Down the street from the Nachbar Huis, the dorm where I live, is the Oude Markt, which is like the town center. Oude Markt is a cobblestone street littered with bars, coffee shops, and little stores perfect for roaming through on an afternoon. In the Oude Markt is where I had my very first Belgian waffle, a must have! Leuven is a pretty small town and Katholieke Universitet Leuven, my university, has 40,000 students, so college kids dominate the town. All of the students and the proximity to the Oude Markt make Leuven the ideal city for us to go out in! Since school has not officially started, not as many students are here yet, but I have heard that the city can get pretty rowdy when they do; I cannot wait to see what it will be like once everyone arrives!
Since Leuven is so small, everyone gets around the city via bikes, which I think is perfect! It's cool to see all different types of people riding bikes, from college students to grandma's riding to the grocery store, Del Haize. Here they even ride in the rain and it rains a lot in Leuven! Not only is it faster than walking, it is better for the environment, something the Belgians care about deeply. After seeing everyone on a bike here, many of us went to Velo, the bike rental, to get our own bikes for the year. Even after a few days I can already tell that having a bike is going to be essential to getting around in Leuven. After this year, I am going to be ripped from all the bike riding!
Looking back on my first few days in Leuven, I am looking forward to many more adventures and learning more about Belgian culture.I am excited to see more and do more. I am grateful to be here and cannot imagine being anywhere else for my year abroad. Leuven already feels like my European home. Based on this first week in Leuven, I can tell that this is going to be one of my greatest adventures.
My very first Belgian waffle and my bike!
My first night out in Leuven!