Posts Tagged “Leuven”

July 2007:
Got married to Adrian in Canada.

Nov 2007:

Adrian claims UK citizenship by descent, thus I become married to an EU citizen.

Sept 2008:
Decide to move to Belgium.

Dec 2008:
Submit our Canadian marriage certificate to the Canadian High Commission in Australia for legalisation.

Feb 2009:
Present ourselves to the Leuven Town Hall.
Discover that the marriage certificate actually needs to be certified by the Belgian Embassy in Canada.
A friend retrieves the certificate from Canberra and posts it to Canada.

March 2009:
Receive my legalised marriage certificate.

Bring my legalised marriage certificate, passport, and rental contract to the Leuven Town hall to initiate my request for residency.
The police verify my address.

April 2009:
I am granted a five-month temporary residency and work permit until August.

July 2009:
We move house, and present ourselves to the Saint Gilles Town Hall. The police will have to verify our address before they can acknowledge our residency.

September 2009:
The police come to our apartment and go through our wardrobe to ensure our marriage is legitimate. Apparently this is quite normal in Brussels.

October 2009:
I receive an appointment at the Saint Gilles Town Hall. I present proof that we are living in Saint-Gilles. They take my temporary work permit, and tell me I will receive the codes to activate my 5-year permit in 15-21 days.

November 2009:
I go to the Town Hall to inform them the codes have not arrived in the post, and request new codes.

January 2010:
We inform the Town Hall that the codes have still not arrived.

February 2009:
I receive a letter from the Town Hall informing me that my codes have arrived.

I go to the Town Hall, and I am given a ticket to return the next morning at 8am.
I return the next morning, and I am told to return the following morning at 8am.
I return the next morning, and I am presented with my very own “carte de sejour de membre de la famille d’un citoyen d l’Union”.

October 2014:
I become eligible for Belgian citizenship if I demonstrate sufficiency in one of their official languages.

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I arrived in Europe with almost no knowledge of world history. While walking through Leuven, I noticed that a bunch of buildings contained identical stones that said “1914”, with some strange symbols on them. It looked like a bushel of wheat or something. A bumper crop year? Adrian had to sit down with me and explain that in that year, most of Leuven had been destroyed by the Germans in World War I. The buildings that were subsequently rebuilt all integrated this stone into their facades, in memory of the destruction.

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The Belgians certainly know how to bring out the best in a holiday. Weeks before Easter, the chocolatiers crafted their displays, full of rabbits and chickens and eggs. As we have four chocolate shops on my block alone, there were many treats to admire as I walked through Leuven. I eagerly pondered and anticipated my purchases. Will I get the chick in a hot air balloon? Or the hen complete with nest and fruit filled eggs? Perhaps the fish stuffed with truffles? Or the tri-coloured rabbit with the long floppy ears? Easter Saturday suddenly arrived, filled with chores and activities. It was around 4:30pm before I even had time to think about our supplies for the next day. I walked to Neuhaus. Sold out. Leonidas. Sold out. Tartofu. Closed. Arjuco. Sold out. Giving up, I had resorted to the supermarket. All I could find there was a broken dark chocolate shoe, and some dinosaur-shaped cookies. All seemed lost. Then, as I was walking home, my eyes wandered to Raets–Putseys, the upscale chocolatier that I had never permitted myself to enter. I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. I walked through the door, and saw that my worries were over. The shelves were full of delicious looking animals in all styles of chocolate. The line was long, but this gave me time to find the perfect companions for Adrian and myself. For Adrian, I chose a dark chocolate standing rabbit holding hands with a little girl. For myself, a milk chocolate furtive squirrel clasping a nut. The shop keeper carefully decorated them with yellow and green ribbons and presented them to me, all ready to be enjoyed the next day.

So on Easter Sunday, all was right with the world, as we both had a superb Belgian chocolate animal to devour, and they were delicious.

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As I was walking across the Ladeuzeplein to meet my Flemish buddy Dr Cookiemonster for a Kwak, I stumbled across dozens of Leuvenese students engaged in some sort of synchronised dance sequence. It was a very “She’s All That” moment.

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