Sunday, July 11, 2010

First impressions.



As some of you may know through the grapevine and personal acquaintance, I have moved my family to a small town in Belgium, called Leuven. We are making ourselves an experiment. Some of you may recall my post involving Dublin's Church Bar, some of you didn't quite like it, while others did. In order to test out the hypothesis, I just had to come and live in Europe to see if it is true.

Turns out, it isn't as true as I had originally thought, but probably true enough. Of course, every town has a giant early period Church building, to show its dedication to God, through a very large edifice that all of the people can see. Remarkably, the city hall in Leuven resembles the Salt Lake Temple.

And when going to school, you have the choice at primary school age to choose a course in religion or morality. Most of the schools are still sponsored or at least called Catholic Schools.

The folks who own the home we are staying in (Very nice couple by the way. Wish I could meet them in person. Perhaps someday soon I will) were married ecclesiastically, though I see little or no sign of religious devotion in the home.

In any case, we are here, and having a time of it. The learning curve seems to be high. We have a lot to learn. I spent around EUR$250 on my first grocery shopping trip. EUR$8 for a four pack of AA duracell batteries. And I forgot to bring a US Power strip to leverage a US / European Power adapter. They wanted EUR$40 for a power adapter. I couldn't believe it. Luckily, I found two in the bargain bin at EUR$5.

Today, we went to the North Sea Beach near Brugges. We thought the weather might be too cold and windy but it proved to be fantastic. There are no waves there and the sand is smooth as powdered sugar. Plenty of other people had the same idea, and there were folks speaking all sorts of languages, although, I didn't see too many speaking English (I heard none, Colleen says she heard one).

Some of you following my Facebook request may have also noted this dilemma. To try and save money, we investigated sabbatical homes for rent. One of the homes we are investigating sits 30 km south of Leuven, in the Walloon district of Belgium. It offers spacious country living, attendance at a small French School and very reasonable rent. I keep thinking of Disney's the Beauty and the Beast. A small provincial town...

Colleen and met with the owner and some of his family on Friday. They were delightful folks. The kind of folks you would just love to know under any circumstances. Their daughter asked Shea and Hayden if they would like to play with her while we discussed somethings on the back patio, sipping cold bubbly water.

We followed that up, visiting with the local school director. For all of their privacy, I don't mention their names. He generously invited us into his office (on a particularly hot day in Belgium) and offered us all of the help we could ask for.

After much consideration, and input from many of you, it looks like this is where we'll be headed. Thank you all for the input.

Cheers!