Saturday, December 18, 2010

St.Nicolas, La neige, et Les Examens...

Once again I have failed in my blog updating duties as i believe its been around a month since my last post. However i'm updating now so thats what counts.

First lets start off with St.Nicolas which is a really big deal in Belgium. Really big. In the US i believe i left my shoes out a few times when I was younger but that was only when i remembered. But no, not in Belgium. St.nicolas first began the first week of December (i believe). My host sibs and i left our shoes out every night for over a week hoping that St.Nicolas would bring us some candy or speculoos. (Note: EVERYONE writes letters to st.nic, equivalent of santa). While we wernt sucessful every night, we were rewarded with some marzipan and chocotoff candies. Then came the grand finale so to speak. I believe it was Saturday night (the 4th) when i'd returned from another st.Nic celebration (to be discussed later) when all of my host siblings and i left our bowls along with our shoes with little name cards with them in case st.Nic came by. The next morning we woke up to a splendor of goodies. Literally the entire floor was covered with not only candy but marzipan, speculoos, comic books, cds. You name it. And that was just one day of st.Nicolas.

My chapter of afs (AFS Namur) also had a celebration for us just to make sure we truly appreciate what its all about. We all met up at the train station in Namur to make our way to an ice skating rink in Charleroi where we all procceded to try to ice skate and mostly fail. I for one do not remember it being that difficult or that uncomfortable. After that we returned to Namur where many host families and other exchangers came to join us for a souper fromage, meaning that everyone brought a cheese and we eat bread and salad and cheese and its great :D. Then St.Nicolas paid a visit to ensure that us foriegners know the real meaning of his holiday. Overall it was a fun night and i got my picture taken with good old st.Nic.

And the celebration isnt over yet! In Belgium, St.Nics is a large day of partying for the Rheto and college students. The students wear a white lab coat (called a tablier) that they decorate and all their friends write on, and they then proceed to throw all manner of disgusting products including eggs, flour, ketchup and all liquids on each other in an attempt to be the dirtiest. Quite fun lemme tell ya.
And lastly for St.Nic is when he comes to school of course. The Rheto (my class, senior year) pays for the costume and someone dresses up and walks around to all the classes at school handing out candy and singing. and Voila :D
Onto la neige (AKA the snow)
In Belgium there are no such thing as snowdays mind you. However the snow is much nicer than in STL. The first time it started snowing we got 5cm here and there. But this is big fluffly snowflakes that look like cotton balls falling from the sky. Its basically teh perfect consistency and everything looks beautiful! sitting in school, i couldnt see the difference between the snow covered roof of the school and the white sky. With the snow comes the freezing temperatures of -12degrees celcius. Thats cold folks. Then, just when the snow started to melt, we had a day where it blizzard-ed nonstop all day. I didnt dare leave the house until 4pm when my family tried to leave to go to the host grents house. It had snowed almost 20cm of fluffliness and made it almost impossible to drive in. Eventually that started to melt as well but once again it has started to snow this week and now i get to see the beauty every day when i look out the window. This here is the perfect snow people. Its incredibly beautiful. Im afraid i dont have a picture becasue whenever i think to take one, its cold and snowy and i never get around to it :P
Now, onto exams week. Exams started the 9th of December and finish the 21st for most students. I say that because I only took 4 (as required by AFS Belgique). Some exams last two hours some last 4. Everyday we have an exam we get done at 12 so that we can go home, eat, and study. Exams are a little bit more intense here than in STL. For one, theres way more classes, the exams are longer, and ther worth a bigger portion of your grade. Not a great combination. Basically the entire school is stressed and tired. For me it wasnt too bad besides the french thing. I took Spanish, Morale, History and Geography. I think i passed the first two but definatley failed the second two. It was a new challenge for me in comprehension and writing skills thats for sure. But when it comes down to it, if you dont understand the question, you cant really repond. So for me, i had two exams Wedensday, one Thursday and one Saturday. Yes i did say Saturday. Im still in disbelief as well.
However for me exams are done and i can enjoy the start of my vacation.
bon vacances a tout!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


This is quite a short post but i just thought i'd let you all know that i expierenced my first snow in Belgium. It was last Thursday and large white fluffly snowflakes fell from the sky while i was in school. It wasnt cold enough for any of it to stick but it was still quite beautiful.

And now everythings frozen...lovely :D

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Well its been a while...

I haven't published in quite some time and for that I am really sorry. Sometimes i just have no idea what to write.
However some exciting things have happened. On October 24, I met up with all the AFS kids in Belgium to perform our very own flashmob. I boarded the train to Bruxelles where there was a large group of kids from Wallonie and Flanders waiting. We spent most of the day talking and learning the dance until it was time for us to perform. The flashmob occured in St.Hubert galleries (i believe...) which is this long indoor hall with stores and cafes. Its actually really beautiful. So all of us arrived at different times into the hall (as to not draw suspicion from the arrival of a 100 students all wearing brightly colored shirts) and we pretended just to be ordinary people shopping, taking pictures, being touristy...and then BAM the music starts. In the beginning there was just one group of guys who were supposed to look indian (becasue the music was jai ho). After that we all randomly joined in the dance when we thought it was right until the end when ALLLL of us were dancing. The people in the hall were so confused and at first just had no idea what was going on. After we'd been dancing though, many ofo them stopped to watch and started filming. Overall it was really fun not only because we got to dance but i got to see other exchangers i hadnt seen since my arrival in Belgium. Hopefully we raised some AFS awareness. Heres the link to the video if anyone wants to see.

I suppose i should also mention Halloween. Yes it is know here and people do celebrate it to a certain degree. Theres no trick or treating or jokes but maybe for the little kids they get candy. Also i saw that some teenagers dress up. Its mostly just like another party or another theme. For example, Walibi (belgian 6 flags) has a Monster festival at the park all Halloween week. But alas i didnt dress up or even get any candy :( oh well

But i did get to go to Walibi with my chapter of AFS (wooo AFS Namur!). We all met up at the train station in Namur before catching a different train and heading to Walibi. There were about 30 of us in total and when we got there it was raining (suprise suprise) and since for some reason i'm still suprised when this happens meaning i did not have my raincoat. While we were waiting in line for the best ride at the park, it was pouring rain. Literally by the time we got to the front of the line, my hair and shoes were drenched through. Very cold and unpleasant. But the ride was good. After that Johanna (american) and I went and found a food place where we got coffee and sat under an umbrella to dry and warm up. After that we ended up buying bright blue walibi ponchos that while unattractive, kept us dry until the rain stopped. I must say though, i think Six Flags STL was just a little bit better (more rides)

This past week was also Les vacances de Toussaint or Conge. Toussaint is all saints so basically all saints day, but with a week of vacation. Needless to say, i'm liking this Holiday and I think the US can learn a little from Belgium in this area. I spent the week visiting friends and Thursday I actually went to Ghent for the day and spent the night there. For those of you who dont know your Belgian geography (and political issues), you wouldnt realize that Ghent is in Flanders which is the Flemish (or dutch) speaking part of Belgium. Its also the richer half of Belgium and as some people believe, the better part. It literally was like entering a foreign country. I felt like i wasnt in Belgium anymore. Everyone was speaking a language i couldnt even begin to know and i felt so lost and unable to communicate. Dutch is just a completely differnt sound. But i found that people were actually really nice and Flanders is beautiful.

It really helped me understand all the tension between the separate parts of Belgium. For example, when i tried to talk to people i would ask English/Francais? and almost every single time, they preferred to speak English over french. Everyone i talked to was completely fluent in English and im sure completely proficent in French yet they prefer to speak a language that has no real ties to their country. Definatley interesting.

Also in exciting news, I recieved my first box from the US full of goodies such as clothes and supplies for making cookies and pancakes. I got some nice, huge warm socks from my sister and some fleece jackets from home and basically the box just made me happy. I mean who dsnt love seeing their favorite chips! And let me tell you this box had quite the journey. When it got here it had been retaped in Bruxelles and was falling apart. But i suppose its come a long way :D

Well i believe thats all for now
a tantot

Monday, October 4, 2010

Le weekend

So this past weekend has actually passed quite eventfully for me. Saturday morning I made homemade chocolate chip cookies. Same recipe i use in the US and all. Except not because of course it was more complicated than that. First i had to convert everything into Grams and Celsius (which wasnt actaully that easy because multiple sites gave me different answers). Then there was the actual makin the batter part. I got everything measured out okay (using all bio and farm products) but the batter was slightly sticky/liquidiy. But oh well, whats a girl to do right. Then came the time to put the chocolate and because we had no chocolate chips, my host mom had to put a chocolate bar in the food processor. Overall though the batter tasted pretty good. Then came time to bake them. In the end they needed more time but they tasted mighty good to me.
~And the whole point of me making the cookies you ask? Well i had a meeting with AFS Namur and i was supposed to bring a typical dish from the states. Basically i had no ideas so i did cookies. My host mom and I left for the meeting around 1h30 and more or less got there around 2 where i was able to meet up with all the other exchange students who live in the general area. We split into smaller groups and played games and did little activites. Also lots of just talking about how we we're doing. Not to mention almost all of this was in French and i'm happy to say i think i understood a good part of it. We then had time to snack on what else besides chocolate and waffles before we continued with activities. After our activities we're finished, we hung around and socialized with the other students and their families. It was actually pretty great and it pushed my brain into the french zone so much that when someone said something to me in English, i just responded in French. Later was the buffet of the food that all the exchange students had brought. Mmmmhhh lots of good food. And following that, even more good dessert. By the time it was finished i was completely exhausted ( i dont know why). Despite this fact, i had a good car ride home and i slept really well.
~Sunday however is another story completley. I had to get up at 8am (early for a weekend) and i went with my family to the primary school of Perwez (host village). We live right next door and teh school serves breakfast for all the neighbors (once a year i think). Later that afternoon, after lunch, i headed up to my school because i was volunteering to help with an activity. Basically theres this walk to raise money for the school and the students arrange little games and activities for points along the walk. That way each team that walks can try to win the most amount of points. So i, along with another studnet and teacher, had one of these booths. After that I met up with my host mom to eat dinner at the school as part of the event.
After all this, came the Playback. Students and groups of students at school can sign up to put together a routine and lip sync to a song. The entire Rheto (senior class) had the final spot of the night with our 13min routine. We all dressed in sweats and brightly colored tee shirts and danced to a mix of songs. Overall it was a pretty good night even though i was really tired at school the next day. I think it was probably worth it though ;)
Fun facts
At school events such as these, its perfectly ok for everyone to smoke on school grounds. As a matter of fact students and teachers can smoke during the school day as well.
In addition, the school can sell beer and wine on the school premsis. The money earned from the beer sales probably provides a large portion of the money that the school got that night.
Pretty interesting in my opinioin
thats all for now
tchao tchao

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Its been quite some time since i've blogged and alots happend but i'll try to remember it all. I'm into my 4th week of school and its true, school everywhere is pretty boring. Or maybe thats becasue i dont understand most of it. Who knows. Anyway in Belgium, secondary school is 6 years with the sixieme (6th year) being the last year before college. In my school, i'm in the last year of school or Rheto. Theres two classes in Rheto, 6A and 6B. i'm in 6B with about 20 other students. I have most of my classes with this same group of people except for certain classes (like foreign language) where we're mixed.
this is my schedule. Every day is a different set of classes but every week is the same. There are 9 blocks per day and every block is 50 minutes. So sometimes you have a double block of something. Also you'll notice i have a lot of social science. Thats because thats my area. Every student has a focus. like mine is social science so i have more hours of that and only 2 hours of math and three hours of science. somone who is math fort could have up to 7 hours of math per week.
study hall

social sciences
study hall

Wedensdays (we get out at 1 instead of 4h10)
study hall
study hall

study hall
social sciences
social sciences

study hall
social science
study hall

one thing about the classes that makes it difficult for me to understand is that its primariliy lecture style. No textbooks. The teacher may write on the board or just dictate notes. Because of that i miss a lot. Luckily some of my teachers have noticed and have starting writing important info on the board for me.
thats all for now

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Offically 1 week...

Now that i have been here a week, i suppose its actually time for me to update. I feel like simultaneously there is a lot and nothing to say. Its seems like its been longer than a week since i've left thats for sure. But anyway life here in Belgium is going well. I've adjusted to the time change and am starting to get used to hearing french all the time (which btw sounds completely differnt from french class). I can understand quite a bit especially if its directed towards me. Things get more complicated when its other people talking amongst themselves. However i am horrible at speaking french and have an obnoxious american accent. But oh well. Hopefully with time thatll get better.

Earlier in the week I went to Brugge for part of the day with my host mom, two of the host sibs, and one of their friends. Brugge is apparentley the most touristy of Belgian cities but it was still fun to walk around the city and expierence Belgian fast food in the form of Quick. Next we went to the beach where i met some of my host sibs cousins and grandparents. It was really cold but i still braved the freezing water (which was actually enjoyable). So i can now say i have swam in the North Sea.

I also went earlier in the week to register for school. It dosent seem too bad yet. I believe im on the social sciences track of study (mostly because thats all i qualify for). School dosent start until Sept 6 so until then im just chillin and enjoying the rest of summer while all the MHS kids suffer through school.

until next time

Friday, July 30, 2010

Visa app and the such

Hey Everybody!

So far my blog has been fairly boring so in an attempt to make it more interesting, I'm going to talk about the visa process.

A week or two ago I got my visa info from AFS and I started the crazy process of collecting different kinds of documents and waiting for AFS to send me the rest of the documents i needed. After calling the consulate in New York numerous times and going to the bank and the doctors office, I went to Fedex and got my application shipped off to the New York office of AFS. Because of the time constraints, AFS is going to personally walk the application over to the consulate in hopes that it will get thru the scrutiny faster.

So essentially now im just waiting for my visa to be processed and sent back to me.

Also I've been painstakingly trying to prepare for my departure in 19 days. I have so much to do in so little time. I'm working on going through my closet and trying to create a packing list. Unfortunatley I think of new things to add to the list all the time so its kind of like a never ending process. I will say packing for an entire year and multiple seasons is a lot of work and stress. But soon I'll be in Belgium and it'll all be worth it :P

On the plus side though, I have all my paperwork in for AFS and I have my flight to New York booked. So just one step closer...

jusqu'a la prochaine fois

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Departure info and such

Okay so I've finally gotten around to updating this thing. Since my last post I have gotten my flight info and departure info! wooooooo
I will fly from stl to jfk on August 18th and arrive there in the early afternoon. After that i'll spend that night and the rest of the next day hanging with other outbound exchanges students and doing AFS orientation stuff.
On the 19th i board a 6pm flight out of jfk and will land in Brussels at 7:40am the next day (which is complete craziness). Finally, i'll spend a couple of days there with AFS before meeting up with my host family.

I'm pretty excited and also slightly stressed and nervous. Mostly excited and ready to be in Belgium. And the stress basically comes from trying to figure out my visa application, and trying to imagine what i'm supposed to pack. I just got my visa info this week so all i got to do is get a million documents filled out and sent in to the consulate. No big deal of course.....yea right....

okay a plus tot!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Graduation, class 2010

So this is only semi related to exchange but none of it would have occured without Belgium.
Tonight was my high school graduation and I am now literally done. Its such a weird feeling. I started high school with a certain group of kids with the intention of completing my four years of school and graduating as the class of 2011. Within the span of this year, that idea has completely changed. I have just graduated, in 3 years, with a group of people i hardly knew, and as the class of 2010.
Anyway just saying that im glad my hard work paid off and that its weird :P


Thursday, May 20, 2010


For those of you unfamiliar with Belgian geography- here is a conveinent little map :D
The line in the middle area is the showing the boundary with Flanders in the North and Wallonia in the South. The red dot is supposedly where I will be living.

famille d'accueil

Okay so I have something intersting to write about. I just got my host family which has brought about a whole new wave of nevous/excited energy. According to the sparse info i have, I'm going to be living in province of Namur in the town of Perwez . Its basically right in the middle of Wallonia. I have 6 host siblings in addition to the parents but I don't know if all of them live at home. From what I can tell, its a small town of about 4000 in a rural area.

So its all pretty good essentially. I wasnt expecting to get a family for a long time so this came as a pleasant suprise. But like i said, now i'm going to have thses thoughts swirling in my head for the rest of the summer.

a bientot!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pre- Departure Orientation

I have finally found out some news. Today i got an email with my pre-departure info. On May 15 i will be meeting with the other kids of the area to have our day long orientation. So despite the fact that its not belgium specific, it is something. At the very least its an opportunity to hound the volunteers for information. Plus i get to meet the other outbounds in my area and if they are half as awesome as the exchangers i have already met then we're in good shape.
So that is my news for now

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lack of News :(

Okay so i am still one of the unlucky exchange students who has no information about my placement in Belgium. Right now my fate is in the hands of those Belgian volunteers. Hopefully i'll hear something soon otherwise i may spontaneously combust.

Lets see...because of my lack of info i dont have much to write about so i will just say that i'm loving exchangers and i think its so crazy that there are all these people i talk to from all over the world that im going to be meeting. This would never happen otherwise. Not to mention exchangers are just awesome at understanding what your going through. So cant wait to meet everyone!

24 days of school left

Saturday, March 13, 2010

First Post

So for those of you who don't yet know, I have been accepted by AFS French Belgium for the 2010/11 school year. I leave in August and will be living with a family and attending high school in Belgium for almost a full year.
I've known for a while that i wanted to go on exchange it was just a matter of making it happen. So in order to do this i am getting all my credits before i leave meaning i'm graduating high school in 3 years. So despite the fact that i have to do a crazy amount of work this year, i know going to Belgium is going to be worth it.
Right now i am in the horrid process of painstakingly waiting for a host family :(
hopefully i'll get one soon!
au revoir for now