Friday, February 25, 2011


Thirty years ago (yikes!) I was a student at the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Louvain-la-Neuve, for my junior year of university. That is when I first met my friend Marie, with whom I stay when I visit Belgium. I knew Marie from Russian class, but only slightly. She became my real friend two years later when we both lived in Sofia, Bulgaria. Department of Small World. We've been good friends ever since.

At any rate, today I wandered around LLN. Without going into great detail, here's a short history: in the 1960s, there were linguistic differences between the French and Flemish, so the Catholic University of Louvain split in two. The Flemish stayed in the old city of Leuven, with the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the French began to build a city for the Université Catholique de Louvain in the middle of some fields. It was designed as a pedestrian city, with parking garages and streets below the buildings, though now there are quite a few cars up above. More than there were 30 years ago, at any rate.

It's strange that this university, founded in 1425 and boasting such luminaries as Erasmus and Mercator, should look so modern. There's constant building, too.

Here is the iconic picture of the Grand' Place.

When I first arrived, I lived in a dorm room in this building:
It was a large dorm where I didn't know anybody (not for lack of trying). I shared a bathroom with a woman who ignored me completely and had frequent loud parties. Here's Rue des Wallons, not far from the dorm.
Soon after, I moved across town to this place, which I shared with six Belgian students: It was much friendlier, and the building had just been built so it was clean. I learned a lot of French from living with these young women. They became my friends.

I also hung around with the other foreign students. My friend Silvia lived in this building, first window on the left, first floor (that's the second floor to Americans).
I'll say more about LLN and how it has changed in another post. Then back to stories.


Faith said...

I always thought that the way the university split the library when they broke into two was interesting, too.

Et les gaufres?

PriscillaHowe said...

I tried an innovation today: Gauffre croque. It was a waffle with ham, cheese and tomato sauce inside it. How did they do that? Anyway, I'm not convinced. Back to les vraies gauffres chaudes, the kind that are greasy and heavy, with sugar in the interstices.

Note to Americans: Belgian waffles on the street are NOT light and airy with whipped cream on top. See above.

Priscilla Howe said...

Right, I mean to say gaufres, not gauffres.

(The word verification on this comment is "oventort"--does that mean the thermostat is broken, or there's a pie in there?)

Heidi Noroozy said...

This pictures bring back memories, Priscilla! Was it really 30 years ago? I was in Leipzig and visited you one chilly week in March. Do you remember? I think you'd already moved into the house with the 6 Belgian students.