Louvain La Neuve - Not for introverts.

This picture, for me says it all. A moment in time, a memory for a lifetime where life stood still.

It's not that I haven't wanted to write about my week in Louvain La Neuve over Spring Break, it's just that I don't know how to put it in words. One might expect that I could compare it to my previous study-abroad adventures in Brussels, but it wasn't. It was nothing like that, and I am a shadow of the person I was when that adventure took place. I've changed, I'm different... more importantly Louvain La Neuve is completely unlike any place on it earth.

For me, Louvain La Neuve became a timeless representation of careless, youthful, social rituals that I had personally condemned to regrets in my thirties. That's not to say I hadn't experienced parts of what I did in Louvain La Neuve before in my life, it's just that I experienced them in a different way. One could say I was more introverted in my youth, too shamed by my former conservative protestant values to actual surrender myself to the experience- or to live life. I was the good girl, the designated driver, the sober one who never was able to just be herself.

You tell yourself that your too fat, too ugly, or in the case of Louvain La Neuve I could have told myself I'm too old- but for the first time in my life: I didn't. You may have figured out that Louvan La Neuve isn't your typical school, it's a place where party and class overlap, where classes are led by Captain Hook, where sleep rarely happens, and where alcohol, music and dance combine into a frenzied blur. While I've reached the age where I recognize regrets, I can say that sometimes opportunities come along in which there are no second chances, no do-overs, sometimes it's now or never, and for perhaps the first time in my life, I stood on the edge of reality and just let go. I let go of who I used to be, simply to be what I could be in that moment. It became transcendental in a way where I can say that I am no longer defined by what's expected of me.

By the third day my kidneys ached, my head hurt and our sobering classroom attendance became a struggle for consciousness. By evening it began all again. Our sweaty bodies and stringy hair glowed in the lights and smoke as we sang at the top of our lungs... WE LIVED while the world slept! We danced on bars and capitulated to flirtatious advances, our spirits and bodies free from mankind's burdens. In this liminal state between day and night, between wake and sleep, we witnessed the most bizarre phenomenon transpire like street fights, public urination, and random sex. Perhaps the most interesting of events was the night my roommate decided to assault a balding, muscle-bound misogynist who was almost twice her size and was threatened castration by my roommate with her boots.

I have never in my life seen a place that parties harder than Louvain La Neuve, and I confess that I myself have never, ever partied as hard as I did that week. I consumed untold amounts of alcohol, even discovered a shot that you can smoke. It was completely wild, and I regret nothing but the goodbyes from my new friends at the end of it.

In many ways I feel like the week completed a part of my life that I needed. I wasn't respectable, it wasn't proper, but yet in every way it transcended everything about being human. Nothing is more human than our desire for happiness, and nothing makes us more alive than allowing ourselves to know it. Someday I will look back and ask myself it was worth it, and smile knowing that... Hell yeah it was!


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