We all safely landed in Paris a little after 9 this morning. Once the team got through customs and baggage claim, and we finally secured the rental vans, we were heard towards our destination.

Once arrived in Ypres at approximately 3:30pm, the team leads (Jérémie and Marc) and a small group of students, including myself, set off on a 2.6 km walk towards the landmark that is the Essex Farm Cemetery. This is the historic location where in 1915, Canadian Major John McCrae wrote ‘In Flanders Field’. As we walked the grounds we saw WWI bunkers and monuments dedicated to those who fought.

After we paid our respects, we followed the canal back to the Ypres town square. Here we took in the amazing architecture. The gothic/neo-gothic cathedral is without a doubt a highlight of the city! The cathedral is also home to the Ypres cloth hall and the In Flanders Museum, which we will be seeing tomorrow. Today I learned that most of Ypres beautiful historic buildings had to be reconstructed/rebuilt after the war had desolated the area. The damage was so extensive that they didn’t even have trees to build telephone poles, that’s why most of them are made of concrete.

So the first day in Belgium has definitely been fulfilling and well-rounded. I look forward to the rest of the trip in hopes that it will continue to amaze me. On a side note, I also hope we see many more dogs along our journey!

Sophie Cyr