Arrival, etc.

The flights were long and tiresome, but I am finally here. I arrived bright and early at 7:30, (about 1:30 am Florida time) and had a full day of unpacking and a bit of exploring. Frank Somers, the head of international relations and a long list of other titles and duties, form Sint Lucas picked us up from the airport and showed us great hospitality. He lives in an old church from the 15th century which he is slowly renovating. Our apartment building (Danielle
Slaughter of Ringling Fine Arts, and Yours Truly) is very cool. We each have our own rooms, and there are communal water closets, showers, and kitchens on the 1st and 4th floor. There are about 12 other students living in the same building, from different colleges in the area. Everyone is keen on introducing themselves to us and are very helpful and kind. Everyone speaks a bit of English as well so there's really no problems communicating.

So day 2, its about midnight here and though I napped earlier, I'll probably hit the sack early. Early? I'm not entirely sure, jet lag plays many tricks on the mind...

Everything is old and beautiful. The building across the street from me is from 1650. Some building have denotations on the side of them proclaiming the date they were built. Everyone renovates and preserves their history. Its hard to wrap my head around walking the same cobblestones as Jan Van Eyck and other incredible masters.
Even the
jail is a renovated old old building (which happens to be only around the corner from me... I can see it from my window in fact... but not to worry the last jail break was 15 years ago, and by the looks of the exterior, with its solid brick walls and high brick and mortar wall, all donned with thickly barred windows and electric wire I should be fine. And I'm fairly certain I can hear anyone climbing up the 80 steps to my room. Yes, thats 4 flights of stairs (but somehow I live on the 3rd floor?)

Its chilly, but I'm keeping bundled. For the most part, its just a matter of getting used to it. The sun came out yesterday but made its appearance known only for an hour or so, then swiftly disappeared and hasn't been heard from since. Its still beautiful and grand and awe inspiring.

School is very interesting. Sint Lucas is on the same "campus" as a secondary (high school) art magnet program, so its interesting to see younger students working along side us. It feels very much like Gibbs, not very rich, tables made out of horses and plywood, but there are macs in every classroom (with the French "azec" keyboard as opposed to our "qwerty" so I'll be using my laptop extensively). I am so anxious to start classes and see how this trip influences my work as an artist. I am a 15-20 minute walk from campus. Streets are slightly confusing, so mapquest has become a near and dear friend.
My teachers are all very friendly and helpful and eager to start our international collaboration.

My first assignment is a semester-long very open ended dossier about Evolution. My schedule consists of classes Monday-Wednesday, leaving Thursday and Friday to work on my other independent study courses as well as free time to paint, visit museums and explore. I have two Illustration classes, regular Illustration and Digital Ill, both of which are dealing with the same topic of Evolution. In Illustration, its a large class in which there are 3 teachers, Pleun Vos, Anne Kurris, and Luk Duflou. I met Meneer Luk Duflou and Meneer Lode Coen, my Digital Illustration teacher (who I get along with famously). My other classes are a nude drawing class with Ingre Vandecasteele on Tuesdays followed by a Drawing/Sketching class with Sebastiaan Vandoninck, in which we go out on locations and do observational drawings I also got a chance to see Tilde Van Uytven, we will meet for lunch sometime this week, she said she would show me the cheap places!

Everyone is impressed with my bit of dutch, though currently I can only declare who and what I am and who and what someone else does, where they live, etc. But I keep practicing and learning, and listening. Getting used to pronunciations and reading lots of signs and shop names.

My room is small, but nice. I have a bed, a sink, some shelving, a small wardobe, and old boarded up fire place, a heater (which gets mighty warm), a desk and chair, and a nice comfy chair as well, which is wonderful for curling up and reading. Meneer Frank Somers (head of international relations at Sint Lucas) has been wonderful. He's the one that purchased our beds and linens (all IKEA, which I found terribly amusing) and has taken us around town a bit. He lives about a block away in an old church he is renovating. Its breathtaking. He took us to dinner at a place called Popoff the other night, and I had some Irish stew with lamb, and quite possibly the best cup of coffee and lemon meringue pie of my LIFE. Oh god it was tart and delicious and thick yet fluffy meringue... mmmmm.

So as you can see, I am alive, well, and thoroughly enjoying myself. No bouts of homesickness yet, I think I'll do just fine.

SO without further adieu, here are some pictures

Across from my apartment (1650)Begijnenstraat 62Other side of Begjinenstraat

My room
My viewMy bed

My Illustration Classroom
As always, plenty PLENTY more to come,
Though I do feel like a tourist with a bullseye painted on my back when walking around taking pictures of everything. I'm learning to be more inconspicuous...