Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Turn of Events

I had fully intended on writing yesterday. I had some of it written out already....

"This past week was pretty boring, but the end of the week was full of events.

On Friday, I had gym and we had to run for 30 minutes straight. Of course, my gym teacher wanted us to run outside, and it was 50 degrees and raining. Maybe Belgians are used to the weather, but I thought it was crazy for us to be running outside!!! Saturday was my host sister Louise's 20th birthday, so we all went out to dinner and had tapas and pasta.

Sunday, we had a big family party for Louise. It was a lot of fun, and I really felt like part of the family. It was a great way to exercise my French, and I totally felt accepted by everyone. I even invited my host aunt and her family over for Thanksgiving dinner... I think they're making the turkey which is great, because turkeys are very hard to make...."

So I had that written out, and I was going to write more and then post it. Then I started feeling weird. I woke up with a bit of back pain on my left side, so I figured I just slept a little weirdly. My school had Conseils de Classe, so I didn't have to go to school. After an hour or so, the pain got worse. It was excruciating, and I finally decided to call my host mom. I waited earlier because I didn't want to get my dictionary out and I didn't know what the word for "pain" was (it's douleur). She called a doctor, and the doctor gave me a shot, but it didn't do anything really. I was writhing in pain, and then I threw up because it hurt so much. Then we decided to go to the emergency room....

I was hooked up to an IV and given fluids and pain medication. I waited for a few hours and had an ultrasound. The doctor said one of my kidneys was definitely "under pressure" from something. Of course, I started asking him all kinds of questions until I realized that he actually hadn't found anything yet.... So I waited. He finally found a 3mm stone already out of my kidney on its way to my bladder. Which really sucks........

I got more pain medication and ended up staying the night. I slept pretty well, was really comfortable, and the hospital did a great job making sure I wasn't in any pain. I'm at home now, drinking 2L of water and waiting for it to pass. One moment I'm writing about how boring the past week was, and the next I'm in the ER! It was my first time ever having to be admitted into a hospital, and I had to stay overnight! Oh well, c'est la chance!

My host mom took a picture of me in the full getup: the patient robe, laying in bed, the fluids next to me, but I don't have her camera so I'll upload it when I can!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

AFS Adventures in Antwerp

So much has happened since I've last written, and that's partly the reason why it's taken a week to get some free time to write.

Last Friday, I went to the FIFF with Skyler. She had an extra pass and it was the last day, so after walking all over Namur in the rain, we found a movie we could watch. It was really confusing. It's called Dans la Maison, and from what I understood, it was about a student who wrote about his friend with a perfect family. It started off as a writing prompt assigned by the teacher, and the student wrote it exceptionally well. As the student continued the story, the teacher reads about his attempts to seduce his friend's mother (he succeeds) and the teacher gets more enthralled with the story. It has a lot of different sequences that are imaginary, so it was probably confusing even for a born francophone. It was a good movie though.

Saturday the committee of Namur had their welcome party. I made cookies.... out of a box. I went to the store but I couldn't find any unsalted butter - I looked for about fifteen minutes, it was very awkward - added some nutella to make them taste sweeter. (Speaking of grocery stores, I've noticed some really weird flavors of chips here. For example: Paprika, bolognese, pickles, ketchup, etc.) I didn't try the cookies, but everyone said they were good and they were all gone. Someone from Mexico made guacamole and it was amazing. There were also spring rolls made by a girl from Thailand that were great too.

Skyler spent that night at my house, which was convenient because we were invited on a whim to go to Antwerp the next day. We left for the train station at 8:30 but ended up leaving at 9:20 because Cameron couldn't get to the bus stop on time. Long story short, he had to go through a forest, cross a creek, a manure filled cow field, two barbed wire fences, and a busy highway all while it was foggy. But he ended up missing his bus anyway, so we waited for him to show up. We met up with Caleb in Brussels when we switched trains (and got Starbucks.... what can I say, we're American) and then we were on our way!

Antwerp is really beautiful. Even the train station is gorgeous.

After we arrived, we met up with some of the Latin American exchange students and went to a few museums. First was a chocolate museum.

Then we went to Rubenshuis ("Ruben's house" in Dutch), which is the museum of famous painter Peter Paul Rubens

After, we went to Grote Markt for some sightseeing.

After, we went to the river and then went for some drinks. 

It was a long day of walking, so Caleb, Cameron, and I left a little earlier than others. After a nap on the way to Brussels, Cameron and I were finally on our way home. 

It was a great weekend. I was really tired on Monday but it was so worth it! I'm starting to understand more in school and during conversations, which is great. Now when I pause during a conversation, it's mostly not because I don't understand, but because I don't know how to respond. I'm also forgetting some English words (I forgot how to say assertive) and sometimes I'll read something or type something using different pronunciation. For example, the other day I was typing and while trying to write "look", I wrote "luck" instead. I don't know where that came from...... 

Anyway, that's a "quick" recap of my week. Today marks one month until I turn eighteen. I can't wait. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This Week: Beer, Children, and Acrobats!

Time for an update!

Tuesday I had my first English class with 2eme and it was very... interesting. The kids were probably 12 or 13 and had a lot of questions for me to answer, like "Do you play any sports?" "Do you have a favorite pop star?" "Do you like hamburgers and hot dogs?" and they were very disappointed with my answers because I said no to all of them. They also asked if I had a boyfriend and a Facebook. They seemed very enthusiastic though, and I'm hoping I can help them throughout the year.

On Wednesday after French lessons I met up with Prince Cameron (from New Zealand) in Namur for a beer and a couple of waffles (2 1/2 for me! Let's hope I don't gain any weight from that...) and some conversation. We ran into Emma from NY who was a late arrival.

On Thursday I caught up on some much needed sleep. Friday I went to a surprise party for my host sisters' friend, Simon. It was great, Belgians know how to party! There were 25 cases of Jupiler, with 24 bottles in each... that's 600 bottles of beer! There was also a DJ. I've noticed that Belgians all like happy music, and they'll dance to it no matter how old they are. They love to dance and have a good time. 

On Saturday I went to the theatre and watched an acrobatic show, Le Cirque Eloize. It was amazing!!!! I was very impressed with all of the different stunts, but I was also stressing out because I was afraid one of the performers was going to get hurt because they were just throwing people around. Thankfully, that didn't happen and I was able to relax after a while. The theatre is gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to the next shows I get to go to with my host family.

On Sunday, my host mom and host sister Louise went to Champion for scouts. I was with a few other "counselors"/leaders who were around my age and we watched over 4-6 year olds and entertained them with a few activities. They're so sweet, but they have so much energy! It was also freezing (not really, but cold enough) and the grass was wet so I was a little miffed. I'm definitely planning ahead next time. I can't wait until my warm clothes get here!!!!!! 

Today I went to FIFF - Festival International du Film Francophone - in Namur with my school. A lot of other schools went too, and even other classes of my school. It was great, because I got to sleep in for 30 minutes more than usual! I was with my Sociology class, so we watched two short films on immigrants. The first one had English subtitles (which is great, because I wouldn't have understood it otherwise) and the second didn't, but I still understood it. One ended in a suicide and another in children being taken away by police, so they were a tad depressing. 

After, I grabbed a waffle with Kaari (the Finnish student who goes to my school) and then went for some fries with some friends from school. I have no idea what the place was called, but I've been there before and my host sister said they make the best fries in Namur. I also (probably) failed a geography quiz on the countries of Europe. In English it's perfectly easy, but French spelling is weird still! Oh well, gotta love being graduated already. 

Before I go, I wanted to share the weirdest thing with you. Everyone wears American or British flags here.... there's a girl in my class who wears an American flag scarf every day, and I see people with british flag phone cases. I don't understand why...

À la prochaine!