Thursday, May 28, 2015

9 months down, one to go: 9 small things I will miss about Leuven

Nine months ago, I wrote about my first impressions of Leuven after being here for one month. as of today, I have one month left in Leuven. Thirty days, that's it. Needless to say, ten months goes faster than I ever imagined. I remember writing that first post, finding it unbelievable that I had already been in Leuven for a month. Now, I cannot believe I have but four weeks left in Europe. My heart is heavy and the only adjective that can seen to capture my feelings is bittersweet. On one hand, I will miss Leuven deeply. I'll miss my friends, the Loyola International Nachbar Huis, and jetting all across Europe. On the other hand, I love home and I cannot wait to see my parents and my friends I haven't seen since Christmas. Plus, my siblings are coming home, so I have a lot to look forward to seeing when I return to the United States. Reflecting on having just thirty days left, I realize I will miss so many things. In honor of the nine months I have spent in Leuven, I decided to round up 9 random things I will miss about Leuven.

1. Really good coffee
I admit, before coming to Europe I really didn't drink much coffee. After this year, I grew to enjoy coffee quite a bit and Europe has some really great coffee shops. I am going to miss vanilla latte's from one particular cafe in Leuven. Not that America has bad coffee, but Europe's coffee is pretty spectacular.

2. Mandatory recycling and expensive garbage bags
Bet you didn't think garbage would end up on this list, did ya? Hear me out: I am so much more of the waste I generate when I have to buy garbage bags and I am required to recycle. Plus, the garbage bags for garbage that cannot be recycled is over two euros, so I never want to have garbage that goes into those bags due to their expense. I feel really great being able to recycle so much and I respect Belgium for making citizens recycle and compost food. It is eco-friendly and honestly, it is so simple.

3. Ryanair
Alright, so flying on Ryanair isn't the most comfortable or glamorous, but I cannot complain when it gets me to Prague for 15 euro. I am so deeply going to miss cheap flights that allow me to explore the world on a random weekend. Dear USA, please get Ryanair!

4. Everything in walking (or biking) distance
Everything in Leuven is within walking distance or can be biked. I love being freed from cars and being self-sufficient by powering my transportation myself. Of course, it is ecological which is awesome, but it is also less expensive and honestly nicer than driving and it doesn't take much time at all. Since everything is withing walking distance, I can absolutely do everything I could possibly need to do. Not relying on a car is more convenient and easier and I will miss the simplicity of walking or riding my bike,

5. The farmer's market
On Sunday, nothing in Leuven is open, so the farmer's market becomes quite the event and a ritual I look forward to. I walk to the farmer's market in the morning and come home to cook a beautiful breakfast with my fresh produce before most of the world is even awake. I am sad this ritual will be ending at the end of next month. It is so peaceful and something I look forward to every weekend.

6. Zara down the street
I am obsessed with Zara and I will miss having one to pop into just up the road. My closet will be sad about that, but my wallet will be joyful.

7. The lack of textbooks
This year, I bought one book for college, setting me back a small fifteen euro. At home, I would easily spend ten times that. I will miss not having to buy textbooks and having to lug them around.

8. Cobblestone streets
Cobblestone streets are beautiful and serve as reminders that their were people on this earth before us who fashioned these pathways and there will be people after us who will use the same paths. Plus, walking along a cobblestone street just feels like you are a part of a fairy tale.

9. Dutch
I admit, I don' speak any Dutch but I will miss hearing it everyday. There is something beautiful about hearing another language that reminds me of being an outsider and for whatever reason, I like that. Plus, Dutch has grown on me and now I think it sounds cute when I hear it.

So, there you have it. 9 smalls things out of a million that I will miss about my European home. Can exams be over already so I can enjoy my last month here?

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