Getting a University Card, Opening a bank account and starting lectures #3

So as mentioned in my previous post, I don’t have a University card. In fact, I still don’t have one now. What has apparently happened is that the Belgian administration has lost my picture that I sent to them in May. This means, in effect, that I can’t access the University online platform because I need to activate my card in order to do that. Moreover, I can’t gain access to the library because I don’t have a card so today, when we visited the law library, I had to use my friends and she had to scan me out of the library with her card. This is a problem that is getting remedied but I’m not sure how long it will take as it means I can’t access the work we’ve done in the classes I have had so far.

Aside from not having a University card, my first week in Belgium has been interesting. I have met all my flatmates now who are all lovely, we’ve had our first flat meeting and we’ve had our first meal together which was cooked by one of them (I’m cooking veggie cottage pie with another flatmate on Thursday!) I think it’s really cool that I live in a family community. There is so much planned for us to do together which is pretty awesome and I am looking forward to it. I also hope I can do some traveling in the near future, (although it probably won’t be anytime soon) outside the city I am currently in and perhaps other countries (although this costs a lot so this is not definitive) as it does sometimes feel like a bubble but nonetheless, I love the student city feel, it reminds me of some University cities but on a smaller scale.

I’ve been trying to get into the way of life here, especially the way of life in a Kot. One of the highs of Belgian life is definitely the food. I tried my first waffle the other day, it was smothered in Nutella and it was delightful – I will definitely be having more in the future, no doubt. I also tried this really lovely pain filled with raisins and sugar courtesy of my flatmate (I must find out the name)! I’m also hoping to sign up to sports and basically do anything I haven’t had a chance to do yet and really take advantage of this year abroad.

Another way in which I’ve been trying to assimilate into the way of life is by opening a bank account, which for those of you wondering is straightforward to a large extent. Having said this, booking an appointment wasn’t. I had the impression that I had already booked an appointment before I arrived because I spoke to someone who told me the time and day my appointment was but once I arrived at the bank they said the opposite and that in fact I hadn’t booked an appointment or made it clear what time and date I wanted an appointment. Anywho, what I’m trying to say is get it written down on paper kids. Nothing is concrete if it isn’t on paper because word of mouth isn’t enough and that’s true for all circumstances. Nevertheless, I now have a Belgian bank account and it’s definitely going to make buying things in the shop easier as well as paying my rent a lot easier, which, by the way, is not all inclusive like in student accommodation in the UK if you were wondering.

I had my first lecture on a Saturday at 9am! It was tiring but I met two French people who are on exchange here who I can speak French with. Depending on how you see it, they don’t speak English apart from a few words here and there. I must say, I am having moments where I can’t construct sentences that make sense in English at the first attempt so I guess my French is getting better (well I’d like to hope so, anyway). I hope to start formal French classes with a teacher soon as soon as I’ve taken the competency test (I thought I’d done enough tests, bah non). Until then, it’s just me and my grammar books plus the help of my flatmates. When all my flatmates are in one room speaking it’s definitely daunting to speak and I don’t always understand what is said but confidence and skill only come with practice and time so I’m going to keep pressing on. I’ve also started using the most common phrases my flatmates use and recognising the numbers 70 and 90, the Belgian way. I live with a French person here and he completely disagrees with some of the Belgian jargon – I find it amusing to see the differences. I also think I’m starting to recognise the varying accents between French and Belgians, although for now I still think they are quite minuscule. I have however met someone from Quebec and no doubt there is really a difference between the quebecois accent and the european french accent; that I cannot deny!

Exodus 4: 10- 12

10 But Moses pleaded, “O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me, for I have a speech impediment.”[a]

11 “Who makes mouths?” Jehovah asked him. “Isn’t it I, the Lord? Who makes a man so that he can speak or not speak, see or not see, hear or not hear? 12 Now go ahead and do as I tell you, for I will help you to speak well, and I will tell you what to say.”

Prayer points

  • Please pray that I become more confident with speaking French and believe in myself as others believe in me.
  • Please also pray that I will get my University card soon so i don’t get behind in Uni work.

Today is significant for a few reasons…

Today I finished my last exam and therefore my second year at University and…it’s bittersweet. Of course, I am glad I do not have any more exams to revise for as in fact I was feeling drained and did not know how much longer I could last. Having said this, next year I will be going abroad to study for a year in a country I have never been to, whose language is not my mother tongue leaving most of my friends behind who will be graduating next year. This means that I will not be seeing most of them upon my return as they will have either moved back to their home countries or left the city I am currently into work elsewhere. Thus, today, reality struck. We’re all growing up, and time waits for nobody. I started my degree thinking University would be a long four years – I’m learning that years, months, minutes and seconds pass so fast we often do not realise. I want to take the opportunity then to reflect on the things I have achieved both academically and personally (though I will not mention them in this post, I simply want to internalise them). In comparison to my first yet, I have done a lot less and that’s simply because I want to focus on my studies.

What must be said about University is that you really cannot have it all – the social life, the grades, and sleep. You must choose two out of three if that. In fact, two might be stretching it because I felt in the last couple of weeks I’ve been lacking a full night’s rest. In principle, however, I’ve chosen the latter two but this sometimes makes me ponder whether I am missing out on the University experience; the sorts of things I will look back on, the memories, the laughs, the crying (happy tears, I mean) and the embarrassing moments and not forgetting the people I spent these moments with.

In reality, I do not feel I am able to state I have had such moments yet, nor can I definitively state the people I am likely to stay in contact with, bar a few of my friends. Undoubtedly, my experience at University is going to be different to the next person but it’s important I state this. Hear me out, despite the long held and often repeated idea that University is THE BE ALL AND END ALL, the place where you meet your friends for life, potentially your soul mate, this is sadly not always the reality. Undeniably, I have met some amazing people who I hope to stay in contact with in the future however these people are by no means in the two digit figure and they are also likely to be under 5 in number.

I appreciate this probably sounds a little unfortunate or sad, but I’m not sad at all, in fact, it’s rather therapeutic to realise this while I am still at University so it helps me to build better bonds with those i really care about. It may even incentivize me to make more of an effort!

Moving from the topic of University life altogether now, today is also signficant because wordpress reminded me that it was my three year anniversary today. Three years today, inspired by Maya Angelou’s life and literature, i started this blog. I do not regret to this day starting this blog. It has helped me to document my thoughts (you could say streams of consciousness – a bit like this post ay!), my creativity and my weirdness. However, what i do regret is my failure at keeping at it and posting much more frequently, than i do. I honestly do not have an excuse for it – this makes me sad. I’ve always been a writer. Always enjoyed putting pen to paper to write down my internal thoughts and thanks to a teacher that recommended blogging, this became the perfect platform, however i feel i am not using this platform to my advantage.

I am hoping to turn this around – I am focusing on me this summer and working both on reading and writing as often as I can, documenting the things that happen and the things that don’t. Here’s to creativity and inspiration .

Going to University

This post is for all those who are going to go to University/ College such as myself. Of course i would say i’m inexperienced and so you shouldn’t take advice from me but, i do have some advice that i think will be very useful so take it as you will.

First of all i think it’s very important to know what you want to study down to the modules you’ll be picking because you want to enjoy what you’er studying and thus be more likely to succeed in the course you choose to study.

Secondly, know why you’re going to College/University. Are you going for the right reasons? Are you going just for the experience and to party? I think going for the experience is great and all but with student fees increasing ‘going for the experience’ should not be your only excuse for going because you’ll more likely drop-out sooner and may not reach your full potential

Thirdly, if you have to take a gap year, take it! There is no rush in going to University/College just because your friends are going in the same year because once you all graduate you’ll all be in the same boat. If you have to improve grades to get into a better University – do it! Seriously, don’t regret and say ‘what if?’.

Fourthly, if you honestly don’t know what you want to pursue, don’t go. Again, there really is no point doing a degree you absolutely have no interest in especially when you’re going to be in debt

Fifthly, consider whether you want to do an apprenticeship (if you can do an apprenticeship in the subject you want) or work full-time. I recently met someone who works in a bank and didn’t go to University/college and this individual appears to be doing just fine sans the debt

At number six: can you afford University?

Number seven: what are the job prospects?

Eight: experience, experience, experience

Numero Neuf: it’s not what you know (all the time) it’s who you know -this is so true

Finally at 10: If you end up going and you don’t like, for whatever reason, the course, the people, the university/college. LEAVE. It’s easy to say that when you’re not in the situation but honestly you don’t want to be regretting this for the rest of your life. You can always transfer or take a year out and reapply. IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, people drop-out of University/College or transfer all the time , they just don’t publicize it.

I hope this helped someone, it’s definitely helped me. If you’re thinking of going please read through all of the statements and if your answers are positive i think its safe to say you’ll be fine, if your answers are opposite this is not to say that you can’t go to University/College, it just means that other paths might be better or that going to University/College would be a better prospect when you get a little older.

Thank you for reading this post and i hope to hear about your experiences or tips.