Monday, February 21, 2011

Recent Pics: Midstay, Liege

I found the Missour license plate in a cafe
Liege and a bus :)

Libramont train station

Our Loft

Us eating :D

The American girls with curly brown hair

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mid Stay! and all that jazz

Since i'm so great at updating, here we go :D

The weekend of the 5-6 February was AFS Midstay Orientation weekend for all the Afs-ers in Wallonie. Exciting stuff right?

So we left Saturday morning, Destination: Libramont. Libramont is basically a pretty small twon in the south end of Belgium. On the train we basically just passed empty fields and mines until the city popped into view. After that we were shepherded onto two huge coach busses all arrying the 100+ exchangers in Wallonie. The buses then proceeded to take through twisting, wooded streets into what we thought was the middle of nowhere. Quite literally. In actuality, it was a kind of retreat/vacation center. Imagine like a huge building surrounded by nature where big companies and corportaions and groups can come and have meetings and retreats and that kinda stuff.
That was us. And this building was pretty large. Our group took up every room on two floors and there was about 4-5 levels in total. We all chose rooms and i ended up in this crazy room with three beds on the floor and three matresses right next to each other in this tiny loft with about a 10ft latter climb. Literally my hands were all red by the end of the weekend from climbing up and down. In my room was Johanna, Rosie, Katie, Lila, me (from US) and Jonfrid (Faroe Islands).

First activity upon arriving was eating of course. Then we were divided up into our small groups where we passed most of the weekend discussing all manner of things: postive and negatives of Belgium, things we've learnd, things we want to change, how our families were. You get the point. Intermixed was also of so fun mini-games and the not. One game included all of us sitting in chairs in a circle and finding someone in the group. Then we all have to run and tackle that person in a hug. Another game included us being split into three teams. One team was trying to send a message to a second team ( the recepting team) and lastly there was a team in the middle trying to make enough noise to stop the message from being recieved. I'm sure you get the picture :D

A good portion of the activities were pretty boring actually. Therefore when it was time to eat we were all super excited.

That night, we had activites where allll the groups were together in one enormous group of craziness. We played the equivalent of Belgian Never have I Ever. Where one person is standing in the middle of a circle of chairs and says something like I dont have blond hair. Everyone whose blond has to then get up and find a new chair. After this we split into the red team and blue team. And in the two teams there were four smaller teams. I was R4 and we competed in random games against the blue team. In one of the games, we had a line of chairs on one side of the room and a table on the other. All the team was standing on the chairs (as well as the other team) and the goal was to get to the other end of the room without leaving the chairs. So basically everyone scoots down a little on their chairs so the first person can stand on another persons chair, pick up the chair they were standing on, and pass it down the line. Everyone then keeps scooting down so there can be new chairs. It was pretty crazy with chairs being thrown down the line. Not to mention mildy dangerous. :D

Next was a crazy game with alllllll the people. everyone stands in a circle (oval) facing the same direction. You put your hands on the person in front of you's waist and theres a song that we sing as we walk forward. The last three words of the song are Lion, Zebra and Elephant. At lion, you push your hips forward, zebra- backwards, and elephant- side to side. After one or two tours of the song, they push the circle in tighter so that your arms are around the waist of the person in front of the person in front of you. The song goes again and the circle gets smaller so that your holding 3 people in front of you. Basically your jammed in their so tightly that everyone has to walk at the same time other wise it dosent work. Going around corners is dangerous too because if your not carefully the entire corner falls. After the circle is jammed so tightly that literally no body can breath, you have to try and sit down. I know crazy right. The goal is for everyone to be sitting on the legs of the person behind them and their weight is supported. Its incredibly difficult.
We had a third of the circle sitting but the weight wasnt being supported and about 40 people fell. That was quite funny actually.

After all this crazyness, most of us went upstairs and showered and then a bunch of people came to hang out in our room. Around 2 the volunteers came and said everyone had to go to sleep and asked if there were any boys in the room. So we all got in bed and about 10 mins later, they come back counting us and looking for boys. No boys so we go to sleep. Wake up call was scheduled for 7h30 the next morning.

So there we are completely exhausted at 7am when the volunteers come in, turn on the light and tell us to wake up. Being that breakfast wasnt until 8h30 we all of course found this ridiculous and closed the door turned off the lights, and went back to sleep. Not 5 minutes later was our door wrentched open with the lights turned on and a stero blasting spainish music came bursting quite loudly into our room. One of the volunteers was screaming "good mornin ladies, time to get up". Finally he and the stero left and we steatily turned off the back lights ( leaving the front lights on to give the impression that we were up) and went back to sleep. However, The stero came back a for a third wake up and made us all sit up in bed and show that we were awake. OF course after he left we went back to sleep UNTIL more volunteers came in for a FOURTH WAKE UP. Can you belive it? we couldnt seeing as how we had over an hour to just get dressed and walk downstairs. By now it was around 7h30 and none of us were happy.

And that concludes the crazyness of midstay. Overall it was really fun to see everyone. Even if it wasnt that fun all the time, hanging out with other exchangers made it good. Meeting new people and all that ;)
Also, it was pretty crazy as it was the first time we were all together since august. Just standing in the hallway you can hear au minimum 5 different languages being spoken. Spanish, French, English, Norwegian, Finnish, Italian, Japansese, Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Danish, you name it. It also was a general concensus that the American studnets felt pretty lame because we cant speak many languages. At least all the other foreigns spoke three languages; English, French, Native language. Quite sad actually.

In other words, my English skills have deteriorated to a comic point. I say crazy things frequently and my word order suxs.

Also this weekend (the 18th) marks 6 Monts since i left home! CELEBRATE. Only bout 5 months left....

thats all folks

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Roma pictures!

Fontagne di Trevi

The horse, I dont remember the name but we passed it alot and when we were lost we saw it and found our way back

The Colleseum

Streets of Florence

That its for all people.


In Belgium, for the Christmas holidays, we have two weeks of vacation! Its pretty awesome if i do say so myself. Exams for me finished the 18th while the rest of the students had exams until the 22nd. As an exchange student with AFS, i was only obligated to take four exams: Histoire, Morale, Espagnol, and Geographie.

So essentially i was on vacation from the 18th to the 10th of January. Therefore i took advantage of all this vacation to go to Rome, Italie for five days with 3 other exchange students (2 girls from Honduras and one of Ecuador).
We left on a frigteningly early flight at 6am the 2nd of January. We flew on Ryanair which is the cheapest option in Europe. I slept through a good portion of it but was awake enough to see our descension into Rome. We got into Rome Ciampino airport and found the bus that was supposed to take us into town. Upon arriving near the center of Rome, we were pleased to discover that our hostel was literally a two minute walk from the bus, train, and metro station. Not so great however was walking up to the fifth floor with all our luggage and no elevator, just stairs.

That day we walked around Rome and ate our first Italian Pizza which was just as good as you could imagine. We saw a bunch of ruins and sites (of which i dont remember the names). LOTs of walking. We finished the day with our first Gelato which was possibly better than i imagined.

The next day we woke up bright and early to eat a quick breakfast and head over to la Piazza di San Pietro or the place of saint peter. Its probably one of my favorite places in Rome. Its just so surrounding and impressive. We went inside a got to walk around the church quite a bit as well. It was all very cool stuff. Next we walked around the corner to get into the hour and a half line to get into the Vatican. Lemme tell ya, security is tight. First theres the wall that surrounds everything. Then upon entering, you basically have to go through airport security. That place has so much artwork that you spend the entire time staring at the ceiling or detailed artwork and at teh end of the day, your head, neck, and eyes hurt. The Sixteenth Chapel however made it all worth it. It was an enormous room with incredibly high ceilings just completely filled with people and people from the bible and just craziness everywhere. It was mind blowing to say the least.

The next day, We left to spend the day in Florence. Navigating the train station alone was a nightmare seeing as how not only is there a platform 1, but a platfrom one A, B, C, D, and E. We needed to be on 1E which was like a five minute walk away from the the main building. We also had to put the ticket (which was blank) into this little yellow machine to mark the day, time and station. Luckily it all worked and we settled in for the 4 hour train ride. Fortunatley i slept a few hours before we arrived in the station. However once we arrived we were faced with the new problem of what to do and where to go. We walked to look for a map but nobody wanted to pay for one so that didnt get very far. We actually just started watching what direction it appeared people were walking and then we followed them until we found someone to ask. There was someone there with a camara and we asked him if he spoke english which luckily he did. The man and his family told us the sites to see and even showed us a map on his ipad. Thankfully we were able to find everything relativley easy.

We visited a bunch of really cool sites with places that i dont exactly remember. This is the first place we visted. We didnt go inside but the outside was pretty cool. After that we followed the signs to la Piazza de la Signora and to of course, the imitation statue of David. La Piazza has statues (sculptures) everywhere. It was kinda crazy because it looks super unorganized but really its just a lot of art in one location.

At some point in this crazy day, we ate at a not super expensive, smallish italian resturant. We had our first taste of italian pasta and mine was delish! We had some minor issues (which involved me being yelled at in italian by a crazy old lady) when we went to pay but it all worked out in the end. The day ended with Gelato and just walking around the stores and whatnot.
We finally found the right train and had a very eventful trainride back to Rome. A couple hours of singing, a couple hours of get the picture.
Next day, the colleseum and the forum and the casa di augusto. It was unimaginable. Really. Seeing it in person was really cool especially because as your approaching, it just keeps growing until your standing next to it and its just enorme. Very cool. At the moment we didnt want to pay for a guide but now that i think about it, it probably would have been worth it.
Thats essentially most of the excitiment that i can think of at the moment. Ill post more pictures in another post as its just too dificult to place when theres text.