Sunday, August 29, 2010

Barefoot in Brussels

Ok, so since I haven't updated all week, I will start from the beginning and go from there. Last Friday, I began my journey to Belgium at Calgary International Airport. I met a lovely danish girl while waiting to board my flight who had been on an exchange a few years before to British Columbia, and she wished me good luck on my exchange. After landing in Amsterdam airport, I discovered that my plane was an hour early to land, meaning I would be waiting for 6 hours for my flight to Brussels. Fun times.

On the whole, the trip was not a bad one, apart from the lack of sleep and the 28 hours of travel. I was greeted at the airport by Claudine (my second host mum), Anne-Marie (my first host mum), Loreen (my host sister), Samantha (another exchange student that will be going to school with me), one of Carole's friends (I apologize for not remembering her name, and for reference, Carole is Anne-Marie's daughter, who is on exchange in the States), and a friend of the family who drove us home (hope this is accurate information, as am still very jet-lagged).

I went to bed late that night, then woke early in the morning to a hot day in Fayt-lez-Manage (the town I'm living in) and went grocery shopping with my host mum and host sister. It's amazing how inexpensive their food is here compared to in Calgary! I think we spent around 150 euros on enough food to feed a small army, plus a huge amount of toiletries!

I met my host sister's boyfriend (Matthieu) on the Sunday, and we went (all 4 of us) for a walk in Mariemont Park, which has a museum and many ruined bits of castle strewn about, which made for a lovely walk! Then on Monday, Anne-Marie and I took their dog, Sunny, for a walk along the canal, though it had rained earlier that day, so the going was very muddy! Monday was also when Loreen had her wisdom teeth pulled out, so she looked a little like a Hamster all week, with puffy cheeks!

Tuesday I went to work with my host mum, and she works at a day-care type that a friend of hers runs out of his house. All the children were under the age of 5, and they were correcting me on my french! Met a little baby that day named Amelie who had big blue eyes and a cheeky grin!

Wednesday was the day that my host dad got back from a conference in Stockholm, which was also very exciting! Thursday I went into Brussels with the other exchange students in Belgium, and made many new friends from all over the world :) I also met all the kids I will be going to school with, which made me really excited for school to start! Can't wait! I also was very intelligent and wore high heeled shoes in Brussels, and didn't bring anything else to wear for walking in, so my heels are still healing from the cuts and blisters I received. I also, very intelligently, caught a cold from walking around in my sandals in the rain the day before.

Friday I got registered at the municipal authority, which was a little frustrating, due to the fact that we spent most of the day running around trying to get pictures of me for the form. I then spent most of the afternoon asleep, which was heavenly! Yesterday, we had another district meeting to attend, which was fun, but long! We didn't start until much later than we were told, and didn't get back till 3 or so due to the need to pick up some groceries. Last night, we went to the Chateau de Seneffe, which is and 18th century nobleman's property that was sold to the Belgian government when the noble went bankrupt. It became a Nazi headquarters for a short time during their occupation of Belgium, and in the 60s became a museum for a beautiful collection of 18th century silverwear. We went for the evening stroll in the grounds, which was lit by thousands of little candles, and where actors in period dress would meander about, letting people take pictures, and acting out narrated scenes. We left at around 11:30, having walked for 2 hours around the grounds and the castle, and picked up Loreen from her boyfriend's house.

Today, I plan to time my walk to school, which is ENORMOUS, and see if it takes me less than an hour to walk there. If it does, we are in business! 5 kilometers is not far to walk.....

Till next time,

A la prochaine,


Monday, August 16, 2010

Inspiration for the future....

So this is the beginning of my life in the world, is it? Words typed on a computer screen... I'm sure that someone will find it fascinating, but at the moment I can't imagine who would...

I'm actually very excited about this coming year, as I have just received my plane ticket and guarantee form, informing me of my departure date. The day is August 19th 2010, and when I get a moment I will post the flight information, in the event of having people who wish to see me off.

To end this very brief blurb on my feelings thus far, I leave you with a quote on travel that I hope to follow on my exchange.

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton

"If you don't know where you're going, any road can take you there...."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Departure date....

I have rewritten this post over and over in so many different ways, and I still can't convey how sad and excited I am about this coming year. I'm supposed to be organizing myself, cleaning out my room so that it is ready for my parents to pack up should the need arise to do so, but I look at this place that I painted with my own two hands, that I scrubbed clean after Jonas moved out, and I can't bring myself to leave it sterile and empty as a hospital room. There are too many memories to wipe clean from this room, both good and bad, and I can't do it. I can't leave without keeping a piece of myself here. I have joked in the past about leaving my room messy just to give mum and dad something to do and to remember me by, but now I know that I really mean it.

My flight takes off in a few days, and I have to say goodbye today; goodbye to myself, to my friends and to my home, and I really don't want to. I wish they could all come with me in my two, relatively small suitcases, and live through all these new adventures with me. How I would fit all the people important to me in a few measly bags is beyond me, but I wish and hope that there was a way to make it work. I have my clothing, books and miscellaneous items organized according to what they are, but amongst all the clothes and souvenirs that will soon live in another world, there is nothing that conveys just how important these menial items mean to me. It's as if I'm trying to pick my favorite child to send to university out of a million offspring: Impossible.

Trying to decide which books to take with me has been a nightmare too. I think I have around a hundred or more books, and I know that I could never part with a single one of them. Eventually, I decided to bring "Still Life With Crows" "1984" and "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" but even then, many had to be put away to single out those precious three.

How am I going to make this work?

"Oh God, I could be bounded in a nut-shell, and/ count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that/ I have bad dreams."
-Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2, Line 247-249