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Brussels Info and my VISA at the Japanese Embassy

Quite late, but as promised, at the meeting I attended in Brussels we were given a dossier with information for us; housing, training planning, … everything we wanted to know from the beginning (except some of the participants, that they were still pending for the final accommodation). Nevertheless, the Center is very communicative and worried about us at all times; we got emergency numbers, contacts numbers and directions, tips, … it shows all the years that the program has being active and how much they are serious about everything going as smooth as possible.

Our esteemed Maarten handed us all a beautiful dossier of the Centre with all our papers:

  • Accommodation during the Japanese course and the training in the company: this was one of the things that I expected to hear, but I already knew the direction of the housing, as it was in the list of participating companies, so no surprises regarding this.
  • Internship training plan.
  • Various documents (Insurance, letters of acceptance, etc)
  • COE (Certificate of Eligibility) to complete the formalities for the visa.
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Features of my accommodation

It is going to be an adventure for me, I did not know if I would have a private bathroom or access to kitchen, well, neither, but I do not care, all of this will be used by me to open new horizons xD. I will make a 360 degree view of my room when I get there. The good thing to consider is the catering service, it is inexpensive, breakfasts and dinners, but it is more likely to be the Japanese style, and I’m not accustomed to rice and fish for breakfast ¯ \ _ (ツ) _ / ¯.

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A rather thick document with lots of necessary information.
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The precious dossier which gave the Centre.
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And the back of the dossier, as you can see, the center is not only this scholarship, it also consists of services provided to European companies, I advise you to visit its website if you are curious

Internship training plan, my apologies but no possibility of sharing this.

With all these papers I was only a step before I could get my visa to Japan. Since the Centre was responsible for issuing the COE (Certificate of elegibility – Certificate of Eligibility), which is backed by themselves (by the name of the Centre). That document is in charge of opening me the doors to Japan for a year, but this is only done at an Embassy of Japan, which is not in Cartagena, no, it is in Madrid and you have to physically go to get the visa. So I made an appointment by phone, luckily they told me that in summer there is an intensive work schedule and the visa for those who travel from afar to the embassy is done in the same day. Right away ​​I purchased tickets for Madrid (I have traveled to Madrid by train 3 times in two years).

On July 21 at … well, let’s say very early, I take the train to Madrid, because I had to be at the Embassy before 11 am for the paperwork.

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Station platform in Cartagena
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“The train to the darkness”

I got on the train, fell asleep and “voila!”, I woke up an hour before Atocha Station, the first one in Madrid from my direction (I am training for the “Japanese metro sleep super power”). Finally reaching Chamartin.

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Chamartin Station

“10:32 a.m., run to the subway!”

The metro thing was very funny, “The line I seek to be able to reach Gregorio Maranon station shall be around this same Chamartin station, I think”, wishful thinking. Luckily only lost five minutes to figure out it was not as I thought, and although I knew the line that is in Chamartin … it was not a train, it was the underground metro, and under Chamartin (Train station) was the Chamartin Station (Metro). Another small odyssey of 5 minutes to descend 4 mechanical escalators, buy a ticket and wait for the arrival of the metro. Here at least, not as in Brussels, there is a pretty and wonderful button to open the doors (Long life to the buttons!).

Reach the desired station after the 10 minutes that it took for the metro, and again, run to Serrano Street. (I like so much to run ….). Went to the embassy, ​​the security control and enter to the consulate.

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Main facade of “the rising sun”
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They have a nice waiting room
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No manga

Although I was not more than 10 minutes inside, they asked me for the papers and told me that in two hours the visa would be ready … so turn to visit Madrid in two and a half hours, finally!, the times I have been here were always at night and I had the JLPT exam the next day. So, decided to walk to the Sol place.

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Invasive frog from beyond
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The Cibeles statue
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With the majestic town hall

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The Plaza del Sol
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A famous poster in Sol, Tio Pepe
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A must visit
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(El oso y el madroño) The bear and the strawberry tree
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La ETSII, … hazte industrial (Youtube Video)
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The Japanese flag waving in the embassy

After the quick visit to the center, I returned to the embassy (Thanks to the embassy staff for being so nice!), And it was in my power, at last!, my VISA, no more paperwork. I went to a nearby restaurant to eat some Japanese noodles (ramen) and decided to walk back to Chamartin, I had plenty of time.

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Well, started to pour rain as I walked to Chamartin station.

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You were wet immediately, if you did not cover yourself with anything, like this girl and I did xD
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Torres Kio, shortly before arriving at Chamartin.

Above all, that day I exercised more than I’m used to, muscle aching for the rest of the week :)

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Little more to tell, I waited for my train and returned to Cartagena, and apparently the rain accompanied me.

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Before arriving to Cartagena
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Trip to Brussels (Day 2)

We left together in the morning from the hotel to the place where the briefing would be held (Some by metro because they took their luggage with them, and the rest by foot), a building in the ‘Bussines’ part of Brussels (Science 14 Atrium LINK), buildings full of other European organizations and embassies of most countries.


Upon arrival we finally met our dear staff of the Centre, Margherita and Maarten were waiting there. We walked into a room with tables with our names, the meeting was great, Margherita and Maarten were wonderful and we were provided tons of information (in terms of the information they provided us I shall discuss it in another post). We received the presence of the center’s director and the MEP in charge of the section in which the Centre depends on. We had a break to eat some snacks, we took advantage of that time to chat with our hosts and socialize with two Vulcanusians who weren’t at the hotel. After that we continued the meeting, and at the end we did a little test of Japanese (Surprise!, I did not study for this Japanese test), so I failed miserably. At the end we took a photo of the group and bid farewell to Margherita and Maarten, who were great with us, and maybe we find one of them in Tokyo.

When we left the building, some went straight to take the plane and the rest went to see the European Parliament for some pictures.

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The group in front of the European Parliament
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The Parliament and those taxis that where all over the place
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Parliament place

After the visit to the European Parliament we went back to the hotel to get changed and get some rest, when night fell we went out for dinner and ended up in the worst-kebab-sandwich in all Brussels. The group then keep on route back to Grand Place, but Alex and I returned to the hotel (My back was killing me xD), and I ended in the bed earlier than expected.

The next day I had to return early to Charleroi as my plane took off at 16:30h, and with going to the bus station, bus travel time, and etc … Before leaving I went in search of a McDonalds to get something to eat away because I did not had much time to find a place to eat at pace (And eating a waffle while looking for the McDonald). Fortunately I did not went to the airport alone, Triantafyllia (the only Greek girl of the group) had her flight at the same time as me, so we went together to the airport (I foresee many conversations regarding robotics with her, I’m sorry Triantafyllia ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

And with that ended my trip to Brussels, in short, everyone was great and it is going to be a great experience, I have ton of photos, I will look how to add them, making a gallery or as well uploading them to Tumblr.

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Trip to Brussels (Day 1)

I must warn my dear readers, in the past five years I have not traveled, nothing, not even a tiny bit. With the exception of the 2 fleeting visits by train to Madrid to take the Japanese  language tests. So you can imagine I have seen little of the world and if I saw something, it was in my comfort zone.

This journey begins the 5th of July with an alarm going off at 4am. My father takes me to Alicante airport to catch my flight that departures at 7am.

It is the first time I travel with Ryanair, and on the Internet they talk shit about them regarding the hand luggage weighting, in the end nothing happened, just showed the ticket and my ID, wait for the doors to open, and within minutes I am inside the plane, a Boeing 747-800, single aisle with three seats on each side. Ryanair randomly assigned me a seat, no window or aisle seat, fortunately the plane is half empty and when the plane took off, the passenger at my right took a window seat, I follow the example and sat near a window. I enjoyed it while taking pictures.

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Alicante, where is the green?.
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¡Voilá! The green was in belgium
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A nice moon
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Let’s just say that I was interested in the finishing of the rivets, … things from work (>.<)

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After nearly two hours of flight, I landed in Charleroi, while exiting the plane I saw landing another plane of Ryanair, there was no other plane at the airport, so it had to be the plane of my vulcanusian companion Noelia and his Argentine friend Matías, arriving from Madrid. Vulcanus first participant in the flesh, after the first meeting we went directly to the shuttle to Brussels, arriving to our destination after another hour. Once in Brussels we took the metro because we had delayed a bit. [Useless mode ON] I’m not accustomed to usethe metro, in Cartagena there is only bus lines, and after buying the ticket (Thanks to Matías, the ticket-machine only accepted coins and I had no coins, I am so thoughtful …) after that we went separated ways, I towards the hotel, them to the Atomium. I had to pass through the typical control access to get to the metro platform … I could not find anywhere on the control access a place to insert the ticket, I passed the ticket along the door … I searched any openings in the access control … nothing; until I realized that two steps backwards before reaching the control access, there was a kind of device resembling a parking meter, which I did not even realized it was there, luckily no one was around. [/ Useless Mode OFF]

[Useless Mode ON (Again)] Something similar happened once I got in the metro (without knowing in which direction was going), there were only two stops before mine. The metro accelerated in two seconds to full speed, I almost fell. At the first stop I thought that I saw the doors open automatically and there was no button to push, in the second stop nobody got off and the doors did not open … Huh ?, how I was going to get off at the next stop? Fortunately a girl get off, and I discovered that the doors opened pulling manually … (O_o) [/ useless Mode OFF]

Arrived around 11:30 at the hotel, Ferenc, Patrick, Veronica, Edgaras and David were waiting at reception for the rest of us, I joining them after leaving my stuff in the room. The big hurdle, we would understand between almost 45 European people speaking in English ?, Yes, certainly we could and I enjoyed it. Little by little we were getting more vulcanusians and when we were getting hungry, we went out, looking for a place to eat, in short, we ended up in a Japanese restaurant, run by Chinese/Filipino/Asiatic people, but no Japanese. I went for the safest option, fried chicken and noodles.

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Tempura, what Joan ate, still not for me.
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I was late to take a photo of my food

After eating, we go on tour around the center of Brussels, but weather is a bit against us and it starts to rain in the afternoon, still managed to visit what we set out for, Manneken Pis, Grand Place, Maison Dandoy, galleries Saint Hubert …

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Manneken Pis is smaller than what anyone may tell you
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Chocolate shops, my downfall, good thing that I refrained myself
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Grand Place
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A match of I-don’t-know-what
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Galleries Saint Hubert – Expensive
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Nice urban art
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Gofre/Waffle, heavenly thing with ice-cream and strawberries that ate Patrick
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My waffle with chocolate, if I ever come back to Brussels, it will be mainly to enjoy this.
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Katarina tooks us to a Macarons shop (really expensive, everything in Brussels)

On the Grand Place there was a lot of people watching a kind of game where (As I observed) a team throws a small ball the farthest they can, the other team tries to hit it, returning it further, .. I think, but people were having great time.

After that, we stayed at the hotel, where another large group of vulcanusians who had arrived in our absence was playing billiards, after introductions and small talk during all afternoon, we agreed to have dinner in the same hotel, followed by a constant arrival of more vulcanusians during the meal, after that we went out to see Brussels at night (with the ulterior motive of finding a bar)

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Grand Place in the night

And after 20 hours of going from place to place and 4 four hours of sleep, I fell onto my bed at the hotel.