Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Leuven

Spent Easter Monday in Leuven with the family. Seat of Belgium's oldest university, Leuven has a laid back, easy-going yet lively vibe that only students can infuse into a place. We stopped for lunch at one of the caf├ęs that line the Oude Markt square. We strolled about soaking up the sun and the sights. The Stadhuis, similar to the one on the Grand Place, is delicate ornate complexity. St Pieterskerk church has a rather cool golden statue by the steeple which chimes the bell on the hour.

According to the Rough Guide, it is something of a miracle that Leuven's medieval buildings survived damage from both World Wars - only, to rebuild and have to face more conflict. For much of this century, the university became locked in a bitter nationalist dispute between French and Flemish speakers. In 1970 a separate, francophone university was created at Louvain-la-Neuve. As in most divorces, a harmonius separation of property can become an exercise in twisted compromise. The library was divided between the two sites, not according to language, but rather according to the alphabet. Leuven got to keep books from A to L. Head for Louvain-la-Neuve for the latter part of the alphabet.

Leuven is still at odds with its sister institutions. The university hospital, unable to attract foreign fellows and jealous that smaller, more dynamic, and "less prestigious" affiliated hospitals can, regularly uses administratif measures to wage war. Hubby has been the unknowing victim and collateral damage of this "academic" warfare. The university has yet to acknowledge Hubby's medical equivalencies. Hubby has submitted, resubmitted and reresubmitted letters, documents, diplomas, and even the kitchen sink at their request. So, for the past 8 months, Hubby has been unofficially doing minimally invasive cardiac anesthesia. We trust that he will obtain his Belgian license when we go home.

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