I finally got to Paris a couple of days ago, so I've done a preliminary sweep through photos I took and have time to give a more detailed trip report.
Copenhagen, after Bruges, was my favorite place on the trip. Super clean and civilized (no gates on the metro), like a lot of Scandinavian places, and beautiful color palette on the buildings. Really charming place. Not a ton to see in terms of tourist sites but probably a great place to live, much like Singapore. Best bit was Vor Frelsers Kirke, which has an exterior spiral staircase leading up to the spire that I climbed. Feels a lot like climbing a skyscraper, if that skyscraper were built in the 1600s and seemed like it might disintegrate at any moment. That thing creaked and swayed in the heavy and had uncomfortably low railings. A fun thing to do once. Also, Tivoli Gardens was a pretty charming amusement park, and had this one cool thrill ride that had a joystick that let you control the ride, flipping and spinning yourself around. Really cool, and I've never heard of or seen a ride you control yourself before.
On the first night, I met up with a couple of people that are on my Paris program and happened to be in Copenhagen. We went out to dinner and then, the next day, I went up to Helsingør (Elsinore), with one of them, then took the ferry to Sweden, train down a bit of Sweden, and then the famous Öresundsbron back to Copenhagen. It was a good day trip, and I got to see a tiny bit of Sweden. The next day I went to the aforementioned Tivoli Gardens, and then got on the sleeper train to Amsterdam.
Frankly, Amsterdam is a party city, and it disappoints if you're traveling solo. I can see it being a good time going back with a friend sometime though (as I think Cha and John L. did once, no?). Best bit in Amsterdam was probably Annefrankhuis (Anne Frank House). And my hotel (Mauro Mansion) was cool, in an old building on a canal. Also, the Apple Store, where I went to buy a hard drive, was very nice. Haha.
Ghent was a nice medieval city with a lot of atmosphere but not many amazing sites. There is, however, a big old castle in the middle of town, and generally neat buildings. One strength is that it isn't nearly so over-run with tourists as Bruges.
Bruges was the best place on the trip. It's been totally infiltrated by tourists now, but with good reason. Just a beautiful medieval city with nice canals. I climbed the belfort, which besides being a fairly common thing to do, also places centrally in "In Bruges," one of my favorite movies. I also stayed in the same hotel as the two main characters in that movie had, which was cool. The manager of the hotel in the movie was a pregnant lady, and the real manager was a 60-something man who told me, "I am not a pregnant lady" when I checked in. Bruges has too much stuff to list, and is totally worth going to. It's really only 2 hours from Paris, so it's a doable day trip from Paris in a time crunch.
Meh. Not much to see. Not much charm either. Seems to have the snobbery of Paris without anything to back it up. Based on this trip, Flemish Belgium is a lot more friendly. I did, however, get to meet the American Ambassor to Belgium (Dad's former law-partner), and go to the American Ambassador's residence which was really cool. Best bit of Brussels was the Atomium, an atom-inspired structure built for some expo in 1958. It's a total tourist trap, but it is actually really neat looking. Not just you're standard Space-Needle-type-thing (or maybe it was and I just personally liked this one).
I've only been here a couple days but I'm settling in well. I like my apartment and the area (5th arrondisement, Jussieu metro, near the Sorbonne). I walked to the Tuilerie Gardens and the Champs Elyseés shopping area on the first night (which really aren't that close at all but it was a nice walk). Last night I went to see Jay-Z and Kanye West in Bercy with my friend Alexandra. It's likely not your kind of music, but its one of the best concerts I've been to. It didn't hurt that there biggest current song is about Paris, and they did it 12 times in a row at the end. I'm talking 30 minutes plus of the same song on real-life repeat. Sounds like a nightmare? You had to be there. RollingStone.com even thought it merited mention: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/jay-z-and-kanye-west-play-ni-as-in-paris-12-times-in-paris-20120619.
I've got about a week before orientation starts, and 2 weeks until actual classes begin.