Archive for January, 2011

As I mentioned last week, it’s still winter, but for me Leuven winter = spring.  And since it’s spring(ish), I guess that means that some of you are going to be visiting soon.  We’ve heard from a number of our friends that spring is the time to head over here, and while we’re more than happy to have you in the summer as well, we’re both looking forward to our first guests since November (once Linds gets back here, of course).

Okay, so I’m probably looking forward to it more than Linds is at the current moment.  She’s actually home with many of you right now; I’m just chillin here, exams finished, not much to do except read and catch up on American TV via the magic of the interwebs.  How long have I been living alone, again?

So in the spirit of these impending visits, and to keep myself busy, I’m gonna take you all on a couple of walking photo tours in the coming weeks—you know, get you used to the surroundings for when you arrive.  I’m hoping to walk one of my favorite run paths through/around the city, show you a few of our favorite places, and maybe even head out of town.

In the interest of full disclosure, our first little excursion is gonna be to the heart of the city.  Normally, I’d be pleased as pie to show off our wonderful town, but there’s one thing you should know about and expect before you arrive: right now Leuven is silly with construction.

Be sure to follow after the jump for the full story.


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Skyway or the Highway?

To be truly honest, being stuck in Minnesota when I could be off gallivanting with my fiancé in Europe is less than exciting. However, trying to put a bright and positive spin on things, I am attempting to use this little setback to its fullest advantage.
Mainly, I am legal to work in America. This is a pleasant change from my current situation abroad. Therefore, as I mentioned in my latest post, I am working while stuck in this frozen tundra. Work good, money nice.
The job itself isn’t what I would call enthralling or anything, but it does have its perks. I work in downtown Minneapolis, that thriving, frigid metropolis. And being that this is, perhaps, the coldest state of the lower 48, we have come up with some innovative ways to cope with it. I am referring, of course, to the skyways.
For those of you who don’t know, the Minneapolis skyways are pretty freakin’ amazing. They are a labyrinth of walkways connecting building to building in the downtown area allowing one to travel from the parking garage to the office, to the two-story super Target, to Macy’s, Saks, Neiman Marcus, restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, etc WITHOUT EVER HAVING TO GO OUTSIDE!
Now, you probably think I sound like a tourism campaign for Minneapolis or something. But seriously, have you been to Minnesota in the winter time? There’s a reason we are always complaining/bragging about the weather. It’s cold. Period.
I mean, there’s an iPhone app for the skyways!
I, therefore, am attempting to discover every nook and cranny of downtown by traversing the skyways as much as possible during my lunch hours. It has proven to be less enchanting than discovering a medieval Flemish city, but nonetheless, it’s a nice walk and something to do. The downside of this is that I tend to go window shopping a lot. And there’s always something you need at Target, right?
So, to sum it up, the skyways have been added to my list of reasons why Minnesotans are superior, in mind and person, to the rest of the nation. (For a list of reasons, see below).
1. Voted healthiest city in the nation: booya Boston, suck it San Fran!
2. Lakes: who needs oceans anyway?
3. The Mississippi: it starts here I’ll have you know!
4. Snow: if your car doesn’t get stuck in a snow bank, it doesn’t really count as a blizzard.
5. Prince: This is what it sounds like when doves cry.
6. The Cohen Brothers: except Fargo is in ND, but I’ll let it slide this time.
7. Southdale: first indoor mall… because it gets cold here, go figure.
8. Mall of America: largest mall with theme park at center. Could you get MORE American than a giant mall with rides and concessions…yeah, I didn’t think so.
9. Skyways: again with the cold.
10. Target: sure, it’s a giant corporation, but don’t try to tell me you aren’t obsessed.
11. 3M: because what would your childhood art class have been without tape and glue sticks?
12. Best Buy: Circuit City? Pshh, what’s that?
13. The Vikings, Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, etc: yeah, you know I don’t care, but I’m repping those who do.
14. The University of Minnesota: because you wouldn’t have seatbelts (or honey crisp apples) without it.
15. Agriculture: I love corn and soybeans, and so should you!
16. Michelle Bachmann: because babies taste delicious! Oh wait…

17.  The Minnesota State Fair: people who don’t enjoy stuffing their faces to the point of vomiting, watching a cow giving birth right in front of you, pie-baking contests, 4-H exhibits, a house full of butterflies, arcade games, and rides that can be put up and taken down in a day aren’t really the kind of people I want to hang out with anyway.

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I’m not really sure how to say this, especially given the temperature in Minnesota right now, so I’ll just come right out and say it.

It’s not really winter in Belgium anymore.

Fine.  It’s January, so it’s still technically winter, but any self-respecting Minnesotan or New Englander would be hard pressed to call what we’re experiencing “winter.”  I’m talking temperatures between 25 and 50 degrees every day.  Rain.  Not snow.  And also—in a somewhat strange turn for Belgium—sunlight from time to time.

Despite these facts, people here insist on bundling up.  You would not believe the looks I get when I go out for a jog wearing shorts and a long sleeved T-shirt.  As I’ve noted before, people here don’t really understand jogging in the same way we do, so their incredulity at my bare legs in what they call “winter” is doubled.

But their shock is nothing compared to mine where winter apparel choices are concerned.  The picture you’re about to see is one of something people actually wear.

Yes, the Moon Boot.

Many of us who grew up during the 90s will likely associate the Moon Boot with the Nickelodeon Moon Shoe—an ill-conceived and short-lived “toy” that was no doubt the cause of countless broken or rolled ankles among children—and let me assure you, this wonderful piece of winter-wear looks no less idiotic when worn in public.

Moon Boots are, for all intents and purposes, just really stupid winter boots.  Really stupid winter boots that people believe are fashionable.  Really stupid winter boots that you have to pay through the teeth for.  That have about nine bloody inches of foam padding on all sides.  That make you look like some sort of cartoon character.  Does that about sum it up?

I’ve tried to catch a picture of these atrocities in the wild, but as yet, I’ve been unable to.  It’s sort of difficult to casually take out a camera, turn it on, and snap a photo of someone on the street without looking like some sort of stuffed animal footwear obsessed creeper.  I usually don’t even get the camera turned on before I become aware that it might be obvious that I’m walking closely behind someone who’s wearing miniature beanbag chairs on their feet.  I’m afraid that I might be given away by the excitement which must no doubt twinkle in my eyes, as if I’m a wildlife photographer about to snap the photo of a lifetime.

Seriously, look at these things.

It’s like a snowboarder punted a muppet so hard its fur came off.


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North American Scum

So it’s been an outrageously long time since I’ve posted anything on the blog (since Christmas, to be exact), and I thought it high time to change that…at least once in a while.

As many of you know, I am back State-side adventuring in Cold Capital USA, otherwise know as Minnesota. It’s going to get down to -15 degrees tonight with wind-chills in the -25 range. You’re jealous, obviously.

My adventure continues in the form of me trying to get work permit/visa processed so I can return to the fair land of the Belgians and wave my legal employment status in the face of their fractured government.

“AHA! You see these coveted documents I hold here in my hands? These mean you can’t kick me out of your tiny, though rather significant, country.” BOOYA!

But this process is indeed taking way too long. I blame Belgium. Don’t they understand that I am willing to work for free?!…that I am contributing greatly to their economy with my many chocolate, waffle, and beer related purchases while simultaneously shelling out cash each month for my over-priced, under-furnished crawlspace of an apartment? Jeez, Belgium.

However, it’s not all bad being home. I’ve picked up another job here, one that actually pays money and forces me to come into an office and dress up. Since I haven’t been paid for about 4 months, it’s a nice change. Plus, they are well aware that I am eagerly awaiting my triumphant return to the Eurozone and are totally okay with it. I’m having less luck in that respect in Belgium, so I’ll take what I can get. Plus, no one refuses paid work when you have nothing else to do and are losing money daily right? RIGHT?!

In case you were wondering, I am filling in as receptionist/admin assistant until they find someone to permanently replace the last one who quit. And just to clear up your misconceptions, being a receptionist is a lot less glamorous than they make it appear on TV, okay. I have no cute fiancé across from me with whom I can pull pranks on annoying coworkers, and my boss is not a complete buffoon. I just answer the phone, greet people, file papers, shred documents (oh so much fun), and fax things mostly. Oh, and sometimes I fill up the fridge with water and soda. On very special occasions, I even get to make a pot of coffee or two! I know, I know, you are seething with jealousy.

So that’s an update on my life. The other one is finishing up his finals before taking (another) 3 week long break before the second semester starts. Seriously Belgium? Christmas break before finals then more vacation? Reason #45,983 I need to move back there.

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Since I’m back in the good ol’ academic swing of things, today’s door is of my favorite academic bookstore.  Really, it’s the storefront for an academic publishing house, but let’s not split hairs.


We also got some great photos from inside, which I’m hoping we’ll be able to post later.  Linds, who’s still back in the States, has them on her computer.

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Return of the King

It’s been a long hiatus for us both at LindseyandTrevor.wordpress.com (that still just doesn’t roll off the tongue), but rest assured, there has been no shortage of adventuring. There has, as you’ve no doubt noticed, been a shortage of the act of chronicling these adventures, and for that we apologize.

It’s not that we haven’t had anything to write about, or even necessarily that we haven’t wanted to write—it’s just that we take Christmastime very seriously. Merrymaking is a full-time job, yo. Sadly, our busy schedule left little time for blogging, what with all the gift-giving, mirth-spreading, Yule-tide-cheer … ing.

But that should change now.

I’ve returned to Belgium.

And for the most part, the place is just as I left it. The heat in the apartment works now, but only to the detriment of others in the building; it still rains about 22 hours a day; Belgium still doesn’t have a government (though they’re closer than they were); beer is still insanely cheap; and my finals are still rearing their ugly heads–now less than a week away.

It’s strange, though, that my return to foreign shores also seems, in many ways, like a return to the real world. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by that; as stressful as they can be, there’s not a whole lot in the way of responsibility for students around the holidays beyond whose couch to sleep on and how to navigate the snow between home and friends.

Now I get to work again. In the next month I’ve got to pass my exams, write a good portion of my thesis, polish my dissertation topic, apply to a school back stateside, try to help Linds get her visa, and get a work permit for myself. Fun. All of this would be so much easier if the Belgians just gave up these talks on a new government and installed me as a new king.

But kidding aside, to all of those who took time to come out and see me while I was home, who even thought about taking such time but couldn’t for some reason, who made me food (or, more likely, didn’t say anything when I at all of yours), who gave up aforementioned couches so that I might have a bed—thanks. You all made this a wonderful Christmas season.

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