18 May 2010
238 rue Gray
In line to exchange away my last fourteen U.S. dollars, I made a conscious decision: I came to a French-speaking country, I speak enough French to get by, so why not — I’ll speak French whenever I can.
Bonjour. Je voudrais exhanger ces dollars pour les euros.
The attendant took the bills and leafed through them.
And thus began the Francophone fun.
On the way to the apartments, it became quickly apparent that our van driver didn’t speak any English. I asked the driver, in French, how many minutes it would take to get to the apartment, and struck up a conversation (turned out he was taking English classes on the weekends). But our conversation tailed off when my jaw dropped in wonder as we went into the city for the first time.
We met our landlord, Roger, who’s Flemish and very meticulous in a way that only a landlord can be. He wears his glasses on a gold chain. His assistant, Christina, took about 20 minutes to talk me through setting up the washer.
Matt, Lee, and I went down into Saint-Gilles to find a rock climbing gym. We needed some help from a really friendly bearded man, but we found it — a cool hollowed-out building with five-story climbing walls. We stumbled into a street market, bought some waffle galettes, and sampled some smells from the vendors in their carts and trailers. On our way back, we grabbed a beer (a Leffe, my first beer here!) on rue Lesbroussart.
Jetlagged, I slept really well my first night in the flat (I’ll post a photo-tour sometime). We woke up this morning after 12 hours sleep and met Gareth Harding, our program director, for an introductory session. This afternoon we’re buying European phones and going out to explore some more. We have a long weekend ahead — no internships until next Tuesday — so we’re considering heading out of town for the weekend?