10 Things Belgium Has Taught Me

 Saturday, June 2, 2012

You know that moment when you are trying to fall asleep and your brain suddenly transforms into some kind of super-thinker with the power of the energizer bunny? Yeah, well I just had one of those and in that moment I suddenly realized. . . my Exchange is practically over.

 Has it really been a year already? Am I really closing in on the end of my Exchange? How is that possible? I just got here yesterday. . . didn't I? I guess it makes sense. I mean, I don't feel at all like the girl who stepped off that plane all those months ago. I've learned so much in such a short amount of time. I don't even know how it is possible, but I have become a completely different person.

You don't believe me? Well I made a list, just to prove it to you. (Also, I can't sleep and needed something to do.) So here it is, my list of Top Ten Things Belgium Has Taught Me:

1) Mother Nature is a very temperamental woman, and at some point in History Belgium must have done something to tick her off. This is why you must ALWAYS dress in layers (carrying an umbrella can't hurt much either). Even if you wake up to a day of happy sunshiny warmth, chances are you are going to get buckets and buckets of ice-cold rain dumped on your head at some point during the day.

2) Belgian Waffles really ARE all they are cracked up to be (and they weren't lying about the chocolate either).

3) As unlikely as it seems, it is entirely possible to feel two completely opposite emotions at the exact same time WITHOUT exploding. What I mean it say is, you can be having the time of your life making all kinds of incredible friends (and even adding some pretty awesome people to your family tree) and basically being happier than you have ever been in your life. . . while at the same time ACHING for home and wanting to break down into tears with the pain of missing your family and friends.

4) Never expect a Tram/ Metro to be on time. Never expect an available seat in the Tram/Metro either. . . or even space to breathe for that matter. In fact, the only thing you CAN trust when it comes to the Metro system is that it's workers are going to go on strike at the worst possible moment, leaving you absolutely stranded.

5) As terrifying as the thought of sleeping under a strangers roof for a good chunk of time is, the end result is BEYOND worth it. The things you will learn, the places you will see, and above all the people you will meet and grow to love will change your life forever.

6) Microwaves are completely unnecessary. . . and actually kinda icky.

7) French voice-overs of any TV show/Movie are absolutely INTOLERABLE, and must be stopped for the sake of all mankind.

8) It really is a small world after all.

9) That language barrier everyone is always talking about? Yeah, it's VERY real, and in the beginning it might seem impossible to overcome. But after a few months of exhaustion, an ocean of unfamiliar words, and what seems like a never ending game of charades, that barrier WILL come crashing down like the Berlin Wall. And when it does. . . well that is something I just can't describe. :)

10) There is enough room in the human heart for an incredible amount of people. You would think that eventually the love would run out, but there is no such thing as a "no vacancy" sign when it comes to  finding a special place in your heart for a special someone.


Allons y à la mer!

I have the greatest friends here in Belgium. I mentioned that I had never been to the  Belgian coast, and they immediately took action. We all hopped on the train and headed out to Oostende for a day at the Beach.

They kept telling me "Oh, it really isn't that beautiful here. Its much better in Spain" blah blah blah. I don't have any idea what they were talking about. I couldn't take my eyes off the waves crashing in on the shore and the little crabs crawling along the sand. I was seriously in awe of it all. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was born and raised in a Desert and I'm not used to so much water being in one place, but I was seriously impressed.

It was a good chance to take advantage of the time with my Friends. I seriously love these girls (and I just realized that is about the umpteenth time I've said "seriously" in this post. . .). I am going to miss them so much. It's girls like these that make it hard to come home.

Je vous aime, les filles! Merci pour les beaux souvenirs. Jamais je ne vous oublerais. <3


Les Serres Royales

 Monday, April 30, 2012

So here is the deal: The King of Belgium has got this epic garden hidden away behind his stone walls full of all kinds of flowers. For most of the year he keeps his pretty little garden locked up for himself, but the last three weeks of April he opens it to the public. You have to admit though, you can see why he isn't so eager to share. =]


Les 100 Jours

There is this tradition here in Belgium called "Les 100 Jours" (the 100 days). It's kind of like a right of passage for the Rhétos (Seniors) that takes place exactly 100 days before graduation. . . Okay, that makes it sound WAY more formal than it really is. In reality, all it is is a day to party-hardy. It's kind of like their way of saying "Hey, World! Whatch out, because in 100 days we're taking you on."

The idea is basically to cause as much chaos as humanly possible. Everyone dresses up in wild and crazy costumes, just like Halloween--You know, minus the tasty treats and spooky monsters. . .

I was a little stumped as far as finding a costume went, but my brother, Gaetan stepped in and saved the day and let me borrow his Football uniform. He is on one of the only teams that exist here in Belgium, and he actually plays really well for a European ;) Lucky for me too because my costume was a serious hit. Everybody loved seeing the "American Footballer". It was pretty much epic.

But wait, it gets better. You didn't honestly think parading around in costumes of all shapes and sizes was going to be enough, did you? No, that wouldn't cause NEARLY enough chaos. . . But add a couple sticks of "rouge à lèvres" (that's fancy french talk for "lipstick"), a few roles of suran wrap and a school full of unsuspecting underclassmen and you've got just about enough craziness to satisfy a band of Seniors gone mad.

By the end of the day, there isn't a single student, teacher or janitor who hasn't been caught up in the wave of insanity that is the 100 Jours. Each and every one of them leaves completely covered in kisses and doodles left behind as a demonstration of just what we are capable of. ;)


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