I thought that the Flemish-speaking residents in Leuven spoke better English than those who live in Brussels.

Leuven is the home of Stella Artois, a well-known Belgian beer and has been brewed there since 1926. Leuven is also known for having the oldest university in Belgium and is a cultural center for art and music.

Some highlights:

Sint-Pieterskerk Church  oldest church in Leuven

Sint-Pieterskerk Church oldest church in Leuven

Stuk Arts Centre

Stuk Arts Centre

Bastogne:

 We went on a guided tour of battle sites and monuments around Bastogne where General McAuliffe and the 101st airborne division held out against a superior German force.

Monument in Bastogne

Namur:

 The only city we visited in Wallonia, southern portion of Belgium was Namur. We went on a tour of the famous Veves Castle. It is known to be one of the key heritage locations in Wallonia and has been standing there since the 7th century. The castle has been in the Beaufort family since its resurrection and continues to be in the family today.

Namur

Veves Castle

Antwerp:

Antwerp is the second most populous city in Belgium, after Brussels. It is located in Flanders on the right eastern bank of the river Scheldt, which is linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde. It is known for having one of the largest seaports in all of Europe and for its supply of diamonds. I was lucky enough to visit Antwerp during Snorrenclub Antwerpen’s parade. Snorrenclub Antwerpen was previously named, “Purr Antwerp Club,” which is an organization based in Antwerp that encourages mustache’s and celebrates people who have them.

Antwerp

Antwerp

Purr Antwerp Club

Purr Antwerp Club

Gent:

 Gent is another city we visited in Flanders. I say “Gent” because that is how the Dutch spell it but when referring to it many people spell it “Ghent.” It was a very interesting city, which looked similar to Amsterdam.

We first arrived at the STAM- Stadsmuseum, a heritage forum for the city of Gent. It is located in the historic Bijloke site. It highlights Gent’s cultural attractions and is a platform for an active heritage policy. It includes a chronological trail of objects and multimedia, which trace the development and growth of Gent. It’s main room: raison d’etre shows the city itself in glass, which people can walk on.

Some highlights:

Raison D'etre

Raison D’etre

Castle of the Counts

Castle of the Counts

Graslei and Korenlei

Graslei and Korenlei

Famous Graffiti Alley in Werregarenstraat

Famous Graffiti Alley in Werregarenstraat

 

Fun facts about the architecture in Gent:

Many of the buildings have pointed roofs that are jagged. They are jagged because all houses in Gent used to have chimneys in the front and in the back and chimney cleaners would need to clean them using those steps. Also, we noticed that certain buildings have more steps than others. Buildings with more steps mean that the family that lives there is more wealthy.

Bruges:

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Bruges twice during my time here. It is one of Belgium’s most known cities. The only way to see Bruges is to walk around Markt, the main square in Bruges, do a biking tour from Bruges to Damme (get to see Bruges’ Medieval, its old harbor, windmills, and the countryside), and do a boat tour as well.

Bruges

Bruges

Boat Tour in Bruges

Boat Tour in Bruges

Christian Ying

Christian Ying

Merci/ Dank u/ Danke,

Christian

Christian Ying is a GWSB Junior, double concentrating in Marketing & International Business.  To learn more about the Business, Communications, and Culture program in Brussels through CIEE, click here.  

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