Rotary has a way of connecting people, which makes living abroad so much easier. When we had exchange students in my school I'd make friends with them right away . Not just because it gave me a place to stay if i was visiting their country but also because it was amazing to meet people that come from a different background and culture. This week I made three crazy rotary connections .
1. This past spring my home district had a weekend camping orientation for all the rotary kids , inbounds and outbounds. My rotary councilor took me and the two exchange students from my school where we met up with all the others. A midst the twenty some odd exchange students there , was a girl from Belgium! Elise , lives in Brussels and she was really awesome and easy going . Willing to help me out with anything , and when I arrived in belgium i got in contact with her. Finally yesterday we met up . I took the train into Brussels to see her because she has this week off from law school . She was so open and excited to show me the parts of Brussels that aren't so touristy. I stayed the night with her family who were the most welcoming and gracious people ever. They were genuinely interested in me and impressed by my french. Which was awesome , i felt very relaxed around all of them so my french was even better. I went out that night and met Elise's friends . all of them were really cool and even though she warned me they might talk fast i understood everything. All of them told me to come and stay with them whenever i wanted. and I AM DEFINITELY going to take them up on that because one of the hardest things i've had to deal with here is making belgian friends. They all understood that things are a bit different in my part of belgium so i was glad they were really cool with me :). Today Elise's parents had a huge brunch with dozens of family friends over and it was such a great time, they all were interested in meeting me and talking about how i felt about belgium and the united states( rotary says i'm not here to impose politics and everything but i ask about belgium and i like it when people ask me things about the united states) . When it was time to go i didn't really want to but her parents told me to come WHENEVER i wanted. Just if i want to get away for a little while or longer. I am so greatful for meeting them and I plan on spending more time with elise for the rest of my exchange anyway.
2. since there are 200+ exchange students in belgium the rebounds are bound to meet the inbounds(lots of bounds there ) yesterday elise told me , Oh i met a girl from dinant thats here with rotary and she knows you . Turns out to be my friend kenzie from wyoming !
3. On my way to the train station in brussels i ran into my friend alex from canada who lives in namur , he was showing around his friend morgan who's doing her exchange in switzerland. Shes here for the week visiting and so i walked around a bit with them . She tells me shes in the german speaking part.... I HAVE A FRIEND FROM MY DISTRICT BACK HOME THAT IS THERE. I go out on a limb " do you know mark?" SHE SURE DOES.
Right before i met up with alex i was walking . alone .in brussels. and i have to say it was one of the most satisfying things ever. just being alone no one really knowing who you are. Plus it was a sunday so there aren't crowds .
Monday and Tuesday i was in Antwerp.
FOR THE BLACK KEYS.
My friend audrey and i decided we'd go and see them and the tickets weren't that expensive. I splurged a little and got a hotel room for the night and everything. Antwerp is a great city , clean , safe , people speak english.... On our tickets was a little yellow stamp that let us use all the public transport for free to and from the concert! There was an opening band Portual.The Man, they we're pretty good , they covered the beatles which isn't always doable, but they were nothing compared to the black keys . They have this sound thats so raw and soulful and goddamnit ZEXY. It was an excellent concert , one of the best groups to see live by far. Plus this was their first show of their european tour and they played some stuff live that they've never played before.
The next day we wandered around Antwerp. Its a rich city , thats a given. but theres also this laid back artsy feel to it that makes you just want to take any ol street. Theres such cool architecture and street art the mix of traditional and new . Just a great city overall.
So my parents and my brother are coming to visit soon . Former exchange students have expressed their troubles from when their family came to visit them . " i would get so confused with the two languages" , " i didn't want them to come " " this is my year " "my world here and my world back home shouldnt mix" and i understand all of that. But . I really can't wait to show my family around. My Parents have always wanted to come to europe and now i finally have a chance to share this with them . Whenever i was traveling i would stop and think for a moment " wow my dad would really like this" and i'd feel bad. so i cant wait !