Waffles, French Fries, Chocolate – Oh, My!

Here we go again, another blog post made as an attempt to procrastinate on a million other things I probably should be doing! But actually- this week is about to be intensely busy. Mostly because we all just found out that we have a ton of work due, and most of us have not gotten a decent amount of sleep or had an hour of downtime since last week. Let me explain, haha.

Well, last Wednesday the AIB took us to a concert. We all thought it would be an orchestral concert, but instead it was this really strange dance accompaniment to a piano. Either way, it was great and everyone looked dapper. We of course had to ruin it by being obnoxiously American and taking an awkward prom-picture. I did not take these blurry pictures- but they were taken BEFORE hitting the pub (for lemonade of course) after the concert. So I’m not quite sure what happened, haha. Take my word for it, we were quite dressed up and very prepared to enjoy a good performance.

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Thursday and Friday we worked on our Project 2 films. Which of course involved a fast-paced and hectic work environment, along with a lot of rushed planning. This time, our task was to make a film in 10 shots- with no dialogue/music- focusing entirely on the cinematography in each shot. The requirements were that the first and last shot in the film had to correspond to these pictures:

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Here’s where it got interesting. In each group there was assigned a director, cinematographer and editor. Considering I was paired up with Kayla (a great editor) and Matt (a really incredible cinematographer) I assumed I would be director – Yeah, didn’t happen.

Essentially, because everyone knows that working camera scares me and that I have very little experience, my class pushed me to be cinematographer. So I did. On top of that, the shots we planned required me to operate a glidecam and they were all hand-held shots.

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I was nervous that my group would be frustrated with me for taking so many takes- but they were really helpful and encouraging. There were a few shots where I had to do some pretty difficult rack-focusing and motion shots. The end product was a little shakey, but I was actually really proud of the shots I took. For the first time I felt like a cinematographer! (a very amateur one, but hey, it’s a start)

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The thing I really love about filmmaking is that everyone brings different strengths to set. I may not ever want to be a DP, but knowing how to compose shots and operate camera will help me be a more effective producer/director/editor or whatever I want to be. There’s also nothing more satisfying than sharing ideas and collaborating positively with fellow film students. Sometimes I feel like people don’t understand or value all the hard work that goes into film making. (especially for an actual film, not a 2-day project) Just being surrounded by people who are as passionate as you and willing to help is super refreshing.

Now I’m sure some of you are thinking – “What does any of this have to do with waffles, french fries and chocolate?” Well, it doesn’t. But I really wanted to talk about the fact that I actually shot a film. Now I’m done, haha. I’ll be uploading it to my Vimeo soon as well! (If you want to check it out it’s titled “Release”, if not, its fine lol)

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So here comes the fun part- My weekend trip to Belgium! I was already so stoked that I found a 20 euro round-trip to Brussels for myself and nine other students, but I never expected just how beautiful the city would be. Not to mention I organized the entire trip (free tours, directions, locations, opening hours for museums etc.), so both Saturday and Sunday were totally packed-full of different sights and activities!

Yeah, Belgium was probably the best weekend so far. The only downside is that we left very very early Saturday morning and never really caught up the sleep lost. That, and the drunk and/or crazy man who was spewing empty bomb threats and holding up a lighter on the train to Cologne. Yeah, that wasn’t fun. It was 6 am and none of us were prepared to be on high alert, but we were all together and had a few guys in our group so it was okay. LOL. That would not be our first encounter with a creepy man, but these things happen in LA too, I suppose. And all is well because Belgium had the Mannequin Pis, desserts and Tintin to immediately lift our spirits/remind us that people are good.

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So back to the point: when we got into Brussels I was over the moon. It was stunning, our hostel was really nice, we had the whole day ahead of us and… I GOT TO SPEAK FRENCH. Yes. I never realized how much I missed speaking French since leaving ISI. I was giddy just to interact with cashiers, read street signs and casually listen in on the street conversations around me. Meanwhile, the others were finding joy in an equally magical opportunity: the chance to eat a REAL Belgium waffle. Not going to lie, I’ve never tasted a waffle quite like a real Belgium waffle. Even just the plain ones had this amazing taste and consistency- and unlike all of the other amazing luxury desserts in Belgium, they were literally like 1 Euro each. Belgium does dessert right.

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The rest of Saturday involved visiting the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, walking through a flee market and joining a FREE 3-hour historical tour of Brussels. I really loved learning about Belgium’s history. Not to mention the cathedral was breathtaking and we actually walked in on (potentially crashed) a wedding! The whole experience was surreal and the environment was breath-taking.

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The rest of the day was really funny because it actually started raining during our tour. It was a bit of a struggle but we managed to be optimistic about it. Antonio hid a burger in his coat, so that was fun. We learned a lot about the traditional foods, the extremely lavish Grand Place (a large square with the town hall/ markets, beautiful structures lined in gold), Belgium’s linguistic diversity etc.

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I mean, just look at some of these pictures. Belgium knows how to impress.

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By the time the tour was over, we were all exhausted and hungry. We headed back to the hostel and relaxed for a while, which was really fun considering we were all loopy and slap happy and just generally high on life. We grabbed some dinner and then went to this really amazing beer garden called Delirium, which actually turned out to be an entire street of different bars/cafe rooms. Get this- the bar is in the Guinness World Records  for having over 2000 beers to taste! It was fantastic.

At the end of our night we planned to go clubbing – which I really really wanted to do – but the line was too long by the time we left the bar. I was a bit disappointing because I’ve been wanting to dance since our first/only clubbing experience in Cologne, but a quick stop in a French-fry stop after some good beer made up for anything that could have been wrong in the world.  Also, did you know that French fries are originally from Belgium? Americans messed that one up- figures, lol. Seriously though, the fries in Belgium were the best fries I have ever experienced. They are double fried to perfection and put all others to shame. Just saying.

The next day we all split up so Nader, Kayla and I went on a spontaneous day trip to Brugge. I was at first reluctant to go to Brugge because I fell in love with Brussels (we also only had 1 day there) and I wanted to continue speaking French. However, I definitely am glad I got to see Brugge. It was a very charming medieval town with so much history.

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We saw another cathedral, including one that was said to contain the blood of Christ. (Basilica of the Holy Blood) We also got to see many of the sights featured in the movie “In Bruges” which we endlessly quoted all day. It was really nice just spending the day with Nader and Kayla because it took the stress away from traveling in a big group. We had a fantastic lunch, I bought some marzipan and some chocolate, and we took a ton of pictures. Oh, we also salsa danced. So that happened.

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Overall, I just wish I would have had more time in Belgium. I also wish that when we got back at midnight, we didn’t almost lose Nader in the train station or miss the N1 bus in Bonn. But we prevailed!  I also had no time to mentally prepare myself for the German quiz, German final, two editing projects and Directing test that we have this week. Oh, well- who needs sleep when you’re having fun?

Anyways, we’re going to a soccer game tonight with the AIB at the BayArena in Leverkusen! So on top of everything else- I should probably go, haha.

Until next time! Tchuss!

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