• The Ross Chronicles
  • May23rd

    While rehashing my time and life in Louisiana, someone asked me if I regretted any of my decisions to drop such a pleasant life and head to Europe. I hesitated, as I didn’t want to give an answer immediately. Of course, I said “no.”

    I don’t believe in regrets – they’re not good for much.

    I miss Louisiana, but not necessarily the place. I miss sitting on my back porch talking with a good friend with a six-pack of Abita beer in hand and watching Merlot running around the yard. I miss getting excited about a new sushi restaurant downtown. I miss wasting gas and driving around the back-roads of North Louisiana to clear my head with mood-appropriate music blaring. I miss my friends.

    I miss a time and place that no longer exist in reality.

    People ask me if I miss Belgium, and I say immediately that I miss it more than you can imagine. But my time there was the time of a student surrounded by some of the best friends I’ve ever met. I experienced some of the happiest and pushed through some of the darkest times of my life there. It holds and will always hold a spectacularly special place in my heart. But, it’s not like it was now. I miss the experiences I was lucky enough to have while I did, so the question “do you miss Belgium?” is quite irrelevant.

    A friend of mine continually says I will miss Paris in spite of myself (in spite of my complaining of the weather, the tourists, the metro, the bureaucracy, etc.). I corrected her – I WILL miss Paris, not a single doubt, but not the place. I will miss the people, my friends, the nights out, the “experience” – all of which will not exist after this semester. We will all disperse back to our corners of the world, and Paris [as I know and love it] will not be here.

    That’s what life is about – experiences; and they’re fleeting, but always anew on the horizon.

    The experience of starting over multiple times has taught me a lot. In a similar conversation, I made a startling statement [even to me]: “I wonder when I’ll be ready to return to the States…I enjoy being a foreigner too much.” I said it without even thinking, but it is true. As strange as it sounds, I enjoy having to start over – it proves every time that I can do it. I can make my own way through dark times, I can make friends wherever I am, I can handle missing out on special occasions, I can find happiness where I am at the moment. I find that to be an invaluable skill.


    So on this almost-eve marking my completed second year in Europe – here’s to starting over – over and over again, just to prove you can.


    Try it, you might surprise yourself.


    I did.


    – Ross E.



  • November10th

    An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, despite the time, the place, and despite the circumstances. The thread can be tightened or tangle, but will never be broken. ~ Chinese Proverb


    I came upon this quote the other day while spending some time on Pinterest. And it so eloquently and simply put into words the feelings I have about my friends and acquaintances. Having moved across the ocean with not a friend on this continent, it means even more to me now.

    I think of all the amazing people I’ve met here in Belgium, and by what chance I just happened to meet them.

    I can trace the majority of my Belgian/Flemish friends back to a single person, my downstairs neighbor, Charlotte. She was my neighbor for 13 months in an apartment that I happened upon quite by accident – I was actually looking at another apartment on a lengthy “possible apts list” I had made and when I decided to not take a particular apartment, I thanked the landlord and began to make my exit when he mentioned that he had another apartment not far away. I was already a bit discouraged from all the overpriced, unkempt apartments and I was *THIS CLOSE* to resigning myself to giving up! But I went with him to see this apartment – an apartment not even on my list – an apartment I never saw online. It was the apartment I took, it was the apartment I lived in for 13 months, it was the apartment I loved, it was the apartment in which I met Charlotte. Charlotte introduced me to all of her friends and we all became quite close – honestly I don’t think I could mention all of them here; there are so many. They made my year in Leuven unforgettable, and we all get along so well that I find it more than a coincidence that we were all brought together.


    I think of all the friends I’ve made that have now dispersed back to their respective homes in the world: Lithuania, Turkey, Russia, US, Bulgaria, Romania, France, Ireland…It’s simply spectacular that we all met and have the honor of calling each other friends.

    An even crazier story is how met someone I now easily call one of my greatest friends – Laurel:

    It was orientation day at KUL, a day I actually considered skipping since I had already missed the first 4 days; however, this day was the opening day and we were to receive a speech and something or other. Naturally, i did not know anyone at KUL orientation at this point, and I honestly wasn’t too sure where to even go. I arrived at what I assumed was the correct building and stood aimlessly outside as the crowd made its way inside the recently unlocked and opened doors. I saw someone sitting across the street, seemingly as uninterested as I was (haha), and I went to ask her if this was the right building for orientation – she said yes in perfect American English. I asked her where she was from and she said California/TX and I said I was from Louisiana – then she shared she’d studied in New Orleans for a few years at Tulane! We chatted for a bit, amazed at what a small world it truly is. We introduced ourselves and said we’d we would meet up after the speech – we didn’t. As soon as I got home I did some major facebook stalking to find someone named Laurel or Laura or Laurie (I’m bad with names…) who was from TX, studied in NOLA and CA and was now at KUL. Well…as a master at Facebook, I somehow found her. The rest is history. She became my closest confidante and aid in Belgium, a role I hope I occasionally returned. Through Laurel I met Tinne (from Belgium) and Sevan (from France) [as well as other great people] – that I am honored to call my friends. Laurel met her husband, Daniele, while in Belgium. I was honored to have been present at their small and intimate wedding – the room was so full of love and appreciation and respect that it felt tangible. It gave me hope for true love – sometimes it’s an ocean away and you don’t even know it. In so many ways, the amount that Laurel’s presence and friendship helped me through some very dark times is simply inexpressible – for that I feel we were meant to meet.

    I’m not a religious person, and I don’t believe there are actually fates out there trimming threads of life or guiding our destiny; however, I do believe that we meet people for a reason at a time when we need them most. Each of them teaches us a lesson and helps us grow as a person. Whether the relationships are painful or happy, they teach us something about who we are, who we can be, who we need to be…

    I have the same feeling about love these days – I’ve stopped worrying about finding someone or dating someone. I’ve been single for 17 months now and honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever been happier. I’m sure there’s someone out there that I will one day call my soul mate, but I’m not searching for that person – I’ll let time play a role.

    <side note> Aristophanes, a character in The Symposium by Plato, told a story of ancient humans with 4 arms, 4 legs, and 2 faces. These humans tried to climb Mount Olympus to challenge the gods, and Zeus feared their strength. So as punishment Zeus split them in half and cursed them to spend their lives searching for their lost half. Hence: soul mates. <end side note>

    So next time you meet someone or next time you come upon a fork in the road – maybe it’s meant to be. If you’re sitting on the couch, you won’t be meeting any new people that will change your life. Take some risks, take some chances – I did, and I don’t have a single regret about it.


    – Ross

  • September16th

    I am officially a Master of Science in Business Economics.



    My entire degree is:

    Master of Science in Business Economics; Managerial Economics & Strategy (M), International Business (m).


    Upon graduation, we were asked to be ambassadors for KUL – spread the word of this hidden gem. I feel the best way to do this is for me to be included on a list of notable alumni one day (this is the plan…), but until then here’s some shameless promotion for my Alma Mater, KULeuven:


    I am truly beyond proud to be a graduate of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, a university founded in 1425 (making it the oldest existing Catholic university in the world and the oldest university in the Low Countries) – for perspective, fellow Americans, 1425 is 15 years before the first printing press was invented and the Incan empire still ruled the Americas; it is 26 years before Christopher Columbus was even born; it’s more than 3.5 centuries before the drafting of our Declaration of Independence. Basically, it’s a long time ago.

    KULeuven boasts over 36,000 students, 12% of them international representing 120+ countries, and 4,500 students in either research-based masters or one of 150+ PhD programs.  It consistently ranks in the top 10 of Europe in terms of research output*. In fact, KULeuven is the ONLY non-US university to rank in the world-wide top 10 in terms of royalty income. KUL spent over €225 million on research in 2005 alone. Our research has lead to an impressive 70 spin-offs in the last 20 years that employ over 6,000 people – and this is not even including the “solid state and miniaturisation lab” (IMEC) which employs almost 2,000 people, including over 500 engineers and physics PhDs from all around the world. IMEC alone realized revenue of over €285 million in 2010. “~90% of KUL’s 300 R&D patent families are actively valorized and marketed at the moment…the average for European universities is currently 33%.*

    KUL has been a European center for academia for almost 6 centuries. It was ranked 68th in the world and top 25 in Europe by QS World University Rankings* – higher than many well-known US institutions such as Purdue University (85), Penn State (94), Dartmouth (99), UC Davis (101), Emory University (114), Rice University (117), Vanderbilt (131), and Michigan State (164)*.

    KUL and the City of Leuven’s history runs very deep into Europe’s past. In fact, two of the most significant library burnings/losses in history happened to KUL – in 1914, German troops set fire to University Hall and destroyed more than 300,000 books; In 1940, German troops once again burned the relatively newly constructed Central Library (at Ladeuzeplein), destroying all but 15,000 of its more than 900,000 volumes.

    KUL has also produced many notable alumni:

    Recent & easily identifiable/recognizable by title: 

    Leon Bekaert (1958-) – Belgian businessman with an estimated fortune of  €761 million, making him one of the wealthiest people in Belgium.

    Paul Bulcke (1954-) – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nestlé

    Herman Van Rompuy (1947-) – President of the European Council


    Adriaan Floriszoon Boeyens – Pope Adrian VI (the last non-italian pope until Pope John Paul II)

    Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) – “Prince of the Humanists”

    Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) – “Father of Modern Anatomy;” Author of “De Humani Corporis Fabrica

    Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594) – His name may sound familiar to you…maps, maybe?

    Patrick Francis Healy (1830-1910) – 29th President of Georgetown University, known for it’s expansion after the american Civil War. Recognized as the first American with African ancestry to earn a PhD (and he did so at KUL!).

    Monsignor George Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître (1894-1966) – conceived the “hypothesis of the primeval atom,” now commonly referred to as “The Big Bang Theory.”

    Baron Charles-Jean Étienne Gustave Nicolas de la Vallée Poussin (1866-1962) – Belgian Mathematician; proved the Prime Number Theorem.

    Refael Ángel del Socorro Calderón Guardia (1900-1970) – President of Costa Rica (1940-1944); remembered for being the 1st Central American president to primarily focus attention on deteriorating social conditions and poverty. He founded systems such as the universal health care, high education levels, and the social security that Costa Rica is now well-known for.

    Otto von Habsburg (Archduke Otto of Austria) (1912-2011) – The last crown prince of Austria-Hungary.

    Christian de Duve (1917-) – Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine winner for describing the structure of oganelles in biological cells.

    Géza Vermes (1924-) – Translator of the Dead Sea Scrolls (into English)

    Bernard Lietaer (1942-) – Well-known monetary economist and author; 1992’s “world’s top currency trader” by BusinessWeek; researched and sold the rights to his “floating exchange” methods to currency exchange.


    There are many many more, and Google will be your friend in finding them. I just tried to list a few here that I figured most of my readers will have either 1) heard of or 2) heard of their work.


    I loved Katholeike Universiteit Leuven, every aspect of it…even the 12-hour days in the library week after week…the seemingly endless all-essay exams and research/group projects and my thesis…it was 100% worth it. Not only that, Leuven is one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever visited, much less gotten the chance to live for over a year. I will miss them both very much.


    The last year held a lot for me. I’ve made some of my closest friends here, and I love them all dearly (y’all know who you are!).  Belgium has seen my highest highs; it’s seen my lowest lows. But through it all, this has easily been one of the best experience of my life. I grew not only as a student and academic, but as a person. 16 months ago, I entered belgium without a single friend here and zero expectations; 16 months ago, I could have never foreseen my amazing present.

    It will take a lot to top this past year, but I plan on doing my best to make every year from here on out as memorable as this past one!


    – Ross, a proud alumnus


  • July31st

    So it’s been a while since I’ve done a music-related post…So here’s one :) This is what I’ve been listening to recently!


     I Don’t Wanna Be a Bride – Vanessa Carlton

    U-Turn (Lily) – Aaron

    This song was actually featured on a French movie I’ve been watching recently: Je Vais Bien, Ne t’en Fais Pas (I’m okay, don’t worry). I really love the song…favorite line: “it’s not the wings that make the angel…”

    Gonna Get There – Tim Knol

    So you’ll have to ignore the weirdness and potentially disturbing nature of this music video…I really enjoy the song, and I tried to find a good recording of it on YouTube minus this crazy video…but alas, all of them were live and they sounded horrible. So just enjoy the song and ignore the music video. hahaha

    The City – Patrick Wolf

    Close your eyes and you’ll feel like you’re in the 80’s ;)

    [EDIT: actually, upon re-watching the video, you don’t even have to close your eyes…this video looks like it was shot (AWESOMELY) with an Ampex! hahaha! By the way, also worth noting, the caption of that photo is “first ever portable VHS Camcorder”….that certainly seems debatable…only 50 lbs and just $65,000]

    Wavin’ Flag – K’NAAN

    “When I get older, I will be stronger – they’ll cal me freedom, just like a wavin’ flag!”

    Different Story – Lola Kite

    Y’all have a great day now, ya hear?

    – Ross

  • July19th

    There’s something I’ve been keeping from most of my friends for a while now, and I have to admit that it has been INCREDIBLY hard to keep secret!

    But now that I’m further along in the process, I feel it’s a good time to put it out there.

    After 3+ months of getting together my application, background checks, transcripts, reference letters, and an hour-long web interview this afternoon – I have officially been nominated as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer for French-West Sub-Saharan Africa in Business Advising & Development for June 2012.

    A couple of years ago when I finished university at Louisiana Tech, I first filled out my application to the PC, but upon much introspection, I felt I may have been going into it for the wrong reasons. As cliché as it may seem, I wasn’t 100% comfortable with myself and my identity. My identity was very much connected to the identity that others had of me in North Louisiana – I was Ross Frazier the photographer, Ross Frazier the Tech student, or Ross Frazier – a member of the Frazier Clan (haha). I’d never truly left the area and I didn’t have much of an identity outside of it. I figured undertaking such a challenge as the Peace Corps may not be the best way to succeed at “finding myself” – I needed to be comfortable with “me” before taking on a job where people would be dependent on that definition of “me.”

    So I decided to continue school far away from “home” and far away from all the friends I knew and loved. Here I sit in Belgium, my new “home” surrounded by equally amazing friends. I’ve proven to myself that I can uproot myself and still find happiness; I can weather dark times and come out even better than before; I can make lasting friendships anywhere in the world; I can find a smile no matter the circumstances.

    It is after the revelation that has been my year+ in Belgium (remember THIS post) that I have decided NOW is the time – the RIGHT time to embark on a challenge bigger than myself, a challenge harder than anything I’ve undertaken before, a challenge more demanding than any previous in my life. That is why a few months ago, I began filling out my application, asking for references, getting fingerprinted, getting a background check, writing my essays, and interviewing for my entrance into the Peace Corps.

    All of the work, all of the stress (and keep in mind, it’s still just the beginning!) have culminated in the moment I enjoyed this afternoon: receiving a nomination to serve.

    I still have a lot of work ahead of me; a nomination does not equal an invitation. I must pass more tests, medical and legal among others, to make sure I qualify on all fronts. There is a chance that my nomination will not be the same (in terms of location and job description) as the invitation to serve that I will hopefully get after I pass the medical, legal, and other placement requirements are met. But nonetheless, this is a huge step in the process and I am beyond honored to have made it this far in the continued hope of serving the greater world community and continuing the exceptional reputation that the Peace Corps has built over the past 50+ years.

    So with great honor and enthusiasm in all of my heart, I am proud to announce this great decision in my life to you. I hope you will join me in this journey as I take on what will undoubtedly be one of the grandest experiences of my life.

    And as always, I appreciate the support, love, thoughts, prayers, and good vibes that all of my friends and family have provided over the years, and I will appreciate your continued support; y’all truly are the greatest!


    – Ross