Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Claustrophobic anyone???
Here, I take the public bus to and from school. On the way to school it's not too hard.My biggest tip to anyone daring enough to take publique transportation on a school route, or any route: TAKE ANY SEAT AVAILIBLE, because it won't be for long then you'll regret it. The buses fill up so quickly and it does not matter how full it is because it will always stop to pick up more people.After school I have to run to be the first one at the bus door for when it opens. if we are lucky we can squeeze a max of five more people on the extended bus, if it's a regular bus... forget about it, just WALK. I have never seen a bus this full except in a Robert Munsch book.
When you see a full bus all you can do is push.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Problem With Taking Pictures

The problem itself is not the taking of the pictures but the possibility that you may miss something.

I love taking pictures but I am always finding myself taking pictures from the side line and not in the middle of the action. As each day passes I'm finding myself less on the sidelines and more and more in the middle of all the action. Don't get me wrong I love everything that I've done in the community but I'm also smacking myself for not taking more pictures because I don't want to forget for a moment everything that has happened.

I could not be more thankful to have a photographer as a host mother!!!

So now the grand internal debate begins ( because I won't always have my host mother there); Do I take the risk of losing a moment to take a picture? Logic v.s Selfishness.

I'm sure the battle will continue but for the moment I've sided with logic :)

Now all I need is a tatoo on my hand so I will always remeber! LOL

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Longest Week Ever

As my title explains, this was the longest week ever. The root: first week of school.

Monday: I spent most of my day with my dead computer and running around with Martine.

Tuesday: "First day of scholl." I arrived at school at 11am and went to the cafiteria where everyone in my grade was there. The Director (Principal) gave a traditional back to school speech, then proceeded to call out every name for every class.When it came to my name the Director stopped, asked me to raise my hand, then said to wait for him because he was going to talk to me and another student. Joy... I didn't know what he was going to say. the best situation, in my head, is that he would introduce me to the class, the worst thingthat ran through my head is that there was a problem with my course or something like that. of course the negative situation was the louder of the two voices in my head but I kept telling myself that I don't know what's going to happen and it will all be for the best. The Director told me that they were going to look at class sizes and put me and the other student into a better french class. Ok, all is well in my head, and for us to check in at an office in the morning to tell us what class we are in for french. So the other student and I had to wait outside until 12 then go home.

Wednesday: the first day of classes. At 8:10 I go to the office, knock on the door and wait... and wait... and wait. Teachers we coming up to me and asking what I wanted, I explained what the director said, and then they would tell me to wait and so I waited... this happened repeatedly for about 45 mins. Then a teacher who had talked to me when I first arrived, noticed that I was still waiting, she then walks up to me and says that she will go tell someooe that I am waiting there. After just a bout an hour of waiting in an empty school yard next to an office door, a teacher comes out and says, "I forgot all about you." I was on the verge of tears because I was so stressed. After a few more minutes I was taken by a teacher to my class I thought it a professional program called Familky Aide, where I would be learning Nursing, and nutrition, and psychology, but they didn't tell me that they switched my program ( I thought they would only change out class) This was one tough day. I did not understand about 98% of what anyone said, or even what class I was sitting in. By the end of the day (12), I wanted to go home, cry, eat chocolate, and sleep. I wasn't able to do this because I had made plans to go to Liege and meet up with a bunch of exchange students. It was a fun and relaxing afternoon, which was well needed.

Thursday: School started bright and early at 8:20, I went to all my classes and just followed the teacher and class mates trying to talk to people. My plan for a better day was to listen, smile and anychance that I got to talk I WOULD. Thursday was a lot like Wednesday I understood next to nothing. I spent most of my time with a flemmish girl who is in my class ( one point for possitive things!) I just smiled and fried my brains trying to understand want everyone was saying.
Come 3:20, i was happy to leave. I walked briskly to the bus stop to go home, when the bus arrived I tryed to get in. Now this may seem easy enough to do, you just step in right? Wrong. I have never seen a bus this full before!! My Flemmish friend Dorothé said that it's always this full and to just push my way in. I seriously pushed my way in and I barely fit!! But I did not have a choice because I didn't know when the next bus was coming. I' ve never been so scared on a bus. I now feel like being on a toronto bus would be a breeze.
I got home talked with my host mom about school, talked with my aunt, and talked to my mom about my computer; My computer's funeral will be this saterday at 2.
Best thing happened Thursday night and I was in desperite need for some good news. I now have a dress for the Cramignon!!

Friday: I did not have to go to school because my class has like a co-op thing going on, and so I was excused from scholl by the director. So I slept in until 9:30, had a long shower, had breakfast and talk with my host mom about school.
School here has not been easy because everyone in my class has been in the same class for a few years and they are all closely knit ( it doesn't help that there are only 8 people in my class) So after a long conversation on deciding what to do about school; to wait, change schools, or classes, or grade, even go as far as going to school in Liege...? We came to the conclusion that on Monday Martine and I will go to the Director and talk things through to see what is possible. The hardest part of the decission for me is I don't know where the line is to say that I need to wait and try harder, or that I need to change something.

All that I know is that I have been feeling sick to my stomach from stress which does not normally happen and that I am not looking for to going back to class.

However will all this stress there will be some releif this weekend because I' participating in my first Cramignon and whearing a blue "cinderella" dress.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Well, this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday, was our touring day of Brussels and two days of orientation.

Thursday at 7am, I arrived at the train station in liege to meet all the other exchange students to go to Brussels. We arrived in Brussels at 9am am started what turned out to be a verylong day.
Upon arriving we were separted by sponsoring country and stayed in our group pretty much all day.

The first thing on our itinerary was to visit the grand Palais. it was very interestign, and beautiful. ( I will attach pictures when I can - computer's boken) What was so amusing about touring with rotary, is that we were touring brussels with all the rotary exchange students in Belgium, all 223! while the Canadians where almost finished to tour, we could see all the americans(USA) still outside waiting to enter.

Then we went to the city hall, and had part one of our banner ceremony. We were called up alphabetically by country and last name to come up present our banner, shake hands with all the head Rotary people from all three districts. Again, ALL 223 students did this.

Then we divided into our three districts to eat lunch. so for my district of 90 students we went to the furthest resturant as possible (or at least it seemed like that) We had meatballs from Brussels and fries. Then we walked all the way back to the Grand Palais to meet the other two districts. Then we walked to Parliament for part two of the banner ceremony. We all took a seat where their government gathers( think of it like sitting in the House of Commons - cool right?), and country by country presented their banners to a government representative.

Everything That we did took hours, because we were such a large number of people.
 at aroud 5:30 everyone from my district went on a double decker coach bus to Huy.

The night in Huy we pretty chill. We ate, got our room asignments, and hungout.

In the morning the long and many hours of orientation started.  Before arriving in Belgium all the exchange students had to read and sign all of the rules and conditions and whatever else. This orientation was re-reading everything that we were suposed to know. Being me, I already read everything three times.
All of the information was given in French, English, Spanish AND Portugese!
what could have taken three, four hours max, took us a day and a half ahhh!!!!

What was interesting was that Rotary gave us a dance,(a better dance than what we get at school) and a bar!!! yup, a BAR, not only were we allowed one drink we were allowed two. For you see the standard rule of no drinking does not apply in Belgium because drinking is part of the culture. so the adapted rule is " no excessive drinking", which means that if you get drunk, you go home.
 oh man, culture shock.
I guess I´ll get used to it, and I did promise I would try everything.
Baby Steps

On Saturday I had the same orientation as the day before but this time with all of my host parents.
AAANNNNDDDDDD.... I recieved my trumpet. Now after a few hours of maintenance, IL MARCHE!!!

Mumble Jumbled

Oh my...
Well let me start this post by saying it´s not completely my fault. I meant to post earlier about everything that has gone on but some complications have come up. For starters on  the poblems my new computer died!!! AGAIN... so while it is being sent in for repairs I am using my host family´s old desk top with a european key board so forgive my typos please if I made some, (and knowing me I will make some, especially since a "q" is in the "a" spot)

So back to the begining... My first week was very challenging. My greatest challenge came from jetlag; Being tired made everything, and I mean EVERYTHING harder. My survival technique was simple, Just laugh at my mistakes, and go with th flow. My perfered phases were, "pardon?(pardon me?), "ok( acknowleging that I understand and was in accordance), and of course "desole, je suis fatigue( sorry, I´m really tired). I was actually surprised by how much I understood, and understand.
When we were trying to find activities that I could do or things we could do with the family, we always had to stop and think about my foot... my darn stupid, painfully useless foot... I pushed myself through the pain as fast as I could so I could walk without my crutch. After a week, I was walking without my crutch. Each day I pushed myself further, and each day I could walk longer and further.

My first Belgian experience was seeing a "Cramignion."I have asked everyone I know how this started and why we do it and nobody really knew... but it doesn´t matter, its interesting, fun and entertaining. My explaination of a cramignion is that it´s a weekend long celebration, with a parade, street caranival, and community activities. The parade is not like the ones we know in Canada, it is people of all ages partnered up and all dressed up walking around the village, then the stop,"prends un verre," (have a drink) then contiune doing this for several hours. Now when I say dress up, I mean they really dress up, like you can see in my last post, all the girls wear ball gowns!! Later in the weekend there is a huge "bal"/ dance which is crazy busy, and fun. then as the weekend comes to a close quieter activities take place, for example in Bassenge we will have a bocce ball tournement.

I have been to Liege twice already, once with my family for dinner and the second time with another host family and their neighbour to go shopping. When I had dinner with my family I had liegeoise meat balls and fries; there were only three meat balls but they were the size of my fist. up until that point I hadn´t been eating much due to jetlag, but I ate them ALL! They were to good to even take them home in a doggy bag. Everyone including myself was surprised that I ate them ALL! When I went to Liege with an american rotary student, her host family, and their neighbour, we went shopping. it was a fun and relaxing afternoon. As well as I was one of the majour culture shocks that I experienced... FASHION... oh man, I am not a fashion person but there were no "normal clothes", or anything that I really recognized. so I guess this is just one of the times that is do as the natives do. I also blame liege for my new addiction: Liege WAFFLES!!! they were the best thing that I have ever had. it was sweet but not too sweet, it was crunchy and gooey, it was satisfying but not too filling, it  was  a square piece of heaven.