Well, it’s a lot warmer here in Rouen than the last time I posted. Spring has definitely sprung, as I am writing this from a café in the city center under clear skies and warm sun. What little snow we had melted by the end of January, giving way to lots of rain and short, cloudy days. Starting last week, the clouds gave way to lots and lots of sunshine. The past few days have been gorgeous – a perfect representation of Europe in springtime.
My commute to class consists of a short walk to the academic buildings. This is similar to the distance from my apartment to my classes at Pitt, so it was not much of a shock to me. Some of my friends live in the city center, meaning they have to take a bus to their classes every day. I love my building’s proximity to my classes, but it is much more socially convenient to be living downtown. My room is a fifteen minute bus ride from the city center, so it requires some more planning to, say, meet friends at a café or go for a walk along the river. Even given all of this, I am thankful for the days I can wake up late and still be on time to my 8:30am classes!
I figured I would use my blog from here on to detail my travels throughout the semester. One of my first trips was to Belgium, where I checked out Brussels and Bruges. The food was phenomenal, with delicious waffles, crunchy frites, and rich Flemish stew keeping me full throughout the weekend. Speaking of frites, they take offense to calling them “French fries” as the Belgians claim ownership of the snack. We nearly got kicked out of a shop for calling frites by their North American name.
Bruges was the highlight of the trip, a well-preserved medieval city that has a character all its own. This was the perfect introduction to historical Europe, with old-fashioned stone buildings forming the bulk of the city’s architecture. Just walking around Bruges was enough to soak up its beauty as every street had a different building to marvel at. Arriving early in the morning before the rest of the tourists was excellent, giving us the city to ourselves for a few hours.
One overnight bus later, and I was back in my own medieval city of Rouen. I found myself comparing the two cities a lot throughout my semester, finding immense beauty in each one. This was the perfect start to my time in Europe, setting the stage for many more trips to come.