Sunday, September 27, 2009

Productive weekend....ou pas!

So this weekend was pretty flat-line.... which I don't really mind, because the week wore me out.
I kinda had some rough spots over the past few days (just about something from home) but let's not dwell on that (or even address it, for that matter)....

Friday night I watched this French movie from the late 80s called "Le grand bleu". It was in English though... Anyway, I liked it. It was very....French. America has brainwashed me into thinking that all movies should have happy endings and that lurid sex scenes are a no-no. It must be an acquired taste but I don't know if I'll ever fully appreciate them. Ok, that not-so-happy endings I can get used to, but seriously, sex scenes are just awkward no matter who you're watching it with! Like please, spare me of the funky, poofy hair, 80s carnality. Ok, ok, it wasn't thaaaaat bad I still prefer the American style of just implying it. But you should watch it, it's a very good movie.

Yesterday (Saturday) I went to this Roman gladiator re-enactment festival at the citadel in Namur. It haha. Kind of. It was nice to get out of the house though. It's sounds like it would be cool but it was just kind of boring. The show was at least an hour long and they were basically moseying around the whole time. It must be the American in me again, but I guess I just wanted more action. haha.

Today I stayed at home most of the day but did get out for a walk. I thought I ought to enjoy the nice weather before it's gone. I also updated my website, and by updated, I mean completely re-did! You should check it out, click this link!!!! .... It wasn't a complete waste of time because it took my mind off of other things....

Next week should be nice. October has always been one of my favorite months so we'll see how it is here in Belgium! :)
Wednesday I don't have school. I don't really know why but whatever, it's all cool! Sunday I might go on a 30km bike ride with my host dad.
And then the next Monday (the 5th) I don't have to go to school because my class is going to the French International Film Festival in Namur.
So I should be having a pretty good week. :)

So....This is why I don't update my blog everyday.... It's just not interesting! haha.
I'm going to go do homework now...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Just an update...

I'm kinda feeling pretty blah right now. I don't really know why though.

This week was pretty good. I really think my french is improving, so I'm pretty stoked for that. I have a pretty big group of friends too, which makes the whole "school being really hard" thing easier to cope with. I still feel like I don't quite fit in though... Especially today. I don't know why, but I feel so down today. Not even all day either, just when I got back from school. I guess I can't just expect to move somewhere and fit in perfectly right away but I don't know. I don't know why I feel so out of it. My friends are really cool and I really like them but I guess I just keep thinking that maybe they're only being friends with me to be nice to the exchange student, ya know? Like they're obligated to. But now that I think of it (I thought about it over dinner, between this sentence and the previous one), I think I'm overreacting a bit. I'm sure they like me fine, they just don't know me real well yet. I'm just going through another "down" but I'm sure it'll be fine soon.

Sorry for the venting, but sometimes once you vocalize your problems, the solution becomes more clear. I've got it under control, don't worry.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


So Les Fêtes de Wallonie were a success!
On Saturday I took the bus to Namur around
5:30pm where I met some friends (Caroline,
Damien & Kamil) at the bus station. So
how to describe wallos. Kinda like the
state fair, but not as tacky, but still a little
tacky. And there is beer and peket at least
every 50 ft. And you don't have to pay to
get in, it's basically all the streets in
downtown are closed to traffic and there
are tons of vendors and stuff.
Oh, and like a billion people.

So anyway, the first thing I have to do when
I get there (according to my friends) is have
a peket. Peket is the drink of wallos. It's a very
strong shot and they have every flavor imaginable!
The peket stands are actually really cool looking
because they're all different colored. So I tried
apple flavored. We all took it together (except
Kamil, he doesn't drink) and after you drink,
you throw your cup on the ground and step on
it. After that we walked around a bit and then
went to this park where we met Johanna and
Dominik! Ya, I saw Dominik! Pretty cool.

So the rest of the night was wild. Well not for
me, but for everyone else there. I've never seen
so many drunk people in my life- or maybe just
so many people in general! There was this one
point where it took us like 20 minutes to get
through this street that would take less than a
minute on a normal day. It was intense! But I
had a lot of funand a few more pekets. Oh, and
I saw one of the best fire work shows of my life!
It was so cool! There was music and smoke and
lights and fireworks. It was beautiful. Most of
the night I was with Damien because everyone
else came and went. We just walked around and
stuff.I feel a little bad for him actually, he was
kind of like my baby-sitter/tour guide! I think
he had fun though. (Damien, if you're reading
this, I hope you had fun! I did!) Then later we
met up with Kamil and Johanna again and he
gave us rides home at like 12 or 1.

I went again today with my family but it wasn't
as fun. We watched this fight thing with people
on stilts. It would be cool but it was like an hour
long. I did get to see something kind of like marching
band...except they had bag pipes. It was cool though
because the bottom bass was a total BA because he
stood in the middle of the circle while they were
playing and he was just beating away. It made me
feel cool for playing bottom bass in marching
band! haha.

But ya, I took some pictures. I'm a little upset
though because I didn't get any good ones!
Sometimes you have to choose between taking a
good picture and just enjoying yourself. I chose to
be in the moment, which didn't render good pictures
but I had a great time so it's ok!

But since I haven't shown you guys pictures in a
while I'll let you see a few:

Candy! I wish I got a picture of one of the peket stands...

This was before it got wild...

I have friends!!!!!!
Johanna, Caroline, Damien,and Kamil.
(from left to right)


I look terrible but I had to get a picture of me being
so Belgian with my fries w/ mayo and beer!


Marching band!

What a bad ass!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I ate cow tongue yesterday. Just puttin' that out there.

and also: I can now successfully curse in 5 different languages. That's something to put on my resume haha. No, but it is like a "rite of passage" for exchange students to learn all the swear words in their host country's language.

And another fun fact:
Here when a child loses a tooth and they put it under their pillow, little mice come at night and give them a gift instead of a tooth fairy. I thought that was cute.

Friday, September 18, 2009

One month.

Wow. I have been here for a whole month now. The time really did fly by.
Here's a quick recap: I got here. I liked it. I met my host family. I like them. I went to school. I liked it. I didn't like it. I made friends. I liked it again. I didn't like it. I made more friends. I liked school again. My french is terrible and my classes were hard. I didn't like school. Now I like school again? haha. Yes, this month has had a lot of ups and downs but over-all I think it has been productive.

I think my French may be improving. Only a little though. haha. What I could use is a confidence boost, it's way harder to speak French with native French speakers than at home in French class. Who knew? But at this point, I think I'm at a plateau: I can understand most things when I'm reading or when someone is speaking very slow and simply. Though during class when the teacher is lecturing or when I try to listen to other people's conversations it all just goes over my head. But I think in time, it'll become more least, that's what I've been telling myself. It's really hard now, but I can't wait until a few months from now. Things will be great!

So a lot of exciting things are happening all of the sudden....
(I'll list them chronologically)
-Tomorrow I'm going to Les Fetes de Wallonie with friends (I think I've already explained that in an earlier post?). I'm so excited! and guess what, it's supposed to be sunny! Yes!

-Next month I might start sports. Yes. There is no band here to consume all my free time! I actually really miss band though....But anyway, I'm thinking swimming (with my friend Johanna) and maybe badminton? Ok ok, badminton isn't really a "sport" but I love it and it's fun, so there!

-My mom and sister are coming to visit me in December! I'm so happy, I miss them so much and I can't wait to show them around!

-Ok, so you know how in April my class is going to go to Morocco? Well, my parents said YES! I don't think I need to elaborate why I'm excited-- I think the sentence "I'm going to Morocco." pretty much sums it up in itself.

-I've been applying for colleges and just thinking about it gets me so pumped! I think I've finally decided against art least for the first few years of my higher education. I want the university experience and an opportunity to explore other interests.

So that's all I have planned but I'm just excited in general for what will come. I'm so glad I decided to do this! Yes, I'm in a good mood :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I'm Belgian now.

Today was a very pleasant day.

Didier (host dad) drove me in to Namur today to help me activate my cell phone. At first I
wasn't going to, but seriously everyone has one and it'll be good to have for emergencies. It turns out my phone isn't compatible with the sim cards....even though the t-mobile at home said that it would be. Whatever though, not a big deal. I just bought the cheapest phone there and am going with a pre paid phone plan. I actually really like my phone but it's like ridiculously expensive here so I won't be calling or texting that much.

After the phone place, Didier left me in Namur for the afternoon to go shopping. I needed a jacket, clothes for PE, etc... I ended up buying probably
more than I needed but I stayed within my self imposed budget...but now I'm set for fall/winter. Well, except for shoes. Everyone wears boots here. All the girls, I mean. But I don't really like boots.... I'll try to get by with my flats and converse but I guess if my feet get to cold I'll have to give in....

So after my shopping, I went and has lunch at this li
ttle cafe. It was a true Belgian lunch: ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette, with mayonaise of course and Kriek, which is cherry flavored beer. It was very nice, even though I was eating alone. I enjoyed watching all the people walk by. And I ordered in Fren
ch and everything. I'm Belgian now. I even fooled the people at the table next to me. They asked if they could have my menu and I said yes and gave it to them. Then like 10 minutes later they started talking to me in rapid french and I told them that I'm American and just moved here and don't speak French very well yet. Ha, tricked them, I did!

I think starting Wednesday is the "Fetes de Wallonie" which is this big festival in Namur that's for Wallonia, the Southern, French speaking part of Belgium. I think I am going with a group of friends from my schoo
l. That will be
fun. Ugh, so now I think I'm going to dig into my homework. Oh, the joys of school.

The lively, little street I had lunch on.

The cafe I ate at.

Yum yum! :)

I think this was a performance by the conservatory in Namur. Pretty cool

Friday, September 11, 2009

TGIF...or I suppose I should say DMCV.

Ugh, what a long week. A good week, but looong. Yes, so I just finished my first full week of school. I don't really have a lot to say, so this post is just going to be spurts of random information...

It's crazy. You know those 3rd year french classes that I'm in? Well, it turns out that I do still have the classes that I thought I was ditching (PE, Geography, etc.). But sometimes I miss them and sometimes I don' doesn't really make any sense. So to some that up, I have two extra classes, on top of my already hard schedule, that I have to miss other classes to attend...but I am still responsible for the work of the missed class. ahh.

School's not as bad as I'm making it sound though.... I do have a pretty big circle of friends now so that makes things a lot better. 

My class is going to Morocco in April! I really want to go but it's like $900... we'll see though. It sounds really exciting, from what I can tell, it's a big trekking trip. So cool.

Oh, today I got trapped inside my school! haha. So at lunch I went to talk to the principal about my schedule and I guess after the first few minutes of lunch they lock the kids outside/part of the ground floor in one of the wings. Anyway, so this will be difficult to describe without a proper diagram but I'll give it my best shot. So after talking with the principal I proceeded downstairs to the door to the courtyard only to find it locked. So I went back upstairs but at every level the door to get to the other wings of the school were locked...until I reached the 4th floor. That one was opened. So I went over to the next (middle) set of doors, down four flights and guess what, that door was locked too. Back up four floors, and over to the last set of stairs. I'm sure these will be the ones because they lead to the cafeteria, and kids need to be able to get from the cafeteria to outside. Yes? No. My confidence is shattered by a huge wooden barricade on the stairs going from the first floor to the second floor. I ended up eating my lunch on the stairs all by myself. haha. Sad, but very funny. 

Th th th th that's all folks!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I am not a goblin.

So this one's gonna be a quickie. Today was great. I had Spanish for the first time and it's totally my favorite class. Even though they're still way ahead of me, when in theory, I should be a year ahead of them but I think we did more work in 2 hours than I did in all of Spanish 2 in the US. 

Also, I've noticed a pattern. You know how the language teachers back home are always young and hip? It's the same here! It's really strange. I thought it was just a Northism, but I guess it's international. haha. And my French teacher is known for being really disorganized but really cool...who does that sound like? Mr. Davis? Woah! They're both senior level lit teachers... Also, my chemistry teacher is just as sarcastic and dry-humored as Mr Sticks.... and let's see, my history teacher is apparently crazy....Ms McDermeit?....just kidding. I love her, and I don't think she'll ever read this so I think I'm getting away with that. It is just so bizarre though, aside from history, all my teachers remind me of the teachers I had last year. 

Anyway, this is going longer than I planned. I have a new group of friends though. Johanna's friends. I really like them. :)

Lastly, here's a picture of me. (For my dad mostly, because he said that for all he knows, I could have become a goblin!) And also, I have decided to revive the bangs for various reasons (Katie knows). I don't know if I really like them but I'm happy for the change :)

Here ya go, Dad. I am not a goblin.

Oh, and today someone told me I look like the girl from Twilight. I don't think I do at all, but maybe I'm becoming a vampire instead of a goblin. ;)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blue Skies

Today was a good day, for the most part.

I had French first, which is still my favorite class. Our assignments are really abstract and creative, I like it. There is a break after every two hours (I don't think it's actually an hour but their equivalent to a period or block. I really don't know how long it is though.) and today at the first break, my friends told me that if I wanted to learn French, then I had to talk more. Ya, easier said then done. I really wish I could talk more but most the time I can't even keep up with their conversations. It made me feel kind of bad, I think I'm annoying them by following them around. haha. I always try to answer their questions but I don't know how they can expect me to jump in when they talk too fast for me to comprehend! Whatever, I guess in time it'll get better...

In my second class, geography, an Angel came to me. An angel, in the form of half-American, half-Belgian Johanna! Who knew this whole time, while I'm struggling in my classes, that there is this girl who is fluent in English in all of my classes!? Anyway, we were partners in geography but mainly we just got to know each other. It really is amazing how quickly two people can become friends when they are speaking the same language. It's something I will never take for granted again. So anyway, she is really nice and I had lunch with her and her friends. They are nice too. I talked to them a lot more than my other friends. Yes, it was in some hybrid form of French/English, but communication none the less. In the end, I talked the most with Johanna and her one of her freinds. We talked about school in Belgium, school in America, boys in America and Belgium, swear words, etc. It was fun trying to explain marching band to them and telling them that people don't actually get shoved in lockers like in the movies. I think that they're going to be some of my close friends. All in all, today was a success in the social department.

But after school, that is another story. I went with Amandine to talk to the director (principal) to see what I was supposed to do during English class, from which I am being booted. Our meeting was very confusing and to be honest, I'm not excited about my new schedule. Of my 4 hours of English that I had per week, we only got rid of one of them. Which doesn't make sense because I thought that was the purpose of the alteration in the first place. Instead of geography, biology, math (or half of math, I don't know how that's going to work) and PE (which I was actually looking forward to) I now have more French, but with 3rd years (freshmen). I don't mind being with younger kids, they're probably more at my level anyway, but I actually wanted to stay in those classes! So here's my schedule for the next week(it changes every week):

-2 hours French (6th year)
-2 hours French (3rd year)
-1 hour Religion
-1 hour History

-2 hours Spanish (Very excited for this!)
-2 hours of unresolved English class? I'll probably just end up being in a study hall.
-2 hours French (3rd year)

- 2 hours French (3rd year)

-2 hours Spanish
-1 hour French (3rd year)
-1 hour History
-2 hours Chemistry

-2 hours French (6th year)
-2 hours Math
-1 hour French (3rd year)
-1 hour of yet more unresolved English class...
-2 hours religion.

Are you getting this? 12 hours of French per week? This is crazy!!

I'm feeling pretty optimistic right now though. I had a good talk with Katie last night and she helped me a lot, with a lot of things. Hopefully my motivation sticks. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time.

So I've recovered from my little lapse of depression and am feelin' pretty good. 
School still sucks but at least I have friends now....kinda. There is this group of girls that have taken me in. We're not great friends but at least I'm never eating alone at school :)

A word of advice, whether you want to hear it or not: Always talk to the exchange students! Actually, this is more of a command than it is advice. But yes, ALWAYS! Because if you don't they will be depressed. They're not stuck up, they're just too scared to talk to you first! Seriously though, they're going through a lot and it makes things soooo much easier when you make the first move. I'm so lucky that people came to me first, it has made things so much better than they would be otherwise.

Aside from school, I went bowling yesterday! It was really fun actually. I did surprisingly well too. I've learned recently that I'm not bad at everything like I thought. A little bit of confidence really does go a long way. Who knew? So that's another life lesson I've learned so far.  Anyway it was Nicolas' (a friend of Amandine) birthday, and the party was oddly similar to those back home. I was expecting it to be a wild rave or something. haha. They do have those here, but not in that crowd, apparently. I was grateful though, because I am far more comfortable in non-rave settings anyway. After we went bowling, we went to see a movie and then we went to Nicolas' house for food and cake and just hanging out. It was a lot of fun, I'm really glad that I went.....and I actually have friends now! 

Poo, I had a good one, but now I can't remember!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

People need to be together as much as they need to eat.

So today was my second day of school.  I haven’t even been to all of my classes, yet I feel that already I’m in way over my head. To be honest, today wasn’t a good day. But I’m sure the last thing you want to read right now is another angsty teenager’s blog, so I’ll try to keep it matter-of-fact.

Seeing that I can’t speak much (not that I have many to even speak to) I keep a lot inside. It’s something I’m not yet used to. I don’t think I’ve ever thought this much in my life. I guess this sudden introversion is yielding some good, for I have made several realizations. Nothing earth shatteringly profound by any means. Just things that I suppose I’ve known all along, but have just now become clear…

I was trying to figure out why I am so homesick already. I’ve never really been homesick before, and I’ve been away many times. But I’ve realized that I’m not really homesick at all; I’m peoplesick. Friendsick. Familysick. (Ex-boyfriendsick. :C ) Every other time I’ve been away, I’ve been with family or close friends. I did’t miss home, because what is most important to me from home was with me. By George, I’ve cracked the code!

In the book I’m currently reading, one of the characters says, “People need to be together as much as they need to eat.”  Did it really take me halfway across the world to realize how true this simple statement really is? Why couldn’t I have discovered this earlier? Like they say, I guess one doesn’t realize what one has until it is gone…. or in my case, until one is gone.

I can already foresee that this is going to be a hard one to overcome.  Hopefully I make friends soon.

Anyway, moving on. School is hard. I’m getting booted from my English class. Haha. Which would have been my one easy class. My host mother thinks it’s because the teacher is worried that I might show her up. But let’s see. I think French is my favorite class so far. The teacher is really nice and I actually semi kept up with the work today. I was very proud of myself and I think I surprised the teacher! Haha, not all Americans are completely stupid! Geographie and religion…don’t even get me started. I think both subjects would be interesting…if only I understood French!

I all I have to say is thank God that I’ve already graduated!




FUN FACT: Students here are really organized. I mean, when they take notes they use rulers and write very neatly. Everything must be perfect! It’s really funny, the girl that I’ve become friends with, Flora(?), will rewrite her already neat notes in her down time. And they’re all highlighter crazy. Seriously. I’ve never seen so much neon in my life!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Ok so this is an attachment to my previous post...
Tonight at dinner, I went over my syllabi for my first two classes with my host parents and sister. 

If you thought I was afraid earlier, you should see me now. My history class is going to be hard....but i'll make it. My french class, however, is going to eat my lunch! I have lots of debate-formatted writing and responding to texts and such... it may not sound difficult, but the literature which we will be reading is extremely advanced. Mind you, it's intended for 18 year olds who have been speaking french and learning at a rigorous pace for their whole lives. My host mother suggests that I talk to the teacher and see if, at the beginning, I could read the book in English and respond in French.  I like that compromise. 

Amandine helped me figure out my planner and we think that the mystery class is geography... I'll find out tomorrow. 

Ugh, tomorrow is going to be a loooong day. But oddly enough, I feel up for the challenge. To tell you the truth, I'm more afraid of making friends than I am of my killer academic workload. Imagine that. Usually, I'm pretty outgoing and can make friends quite easily but here's proof of what a language barrier can do to someone!

Ah, j'ai fatigue´. Bonne nuit et souhaite-moi bonne chance! 

I really must be crazy.

Today was my first day of school and let me say again, I really must be crazy!

So when we arrived today, everyone was standing outside in the courtyard chatting with their friends. I met some of Amandine's friends, they were nice, younger than me though. After talk for a few minutes (or more like, them talking, me trying to understand) Amandine took me over to see which class I was in. It's kind of like in elementary school, you check these lists posted on the windows to see what class you're in. But here's where it get's tricky, you're with the same people for most classes, but they're in different rooms. But you don't have all of your classes with them... it's confusing. I, however, wasn't on any of the lists. So Amandine (Thank God I have her!) took me to several of the offices and we eventually ended up at the directeur's (principal). He had my file and we went through and picked out my classes. I still don't quite understand because it's in an hour system. I don't know what it means at all...perhaps hours per week? But anyway, I have French (lots), English (hopefully this will be easy), history, religion, PE, science, math, Spanish and something else that I didn't catch the name of (I have it tomorrow so I guess I'll find out then. haha.

Anyway, so I have my first class with the French teacher, who is also my titulaire (Kind of like advisory teacher back home...or home room, whatever) I think that is the right term... So ya, I had my first class, which I think would usually be French, but today it was more of an introduction thing. We get these planners that are very confusing but I suppose it will be helpful if I can figure out how to use it. I was really nervous standing outside but the classroom was oddly calming. I can't explain why. I didn't understand most of what the teacher said but I caught the general idea. I also received a printed syllabus to help. First class, not so bad.

After the bell rang we went back outside and people were going all different directions. I didn't know what to do or where to go. Luckily, a girl from my class came up to me and said that I looked lost. I told her that I was was. haha. She was very nice and explained to me that we were on break. We started talking and when I said I was from Oregon she asked if there were a lot of forest fires. I said "maybe", but I meant "sometimes" and we both laughed. Partially at me because I can't talk and partially at her because she asked such an odd question. She invited me to go with her to meet her friends. I met so many people that I can't remember any of their names! In fact, I can't even remember her name! Haha, what a good friend I am. But it's nice, because I actually kind of have a friend now...and a lot of acquaintances. We just talked about Belgium and other random things. I met this boy who told me that my history teacher is crazy. Really crazy, but nice. That's something for me to look forward to...

My second class of the day (and final, because Wednesdays are half days) was history (with the crazy one). This was intimidating because we actually learned stuff. We took notes about the Russian Revolution of 1905. This wouldn't seem that bad but even though he wrote the some of the notes on the board, I learned that European handwriting is extremely difficult to decipher! Seriously! The "p"s look like "j"s and the "m"s, "n"s, "r"s, "v"s, "u"s and sometimes "s"s all look the same! Oh, and the "1"s look like "7"s...but that is easier to tell the difference.  It was so hard to understand! 

Today was probably the scariest and most intellectually challenging day of my life! Oh well, to look on the bright side, after this, college is going to be a breeze! i'm off to take a nap and then re-take/translate my Russian Revolution notes! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Last day of Summer...

The last few days have been pretty slow. So I have no real news other than that I start school tomorrow! I'm a little terrified (ok, a lot!) but I'm keepin' my chin up. 

Let's see... I started reading Harry Potter in French! I'm pretty excited about that. Even though I can only get through about 10 pages or so before my head starts to hurt. I can understand it for the most part but every so often I come across a sentence that I don't understand at all and can't figure out! That's where the  dictionary comes in handy. I know you're supposed to try to use contextual clues to figure the words out but it's kind of hard when you don't know any of the nouns, vowels or adjectives in the sentence! I think I'm getting better though, and my goal is to get through all of them before the year is up. haha, ok, It's a little pathetic that my literary goal is to complete the Harry Potter series, but hey, I'm learning! Hopefully someday I'll be able to read true French literature it it's original context...that'll be cool.

I also downloaded Noah and the Whale's new EP on iTunes today... which is good. And then downloaded a song from their upcoming album from their website. I'm pretty excited for it. I still can't listen to 5 Years Time all the way through but I'm working on it...
I've been checking up on some of my favorite bands tours and as far as I can see, none of them are coming through Belgium. It's weird, when I was in Salem, it seemed like they were always in Brussels but now that I'm half an hour away they've decided not to come! Pourquoi? Je ne sais pas. Hopefully I'll be able to go to at least one concert while I'm here, they can't avoid me forever!

Anyways, it rained pretty much all day. I didn't really mind, it was still pleasant. My host sister says that's what the next 10 months are going to be like. What do I say? Bring it on.

Oh ya, almost forgot....FUN FACT:
In French, instead of "Where's Waldo", they have "Où est Charlie?". Interesting....