Friday, November 23, 2012

Soirée des Rhétos and Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone! I'm just going to write a quick update about what's been going on.

Last weekend was my school's soirée des rhétos and it was so much fun! My principal gave me a free pass to get in and I didn't even have to work, which saved me ten euro! I also got about five free beers from people. Perks of being an exchange student. We ended up raising 3,800 euro for our Bal des Rhétos at the end of the year, and we have another soirée in March to raise even more money.

If you are unaware (maybe I have more international readers than I think I do?), yesterday was Thanksgiving. Belgians don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but my host family was nice enough to invite some family over and allow me to invite some friends over, and we had a real Thanksgiving dinner! It was super sweet.

I'm about to go to my Scouts camp, but I'll update when I come back!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Birthday Abroad

I am officially an adult. I turned 18 years old on November 9th! I don't feel any different, but I'm so lucky I can spend my 18th birthday here!

I had school that Friday. I woke up 40 minutes late in a panic (I carpool with a neighbor) but my host mom offered to drive me. When I walked into my English class with 2ème, all of the students started singing me Happy Birthday in English. They made a card for me and they all signed that and the blackboard. The teacher also gave me a present. She knitted an ear warmer headband for me the night before which was super sweet of her!

I can hear my sister saying "teacher's pet" as I'm typing this so I'll move on...

That afternoon, I met up with some exchange students in Namur and went and got fries. After, another exchange student came. I dropped off my school stuff at home and then we went out for pasta. After that, I went to a party my local Scouts club held in Champion. I invited Keaton and Cameron to come along with me. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of people from my school there. I got free drinks because it was my birthday, which is always a plus!

On Saturday there was a Scouts dinner for the Baladins (ages 3-6 I think?) and their parents. I'm in Staff Baladins, which means I am part of the group in charge of them. We had a dinner/fundraiser for the Baladins for our camping trip in February (which means snow......) amongst other things. It was a lot of fun but a lot of work! Preparing and serving food and drinks for 75+ people is a lot of work! I started at around 5pm and didn't get home until around 1am. After the dinner I got a chance to eat and then when everyone left, the staff played beer pong. Well, sort of. It was a longer table and you were allowed to bounce it. My team won (of course). Then I went home and went to sleep.

Today I went out to lunch with my host family and their two close friends who basically act as grandparents. We went out to an Italian place in my town. I ordered a pepperoni pizza, but it didn't even have pepperoni on it. There was ham and yellow bell peppers... it was still good, but it was enormous. I even got a few birthday gifts! My "grandparents" got me a card with an American flag on it saying "En route pour la liberté!" and inside was some money! They also got me some candy. I got flowers and two books (easy enough for me to read) from my host aunts and uncles. My host sisters got me a card, a Birdy CD, and slippers. My feet are cold no matter which country I'm in. My host mom got me a beautiful necklace. It's engraved and says "Nicole" on the front and "Belgique 11-09-2012 18 ans" on the back.

After that we had cake (I blew out all of the candles. I'm so talented, I know...) and coffee. Overall, I think it was a great birthday weekend. Next weekend there's a soirée de rhétos that I think I'll go to, and I might go to Brussels to celebrate my birthday again.

Also, I was in the newspaper! Here's a picture of what it looked like. It was about the elections and how I think of them as a student living abroad. I was interviewed the night before the elections. It's a good thing I know how the electoral college works (and I researched using Nate Silver's 538 prediction, turns out he was exactly right) or else this would've been a very embarrassing headline.

Well I'm off to go thank my host aunt and uncle for the books and the flowers. I'll write soon! 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

In Bruges

Yesterday I went to Bruges with Cameron and Callie. I met up with Cameron in Namur and took the train to Brussels, where we met Callie. 

It was raining all day, but Bruges is a beautiful city. 

They had horse drawn carriage rides throughout the city.

After walking around for a while, we went and saw the swans. They were beautiful (and huge!!!). 

Then we went to the main square and ate at Quick and admired the architecture. 

With nothing else to do, we walked through a pretty park and then back to the square for a few beers. We ran into an Italian, Antonio, and hung out with him for a while until we had to go.

On our way back, we ended up forgetting how we got to the big square, so we took a few wrong turns. It was raining pretty heavily, and we were running out of time. We decided to do a little bit of light jogging to catch the train, but we got stuck waiting to be able to cross a street and ended up missing our train by thirty seconds. We ran all that way for nothing. 

Today I went to Namur (thankfully I live close so I didn't have to use my GoPass) and met up with a lot of other exchange students. We went to ChiChi's for some Tex Mex and then went to Havana for a few drinks. It was a good day, and much better weather than yesterday. Tomorrow I have an AFS activity in Dinant, so I'll update you soon!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Two Months, Brussels, and Halloween!

Hi everyone. Sorry it's been so long since I've written, but really there hasn't been much going on besides school.

My kidney stone passed (without any pain, lucky me) and I've been on vacances de toussaint for the past few days. I tried catching up on sleep for the past few days, because I've been so exhausted. Last weekend my host family and I had lunch with my host aunt, uncle, and cousin. We talked about Thanksgiving and are finalizing the plans for that.

Yesterday I went to Brussels with Cameron. We first went to the Magritte Museum. He's a famous surrealist painter who is well known for painting the man in a suit and bowler hat with an apple covering his face, as well as a pipe and the phrase "ceci n'est pas une pipe", or "this is not a pipe".

After, we went to Manneken Pis (he wasn't costumed this time) and took a touristy picture with Cameron's host brother. We also got waffles, and I got one with nutella on it and it was amazing.

We walked over to Grand Place and took pictures and just stood there for a while, admiring the beauty. I can't describe how amazing it feels to be there. To have looked at pictures of Grand Place for three years, to imagine what it'd be like to visit one day, and to finally be there.... it's incredible.

I've been here for two months now, and it's a little unreal. I can't believe my experience is going by so quickly. It's the best decision I've ever made, and as much as I miss home, I absolutely love it here. It's getting colder though, which is really making me miss Californian weather.

Tomorrow I'm going to Bruges with a few exchange students. Then on Saturday we're all meeting up in Namur (my wallet is grateful I don't have to travel far) and on Sunday AFS has an activity planned for us at a museum of sound and a cave. I have a busy weekend ahead, so I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures!