4 Month Review:
Wow, what an adventure. Yesterday marked 4 months in Belgium and what an experience it has been so far. Where to even start? How do I even describe this experience to others?
Going on Exchange is very remarkable and has really changed the way I think about the world. Growing up in Humboldt county I have lived in a bubble my entire life, and knowing that, I wanted to get out, see the world, meet new people, expand my horizons and learn a new language and culture. As time grew near to my departure date, I started to over think things and thought maybe I was being crazy and I should just go to college like everyone else. That would be a lot easier and less scary right? Yep, probably it would have been, but oh my, I am so grateful I did not do that.
Going on Exchange is a whirlwind of emotions, both good and bad. It is a constant learning experience and by no means easy. It really isn't all fun and games. Sure, I am off gallivanting around in Europe, but I am also working extremely hard to learn a new language, culture, and teach others about mine. Not only am I learning about Belgium and the customs here but also all about other exchange students and the places they come from.
I've had two of the past four weeks off from school giving me the opportunity to visit new cities, spend time with friends, and my family. Three weekends ago I went to a Neon Splash Paint Party in the city of Mons which was very fun and colorful (photos below). Now it tis the season of Christmas markets (Marchés de Noël) in Europe! I visited the beautiful city of Ghent as well as Antwerp, Dinant and Lille (France). Every city is so so different in yet many of them are very close to one another. I enjoy visiting the Marchés de Noël and seeing all the lights and decorations pour Noël.
I have the next two weeks off from school and only three more weeks with my current host family. I am not ready to leave them because they have been so wonderful to me. I am so lucky to have a great host family and now that I am comfortable it is time to move on to the next family and disrupt my comfort. That is the life of an exchange student. I will have two more family's this year giving me four families in total.
My French is finally starting to take off which is great. I can hold a conversation and I am now thinking in French as well as dreaming in French. I also find myself forgetting lots of words in English which is actually quite frustrating. I guess this is the process to learning a new language?
All in all, life is great. My parents are coming to visit me in April and I will get to show them all around Belgium and then visit Paris and Northern France. I also get to visit Barcelona in April so I have lots to look forward to. Its normal to feel "low" sometimes but I know that everything is temporary ... or maybe its from reading all the news lately or because I am seeing everyone home with each other for the holidays. I know the holidays are the hardest times to be away from home and I think by February life will be a little easier.
Anyways, here are some photos of what I have been up to over the past month or so:
Splash Paint Party! (on the right)
In Liège with friends, -6 degrees. American, Australian, Brazilian, and Mexican.
Lille France, view from the Ferris Wheel.
View of the Christmas Market and Lille France
"Sylfie" from the top.
SAY CHEESE! -Lille France
Drinks with my wonderful host parents.
Lille by night
In my favorite city of all, Ghent!
Liège ice sculptures with Proud (Thailand)
After the splash paint party...
School after the first snow!
The beautiful town of Dinant, Belgium.
Lille France by night.
Lille France from the ferris wheel.