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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Black Black Girl and the Bastard in the Purple Sweater

 The other night i was chatting with another exchange student and we came up with the saying "Adapt or die" and that sounds incredibly cruel but it seems fitting for an exchange student. And it also reminds me of a story that really does belong on here.
    So Tuesday was a Francophone holiday ( Suck one Flanders ) and so I went to Mons and met up with some friends where we naturally had a kickass time. While waiting for the train back home my friend and I noticed an ironically dressed inter-racial couple. The black girl was wearing all black and the white guy was wearing all white and I don't think they did it to be cliche. They sit down on the bench farther down from my friend and I and commence with making out . The both of us were just a little taken aback by the super PDA but we didnt have much time to complain about it because my train was pulling in . I'm on the train and it's not a very long ride like 25 minutes and it pulls in to my stop and i get up and press the button for the door and it doesn't open . I sprint to the other door also doesn't open and the train starts to pull away . And I begin to freak the hell out . I look to see who's in my car and its Black girl in black and another girl . WEIRD . So i run over to her and ask her if she can call my host dad with my gsm and explain whats going on and then i realize my card is out of money . so she uses hers and calls my dad and he comes and picks me up at the next station . where she waits with me . It was such a weird thing to happen to me . It's also an excellent example of a WHAT DO YOU DO situation as an exchange student . You have to be comfortable to go up to a complete stranger and use your broken french to explain whats going on to the best of your ability .If you're lucky they'll understand you and wait with you at the train station for your host dad to show up.
    One other thing , My teachers at my school dress a little bit differently than my teachers back home . It isn't all izod and dockers up in hur' . I mean all of my teachers pretty much have modern European style . For example my Religion teacher ( yeah i have to take it , i got to a catholic school) reminds me of someone that would work at Zumiez she has an edgy hair cut and clothes ,nothing i would expect out of a religion teacher, and i'm pretty sure she has some sort of facial piercings but she takes them out for school . Also there's is a Johnny Depp look alike , I don't even know what he does he might be a professor but i doubt it he just kind of wanders around and pops up in random places , because that's what Johnny Depp would do . BUT the worse one is the Bastard in the Purple Sweater. He is definitely not a teacher but just a skinny man on a power trip and ALWAYS WEARS THE SAME PURPLE SWEATER. He supervises study halls and kicks people out of the bathroom if they look like they're just in there for social reasons. Today me and two of my classmates had a study hall and because we're 6iemes( seniors) we were going to walk to the park and just stay there for lunch too because it was the following block anyway. Unfortunately we were turned down so we were forced to go to the cafeteria/etude where the bastard in the purple sweater was currently residing . We were a few minutes late showing up and he starts giving us a hard time . Apparently he has some sort of sacred system in organizing students to the giant tables in the room , like one kid in every table in the third row and they can't be in the shade blah blah blah . So our arrival upset the delicate balance and he's like yelling at us for coming here and splitting all of us to sit in completely obscure seats , He's like " third seat in that table over there" . I'm like is the world going to explode if i sit in the fifth one?! But i sat down and pretended to do work , which means I proof read a friends English homework, tried to text with out getting caught and made a list of all the countries in Africa that I could think of.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why Rugby Is Better Than American Football

 What's more exciting and athletic than american football, No not Bob Ross painting (If you don't know who that is look it up on youtube) . Its Rugby . Right now in New Zealand is the Rugby world cup and idk how much coverage it's getting back home but here it's a pretty big deal. Granted Belgium is not in the mix for the tournament but I'm 5 km from France so fans loyalty shifts over the boarders a tad. Right now I'm watching Argentina and Scotland and it's quite entertaining.* Disclaimer I do not understand the rule of Rugby as of yet but I'm slowly figuring it out this will just be my version of the game*. The sport seems to have aspects of American Football but . it's better. You dont get to wear padding except a mouth gaurd and the occasional brace to prevent concussions . And these guys hit HARD . You'll see an eleven guy pile up and then they'll just get up and walk away . No flopping like in soccer . (drama queens) . One of the rules i do understand is that you can't pass the ball forward only sideways and backwards which creates all the more added skill but you can kick it forward . And like football there is an end zone and field goals. But they're is a flow to the game , there isn't as much starting and stopping like in American Football.
   All these reasons are well and good to like it but lets get real .... The uniforms are nice , short shorts like 70's basketball and those of the players that havn't been physically maimed or lost teeth are cuteeeeee , and they're muscular , big guys not like soccer where they're 6'1" 140lbs . BIG STRONG MANLY MEN ...ME GUSTA. Another thing that is really awesome about it is the All Blacks or the Rugby team of New Zealand  and the Haka. The Haka is like a warrior chant the team does before the start of the match and it's intimidating the other team stands there arms linked acting like it doesn't scare them , But you know it does . And that's why they win games. the haka WATCH IT

Friday, September 23, 2011


So the tv here is pretty weird. There are channels from France, Italy , Greece, The Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and The UK. There are some Belgian channels as well as MTV , CNN and BBC. But the thing is that there isn't a lot to offer on the channels it's usually game shows . And there's this one show that i always end up watching no matter how hard i try to turn it off. Secret Story , from what i've gathered it's France's version of Big Brother, except everyone is young attractive and jacked up on hormones. Also if you can't get enough of Starsky and Hutch or Seventh Heaven look no further my friends , They are alive and well in Belgium . It seems as if the forgotten tv shows come here . and they love them , there's also a lot of One Tree Hill (YAY... >:P) Gossip Girl ( DOUBLE YAY) and The Big Bang Theory. I miss quality tv like the magic bullet infomercial =( . Or 30 Rock and The Office and yes i'm a Gleek >.<. And the TRAVEL CHANNEL I know I don't really need travel channel advice now but i miss watching Anthony Bourdain drag his scrawny ass all over creation getting drunk and talking how great it is . But i'm not here for the TV , I've found a website that lets me watch american tv and movies anyway. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

   No one want's to embarrass themselves but when you're an exchange student , it's inevitable ...but there are some precautions you can take to reduce the frequency of discomposure. A very good tool is to play something off like it never happened. Par Example : The other night I was at a birthday party for my future host sister, my second family. Obviously I didn't know that many people, but luckily there were some other "young adults" that spoke English *thankyajesus* . At every table there was a little vase with a votive candle and people were starting to light them . I grab a lighter and try to light it , but instead I managed to just keep the flame over my thumb for a few seconds .Did I scream or freak out that I had knowingly burnt my thumb, NO ,I gave the lighter to the guy next to me and acted like nothing happened. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT COOL PEOPLE DO. Sure on the inside I was screaming in pain but that's not important.
   It's like when your eating out somewhere and you happen to order something with a lot of bone. To all you vegitarians bone's are these things that make the delicious animals ,that normal people eat , walk run and give added flavor. I mean has anyone seen a boneless chicken , i have its sad. But anyway if you're in a fancy restaurant the last thing you want to do is keep pulling little fish bones out of your mouth, power through it and eat them .I'm sure there are nutrients in there somewhere. I've done this enough times as well.
  Separate story now , I was talking to my host family about making a typical american meal and then i realized that annnnyyythiiingg can be considered american . And then i realized that we pretty much have a whole other spectrum of desserts and confections. So I decided to make Chocolate Chip Cookies !! My host mom went out and got the ingredients for me except vanilla extract so then we went out for that . Then i open the fridge and i realize that there are only two eggs left and i don't want to take them , so my host mom goes out for eggs. 10 mins later she comes back with eggs and i start to make the cookies and i'm like " okay ...butter" and then we realize we're out of that tooo..... sooooo she sends me to the store but i insisted because i didn't want to make her go out for the millionth time. SO then I come back with butter because theres a market like at the end of the street. and just to be a dick i'm like " Oh Merde .... je besoin...." and she gives me a look and i just start laughing.  Because now i've gotten to the point where I'm very comfortable with my family and i can make jokes and everything , it's nice. But anyway they all love the cookies and its so cool to have something to offer them in return for everything they have given me .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

coming around

    So I've been in school for two weeks now and if you've read my last couple of posts you see that it isn't the same as american high school . Although the "letter-man jackets" are very popular here. I'm not sure if i mentioned this before but it's so hard to keep a conversation going when you only know a couple hundred words in french . I've been pretty outgoing trying to talk to people but until i learn more french it will just have to be very basic french with the wrong tenses. And i know that it isn't easy for the other students to talk to me , people here are a bit more guarded , you need to talk to people more than twice to become their best friends in the whole wide world. It's just an american thing , we'll tell you our life story before you even know our last name. Plus the level of English here isn't great and neither is my level of french .
   I'm not upset about how difficult school has been for me socially because I know it won't stay this way. I'm good at making the best of things. But seriously the reception here from the students is not like back home. In Salem it is a big ass deal when the foreigners come to town . We have parties take them ,place's . Overall we are just so stoked to see someone that's here because they want be to not because their parole officer told them to be. Yet, the welcome wagon was not brought out for me , just complete immersion .Teachers just gave me a funny look and I waited until someone said " Shes American " . 
   When I found out I was going to be the only exchange student at my school I was so jazzed , but now I wouldn't mind having another kid to talk to that's going through the same thing. And don't get me wrong I really am enjoying it here, I don't really have to do homework here because I'm a "Free Student" although I do my English homework ***YOUUUU WOUULLLLD** . hehe. 
   Another thing I've noticed is that its seems that kids here have more "friends" out of school and in school you just have acquaintances because you have all your classes together. Mostly because you're designated to a school and if your friends aren't then that's it . Hopefully I can change that . Plus I'm hoping to join a volley ball team and today my gym teacher told me that there IS INDEED a soccer team for girls !!! but you have to ask about it to the right people like an underground drug cartel or something . 
 Right now i'm just waiting for the light bulb to go on and suddenly everything in french will become much easier . Because recently the hamster running on the wheel in my head has been suffering from cardiac arrest do to exhaustion , but give me a few more weeks .. I'm getting there.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 9/11 post

   I think we can all say that we remember where we were on 9/11 , if you are old enough to remember...
I don't remember anything else during the school day when we found out except my teacher having us gather around her on our little rug in the class room . She delicately explained to us that something had happened not really being completely clear because 3rd graders wouldn't comprehend the gravity of something like this . I took the paper from her that she handed out and gave it to my mom when she picked me up that day , I think it offered grief counselling or something like that. But the most vivid memory I have of that day 10 years ago was coming home and turning on the tv , at the time we had about 8 channels and i was confused , the same thing was on every channel...and right in front of my eyes was a live feed of the twin towers , this carnage .The camera  zooms in on a man standing on the ledge of a window , he's covered in ash from the plane tearing through the tower. Then a woman shows up next to him they grab each other's hands and jump out of the building...
    Now I know that 9/11 didn't just affect American's there were people from all over the world in the plane and in the buildings they struck. In fact there was one Belgian. Yet , 9/11 is especially different for American's because until then , we never knew what it was like to be attacked on our own soil. Europeans dealt with it during WWI and II . They knew what it was like. But ten years ago today the "#1world power" was left vulnerable we were unstoppable , untouchable...
   Back home right now everyone is cleaning up from the hurricane and bombardment of terrible weather. Nothing like this has ever really happened to upstate new york . People have died, lost houses, belongings , roads have been completely washed out leaving remote villages cut off from aide. I was skyping with my dad today and he was talking about how they had to evacuate when Irene hit and how there was so much water in the basement that the furnace is ruined. And yet he said that at least he wasn't a family member of a 9/11 victim or one of many that went down in a plane or building. Everything is relative , I was feeling sorry for myself for trying to learn Spanish in French the other day and then you stop to thing of what could have happened to you and you immediately want to wipe any notion of self wallowing from your mind immediately.             

  I know this really doesn't have anything to do with Belgium but i figured i'd say something because it is the 10 year anniversary and as a 3rd grader back then I don't think I would have even though that 10 years from then I'd be living in Europe . It's very weird though , because here the news is completely focused on 9/11 reports but watching it here make me feel like an outsider to the us. Someone that is just looking in on what happened ten years ago today .

Thursday, September 8, 2011


 So , school here .... it not at all the same as back home.
       It's pretty much another world . I was warned by a friend that the day you first walk into school everyone will not flock around you and oogle because you're a foreigner , this is true. No one gives a crap but that's fine its a big school ( bigger than salem but not huge) and I'm sure rotary isn't really a big deal . But you don't have lockers you carry everything you need in a backpack or purse .Classes are fifty minutes long , yes those eight extra minutes are torture , and sometimes you have a double block . On the bright side you do get an hour off for lunch , where everyone is allowed to leave campus or stay to consume their bread products. I love bread don't get me wrong but i don't think that they have a lane bryant around here for me to buy the plus sized clothes I'll need shortly.
    The school is split up into separate buildings and they're currently constructing more so some of my classes are in a slightly more glamorous trailer . I'm lucky that i essentially have the same classes as my host brother or else I'd probably just curl up in a ball somewhere and hum the national anthem till the world made sense again. Luckily all my classes are with the same group of people too  . The school day varies depending on the day , monday's i only have three classes and I finish up before lunch but other days I'll be there until 4 YAYY... And every trimester your schedule changes so just when you get used to the routine they change it up on you ... but the worst part is that there are NO clocks in the school so i find myself glancing over my shoulder only to find a blank wall and odd glances from other students. It's a damn good thing I bought a watch. What really makes me feel all out of whack with all this , besides all of it being in french is that there is no supplement to school , no sports , no music , no theater, just school .. But I signed up for this so I better buck up and deal. I had my first gym class today and there's this fitness test that we have to train for that will be given in October or November and girls have to run 8 km and boys have to run 10 . So it's like 5 miles , which is doable for me but not when i have a carb based diet ... but seriously it's not hard to feel athletic here if you're a girl . The sport culture here for women is ..verysmalllll , if you play sports you probably play badminton or something. I tell people i play soccer and the usual response is " ohhh" because soccer for women here is NONEXSISTANT . *ladies, if you want to go somewhere to play soccer stay in america* . Anyway in gym today we had to run for 30 minutes around this little park by the school and   I'm not trying to brag but I'm pretty sure i ran the farthest , I was on my 13th lap when we stopped and my class was huge , i would say 25+ kids.
   As of right now none of the teachers have assigned home work but I was told that it should start next week. Not that it matters because I can play the " I don't get it " card . I'm a free student here anyway I opted out of science for a remedial language class either German or Dutch (* hopefully not dutch) . The biggest mistake I've made so far was signing up for Spanish , the equivilent of 12th grade Spanish .I felt so stupid , an american that doesn't speak french well in a spanish class learning spanish in french.... yeah so I wont be making a second appearance there . I get so jealous of how people are easily bi lingual here but then i realize that usually  if they are bi lingual English is not one of their languages , and i know english and english is important more important than german, so secretly ... i win. I'm actually in an english class and it's brain melting , that is the only appropriate adjective i can think of . They move so slowly they did one page of work in 2 hours . That's the problem here , Belgium has three official languages and english isn't one of them so they don't emphasize it as much . I could have dropped English and taken another class but i've decided to stay in it to help the few that want to learn it , because the teacher is really sketchy and also it gives me free time to write letters . On the plus side being a senior or 6ieme means hella trips ya'll , they're planning trips everywhere , my religion class is going to Andalusia  , my Art History class to Rome , the English class to London and so on ;). I'm trying to think of what I'm forgetting but it isn't coming to me so I'll just leave it at that .
  just kidding i remember now ,they don't use computers here or calculators it's old school . I'm completely dependent on my calculator unfortunately . but seriously when 2012 comes and wipes out everything no biggie at Big ol' Saint Union these bad asses will just whip out their abacus' and go to town.
   On a completely unrelated note I went for a run yesterday and came back completely covered in hives yay..... after much discussion and a trip to the doctors the tentative consensus is that i'm allergic to plums or whatever type of plum that they buy here. COOOOOOOOOL

Monday, September 5, 2011

Where Belgium Drops the Ball, and then picks it up .

Here are some things that made me go : "WTF?!" so far.
 1.) Paying to use the bathroom , and to use shopping carts. If you're going to use a public restroom , in a mall, train station, airports ect. you must pay to use it , usually is 0,3-0,5€ . I've asked why and Belgians don't seem to know either. To use a shopping cart you have to drop a whole Euro , the carts are all locked together and you insert a euro coin to release it . apparently this is done because of crazy drunk kids stealing them.
2.)  The Homeless. Europe is supposed to have a better healthcare and social care system but i have been asked for money more times here than i have in the united states. You don't even have to walk past them to get hustled for change , they'll come to you! You can just be walking around a train station or sitting in a park and they'll come right up and ask for a few cents for a hot chocolate (aka BOOZE AND DRUGS) .  All i say is no thanks sorry and walk away... * YOU ICE QUEEN!! **shrugs** . They'll really try to get you when they have dogs too because you know everyone will cry at the drop of  a hat if they see a starving dog , starving people not so much. The worst was this guy that was sleeping on a bench in a train station covered in cuts and bruises , with a cast on his foot and the police kicked him out and so he had to hobble out. It just made me wonder if this socialized health care really works.
3.) Social , So I think i'm correct when i say that the idea of a lower class person advancing themselves into a more comfortable living situation and relative happiness is not done here. From what I've seen it seems that if you're poor you will stay poor, if you're middle class you'll stay middle class .I could be wrong but I'm just going on what I've seen so far, and it's a little weird because I come from a country where everyone wants to BETHEBESTMAKETHEMOSTMONEY.. Perhaps the people here are content with the living situations , idk....
 Where Belgium , Straight up own's it , son...
1.) Public Transportation , Belgium isn't a very big country but even if you live in a more or less remote area there is still public transportation to get you to where you want to know , especially if you can't drive * mee* . There are free buses , and the Train system is excellent , so shove it Amtrack. Train's here are on time , do you remember what on time is ? It's when your train that arrives at 8:15 shows up at ....wait for it.... 8:15 *gasps! in stead of at 9:25 . And it isn't expensive just a couple of euros allows you to go anywhere in Belgium. And for the Youngsters there's this thing that's called a "Go Pass" , you pay €50 and you get 10 trips on the train to anywhere in Belgium, tres cool.
2.) Food culture , everything in the United States is fastfastfast. here they make time to slow down and enjoy a meal . If you go to a restaurant here you'll probably end up spending 2 hours there even meals with friends will take a while. In my school here i have an hour off for lunch! back home i had.. 20 minutes.

I'm going to add more to the list but i need to do some crunches because mama needz to real bad.