2. their REAL efforts in taking care of the ecosystem
One of the things that immediately had me at hello in this place is their very efficient waste management system. Garbage is sorted out according to different colors of garbage bags. Blue for recyclables, green for organic waste, a separate bin for bottles, outlets everywhere collecting cooking oil wastes, used batteries and paper. There's also the brown bag where you can put anything that is not in the sorting list. For the lazy ones however, the brown bags come as convenient since they can throw everything there without having to sort. But here's the catch. The brown bags are VERY expensive. So that means, they either follow the rules or waste their Euros on garbage bags.
Aside from their great management of waste, I also love their conscious efforts in beating climate change. Last year, the university launched the project of leasing out 2-wheel-drive bikes to their staff for free, to encourage them to give up their parking slots and thereby lessen the traffic of vehicles entering the city everyday. (And because Ph.D. students are considered as staff members, I got the bike for free, too - hooray!)
3. it's student-friendly environment
Leuven takes care of her students well, so much to the point of smothering them. Everywhere I turn, there is a park with a beautiful garden where I can just sit and read.
Aside from that, tuition fee is very cheap since it is subsidized by the government. (My students from Ateneo who are attending an exchange program here actually said that their tuition fee here is almost a third of their tuition fee back home.) All students are given bus cards for free bus rides all year. Internet is free for all students and they can get to log in from their homes.
The best part is the libraries (aaah, so love them). They have great collections, and have a very efficient way of helping you get a book that is not in their OPAC listings.
4. it's multinational, multicultural face
Someone commented that racial discrimination is strongly felt in other cities here in Belgium. When she said that, I began to notice how this is not so much felt here. I assumed that it's because it's population consists of various nationalities. So, maybe, people here have learned to live with cultural differences. Just this morning, I attended the baptism of the daughter of a friend from Ukraine. They are Orthodox Catholics, celebrating the sacrament in a Roman Catholic chapel, with friends and guests from different forms of faith.
One of the perks of this multiculturalism is that stores are made available for almost every race in this city, and their prices are competitive with regular local stores. In other words, I can get to buy okra, talong, sitaw, ampalaya, bagoong and the like, without having to shell out so much. Just this afternoon, I had the pleasure of eating hilaw na mangga, with red wine vinegar (the closest I could get to ilokano vinegar). Saraaap! Thanks to multiculturalism.