Follow by Email

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tourists

 I love traveling and i love being here , but i hate tourists, i know i am one "technically" but seriously i hate them . Brussels is a beautiful city and I've enjoyed myself every time I've visited but i die a little inside when the SUPER tourists arrive. They come in groups , day tripping , stopping at EVERY little shop because they just can't seem to find the right I <3 Belgium shot glass. And I'm more than thankful that the rotary is organizing so many trips for us but its a package deal thing . You can go to Spain, Italy , Paris , London, Prague , Holland but it's in the most touristy way possible , they corral you up in a bus and ship you off to the city where you get out take pictures buy some kitch souvenirs and then putt off to your next post card worthy destination. and to finish off your night you will be dining at the most authentic restaurant the city has to offer , The Hard Rock Cafe.... Because when in Paris or London one must simply go for the hamburgers and Cesar salad . and of course the memorabilia is wonderful , oh look it's Keith Richard's g-string I'm totally immersed in the culture now.
   You can call me a snob and I'll just tell you you're right and that i watch the travel channel too much  but that's not how i want to discover a city . I would rather go on my own or visit someone who lives there, a local who knows the in's and out's of a city . Where you have to go and where you should just avoid because you will be engulfed in a stampede of fanny-packs and disposable cameras. so hopefully i can save a few euro's and my sanity and try and see europe MY WAY!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cajun chef GPS

 Well look how time flies when yer havin' fun. I guess I could say i've been pretty busy . I'm very lucky , my host family has been taking me so many place's and I'm starting to make connections with other exchange students.
before I continue with my regular boring garbage we have another awkward moment to share .
**** Yesterday , in the car driving back from visiting  an Abby my host mother askes me for a hug , and i give her ....wait for it..... my pack of gum... yay lost in translation. If you can't laugh things off here you might as well kill yourself.
  * Also i was on my way to a birthday party with my host brother and his girlfriend and the voice on her gps was of a very famous dead french actor , but seriously it sounded like that cajun chef guy . i can just hear it in my head now TOURNE AU GAUCHE APRES 300 METERS
    Things that i miss that are typically american
Hugging : Hug's here are only reserved for the very special occations , leaving forever , marriages, deaths, ect. I asked my host mom about it and she give's me hugs now because i was completely depleted  of them.
  Music: It's more or less disappointing to turn on the radio to hear james blunt's goodbye my lover for the 345th time that day . I know belgium isn't a big country but I though they more recording artists , seriously all the time it's american music on the radio .but it's the same stuff all the time . never the indie music i so crave
Also AMERICAN IDOL >Eruovision or any other european singing competition , my god , its just sad.
   Sports: girls here don't really play sports , and if they do its usually something cut-throat and brutal like , badminton. it's hard to explain that i play soccer because it's not a girls sport here . Sport culture overall is completely different . Sport's are our lives back in the united states especially for girls , here , not so much.
 Land: My "lawn" here is around the same size at the bathroom . i needz the space with grass , there is no grass here .
  Don't get me wrong I love it here LOVE IT but its just something i'm not used to , yet.


By the By : Irene why are you such a Bitch , give my family and the 3 million others power back and stop F*cking up my country ,take a midol and chill. seriously though everyone affected , you're in my thoughts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

lets compare shall we?

 So I've noticed that my entries are more or less just me rambling most of the time and today I've decided to talk about whats different here compared to back home. There is a really good chance that this will go off on a random tangent but whatever.
   Food: Food here is not the same , Of course the types of food you eat really depends on your family . But back home we eat organically and over all pretty healthy , and here too more or less but the quality of what you get here is much better. The good ol' U S of A really f-ed up when it comes to bread. We don't have bakeries in every town back home churning out heavenly fresh loaves of bread every day . They do here though , and oh my damn it's good . Bread is a staple here I eat it on average as two meals a day . There are specialty stores for everything here and everything is less processed . although there is Belgian junk food which is pretty much a variety of meat products battered and fried , sound familiar? But my God the fries are awesome and the Waffles , there are two kinds Bruxelles and Liege one is very sugary and thick and the other is less sweet and thin and you don't eat them for breakfast . For the people here who aren't particularly fond of eating meat i suggest you find a new blog that teaches you to suck moisture out of birch bark to keep your sustenance as you hunt for twigs and berries on the forest floor because I also forgot to mention that they eat horse here, mhmmm I'd like the my little pony special please with extra mayo *there will be no guilt , i don't care what it was , what it is now is delicious* . I've yet to try it but I've heard its good, but i have finally tried fois gras and that was awesome. 
 Cars/Driving: No two car's here are exactly alike , I've yet to see one car that is identical to the other . Not like in salem when you're like oh i have the dark green forester over there and there's 4 in the parking lot. It's because there are so many different brands of cars here , from France, Germany, the Czech Republic and there are the occasional fords and chevys. The streets here aren't big so driving is , adventurous . There are all these people jetting around in their tiny cars (no escalades here SONNN) shifting gears like formula one drivers . on most roads there is only enough room for one car so if you are driving down the street and there's another car coming you have to pull over to let them pass. And what really makes the whole thing a lot like racing is the fact that none of the streets are perfectly straight and set like a grid , like back home. 
  Size: Belgium is roughly the size of Maryland , so a long trip for them is an hour... In NY if you want to go shopping there's an hour trip. Most people are in disbelief when i say i have to drive almost 6 hours to my college in New York . But because it's so small and the distances are relatively small to me i've visited all over Belgium already, an hour and a half to the beach ? Yes! So what if the sun doesn't really shine and the water is a bit dodgy....
 Family/Social: Back in AMERICUH the only meal that my family eats together is Dinner . Everyone gets up at a different time so breakfast isn't together and we all do our own thing during the day so lunch isn't together either . But here we more or less eat every meal together , and dinner is much later . The other night we ate at like 10 and i was falling asleep at the table ... Also both my host brothers have girlfriends so most of the time they're with them and i'm here just chilling. Most of the people i've met that are my age are in a couple , so belgium is practically like a all inclusive couples resort with shoddy weather ahah. The same night when we ate dinner really late it was both my host brothers and their girlfriends and my host parents and they were all sitting in pairs around the table and then there was just me . definitely an outsider looking in but it was like a seat to a dinner theater that i didn't understand. Its tough enough to speak french when you think in english but when you're tired, forget it. One last thing , PDA , normal here , i went to the beach and everyone was all up on each other jk but there is a big difference , i guess it's just culture. Europeans are more romantic and americans are fat , cold people that don't have enough ....ya know....
   

Friday, August 19, 2011

Maladroit

 Before I left for Belgium my rotary club had a little picnic for the Rebounds and I , and it was really great . I got to hear about how my friends spent their year in a different country . The mother of one of the rebounds gave me this advice: be prepared for an awkward situation at least every day, and she was right. If you want to be a Rotary exchange student you gotta be okay with awkward. I think I'll go a head and give myself the title of QUEEN OF AWKWARD, and run through some scenarios i've faced already.
* My first day there ,I'm doing pretty well with French , it's not always pronounced right but , can you really blame me? I'm talking to my host mom about my friend that lives in the Netherlands, and in French the Netherlands is Pays Bas and the way I pronounced it apparently sounded like "play boy" sooo I have a friend that's a play boy bunny ....
* Second day we go to the school so I can pick out my classes and they give me a copy of my schedule and they're like don't lose this because you need it to extend your visa. what do you think i did with it ? LOST IT , I have no job here except to learn french and i couldn't even keep a damn piece of paper .
* Yesterday : My host parents are in an Orchestra and they hold practices in Bruxelles and they invited me to come watch , being a impossibly gifted musician i said yes. They failed to mention that they would be picking up two fellow musicians on the way. So here I am crammed into the back seat of their car , which isn't too big with two old men driving down the Belgian highway . I'm sure to the untrained eye if you were to pass us on the road you'd think to yourself , they must be filming To Catch a Predator, but I assure you , we're just a bunch of musicians.
   But seriously here you have to roll with the punches , go where they take you and enjoy it, and I have my family has been more than welcoming as well as with everyone I've met. You really can't afford to be shy if you do an exchange unless you had planned to spend the whole year in sworn silence. Anyone can tell you I'm a pretty extroverted person and it's helping a lot , I'll muddle my way through french trying to tell people who i am and why i'm here and there is the the occasional English speaker. My family doesn't speak any English and I'm very happy with it because I'm learning , Quickly ! Also the fact that they're musicians helps, this is going to sounds sappy and you're going to call me a 'band geek' and if so, you can kindly shove it , but music can be a common language. I don't completely understand french and they don't completely understand English but we both can read music .
     Now I'm not completely sure what the point of this post was. I'm just kind of rambling I guess the point is that if you do rotary it's not always going to be a cake walk but its going to be the greatest thing you've ever done .
 OH some things i forgot to mention earlier
1) I'm the only Exchange student in my Town , Club and School and I couldn't be happier!! More french for mee!!
2) At my host brother's birthday party the president of my host club showed up and brought a map of new york , he asked me to find my town on the map annnnnndddd it was too small for the map, couldn't find it hahah.. another awkward situation.\


Btw I'd like to send out my condolences for those that passed away at Pukkelpop this weekend . :(

Monday, August 15, 2011

cultural note

      okay so it may just be me , being american , but I don't care . It's my blog and I'll do what I want goddamnit.  So today some friends I met at my brother's 21st birthday party last night went to a nearby town to play soccer at a little turf field . So we're just playing , the five of us and then i hear is , the buzz of the mopeds and they arrive in droves. All these really really skinny guys with spiked hair smoking cigarettes and wearing jerseys of their favorite teams, Barca , Marseilles  ect.. And it shocked me , these were soccer players... I just want to say that in America we have sandwiches bigger than these kids. They're probably my age or older and half my weight. I tried to explain to my friends that if there were kids that looked like that in the united states that wanted to play sports people would be like.... why don't you give golf a go ,or chess? I just hope these fellows don't think they'll be playing professional sports if they smoke 30+ cigarettes a day , only babe ruth can pull that crap.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

update

so I've been a LITTLE busy the past few days so I might as well do a little rundown of the past few days . Wednesday : attempted packing , best friends threw a surprise party for me
Thursday: bought last minute items finished packing , cried
Friday: woke up , cried, said goodbye to friends , cried , went to the airport ,didn't cry , left for dulles, cried like a manchild, arrived at dulles oddly refreshed and confidently walked through the airport with my belt undone, shamefully ran into bathroom to fix belt. found my gate, found other exchange students heading to belgium , 6 hr layover , made friends, long ass flight to Bruxelles.
Saturday: arrived at the airport in Bruxelles , Huge welcome from all host families in the lobby , found family!!!!! left Bruxelles for Dour, spent day hanging out playing video games, skyping and speaking lots and lots and lots of  french because they don't speak any English, napped and forgot where i was, showed family how terrible the dollar is compared to the euro, 100 us is 56 eu . yep I'm slummin it. watched the rugby world cup .  went to bed late. by the way, for me, this whole website is in dutch.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

t-minus 6 days and counting

     Alright so for my readers that don't know me personally I thought I'd tell you a bit about my hometown of , Salem , New York . People tell me all the time that they're from a small school and I usually don't find there school to be small at all unless you're from the Adirondacks ;) . Salem, New York's population currently stands at 2,700 which actually surprised me but then I realized every little tiny community surrounding it is included. My school , Salem Central has less that 600 students k-12 and declining , mostly because no one moves to Salem for  a secure job market or relative prosperity , just if you're independently wealthy. Or in my parent's case you want to live somewhere that looks like Vermont but isn't in Vermont, just 2 miles away from it. What else is there.... not much... I graduated with a class of 42 kids , we don't have a grocery store but two work out studios . We have one gas station , two theaters and 5 churches. If you live here you are usually apart of the school somehow or a farm , and if you aren't , sucks to be you , you have quite the commute everyday ( both my parents travel 45 minutes each way ) .one cool thing i can say about Salem is that the food is good, there are so many new businesses of fresh and organic food, so i guess that's something. But seriously it gets depressing when its the middle of the winter and there's 18 inches of snow and counting and you haven't seen the sun in what feels like years and you can't drive anywhere because you'll probably end up like the Donner party . I'm trying to think of interesting things that happened in Salem .... ummm the first american etymologist was born here, the snowboard was invented here, my school is the oldest continually running school in New York State . I was the 221st commencement and that's about it.
    Also now that I'm on the topic of home I really want to hand it to my parents for letting me do this, because I know the didn't want me to . I was the kid that couldn't stay over at people's houses not too long ago and then I up and went to Germany for 20 days and didn't get upset at all .Thus giving me the travel bug and decided doing rotary wouldn't be a bad idea, whats 10+ months? If I ever "spawn" I don't know if I'd be able to let them go away for a year besides college. So I'd like to say thanks to them and tell my mom to man up and come visit me with my dad and my brother even if they have to use horse tranquilizers.