Saturday, 29 December 2012


Rotary requires all exchange students in D1630 complete 3 exams.
I choose English, French, and Educational Techniques.

My class mates had  more or less ten exams... I was more then a little happy that I did not have to do all of the exams.

My first exam was French. A four hour exam including a verbal exam (poetry reading).
walking into the exam I felt confident that I had a chance to pass the exam, walking out I was very confident that I possibly could get 5% from pity points.

English was up next and I felt fairly secure, my only hesitation was that 3/4 parts were in french. Leaving my exam I still felt good...hopeful.

Technique Educative... I did not know what to expect walking in, and I walked out laughing (not in a good way)

My results were:
T.E = ??%
French = 20.5%
English = 90.5%

I was very happy with my french mark! My teacher apologized because she marked me exactly like the other students (which made me feel like I earned my mark).

English on the other hand I didn't quite get... but then later my host mom explained that they can't give anyone 100%. So when I got a chance to look at my exam, I noticed that she scrambled to find any and all mistakes, including grammar, use of vocabulary, writing over the max word limit...etc.

Alla in all, I think I did alright... :)

Thursday, 27 December 2012


I am a very bad exchange student for you see I assumed Christmas is the same date everywhere, you know, December 25 and all that jazz. WRONG! Why would anything be remotely the same?

A few weeks before Christmas everyone in my host family on my host Dad's side pulled names in a secret Santa for our christmas. I pulled my host sister's name.
So on the 24th I wrapped my secret Santa present and got ready to go celebrate Christmas at my host Grandparents house. I had in my head that this would be like at home where it was a small Christmas celebration with the extended family on Christmas. I was told that we were leaving at 6:30 so at 5:45 I was slowly getting ready. At 6:00 my host Mom comes to my room and tells me that we are going to open our family presents before we go." CRAP!" was all I could think because I wasn't planing on wraping their presents until later, hence why I was panicking!
I raced around the house wrapping my presents. It was not a pretty sight, paper cuts and tape everywhere!
Then I finished getting ready and then joined my family down stairs.
We opened our presents then immediately left to go to the grandparents house.
I was soo surprised for my gift. I got a one day trip to DISENYLAND PARIS!!

The rest of the evening was interesting.

We started by having some Champagne and hors d'oeuvres then we continued to open up the secret Santa gifts.
This secret Santa was different because we had to give clues about who's name we pulled. It was my turn and I said, "she's a girl, and she has a very strong voice" Everyone started Yelling LUCILLE!! LUCILE!!!
I received a new makeup bag and perfume.

We had a beautiful mean then watched fireworks at midnight.
It was a lovely evening but hard all the same. I was fighting back tears the whole evening. Christmas is a wonderful time but not the same with out family.

Sunday, 23 December 2012


Well I have to say I knew it had to come sooner or later... I hoped it would have been more later than sooner.

After my vacation in England I slowly became more and more homesick. The day after I returned to Belgium was Remembrance Day, not exactly the easiest day to go through with out family. Then as the week progressed I just couldn't shake it. I would cry over nothing and everything because apparently everything reminded me of home from cream cheese which I would eat at home to seeing dogs, I have two dogs at home, to eating chocolate, which my mom could tell if I had any. let's just
say everything mad me sad...

It was unlike any sadness that I have ever felt or that I could have predicted. Usually when I'm sad I cry, I don't even want to get out of bed when it's really bad. This may sound melodramatic, but it's true... and I will go on and on because I want to share ever aspect of this exchange as well as let all the potential exchangers who I hope are reading this blog can some what know or at least be aware that homesickness is more then a possibility but a certainty. If you read any part of this post please read the last paragraph.

For some background information my life here is completely different, not different that its like a different world or that one or two things are dramatically different. It's more like everything ranges from ever so slightly to noticeably different, with a few things that are VERY different. One of those very different things is my family life. In Canada for my family nothing is more important then family EVER, here we never start or finish dinner together, as an example.

During my vacation to London, I stayed with my mom's cousin and her family. To be honest I barely remember her but she was willing and excited to have me. This feeling of being wanted... let's just say that it had become a stranger to me... I spent the majority of my vacation doing Canadian family things, eating together, going to the kids soccer games and practices. It was a family life that was more familiar. It was on of the best things to happen so far, if not the best!

Before I left I told myself ever week that things would get better, and each week it did not. So I told myself that I would use this break as a chance to step back and analyze my situation and what to do...
 I decided that I would talk to my host mom about how I was feeling... yada yada...
I did that, and after crying many tears with my host mom, I felt better, but I find here that words are not always followed by actions...

The next day after I got back was Remeberance day, a day that is very important to me. Needless to say that was not easy to face alone for the first time. Then followed the hard conversation with my host mom, then a series of activities that just made me cry.

So I did what Rotary told me before leaving and upon arriving here; When you get homesick don't seclude yourself or talk to much with people from home, just immerse yourself in your surroundings.
I tried to spend more time out in the main part of the house, didn't do anything in a house where everyone is very much independent and likes to keep it that way... I went to a concert band concert, to a community event, tried to stay more and talk more with Belgian friends... I cried/ felt worse after everythings and every night!
It was more than just crying, I wasn't eating, I was lethargic, I was colder than usual... I never thought that homesickness could cause all of that!!

After about a week I wasn't crying as much, then as the days continued some of the other things left. I was still sad but it was under control.

I was still somewhat lethargic, and I having to tell myself that I needed to eat, weeks later, I just had no drive to do anything beyond the normal or what I was told.
My Dad in Canada was starting to get worried that I was becoming depressed. We talk and I could not deny it once I thought about it. He told me that I just need to be doing stuff, making bracelets or reading, but just to sitmulate my mind.
I guess it was because of my situation here, my homesickness was gone but my less than ideal surroundings were still there.

Right now I am brushing out more hair than normal, and I don't really have an appetite (other than chocolate;P)  I'm stressed in a way that I can not fully control but  things will get better.

I was asked by a Rotarian if I wanted to go home just as I was getting over being homesick. I thought about it for a moment then said no. I would feel as if I had failed because everything here is not perfect. School is great, village life stinks, and my family life is difficult, I don't want to leave even if it was the better decision unless every thing was good or else I would feel like I didn't give it my all and that I was giving up. My entire year can't be like this so why would I give up before the good stuff.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


Ghent is full of history!! You (really me) never so interested or connected to history until your standing in the middle of it; In my case in the middle of the biggest Midevil Market place in Belgium (at least) in a NEUTRAL city (one of the few, it was Ghent + area) in the 100 years war! ( at this time Belgium was basically France)

I was invited to join my second host family on a day trip with my host Dad's work (NATO!!) We took a bus early in the morning and drove to Ghent on the other side of Belgium...2 hours away... and Toured around Ghent with My host parents, host Grandpa and 3 host sisters.

 We started of the day with a guided tour in a small group then spent the rest of the day walking around.

 The Grand Market Place of Ghent

 One of the many Canals in Ghent

 To the left the building represents the five senses.

 Ghent's castle

 They tried to restore the castle. Unfortunately Ghent does not believe in throwing anything out so the last bit at the top level of the castle is noticeably different, that's because its made from the remainder of the city's cobble stones.
Flanders' Flag
 The Ghent flag and Flanders' flag

 The big Catherdrale in Ghent

 Ghent's tower
 Marcher de Noel

Besides seeing this amazing city my favourite memory of that day is of my little host sister Stef
She was eating over some cotton candy (Barbe de papa) and got it all her face, and  coat. Her Dad then tries to clean her up, in doing so he got some sticky pink goo on his nice glove, "oh shit." 10 seconds later Stefanie notices that she has some more on her sleve, "oh shit!" (by the way she's ten!!)
I could not stop laughing!!!

All in all it was a fantastic day!

Sunday, 9 December 2012


When I was a baby and crying in the night my Mom would walk up and down the hall trying to calm me down. Then my Dad would take me and three seconds later I would stop crying. He said it was because I could feel the frustration and stress of my mom growing and then my Dad being all calm. It always bugged my Mom when he would tell this story, and that's part of the reason of why he would tell me that story.

I could never get me head wrapped around the idea that a baby could feel the difference. Now I think I have more of an understanding of how people can be sensitive to their surrounding. My host family's life is a situation that I do not know how to deal with it. Every family has it's problems and any person who denies it has major problems.

What I have learned so far is that the simplest or subtlest things effects everyone in the situation and anyone outside of it. We don't live in our own little bubbles.

Silence can be just as deafening as Screams.

The one thing I keep telling myself is that I need to learn from this experience...


Yet another Rotary Fundraiser that was truly amusing.

The fundraiser was dinner and drinks before the concert of a New York Gospel singers in the BEAUTIFUL Cathedral in Liege , then a meet and great with the singers then again a drink. It was in collaboration with four other clubs of Liege. The students of each club were asked to help out in any way needed.

There was a total of 8 students, and when ever you have at least two exchange students involved in anything it's always a blast.

We helped out by handing out programs and uncovering platters, washing and drying glasses, setting up the signing table for the singers and putting away all the stacking chairs
It may not sound like a lot of fun and then considering that I was the only person who did not speak Portuguese or Spanish, it really doesn't sound fun. However there is something between exchange students that make you feel included and that you're not missing a thing! That may sound a bit like an oxymoron but believe me I'm no moron, it's just something you need to experience.

I have to say that this was one of the only, no THE ONLY Rotary event that I completely understood. Well as much as it could be understood but I do have to admit that at midnight my French transform from comprehensible to my nodding my head and laughing when I think someone might have said something funny...
That's the exchange student life...

Friday, 7 December 2012

St. Nicolas

I have discovered on many occasions now that explanations can't prepare you for everything.
I was told to have change in my pocket for protection from people who potentially will be throwing flour, eggs, and other such cooking supplies.
So how this was explained to me was that the students who graduated the previous year were going to be wondering around the village were I go to school with empty beer mugs in hand and if I didn't want them to throw flour at me I would have to put a coin in their mug. This was explained to me a week prior to St. Nicolas.
Come Monday morning I had completely forgotten about it... until I was trying to get off the bus and THREE!!! people in whit lab coats were blocking the door from the side walk. I PANICKED! I jumped and ran around the corner hoping the through the flood of people that they did not get me. I was safe! (by some miracle) I then pulled out my wallet and took out all of my small coins and kept it in my hand( because I was soo scared...)
Then I thought about Yurina (a Rotary student from Japan), what if SHE DOESN'T KNOW or worse...SHE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND (it's worse because then the people who explained it believes that she knows to do, but really she just lived by the exchange basic language training: Smile and Wave) So I ran to her once she got off the bus and gave her a hand full of coins and said, "pay the people in the white coats, trust me."
After dodging attacks all day I am happy to report that I came home all clean. :D