I rarely remember a lot of things but I could recall a lot of things comfortably from my early days in Leuven. These are few random recollections my first few weeks in this cute little town where everyone knows everyone.
1. I was flying from Singapore to Amsterdam for my transit to Leuven and I sat next to a professor teaching in Netherlands (Eindhoven, if I remember correctly) and his wife. When I mentioned to him I was gonna study in Leuven, he was like “Oooh nice little town where everyone knows everyone.” Now I finally know what he’s talking about.
2. Got cut badly when I was trying to put my things inside the locker of the train station in Amsterdam.
3. IC/IR Connection from Amsterdam to Leuven was horrible or at least I got the horrible one. With 25 kg luggage on one hand and another 10 on another hand I had to crawl with escalator/elevator-less Mechelen station. And they changed the track number of the incoming train to Leuven and announced it only in Dutch. Lucky there was this nice gentleman letting me know that the track changed and in fact helped me to carry my luggage. He accompanied me in fact talking all the way through the slow IR until he got off two stations from Leuven. I forgot his name, but he was working with Solar Panel manufacturer near Brussels.
4. I tried to save up money early days in Leuven because I couldn’t adjust yet to the price in EURO by packing lots of bread from the free breakfast at my temporary accommodation and ate them for lunch.
5. The first friend I made in Leuven was in fact my would be classmate, QW, and later my thesis team mate. I met her during registration and I still remember many things including our conversations of why she picked KULeuven to do her master, where ALMA was – I heard she was calling it AUMA by then, and when she picked up stuff that was dropped by Hongkongi girls queueing in front of us.
6. I still don’t know why #5 would ask me to do master project with her since I was pretty sure I wasn’t convincing enough and I didn’t look like a very diligent person haha.
7. MM became my master project team mate and my friend because I was throwing random question, “Do you already have team partner?” when I barely knew her and QW just blurted, “Do you wanna be with us?” after MM answered that she didn’t have any team yet.
8. Finding a house in Leuven was really really horrible. I met my Indonesian friends here during the search of housing after the Business and Economics orientation. LM was my first Indonesian friend I actually met here and she connected me to the rest of Indonesians.
9. My closest classmates were in fact those friends that I made during orientation of our major: FW, MJ and LP. We didn’t get the supposed free ice cream from our professor eventhough we thought we’ve done our orientation tasks really well. I found out soon that FW was really good at taking pictures.
10. Related to number 8, finding a house finally sucked me out little bit by bit in Leuven that I got really frustrated. Everyday I walked for more than 5 KMs around the town to find the advertisement in the windows. I almost half-way gave up.
11. I tried to sign up for dutch class but all the slots were taken up, I ended up during French instead. It’s still not anywhere close to being usable even now.
12. The biggest shock that I had in Leuven was that they didn’t have housing machine in every house. It’s like a big necessity in Singapore.
13. I was missing waterfront a lot when I arrived in Leuven because they had none. Until now I’m still kinda missing it especially everytime when I visit cities with waterfront and nice place to sit and just bum around or have little chat with friends.
14. I didn’t like the belgian style fries with mayonnaise, until now I still don’t really like it. I prefer ketchup.
15. The biggest joy I had in first days of Leuven was not waffle – it was very delicious though, but the Tiensestraat ice cream. I had it everyday until it closed for winter holiday. Now it’s spring and they already reopen.
16. JH was really a Godsend to me. She was the one who helped me to find accommodation and also helped me to cope with other necessities. She just had very abundant of information since she arrived far earlier than anyone else. I felt very very lucky.
17. I met AR through Indonesian events and through Andi I met SP. We were queueing Stephen Hawking’s lecture ticket. JH and I swore that we thought SP was at least 25. Finally, we didn’t get tickets at all but we became friends. Oh yeah, I left but JH, AR and SP sticked for Playstation and JH beat SP in their first meeting day at Marvel versus Capcom.
18. YK was some unusual guy. We had lunch together with classmates and he’s my classmate only for one course that until almost at the very end of the semester I kept on forgetting that he’s actually my classmate as well. He got people’s contacts by asking every person to send him SMS with the names. And I dunno after that we just hanged out a lot.
19. Related to number 17, number 18, we started connecting people, going on trips and we became very good friends after that.
20. I invited AB for trip because I heard she wanted to do trips too. We barely knew each other at that time. I remember she said she would love to but she wasn’t sure because she didn’t know my friends and she didn’t want to go on trips with “jerks”. It was funny memory because after that day we hanged out almost every other day since the trip was overwhelmingly fun.
21. At the same day, I met GC, a very interesting individual. I’m still surprised that we’re in pretty same wavelength that we could easily reach each other. I still talked to her from time to time.
22. I expected that I could not handle cold that I couldn’t stand it but I fared the low temperature very well although it’s always on the high 30 in Singapore or Indonesia before.