Monday, August 31, 2009

More pictures....

Here's some pictures, they're a little out of order but this photo uploader is a pain...

So this is the wine cellar at my host grandma's house. I thought my mom would like this! Some of the wine is so old that when you try to wipe the dust off, the label crumbles off!

This is a raclette. Ours is a little different but you get the idea.

Not a great picture, but you can see G.B. over there!


Sand Castle!

WWII bunkers

La plage :)

This is the path that I got lost on.

Just some pictures of Malonne...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

J'aime la Belgique :)

So let's see... today is Sunday. Oh la la, I am behind!

Friday we all just stayed at the house. I spent most of my time sleeping and doing college stuff... Yes, I know it's early, but I suppose I should get a headstart, seeing that I'm halfway around the world and such. As of now, I have officially applied to PSU (it was easy, no essay or anything) and am working on several other applications. I am still torn between whether I should go to art school or to a regular university... I have a good shot at getting into Cornish or MICA (my portfolio has already been accepted by both) and those are my two preferred art schools. I guess I'm just afraid of dead ending myself. Oh well. I suppose it really depends on what my options are after I've applied everywhere.  Anyway.....

Yesterday we went and visited Genivieve's mother. She lives WAY out in the country but, as always, it was a pleasant drive. Her house was so cool. It was built in 1664 , which was before Belgium was even it's own country! Crazy! She lives really far out in the country, probably the only house for miles... Anyway, there was this cool race thing with old race cars. Not exactly sure what it was but part of the "track" was on the road that she lives on. It was really fun watching all these old race cars drive really fast along the bumpy country road and take the corner at full speed! For dinner we had "raclette" which was really neat. There was this grill thing with two levels in the middle of the table. Everyone has this little tray that you put cheese on, and stick that in the middle. And on the top level, you put meat. It's kinda hard to explain but i'll try to find a picture on the internet. Anyway, there is a platter of different cheeses, and a platter of different meats (including ostrich, yes, I ate ostrich!) and potatoes and pickles and onions and egg that you can pour into the cheese tray with the cheese....and that's raclette. You just eat it all together. Very good. Very French.

Today has been, for the most part, a lazy Sunday. I did go for a walk though. Which was very nice. I took some pictures and got to know Malonne a little better. (I even got lost but of course I found my way back!) I rather enjoyed my promenade. The people here are very friendly, they all smile and say "Bonjour" when they pass. I like the Belgium. I like it a lot.

FUN FACT: When Belgium first became independent (18something) they needed a king but none of the Belgians really had ruling experience because they were constantly under foreign reign. So basically, they sent out a wanted ad to the rest of Europe. Leopold I showed up, and then he was king. Just like that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I went to France, no big deal.

Last night at dinner, my host mom said we were going to go the beach the next day. Excited, I responded with "Oh in Flanders?" (Northern Belgium) and she said "No, I think we'll go to France." The way she said it was  as if she were saying "I think i'll go to the grocery store today." Her nonchalant manner in which she spoke of going to another country for the day was difficult for me to fathom. Man, I love Europe and it's condenseness! 

Anyway, the beach was very fun. We were in the Calais area on the British Channel, which at it's thinnest, is 22 miles across. It was pretty neat being able to see Great Britain over there! When we actually got to the beach (after hiking for at least 20 minutes) it was nice and sunny and the water was surprisingly warm. I was shocked. Especially, because, where we stopped to eat lunch was FREEZING! Though I can not logically explain the extreme shift in weather, I am very grateful and will not question it. 

To finish the night out, we went back to Belgium (Dunkerque) and had dinner on the beach. Actually, Dunkerque reminded me a little of Seaside, Oregon. It had the boardwalk and shops and people on bikes; it was more European, though no less tacky! 
Actually, it was really cool at night there with everything lit up. When we were walking on the beach, we could see lights from France and Great Britain. It was kinda like being in three places at once....but not really.

Fun Fact: In Belgium they these fish snack things that are like fruit roll ups.....but fish, not candy. They are orange and white and kinda look like cheese or something and they come in individually wrapped packages. You will probably be shocked to know that these are actually popular. Wanna hear something more shocking? I ate one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009



Manneken Pis...


My first Belgian beer


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting Settled

So let's see...where to start? The beginning, I presume?

I really feel that I should be updated this every hour, because I am constantly going though exciting and new experiences. I'll try my best to fill everyone in...
So on Saturday, My Detier, Genevieve, and Amandine (Dad, mom, oldest sister) picked me up from the hotel outside of Brussels. The car ride home would be awkward for most people, but I guess I'm not really like other peop
le. We talked a little, but mostly I just took in the beautiful scenery. When we got home I unpacked and took a nap until dinner.
Here's some visual aid:

This is my house.

Here's some pictures of my room...

My little piece of Oregon! :)

At dinner I met my final sibling, Valentin (10). He’s great because he is the most talkative, yet knows absolutely no English. Therefore, I have to work a lot harder to communicate with him. Our conversations always involve hand gestures and drawings and him repeating the unknown word over and over again, frustrated yet determined for my understanding. It’s always fun.

Let’s see…. the next day we went to Brussels! After I slept until 1, of course. Brussels was so cool! They took me to all of the major attractions including the Atomium building built for the “International Exposition” in 1958(?) and oddly enough it’s probably the most modern and innovative building I’ve ever seen. Also, I saw the basilica, which is the 4th largest church in the world. It was odd because there was a group of people outside the front on the steps and guess what they were playing. "I Will Survive" by Cake. I thought that pretty cool. I also saw the famous Manneken Pis Fountain, which means “peeing little boy” in the Brussels quasi-Flemish-French dialect. Yes, you read correctly… It is a symbol of which they are very proud here in Belgium. It represents their independence and I guess sticking it to the man….or Germany and France and whatever other countries they had been taken over by over the years.

All in all Brussels, was amazing, just like all the other European capitals that I have been fortunate enough to visit. Oh and also, I consumed my first Belgian beer and and Belgian chocolate; not too shabby.

Monday. Monday I went to Namur with Amandine via bus. This was my first time walking through Malonne (to get to the bus stop) which, I must say, is quite charming! My school also looks very nice. School starts in a week and a half and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to it!...kind of. Haha. I’m a little nervous about making friends but I am excited to learn! Ha, what has become of me? When did I start being so cheesy?

Anyway, so Namur is a beautiful city. It’s about 1/3 smaller than Salem, population wise, but has about a thousand times more character and charm. I can rightfully determine this for I believe that I saw every street at least twice. Seriousy. Amandine is made of steel! I have never walked so much, or for so long, in my life! She’s a true European whereas I am still a fat American! After walking around for hours, we met up with one of Amandine’s friends of whom, I can’t at this time, remember the name. Oh well. He was a character to say the least. Small, flamboyant, well dressed European with a personality to boot. Need I say more? What I found most funny was his love for Paris Hilton (Pah-reese Eel-tone). He went on about how she was a great person… pretty, smart, stylish etc; it was quite funny. I told him about that Paris’ BFF show and I literally freaked out. Shouting “C’est moi!” That’s me! To add to his personality, his leg was broken but in place of a regular, plaster, American cast was a metal contraption that, no joke, looked like it came straight out of a Tim Burton movie. It was so bizarre. I liked him though; he said something really funny about someone back home. You can use your imagination; i’m not going to put it on here. :)

Ok, that brings me up to today. Today is Tuesday. Today I went to Louvaine La Neuve. Which is this university town about half an hour from Malonne….or so I think, I lost track of time taking in the beautiful countryside. Today, I felt like a Belgian. Why? I do not really know. I’ll tell you about my day…

My host mom had a seminar thing at the University…or something like that, I didn’t quite catch what it was, for my French is still tres mal. Anyway, so Amandine and I just walked about and looked in shops. We went to visit Amandine’s God Mother and she gave us ice tea (carbonated!) and Swiss chocolate (she had just returned from holiday). I also went to two museums. One was the Musee Herge (The maker of the famous Belgian comic, Tintin) and a local art museum. I was quite impressed with the latter; it had a few Picassos and a Magritte. Both were very nice because even with the language barrier, art is something I will always understand.

To bring our day to a close, we went to a pub that seemed to be popular among the students and enjoyed a nice afternoon beer. Oh, how Belgian I am already.

P.S. I'll put up more pictures in another post soon. It is being problematic!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Goodbye, USA

I am now in the Double Tree Hotel at JFK airport in New York. A LOT has happened since the last post and now. 

But I'm sure you already know what has happened...but here's a quick brief:
I got my host family. I will be leaving tomorrow to stay with the Willame family in Malonne, Belgium.

Anyways, some pre-departure thoughts...
Most of my goals are the same as posted in my last post...

I don't really know what else to say except today was horribly bittersweet....
I had to say goodbye to my friends, family and country...But hey, I'm going to Belgium!
I really am going to miss everyone, though I am very excited for this portion of my life.

Well I'm exhausted, I'll write a post that makes a little more sense soon.