Wow. It is crazy to think that I've been in Belgium for half of a year. Since moving to Belgium I've seen myself at my happiest. Happier than I've ever been. With friends from around the world, we're exploring and taking in this amazing opportunity at a second life in a new country, with a new language, and new culture. I'm so happy, and eternally grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime. I've also seen myself at my worst. The worst I've ever been. My exchange has been a really hard one. I've had to deal with situations I would've never imagined being in. I knew exchange was going to be difficult, but not like this. That being said, I didn't know I had the strength in me. Most of my friends are surprised I didn't send myself home. I am too! But I have to believe that everything happens for a reason. I've learnt many valuable lessons thus far, and I'll be a stronger me when I come home. I can't dwell on my struggles, or compare the greatness of my exchange to someone else's. There's zero time for that. Exchange goes by way to fast. I know that these next (and last) 5 months will go by in the blink of an eye. It's my goal to make them the best. I still have much more to do, and much more to see. I'm excited, and ready for the better half of exchange!!! :) :) :)
So! what's been going on?
I finished the first half of school. Thankfully I only had to do language exams. I got the rest of the exam week off. I spent my time exploring a few new places with friends which felt very needed. I made sure to go to the Xmas Markets as much as possible. Then it was Christmas break! I spent a week in the ski village of Tignes, France with my first host family. Again, it was wonderful! I'm really happy I got to go skiing, and see familiar landscapes. Seeing the snow and mountains instantly filled me with joy. I talked about all of this more in-depth in the last 2 blog posts so If you missed out, go read em.
After that, I only had a few days to rest and build my energy up for New Year's Eve! On NYE, I spent the night with around 150 other exchange students that are in Belgium with me. It was definitely the most eventful NYE of my life so far, and I think It'll stay that way for a while. It was AWESOME! We all took the metro from the central station to see the famous firework show at the Atomium, in Brussels (my favourite city). With my favourite people by my side, we danced into the new year. Goodbye 2019, HELLOOOO 2020!
^ I kind of only took photo's once :( sorry they're all basically the same.
I slept for most of new year's day, I was so tired. I tried my best to pack all of my crap back into my 2 suitcases with the one day I had left. it didn't go well. Packing is definitely NOT my strong suit. I need my mum's magic powers to make that work! I guess when I pack to return home I'll have to give myself a few more days to work the magic.
^ All of my crap, and saying goodbye to my room.
Speaking of returning home, I have a date! I'll fly back to the great big north on July 5th :( But, I won't be "home home" that soon. I'll get off in Toronto, and spend some time with my family at my auntie and uncle's cottage before we head home together just in time for my 17th birthday! It's exciting but I don't like that I'm having to think about it this soon.
JANUARY 2ND// moving day.
This was the day. I had been waiting for it for a very long time. I was ready to move, have a new family, and experience a different way of life in Belgium. For my last day, my host family took me to an area in Belgium called "Les Fagnes". It's a beautiful provincial park, although we couldn't see much with all the fog. I'm happy the sun came out later in the afternoon because I got to see some beautiful spots in Wallonia. The highest point in Belgium also happens to be there! It's called the "Signal de Botrange" I couldn't stop laughing! It's just a super old stairwell built on a butte, and it's not very high at all. But, that's Belgium!
^ Les Fagnes.
Then it was time to move. I said goodbye, and was on my way! I had a very relaxed first night with my new family. We ate pasta for dinner, played card games, and then watched a famous french movie called "Les Bronzes font du ski" together. It's a really dumb comedy. The perfect kind of movie for me to watch in French with no English subtitles :) I'm happy I saw it because now I understand when kids from school reference lines from the movie. It was a relaxing night and a great start to the second part of my exchange.
Moving to your second family is so much easier than the first. You know how the drill goes. What to say, what to do, you understand the culture, you can SPEAK...
^ Pictures from this past month with the family. :)
This first month with my 2nd host family went by SO quickly! I haven't had one bad day :) My host mum's name is Manuella, host dads is Michel. I have a host sister named Auriane who is 20, and a host brother named Matthieu who's the same age as me. We all get along perfectly. We've visited Maastricht twice, one of my favourite cities. It's in the Netherlands. We've also gone out for sushi (yum). I went go-karting with my host brother and his friends from school. I started fencing with my host sister, I'm so bad! I've never done anything like it and it is definitely not my kind of sport. It's fun to try though. I go and watch all of Matthieu's basketball games. My host dad attempted to make bagels for me because we don't have them in Belgium, my heart!!! I went to 2 concerts with them this past weekend too. The first was on Friday, it was a band called HooverPhonics. The venue was beautiful and we were in the second row! I really enjoyed it. On Saturday, I went to a Milky Chance concert with my friends Ema and Jakob from Canada :) It was wayyy better than I expected it to be. They really rocked out! On Sunday, my host parents and I saw Angele! she's the pop star of Belgium. I didn't like her music when I moved here because I couldn't remember the chorus lines, or understand the lyrics. Now that I understand better, I really enjoy some of it. She has a beautiful voice too, which I was surprised about because most pop stars are all autotune.
I am just so very happy with this family! Life feels (almost) normal. I go to school, spend time with friends, spend time with family, eat good food, sleep and repeat. These two months have gone by so quickly, and I don't even feel like I have much to write about! I think it's just because this really does seem like my (almost) normal world now, not an alternate reality.
I still try to explore as much as possible, and I still have lots to see. This was a day in Bruges with all my friends. ^
The weather has been absolutely disgusting these past few weeks. January was full of warmth and sunshine, then February came around and it's been nothing but horrible! There's a big storm in the UK named "Storm Ciara" and she's slowly making her way over to Belgium. It rains and pours every day, which isn't new for Belgium but it's like next-level rain. Sometimes it's so windy I can't walk straight, trees are falling down, there's a hail storm every day... It really sucks. I just hope at the end of this there's a rainbow! Maybe it won't rain for a few weeks! That would be amazing!
My french is much better. I don't have to put much thought into what I'm trying to say anymore, I can just say it! I sometimes forget if someone told me something in English or French because I don't have process the sentence to understand, and it just goes straight to my brain. I dream in French, all the time. I can participate in class and do my class assignments. I did my B,1 French exam and received 93/100. It's great! I'm only getting better :)
I'm still obsessed with waffles. Fries, not so much. I've searched and searched for an amazing Belgian friterie but honestly, they're the same to me as the ones from home. I think they're still worth having when you come to Belgium, especially with sauce lapin or tartar. OR BOTH! Mmmmm. Waffles on the other hand... UGHHH!!!! so so so delicious. I've probably tried every flavour and topping possible. It's not good for my bank but it's sure good for my belly :)
I said goodbye to my oldies, my best friends. It was really hard for me. Not all of us had good relationships with our oldies. I mean, there are 250 of us in our generation alone and I haven't even met everyone. It makes sense that there weren't many people who got close to our 20 some oldies. Ethan, Casey, and Jess are the 3 Australians that quickly became my best friends. I spent so much time with them and made so man amazing and crazy memories. It's crazy how close you can become to someone in so little time. I was so sad to see them go. I love them so much. My other favourite oldie was Laura from South Africa. She was the girl in my club, and at my school. She felt like an older sister to me. She was always there for me when I needed advice or help. I love her so much! Saying goodbye meant not knowing when I'd see them next. It also meant I was an oldie, which meant I was getting newies. That was scary. I haven't met all of the newies, but the ones I have met are nice. I've spent the most time with a girl from NZ named Xanthe. She's pretty much me with a kiwi accent so I have a feeling we'll be getting along pretty well.
I can't think of much else to talk about right now... If you have any questions you can always ask :)
Next Friday I'm going to Switzerland and Italy for a ski week with my host family! SO FREAKIN PUMPED! I'll do a post for it don't worry :)
Happy Valentines! I love you all! Bisous!