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Maraika in Belgium

The Real Beauty and the Beast

I’m pretty sure I visited the set, or at least the inspiration behind the Beauty and the Beast film(s)! With my program, we took a trip to the Alsace region of France, as well as some of Western Germany. We visited Strasbourg, Riquewhir, Trier, and Freiberg. All so gorgeous! Each town was so quaint and lovely and covered with flowers (Wysteria is in bloom right now everywhere in Europe it seems…it’s so lovely). In Strasbourg, we took a tour and saw “Little France,” where quarantined patients once stayed during times […]

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When a (wo)man is tired of London…

I am not tired of life. And I’ll never be tired of London 😉 London is probably my favorite city in the world (or at least of the cities that I’ve been to). I think a lot of us get a feeling in certain places, a feeling that we really belong there. That’s how I feel whenever I am in London. There’s something about its energy that’s just exactly what I want to be a part of. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a complete Anglophile, and that I’m determined […]

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Brussels, I love you

With all the travelling I’ve been doing it’s easy to get caught up in what I love about other cities I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. However, it’s important not to forget how much I love and how lucky I am to be here in Brussels! Going away makes me appreciate it more, if I’m being honest (insert you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone/thousands of other song lyrics here). The bruxellois are so nice. People here are truly polite and caring, everybody thanks everybody and makes sure to be […]

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Old friends

FINALLY I am on Spring Break- although I should be doing some of my break homework right now on my few days back in Brussels, I am so overdue in an update! I am so sorry everybody. Bear with me 🙂 I got to do something really cool this weekend. My senior year of high school, I participated in an international exchange program (shout out to SBHS TIE!) and was partnered with a French student, who came and stayed with me in Vermont for a few weeks, and who I […]

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The travel posse is back at it

I’ve made so many new, amazing friends through my program here. We’re from all over the country but thanks to CIEE, we’ve been brought together! And oh the adventures we’ve had. There’s a group of us that does a lot of travelling together. We always have a ton of fun and do so many cool things wherever we may be. These past few days, our group in some form took on Venice. My, oh my I could write a lot about Venice. What a beautiful city! Though it doesn’t quite […]

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Roma, che bella

I was lucky enough to have my mom come and visit me for a week. And, even luckier, we were able to go to Rome to visit some of her family! Even though I’m a quarter Italian, I’ve never been before and haven’t met any family that lives there, so this was such a cool experience. To be brief, Italy was absolutely gorgeous. I’m kind of a history buff and it was amazing to see so many ancient ruins of all these places I’ve only read about in textbooks! My […]

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Ireland and Budapest

The travel bug has officially hit, and it seems I am away more than I am in Brussels this month! It’s a little exhausting, if I’m being honest, and I do feel bad about leaving my host family so much. However, I don’t know when I’ll have these opportunities again and I am loving all that I’ve been able to do. Last weekend, I got to visit Ireland, where one of my really good friends is studying. Her family came to visit her so I cam over, too! We spent […]

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Long overdue post

I apologize for being MIA for so long! Two weeks ago, we had midterms, and since then it’s been a whirlwind of activity. Midterms were difficult to say the least. My school is certainly more European-style than I am used to and I found my midterms to encompass much more material that I usually study and most of them were essay-based. I am not a huge fan of essays on exams, so this was something I was absolutely dreading. Luckily, I found that everybody at my school continues to be […]

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Art & Culture

Brussels is an art city…something I love to take advantage of ???? My host mom, Brigitte, is actually a painter herself so she loves to go to all sorts of arts shows and I love to tag along and/or take her recommendations. About two weeks ago, Brigitte took me to BRAFA, which is an insanely large art fair held every year in an old airplane hangar near Brussels’ port. It was spectacular. There are galleries from all over the world that come and set up little mini exhibitions- it’s kind […]

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Battle of the Bulge

On Saturday, CIEE took a trip to Bastogne, in the southeast of Belgium (close to the Luxembourg border). Bastogne is considered the center of the Battle of The Bulge (La Bataille des Ardennes), which took place in December of 1945-January 1946. Quick little history for those (like me) who have forgotten everything they learned in high school history class: on the 16th December 1945, the Germans attacked the front line of the Allied forces (mainly American soldiers in that area) in “the Bulge,” an area where the line between Allied […]

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Culture shock and the start of classes

Culture shock is something that is very familiar to me right now. I definitely felt it full-force in my first few days here, I would be trying to understand what my host family was telling me, and while I understand most everything I’d miss a little detail about their house rules or practices and do something wrong. I’m very lucky, they’re all the sweetest people in the world and totally understanding but I don’t think anyone likes making mistakes! I felt a little helpless. Luckily, from each mistake I make […]

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Learning experiences…

Despite how highly-skilled I think I am at travelling, I definitely fell from my pedestal yesterday. I was on the metro with my friend going to see the Atomium (which, despite everything was very cool). When we got off the stop, I realized my wallet was not in my purse. I immediately called my host mom who found my wallet in my room, so I relaxed and enjoyed my day. However, when I got home I realized she had found my other wallet and I had, in fact, had mine […]

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Being a tourist

Being a tourist is fun. Although I subconsciously hate myself when I take my 100th touristy photo, I know that everyone else around me is a tourist too! A shared culture. This week, especially the last few days, was a weird limbo between our orientation for CIEE/Vesalius College (the school I’ll be attending) and actual classes. I can’t remember the last time I had this amount of free time, but I really feel obliged to go out and explore. So, this led to a lot of touristy stuff. Good fun. […]

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The first few days…

I have spent a total of three days here in the beautiful city of Brussels, and it honestly still hasn’t sunken in that I will be here for four and a half months! Incroyable!  I was paranoid and arrived a day early, which was the best thing I could’ve done. The hostel I stayed in was nice, and I was able to walk around a little and run some errands before crashing and sleeping off the jet lag. The next day, I was well-rested and ready to  go. One of […]

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