Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm not a fan of this in-between

So it is Monday, December 13th and I am writing this update from Strasbourg, France! I guess Strasbourg is known as the Christmas capital and I will be going around town tonight and tomorrow to see it for myself! My mom is here! She arrived Saturday morning and we spent Saturday and Sunday showing her the city of Brussels, she also got to meet Kelsey and see the city that Kelsey lived in all semester, that was a lot of fun!

So far Strasbourg seems like a really nice city. We got here and found out that our hotel was not as close to the downtown as the website had implied and after some contemplating and luck we found a hotel downtown and were able to cancel our previous booking without any penalty! Since we got this new room we have just been warming up and trying to breathe, my stupid cold is making that a challenge!

Right now I am wanting to be home. I am not sure if it is because I am sick and just want a normal bed, be that the one back in Kraainem or back in the US, I just want to wallow haha. But I also think it is because the people that were the norm here are all dispersing, most are already home, and those that aren't home are spread out throughout Europe. It is reassuring to see other people with confused facebook statuses, at least I know that others are feeling just as confused about what to feel as I am. I am not looking forward to leaving but I am definitely much more prepared for it than I was a week ago. I am missing everyone so much already that I know it is going to be tough getting back to the "home" life, however I am beyond excited to see everyone from home. I can't wait to enjoy just sitting around with my friends again and laughing about the most random things and then making impromtu Starbucks trips!

So with 4 days left in Europe, and leaving in 5 days I would say this is a good place for me to be. I am happy to be experiencing Europe again with my mom, but I am also ready for the next step, although if I had a rewind button I might rewind and slow down the last couple weeks just in order to enjoy everything here for a little bit longer haha.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why did it go so fast?

This is not going to be my normal cheery post, but I hope it makes sense once it is done. I am very excited for my mom to get here and seeing how excited she is makes me all the more excited. I am also extremely excited to be going home for Christmas and my birthday, this is my favorite time of year! However, for both of these things to happen this experience has to end and that thought is just not okay. The studying abroad process is one that is like a roller coaster, you start off nervous and just trying to prepare yourself for getting to your location, you get there and realize, "Wow, I am going to be here for a long time," and then all of a sudden you are comfortable in your location, have friends, and are just happy. Yet then change happens again, you start to realize how quickly time is going by and try to make the most of every event. I am able to recognize that this process has to be like this because if it wasn't short I don't think we would appreciate it as much, people that study abroad for a year or even longer probably have an even more complicated process.

I have loved almost every minute of my time spent in Belgium, I did not love my first couple hours with the children when they were attacking me and not happy that I am a girl, but since then it has been great. I am currently a never ending string of thoughts, one second I am sad, the next excited and thinking about home, and who knows where my mind will be the next second. I am sad this is ending, but it must and I know that everyone in this situation and others like it will always have their memories and the friends that were made during these times.

A little update:

This past week was the last week of classes so it was full of end of semester projects and final reviews. It was also a week full of snow in Belgium, something that I have heard never happens this early in Brussels. It was so pretty at first, but that was from inside and everything changed when you had to walk in it. I am not sure exactly why but salt for the snow and ice is not a popular thing here and walking around like normal became an adventure with every step. Although this morning when I woke up I was happy to see that rain all night had caused most of the snow to melt :-)

Last night Eddie and I made American Mexican food for the host family. We had soft tacos and chips and guacamole, and other than the kids not liking the guacamole, everything else was a hit! After dinner the family gave us each a book with pictures of Brussels or of Belgium, it was a really nice evening.

Now I need to get to writing my internship report and studying for finals. It should be a good week, only 3 exams and then enjoying Brussels and the host family.

I will write back soon!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Eeeck, I waited too long to write this one...

Okay well, it looks like the last time I updated my blog was post Paris, and woah, that was a long time ago, so first things first.

IRELAND!!! The Thursday after fall break was over Eddie, Kelsey, Ryan (a guy Eddie met from church), and myself all went to Ireland. Eddie, Kelsey, and I traveled together and Ryan just met us in Dublin. The trip there went okay, we were flying into some really strong winds but the flight went fine, especially with a couple Dramamine in my system haha. When we got into Dublin it was 7:30 or so, and since we had a really early day the next day we went to the hostel to drop our bags off, walked around and then went to dinner. Dublin is a really nice city because it is very easy to walk and our hostel was in a really good location! A little after we got back to the hostel Ryan arrived and then we just hung out until sleeping. The next morning we headed off to Galway, its about a 3 hour train ride to get there, but it was great because we all got to see part of Ireland that we really wanted to, sheep and green! Galway was another cute city and again we had a really nice hostel. The first day we just walked around, went to the main pedestrian street in town and just saw different things, the river, museum, cathedral, it was nice. Saturday we went on a tour from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher, it was an all day tour and we had a super cute tourguide named Desmond. We had numerous stops throughout the day and we were lucky enough to actually make it to the cliffs at a moment when the sky was clear! After the tour we went to dinner and then back to the hostel, it had been a long day. Sunday was another bright and early morning in order to catch a train back to Dublin! We wanted to give ourselves as much time as we could in Dublin, and we got into town at 11 am or so. We split up for lunch, the boys to Burger King, and the girls to a restaurant for an Irish breakfast. We met up after eating and walked around to some of the touristy places by Grafton Street, the main pedestrian street in Dublin. Then we all split up again, Eddie and Kelsey needed to go back to the hostel and Ryan and I both wanted to see the city so Ryan went off and I did as well, I took a bus tour because I wanted to see as much of the city as I could in the couple hours I had, and it worked out really well. After our little split, which did include Starbucks for Kelsey and I, woohoo, we all met back up at the hostel and went out to dinner. Again, it was a pretty early night because we all had early flights back to Brussels Monday morning. Ireland was a great trip! The group got along really well and having 4 made it really easy when we couldn´t decide on something, we would just split up. The country was amazingly beautiful and the people were very nice, it was a dream come true to visit Ireland and I definitely would like to go back!

The week after Ireland was pretty relaxed, I had classes and one day at AGE before heading out on another trip. This time the WWI/WWII tour to Luxembourg and France.

I´m not sure how to really describe this weekend, it wasn´t fun, but it was really interesting and something I think everyone should at least learn about if not see for themselves. We started off by going to the American and German cemetaries in Luxembourg, they were both very different but did show just how devasting WWI was for the soldiers on both sides. After a stop at one of the many forts along the Western Front, where we rode a train inside to get around, we headed to Metz, France where we saw a bit of the city before having the night off. Saturday was the hard day, we started off with heading to Verdun, a WWI battlefield with terrible loses. We started by going to the museum and then to the Douaumont Ossuary, this was the worst part of the weekend. This building is the tomb of 130,000 German and French soldiers that died during the fighting at Douaumont/ Verdun, they know the names of the soldiers but were not able to identify the specific bodies of each man. The ossuary is has all of the bones in what I guess can be called a basement, and there are little windows in where you can see the bones, I´m not sure I would recommend it and in the inside are all of the names and a little chapel. The ossuary is also situated right across from a very large French cemetary, and the image in its entirity is just heartbreaking. After that difficult moment we went to the Douamont Fort, it was again not super uplifting but interesting to see another instance of how soldiers defended themselves, but how the men in charge of the fort would switch throughout the war. We then had lunch, and it was a much needed break from the really depressing day so far. After lunch we headed to Reims, France, along the way, and as was done most of the time in the bus we watched movies or documentaries on the war, mostly all on WWI. In Reims we had a champagne tasting, and that was a very nice way to bring up the day, I even bought a bottle :-) We had the night free and all did dinner in small groups. The next day was Sunday and with the hope of making it back to Brussels early, we headed off. We saw the cathedral in Reims, where kings of France had to be crowned to make it official, and then we headed off to another fort, but this time they were really just caves. The tourguide in the caves was fantastic, he had so much passion for what he was teaching us about and he knew so much, you could tell that he did his own research on the subject and he just made it incredible. After the caves and lunch we began our trek back to Brussels, with a quick stop at the train car where the Armistice was signed, and we also saw the room in Reims where the WWII peace treaty had been signed earlier that day. We made it back early and after a good dinner of Chinese I made it back to the house.

It was a long weekend but it really did show the horrors of what the first and second world war did for the world.

Since then I have been busy at homework, with my present computer problem, it has a virus and isn´t working, I have been at the school computers or on Eddie´s (he is very nice in letting me use it when I need to) in order to finish a paper that was due yesterday, and now i have 2 more due this coming week. Neither of these papers will be too much work luckily.

I am in shock that December is almost here, I honestly feel like I just arrived in Europe and happened to do a lot of traveling in the first week, the fact that I have been here for almost 4 months is crazy to me, and I am not ready for it to end. Going home will be amazing, and seeing everyone will be great but I am going to miss Brussels, my host family, roommate, and all my friends I have made here terribly. Well maybe I should get to working on my papers, or buying train tickets for when my mom gets here, I´m sure everyone can guess which one is going to happen. I am really excited for my mom to get here, and I can´t wait to show her the city I have grown to love!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paris, why are you so amazing?

Okay so this is my post Paris blog! A lot has gone on since my last blog, not so much school stuff, but a TON of AGE related functions, and even more traveling!

First off, after the stressful return from London with the lack of knowing where Eddie was for a while I needed a good nights rest so when Monday morning came around and the need for me to wake up for class, I just decided my first skipping might need to occur. I missed a presentation over the conflict in Georgia, but loved the sleeping in part. After my little sleep in I went into AGE for what I was planning on being just a couple of hours of making folders for the conferences later in the week, but my boss wasn't in to tell me what to do. Instead, I just ended up working on some projects I have ongoing throughout the semester and once she arrived getting some things ready for the meetings that were later in the week. On Tuesday the entire trip to Ireland was planned! It felt and still feels so good to have everything that needs to be booked and to know what we are doing, at the same of the Ireland planning Eddie and I were still undecided about what to do after Paris, but that will be talked about more later.

Wednesday I had my morning Art class, and then Kelsey and I went to go buy scarves before I had my first big AGE event of the week. Wednesday's event was a conference on seniors using equity from their mortgages to offset any funds they weren't getting from their pensions. Just the subject was over my head, but it was still an interesting conference. The best part of it was getting to meet so many different AGE members and to see inside the European Commission building, it was a very hi-tech building and very cool. Thursday and Friday were AGE Council of Administration meetings. This meant 40 of the members of AGE that have been elected to work on the more administrative issues at AGE and the staff issues of the Brussels headquarters would come to Brussels and discuss the issues. It was really neat because I was able to go to both days events and to meet so many of the members. The members are from all across the European Union and have so many interesting things to say. They were long days filled with a lot of information that was completely new to me, but it was interesting to see just a piece of some of the bigger work that AGE does. After these meetings I came back to the house to pack for Paris!

Throughout the week Eddie and I had been trying to make plans for after Paris, and pretty much decided to take a 13 hour bus to Geneve, but it wasn't able to be booked so we were hoping to buy the tickets in Paris and just go from there.

We left for Paris early Saturday morning and started the trip the trip immediately. We saw a ton of things from the Louvre, the Conciergerie, Versailles (where we rode bikes around the gardens), Notre Dame, Musee d'Orsay, Les Invalides, Tomb of Napoleon, a Monet museum, any many more things. It was so strange though that visiting sites like the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triumphe were not planned but instead were mentioned as possible options on our free nights. It was great though and seeing so many things with a professor that I swear could talk about any subject for two hours minimum. On our evenings off I was able to go see the Eiffel Tower and go to the stop, it was soooo pretty and just amazing to be at the top. We also went to the Arc de Triumphe, that was really cool too and it was neat to see the comparison between the height there compared to the Eiffel Tower.

After numerous hours spent trying to make plans and having continued issues with booking tickets or finding inexpensive options Eddie and I just decided to stay in Brussels for an extra night and then to take a bus back from Paris to Brussels. That plan worked out really well because we were able to see the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triumphe and then the French countryside on the bus ride back. The funny thing was that the bus driver actually got lost or something on the drive back because we kept going back to this one gas station, it was very bizarre.

We finally made it back into Brussels and since then have just been haning out. Our host family left tonight for a trip to the sea, and they invited us last night but both Eddie and myself have papers due in the next couple weeks so we need to work on them and will hopefully see a bit more of the city. Upcoming trips include Ireland and the WWI and WWII trip with the art class, other than that it is just hanging out and hopefully and experiencing any other things that I can.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The travel season is upon us!

I cannot believe it is already October 26th!??!?!?!? I feel like my time here is going by faster than I ever would have thought, and I know that these next few weeks will most likely go by even faster. As of this past weekend I will be out of town 5 weekends in a row! This past weekend myself and my roomie Eddie went to London and Oxford, England! It was great! I left for London early Thursday morning, so that I could get some of my research done in the British Museum before Eddie arrived at 7pm. When he got into town I already felt pretty good about knowing my way around; I had taken the underground with no problem and after completing my research after a couple hours had gotten onto a couple of the touristy buses to see as much of London as I could. After Eddie arrived we just walked around, got some dinner at Subway haha, and then headed back to the hostel to just hang out since we wanted to figure out some stuff for Friday. On Friday we left the hostel and went first to Starbucks! It was right across from the British Museum, and our hostel was right beside the museum, so of course I had to go to Starbucks three times while I was there!

So after we went to Starbucks we headed over to the British Museum so Eddie could see what it was like. We didn't stay very long, its so big that I feel like you could spend days there and we had other things we wanted to see so it was a quick visit. From there we went to the more famous tourist attractions: the London Eye, Big Ben and Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. We took a ride on the Eye, no matter how many times you do it it is still such a cool experience to see that much of the city! We then walked over to Big Ben and the Westminster Abbey area. After that we went to Wembley Stadium. Now I think everyone that knows me knows I am no super sports fan, I enjoy watching a game here or there but other than that get pretty bored, but Eddie is a major soccer fan and has played his whole life so this was a big attraction for him. We were going to go on a tour of the stadium but it was going to take too long so we just walked up to and then left, with plans for Eddie to return on Sunday when we were back in London. After that we had to start watching the clock because we had to go see the Phantom of the Opera!!!! We went back to get my backpack at the hostel, got dinner, and then went to the show! The theatre was relatively small and everyone was really close to eachother, but it also made you feel closer to the actors.

The show ended and with giantic smiles on our faces we headed off to the train station for out train. We had a while to wait so we got a McDonalds snack and then just waited, our train didn't leave until 12:22am, but it only cost 4 pounds a piece! We arrived in Oxford and got to our hostel by about 2 am and then just called it a night. The next morning we went off to find the next museum for my research. Luckily Oxford is a small city and very easy to get around so we found the museum with no problems and I got to work. This sort of stuff was not Eddie's idea of fun so after about 20 minutes of just walking around he sat down in a chair and settled in for a nap haha. I was able to find some items very similar to the ones found in London, and when I am able to review all the images I think I will be happy with my results. After that we got on a tour bus to go around the city. We got off and on the buses like that all day and would stop to go into different locations. That night we were pretty tired so after a dinner of "Mexican" burritos we headed back to the hostel to be super cool kids and charge cameras and ipods haha.

Sunday we left for London at 10:50 so we didn't do much before leaving other than just getting ready and checking out of the hostel. When we got to London we had a quick lunch of McDonalds again and then seperated, Eddie to go back to the tour at Wembley and myself to go visit the Tower of London. Unfortunately for both of us the London underground was very messed up on Sunday due to different line updates. This meant that without taking a taxi I wasn't going to make it to the tower and Eddie ended up taking buses and going on an adventure that I will discuss a bit later. I ended up just going to a starbucks like place and getting an awesome gingerbread latte writing postcards and then heading to the station. It ended up that these underground updates really messed up Eddie's hopes to get to Wembley and see the tour, he ended up getting there but had no time to do the tour and had to turn around once he got there. He actually ended up missing the train back to London by less than 10 seconds because of all these issues and the unfortunate part of all of this was that his cell phone was dead! He wasn't able to tell myself or anyone what was going so after a nerve racking train back to Brussels and several frantic texts to my host mom I made it back to the house and hoped Eddie would too. He luckily made it back just about an hour after I had, he had caught the train an hour and a half after mine and other than missing the first train had no problems.
Overall, this past weekend was great! It was great to have Eddie there as a research aide haha and as a travel companion! Plans from this week on include Paris with the art class, a yet to be determined destination following Paris, Ireland, and a WWI and WWII battlefields tour with the art class! It's all going to be a ton of fun but I think its going to make the time fly by!

I will try to update about where we are going after Paris once it gets decided and booked!


Sunday, October 17, 2010


This week went well, I attended two different AGE meetings, both on transportation. I feel like I have learned quite a bit about transportation issues and goals within Europe that I had never before considered. This coming week I will only be at AGE for two days because of my trip to England next weekend, but one of those days will include another out of office function, although I'm not sure what it will be haha.

Eveything is going great right now! Classes seem to be going well, although I haven't received any midterm grades yet so that might be changing soon. The weather has certainly turned to fall; coats and scarves are now must haves but its not bad and nice to see all the different scarves, I want to buy them all! Hopefully soon my travel companions and I will have figured out all of our upcoming trips. England planning is done, but after that nothing has been finalized.

All week I have been planning on working on a paper today so I would be ahead, but so far this isn't working haha. I woke up relatively early but then started watching "The Big Bang Theory." Yesterday was a good day. I met my friend Mario downtown and we went to an African area of the city with a bunch of restaurants. Lunch was good and not too expensive, which is always a benefit. After lunch we started walking around town and ran into another Vesalius student named Jane. It was great to see her and all three of us started walking around town. I saw many areas where I had seen on the tour our first week here but since then hadn't been around those areas. There are so many cute areas around Brussels and I was very happy to have seen them.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dragons, Countryside, and Castles, oh my!

So this has been a great week! I mean it was midterm week but I am really talking about past Wednesday haha. I had two days at AGE one that was mainly spent on catching up on everything since I hadn't been there in almost a week. It was a good day, but I got bored in the afternoon lol. Friday was great though! I started off updating some assignments I had already been working on and then I received what I think will be my big job for the rest of the semester. AGE recently sent out a questionnaire to all of its members and as they are starting to be returned I am going to be compiling all of the data. Now this will probably be pretty be monotonous in time, but it was an interesting assignment to create the spreadsheets for it and was a nice change from the normal database updating. After a great day I came back to the house and had a very calm day with the family and roomie. Saturday I ended up meeting up with a friend for lunch and then meeting up with Eddie and some of his friends to go to a castle outside of Brussels. It ended up being quite the adventure to get to the castle. We missed the bus by about 15 minutes and the next one wasn't going to be coming for 2 hours!!! On weekends the buses slow down a lot haha. So after about an hour and a half of walking, we never got lost but did have to ask for directions a couple times, we found the castle. The first thing done was to find the returning bus schedule and with just over 2 hours to enjoy the castle we set off. We were expecting a tour of the history of the museum, but that was definitely the case. I have copied in the link for the exhibit below.

The exhibit was about dragons. It was ...interesting haha Throughout the museum were clips of different movies featuring dragons, from Harry Potter to Alice in Wonderland. There was even a dragon in the basement haha. The audio guide we had told us all about this cardboard dragon being very angry if is didn't get fed. It was pretty funny. The tour guide said they change the exhibits for the museum 2 or 3 times a year because if not the people that get their get bored. It was a really fun experience and I think quite unique. The castle was really pretty and was situated around a lot of land and it had great views of the countryside. We did make it back for the bus and when we made it back downtown all went out to a Greek place for dinner. It was a great and tiring day. When Eddie and I returned we just hung out for a while and then called it a night. Today has been very relaxed. I have been slowly working on hw and watched/ am watching french Disney movies on youtube with Alice.

This week should be pretty good. I have a presentation tomorrow morning and have to work on some other projects. However, I also have a lot of AGE functions this week so it should be a fun bunch of things to go to!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

I don't know how I did it, but I forgot to write about Amsterdam!?!?!?

Last weekend the art class I am in here went on our third trip to Amsterdam. This trip was a overnight one where we arrived on Friday and left Sinday night, versus the previous two where we one went on day trips. Overall, the trip was great! We saw soooo many things that although I could see them on an individual trip, would never have known where or what they were, and their significance. My favorite sites were the Van Gogh museum, the Rembrandt museum, and this hidden Catholic church that was built inside a house. The two musuems had so many really amazing paintings and at the Rembrandt we had this audioguide, and it soudns strange, but it really made the museum great! It was done by an actor and his great voice and true love of the art made it really neat to see what the next painting would be.
Along with the more historical parts of Amsterdam we were also able enjoy some of the more famous, at least today parts of it. Everywhere we went there was the smell of pot, and although I did not participate in actively enjoying it the general sent was all around lol. There were also some hard working women of the night, but also the morning, and afternoon, right across from our hotel. They were very open to waving hello, and to all kinds of other things, although that was yet another task I did not participate it, prudish, I know haha. Well I should probably get back to studying :-/


I can't believe its already October?!?!?!

Whew, this semester is flying by! Tomorrow is the start of midterm week?!?! I can't believe it! It is overall pretty overwhelming to actually be here in Belgium, after thinking and dreaming about it for so long.

Everything here is going good. This past week both Eddie and I had colds,along with some other people that went to Amsterdam with the class trip, so hopefully this is not something that will happen after each trip, if so yuck haha. This week I have 3 exams, one tomorrow morning, and two Wednesday. After that I just have two internship days because I am taking Tuesday off for studying. Right now I am in the midst of finally planning my trip to London and Oxford to complete my Endeavor Grant research. I'm excited because I think I can do it in 4 days as long as I spend 5-7 hours each day looking at artifacts. It's going to be a long weekend but I need and want to do it so it will be good. Other than that I am just working on school work, and trying to get my other trips arranged. It is just astonishing to me that it is October and just how quickly this entire experience is going. I am loving it and even at those times where I miss home I just remind myself of how great of an experience this is and I am too lucky to sit around and think of what I am missing back home.

I will try to write back soon!


Monday, September 20, 2010

The Little Things Really Do Count

For a Monday today has been a good day. I had my 8:30 am class and after an adventure of finding the room, because I guess each semester classes change locations 2 or 3 times, we had a pretty good class. After class I had lunch with a couple friends who are also study abroad students and our conversation and my trip home made me think of some things. Studying abroad is difficult and each day can be a roller coaster of emotions. It is extremely reassuring to talk to other people in the same situation and hear that those moments of being uncomfortable, etc are totally common.
Coming back from school I went to go buy my bus pass and some stamps and I realized how much the little things really do count in to making a good day great. I was walking back to the house after doing my little shopping and a woman smiled at me, I was just so happy. Over here smiling is not as common as in the Mid West, the culture is more inclusive so smiling isn't just something you do all the time when you see someone, but when it happens you just get so happy. Other little things that really make you feel good are things like finding a new way to get somewhere, making it through a conversation in french without someone asking where you are from, and overall just suceeding in a task that at home might be like breathing but abroad can be challenging.
Now an update on my weekend: The Saturday trip to Antwerp was really nice, we saw a lot of interesting places and my presentation seemed to go well so that was nice. After we got back Kelsey and I went for dinner down by Grand Place and got pizza and fries for pretty cheap which was very nice. I came back to the metro and since Eddie and I were planning on walking back to the house together from his party he was at I ended up going over there for the dessert, yummy! We came back and I called it a night pretty quickly. Sunday was fine, a day of doing hw so it was as fun as I suppose hw can be lol. This week is another pretty relaxed one, although Friday we go to Amsterdam!!! I am very excited for this trip and to go outside of Belgium for the first time.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Why does Belgium have so many statues of beings peeing?

There are multiple statues involving the act of peeing. Mannekin Pis is of the little boy peeing and it is by far the most famous. However, did you know there is a statue of a little girl peeing and another of a dog? I bet not, I know I certainly did not. Today my friend Kelsey showed me the little girl peeing one and I found the location of the dog one online so I definitely plan on finding it too.
Other than the peeing statues this week has been pretty relaxed, I had my internship 3 times and classes as usual. Tomorrow we go on a art class trip to Antwerp and I give my presentation, I am happy to be getting it out of the way early in the semester. I will try to update with more exciting stuff later!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I am sooo lucky!

I would like to start off this posting with just mentioning how hard it is to come up with a title for each posting. I want each one to be cute, witty, and unique, but I am finding that to be more and more difficult each time I do one of these, as of now this post is untitled.

So the party! It was a crazy, busy, stressful, frustrating, amusing, and enjoyable time. From what I could tell there were no real plans for the day of the party other then that there was a party. There were things that needed to be done but nothing that we were told in advance must get done. So the day of I worked on getting tablecloths and tables are set up for the party, and little last minute things here and there. The staff that were running the party seemed nice and pretty organized, they were three recent graduates from school, I think in the field of cooking, party arranging, and things like that. The party started on time and had a good crowd right from the start, but then the frustrating part happened. One of the servers running the party came up to me and my roommate and asked us to start serving drinks. I was confused, I had not been asked or warned that I would be doing this and I didn't really understand what he meant, it ended up being that he meant for us to walk around and as people if they wanted drinks other than the champagne that was at the door. I do not want to sound off as mean or anything here but I was pretty annoyed. I had not expected to be a server or etc during the party, but instead a guest, it just started the day off badly. The rest of the day was spent doing little party tasks, we still got to be part of the party, but people began to think I was the nanny or that we were the staff, instead of students living here. Now this does not mean we didn't have fun, because we did. The guests were very nice and I was able to converse without a problem with them, I even received some compliments for my french which made me smile :-) The last part of the party was a dance party, but by that time I was pretty tired and just wanted to relax so I came back to my room, skyped my parents to figure out plans for the skype family date on Sunday, and listened to the awesome music they had played at the dance.
Sunday rolled around and it felt like the house was hungover! The house was sooo quite and no one really moved until after noon, well Evelyne and Alice left pretty early for church, but everyone that I knew was there was all asleep and quite most of the day. Most of the day was spent reading for my class on Monday and slowly cleaning up, I helped when asked but I really didn't have the spare time to help to much. Later that night I skyped a bunch of family who were at my grandma's house for my uncle's birthday. It was really nice to see so many people and have a real conversation with them through the computer.
So the rest of the week, I have had class, they all have gone well except every time I wake up at 6:30 for class I ask myself why I did that haha, but it's good because I get up and out to the world early in the day! I went to my internship yesterday. It was pretty cool! I watched a debate of the European Parliament through their website and took notes for a person in the office and then worked on updating the website and ginormous contact list that I think I will continually be working on for the rest of the semester. I am done with classes for the week so tomorrow and Friday I have my internship :-) Tomorrow I am probably going to head over to the library to get some books for my presentation for my art class next week in Antwerp over the Jesuits and the Arts. This Saturday we are going to Bruge with the art class, I'm excited to slowly start my travels! Friday I think Eddie and I are going to go down to the Grand Place and sight see a bit and find a delicious waffle or two!

So I feel like I need to write a little more about this experience overall. I am really enjoying being here but it is such a different experience than my time in France last summer. I feel like last summer was truly the most carefree and relaxed I have ever been. Classes were not very important and the whole time was spent enjoying the most innocent of moments and traveling everywhere we wanted. This time is different. School is important takes time, nothing is wrong with that, it's just something I need to be prepared for, and luckily I really do like each of my classes. I'm not living with 40 other Americans, but instead I am living with a family! It is so cool to actually see what a "normal" Belgian life is, but it is something that has taken some adjustment time. In France it was so easy to see people and spend time together, now its harder. I really enjoy being around the family because even the most innocent nights are moments where I learn a lot and better my french. The social scene is different but just something that has also taken time to adjust. Travel wise it is taking a lot longer to plan things out. Financially I am in a different place so I have to stay very in control of my funds and patient this time around.

I really am enjoying Belgium. It has taken the last three weeks for me to realize these and many more little reasoning for my reactions lately, but now I think I have a handle of the situation. I am truly living my dream right now of working and living in on3 of the international politics capitals of the world and I cannot describe how thankful I am to be here. Brussels is an exciting city to be in, everywhere you go you interact with people from around the world!

I am having an amazing time and have been each day I have been here, I can't wait to see what is next to come on this amazing adventure!


In the end this post title wasn't hard to figure out :-)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I love my AGE!

I think this title was pretty witty, since AGE is the name of the place I am internship with :-)

Today was my first day at AGE and it went really well. I got there early so I got a coffee from a place really close to the office and finally updated my journal! I had to be at AGE at 10 so I went in a little early because I had nothing else to do. I have a desk and computer of my own :-) I started off by meeting a couple people at the office, seeing how to work my email, and then got my first assignment!

Today I worked on reading over an 85 page document and making sure the English was correct and made sense. As a place where people from all over Europe work they just wanted someone who spoke English natively to read it. After that I just spent time emailing and talking to people at the office, and starting to figure out when I will work and what I will work on. I go back tomorrow and then we will see when exactly I will be working.

Earlier this week my friend Mario and I went to the Atomium. It's a giant iron atom that was built for the 1958 World's Fair. It was sooooo big, I can't describe it haha. People are allowed to go inside I think 4 of the spheres and in each one there are different exhibits in them. You can also take an elevator to the top sphere and you are able to see an amazing view of the city.

The rest of my week has been pretty chill. The house is in a uproar trying to get ready for Saturday's party. I guess 90 children and 100 adults are coming to the party in the afternoon and 100 adults to the party in the evening. It will be pretty crazy but I think a lot of fun!

I will try to post some pics soon, but unfortunately on Monday I lost my camera bag and with that the little thing I need for uploading pics.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

I can't think of a good title...

Okay, so its finally time for another update! I was told by my dear friend Sarah that I needed to write an update, so let's get 'er done haha.

Wednesday: So Wednesday was my second day of classes. I had two, art at 8:30 and then a political science class on the UN at 1:30. I really liked both classes and I think they will be alot of work, but I will learn a lot from them! The break between classes was spent with my friend Mario. We found lunch close to campus, it was super cheap and good, for 3,40 euro I got a sandwich and a drink! After that we went to the computer labs and ran into some people and ended up going to buy a quick beer before class haha. After class I went back to the house because Eddie had another class and I didn't really have anything to do for the rest of the afternoon. At the house I was just hanging out and then the kids came home... They were in my room with me, just playing on my computer and then boom they switched and decided I was the enemy and should be punched and kicked. I kept trying to tell them to stop but they didn't care what I said and I finally had to go get their dad because they had started throwing my stuff under the bed and were starting to truly go crazy. Their dad took them away and then I tried to calm down. The mom and grandma came home and they made the kids apologize, hug, and give me a kiss. The grandma is amazing! She is very strict with the kids and they listen to her better than anyone else! So after the kids apologized it was a big ole dinner with everyone and then a nice night, the whole while knowing that I had nothing to do on Thursday so I could sleep in!!

Thursday: As a study abroad student I had to get a visa and once you arrive in Belgium you must register at the town hall where you are living to apply for residency because the visa runs out usually before you leave. So I registered last Thursday with my host mom and Thursday am a police office came to see if I really am living here haha. He was really nice, he just needed to hear from people living here that I live here, and he got proof, just woken up, not ready for the world Traci proof haha. So once he left I ate breakfast and I was talking to the grandma and she said that if I wanted I could help her with housework since I was free all day. So that's what I did. We did dishes, folded laundry, talked a bunch, but she talks fast so some things I don't get. She told me all about the flag pole issue and how stressful the party planning is going, I will explain that further down. I also packed away some little decorations that are in the living and dining room and don't need to be out for the party. It was a good day and I think the grandma is training me to be an adult woman haha. She is sooo funny and very opinionated. Last night at dinner the family was talking about former students that have stayed here and grandma was not afraid of letting us know who she did and didn't like :-)

Okay so this party. Next Saturday is my host families 8th wedding anniversary and because Evelyne has been wanting to see friends she hasn't seen in years and because it falls on a Saturday they are having a party. I guess its a pretty traditional thing in Belgium to have a party for a 10 yr wedding anniversary but this one is just a little early. So, this party is going to be huge! There are two parts, an afternoon part for kids that includes and activity and ice cream and then a part during the night with dancing and just adults. Last I heard there were going to be like 90 children here for the kids part and over 100 adults at the other part! Its going to be great!

Back to updates, Friday. No school on Friday's either so Eddie and I went to campus to run some quick errands and then had lunch at Chi Chi's before buying our textbooks!!!

We didn't know where we were going to get lunch, we just knew that we were hungry so when we got off the metro at the stop for the bookstore the first thing I saw was Chi Chi's! I started going crazy and Eddie said it was fine if we went. Unfortunately it wasn't as good as it was envisioned in my dreams but you know whatev haha, it was however very expensive so I don't plan on going back until someone like my mom can pay in December haha.

After buying textbooks that we also expensive we headed back to the house to see this little presentation the kids had. The kids have been going to different summer camps to take up time this summer and this most recent one was about cooking so yesterday afternoon they had their end of week presentation. Alice and Nathans classes each did little songs and dances and then there was food at the end, which I believe they made. The program was all in Dutch so I'm not sure exactly what went on but it was cute. After that we came back and had a big dinner with the 6 people living here and then Evelyne's mom and dad. It was fun and the grandma was super funny as always.

Today/Saturday: Evelyne and I ended up doing some shopping today for the party. This am she asked me if I knew how to do makeup and I said yes on myself and we ended up talking about me doing her makeup for the party, we are having a test run tomorrow I believe. So first we went shopping for that at a mall and then ended up getting a lot of other things for it. After lunch we went out again to another store and got a lot of other things. This party is costing a lot but I think it is going to be a lot of fun! Tonight it looks like I am going to a barbecue with the family, a friend of theirs is having a party and they invited me to join, it should be pretty fun!

Tchao! (that's for Kasi)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lots has changed!

Last time I wrote, early Sunday evening, I was the only student living here, well that is not the case. Sunday night my housemate Eddie arrived. He is very nice and I am very happy to not be the only student living here anymore, the family is very nice, but sometime you just need someone that can relate to the situation we are in.

So Monday was the first day of classes and oh lucky me had a 8:30 am class meaning to make sure that I made it to class on time and in case I got lost I wanted to leave early for that. I made to school and everything fine and I actually had my class in room D3.14, you better believe I made a pi joke out of that, the girl I said it to didn't really think it was funny but I sure did lol. My first was entitled Contemporary Political Concepts in Europe and Beyond and it was a really good course. It sounds like it will be a lot of work but also really interesting. I wasn't too excited about that though because it's sooo early haha. The next class I had wasn't until 4:30 so for the afternoon I ran around with a friend and got lunch. The second class was not as exciting and I its going to be one of the ones that gets dropped for the internship.

Today was one of my days that will probably spent with the internship once that all starts, I have a great schedule and don't have class on Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday. Today I went with Eddie to school to make sure he knew the way and to run some errands of my own. I also had my first Belgian beer today woot woot. It was Kriek and is made with cherries yummm. I think the man at the restaurant we went today is going to be my teacher for learning to enjoy beer haha. Tomorrow is my art class and another political science class, it should be a good day!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

They have Chi Chi's here?!?!?!

Yesterday was the tour of Brussels. It started at 10 from the school so I needed to leave the house by 9 to make it in time. I left the house right about 8:50 just to try and make sure I got there in time. My feet were hurting pretty bad because of the shoes I wore on Friday for my interview so I decided to see when the bus would come by, I waited a bit and then decided to just keep walking. I got to the metro and saw that there is a difference in how often the metro goes from the weekdays to the weekends. I got on the metro by about 9:30 but then needed to take the tram, I didn't get onto that until 9:53 or so. I knew by that point I was going to be late, but then I saw other study abroad students on the tram! We ended up walking together and we were not the last to get there so it was all good, whew!

The tour was on bus and we drove around for about three hours total. There was a lot of places to see and a lot of information was covered so it got to be a little much at times, but it was all good. I definitely saw a bunch of places that I plan to go back to! But the best part of the tour had to be seeing a Chi Chi's! Now you must understand that Chi Chi's was like my home cooked food when I was little, we went there all the time and when they closed I was very sad, but they have one in downtown brussels!!!! I already have the plans to go in December when my mom gets here and I will not be upset it I go earlier, maybe for lunch soon!!! After the bus part of the tour people taking the art class at school had an additional tour. We had a quick little lunch before the tour and then set off, we saw things in the city center that are not available to see on bus. There was a cool area with a bunch of bars that had grass covering the streets and people were able to just lounge around and enjoy the day, it was a cool idea. After that, we saw some of the older parts of Brussels. Then of course we went to the tourist things Le Mannekin Pis and the Grand Place. Le Mannekin Pis is so tiny but I think its just its strange image that makes everyone interested in it. The Grand Place was just very pretty and cool to see.

The tour ended soon after that and everyone just seperated it had been a long day and a lot of people were pretty tired from the night before. I came back to the host families house and enjoyed another dinner with the kids and their grandma. It was nice and I really like her and her topics of conversation. She enjoys talking about Barack Obama and told me that she did not like Bush, we had a good conversation even if there were some language barriers at times haha.

So far today has been a very nice but chill day. I slept in until 10 woo woo, it felt very nice. Had a little bread and tea breakfast talked to the fam about their plans, the mom and kids went to church while the dad stayed home to get ready and then go to his parents house where the rest of the fam would meet him. I was free to do whatever. They offered to take me to the park but since my feet hurt pretty bad i asked if it was possible if I just be shown where it was at that way I can go back when I would like. The rest of the day has been spend getting things ready for school both here in Belgium and at USI. It's been a good day. Tonight the other student living here arrives so the house is a little hectic getting ready for his arrival. I'm ready to have another student here just to have someone to do the commute with and all that jazz! Well there's not much more I can think to write about, I will certainly report on his arrival and on the first day of school tomorrow!

Au revoir!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Kebab'n Day!

Today was another good day in Brussels! I had to be at school at 9:30 for my course registration so I did the normal way of getting there and got registration completed. Right now my schedule says I am taking 5 classes, 1 art class includes a bunch of travel, and 4 political science classes, however if I receive an internship that all will change. I will drop at least one class and replace it with an internship but I am also considering dropping another one. I have time so we'll see what happens. After registration, which lasted two hours lol but was fun, some other students and I went to go somewhere, I was looking for food and they for a internet cafe but luckily we found a kebab restaurant and went in there. It was very yummy and close to campus A++. We stayed at the restaurant for a while and one of the men there kept telling us how much he liked having english speaking people around to practice his english with, he was really nice. After lunch I left for my interview at the law firm. This one involved the metro and the bus. The metro was easy, it was one I have taken a couple times and knew but then the bus, I only took the bus once before this time and that was this morning when I was in a little lazy but my feel hurt in these shoes way. That bus ride had only been 5 or so minutes and I knew the area, but this afternoon it was for atleast 30 minutes, I think 12 stops and a very confusing area. It could have been wayyy worse and all but I was stressed, thankfully though Vesalius provides students with directions to their interviews and after a bit of a walk I found it.

The interview went okay, I didn't get the good vibes that I had felt yesterday and my mind is already made up about it all.

Tonight ay my host family's house the parents are out with friends so Evelyne's mom came over to watch the kids and do dinner. She is super nice and was a pleasure to meet and talk to.

Tomorrow is out tour of Brussels, I'm very excited for it and can't wait to finally take pictures of something!

A little note to anyone reading this (I feel like Julie in the movie Julie & Julia with her blog), I just want to say thank you and your continued support, assistance, guidance, and comments, you put a big ole smile on this face!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Je suis ici!!!

I have been in Belgium about... 36 hours as of now and it is going very well. Yesterday was a tough day. My plane arrived early to the airport any my host family was late to pick me up haha, so I'm sure everyone can imagine how stressed I was that I had no family and would have to take a taxi to the school haha. Luckily, my fears were not true! My host mom Evelyne, her daughter Alice, and son Nathan all came to pick me up. With a bit of effort my huge bags fit in the car, I think I am going to have to mail stuff back or something before I return because I will definitely do some shopping here. But anyway, I went along with the mom and kids to drop the kids off at school. Then Evelyne took me back to the house where I saw my cute room and unpacked. After I unpacked my host dad, Jin, showed me how to get to the metro and buy a ticket. Then we came back to the house, where I had a little bit of an emotional breakdown just from being tired and scared, but that was aided by talking to some friends :-) I also took a nap while watching Avatar, so that definitely helped! Dinner last night was good, I'm not sure what the meat was, green beans, and rice. We ate around 9:30 because Evelyne doesn't get home until late. The kids eat earlier and are in bed by 9ish depending on when Evelyne gets home to say night. Last night I went to bed ready to see what today would bring and I was not disappointed!
Today was orientation day and it started at 9:15 am. I left the house around 8:10 to get there in time. The day started with general info, then campus tours, lunch, info on studying abroad, internships, and living with host families. It was a lot but it went really well! There a ton of study abroad students, most of whom are from the United States. Everyone was really nice and super excited to be at orientation. After orientation I went and bought a cell phone after I was given directions by some very nice people. I bought my phone without any problems and then went back to the university where there was supposed to be a little get together at one of the campus café/bars. I went but when I got there not many people were there and it got cold pretty quickly. I met some really nice new students to Vesalius and talked with them for a while before leaving. A girl I met at the get together helped me to buy the 10 ride ticket for the train and then I came back to the house. Last night I just spent time in my room and then had dinner with Jin and Evelyne. I talked to them about meals and registering with the local town hall. Evelyne offered to take me to town hall Thursday morning and I quickly accepted, the school said the process of registering can me pretty daunting.

Thursday morning: Thanks to Evelyne the registering at the town hall was no problem. She spoke with the lady and explained the process to me. After going to the town hall Evelyne dropped me off at the metro and I left for school. I go to school about 10 but didn’t have anything to do until 11. Luckily I ran into a student and he and I got a snack before activating our computer accounts. Computer registration went well and we were able to actually print from our printing money today! After that some girls and I went to get a sandwich before I had to leave for my internship. Today was my first of two internship opportunities. Today’s’ interview was with an NGO called AGE Platform European, they work on protecting and expanding the rights of the community who are 50 yrs old and up. The people that work here are so so so nice and love their jobs a lot! I thought the interview went well and left feeling like they liked me and I liked them. We hear back about the interviews sometime next week. Tomorrow I have my registration at 9:30 am and then a break until my second interview at a law firm in Brussels.

It’s been a great week so far and each day I am growing to discover Brussels more and more and to like even more! Saturday is our tour of the city and that should be great!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm leaving on a jet plane!

Tomorrow I leave for Belgium! I can't believe it's here but I am very very excited to be starting this semester.

My host family sounds great and I am very lucky that they will be picking me up from the airport, whew! that took care of a lot of stress!

Once I get there and have a little down time I will update the blog with anything I can.


Monday, August 9, 2010


I received my housing confirmation last night! I will be living with a family that has two children ages 5 and 3 along with another study abroad student. The family lives about 45 minutes from the school, but I think that commute will be a good time to see the city and the people a little more.

I can't believe one week from now I will be at the airport ahhhh! I'm nervous, anxious, scared, sad, excited, and a thousand more emotions!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

England a no go :-(

Okay, so after two weeks I finally feel ready to write about what happened with my recent plans to be in England on a research trip. So... I sent off my visa application which included my passport on July 1st and it was received July 2nd at the consulate office. Online it says that it usually takes a week for a visa to be processed. I fully admit that I sent this visa application in too late and I was making it really tight but I never thought it would be a problem. On the Wednesday before the departure date I called and e-mailed the consulate, I was told it should be done by Friday and with the envelope I sent along with everything it would arrive on Saturday. I tried to breathe and anxiously awaited my visa and passports arrival, but Saturday came and went and it didn't come. On Monday I called again, this time over 20 times until the phone was answered and when it finally was answered I was told that all that needed to happen was have the visa printed off and then it would be done, I knew it would be tight but I just hoped and hoped everything would be in by 11 am, if that happened we would be able to make it to Evansville in time for the flight. Throughout the day on Monday I called Delta many times to see if I could skip my flight in Evansville and possibly just get it in Ohio. Delta said that was not possible, but everyone I spoke to was helpful and understood that this was a unique situation. I also called my university to see if they might be able to help and I was given a lot of advice. Tuesday came and no visa/passport, it was a really hard day but I just kept remembering that this was all a crazy situation with a whole bunch of unexpected factors. I definitely should have sent my visa stuff in earlier but I can't live in the past so I am not letting myself say what if. So, after some unsuccessful efforts to try and rebook my flight for Wednesday, when my visa and passport did arrive, I began the process of cancelling everything. USI was again fantastically helpful and my professor in charge of the trip was very understanding. So since then I have been trying to distract myself, my friend and I decided to take the GRE so that has been a consumer of time. Right now I am awaiting news from USI on what I need to do in terms of the grant I received to go on the research trip, my hopes right now are to do the research while I'm in Belgium and be able to make up for the trip as much as I can then.

As for Belgium related stuff, I have started packing. It's nice to see how much stuff I have planned to take and to see that I should be fine with everything. I am waiting on finding out the final information about my host family. I'm getting really excited and I cannot believe it is already August! AHHHH so much coming up and its going to be incredible!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Finally Have an Update!

Today has been a GREAT day! I finally was able to send in my visa application and I hope to get that back in a week or so. To make a great day even better I also sent in my internship applications for the semester in Belgium. I feel so relieved to have both of those things sent in and feel like it is finally real that I will be in Belgium in just under a month and a half.
Once I had sent both things in I was finally able to appreciate that it was July 1st. This means that I will be going to England in just 19 days for my research trip. I am anxious for this trip because once this happens that means that I will really be about to begin my upcoming travels. I have a lot of things to do in preparation for England, but I am excited for this trip. I think it is going to be very relaxed and really up to each person what we do while in each city. One thing that I could not be more excited about and that will at least take one day of my research out of the picture will be traveling around Oxford and seeing all the sites of where the Harry Potter movies have been filmed! I don't even care that I am going to be that tourist taking crazy pictures of everything from the films!

I cannot describe the relief I feel today, nothing that was sent in is complete for sure. I won't know about the internships until August and the visa has to be approved and then mailed back, but it's just FANTASTIC to be on schedule!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Oh Goodness...

The stress of everything that needs to get done is finally setting in. I think I had forgotten this part since last spring when I was preparing for France haha. This time around there is a lot more work because I will be gone for a semester. I am currently just trying to get everything at school arranged so I will be set up for returning in the spring and have my credits transfer like they should. Although its been really stressful it has also been really exciting to talk to other students traveling and just talk about the similar situations we are in and all it takes to prepare. I have just been working on the little things first and as time goes will work to make all the little things build up. Its almost the end of the semester at school now so once its officially over I will have more time to prepare.

I'm really looking forward to having my internship application turned in and finding out if my hopes for that will pan out. Well once I know more info or have done some more work I will return to the blog.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Host Family

I must start this post off by saying just how great the people at Vesalius College have been just in the 3 days I have been in contact with them! I have had a email conversation going on with one of the study abroad coordinators and it seems like I unofficially have a family that I am staying with. They live about 45 minutes away from the school, I'm scared about this, but I think it will be no problem because of all the great transportation systems in Europe. The family has two small children, I guess a great house and garden, and the best part, they speak French! The study abroad coordinator said they are a great family and treat their study abroad students really well! Its crazy how quickly some of the things are getting set up, its now just up to me to get everything situated for me to get there!


Saturday, April 10, 2010



So I finally after 2 months of waiting found out that I have a spot to study abroad this coming fall at Vesalous College in Brussels, Belgium. I am excited, scared, nervous, anxious, and overwhelmed all at once. I just began the process of getting the materials ready for getting a visa. I need a criminal background check, which requires fingerprint, fun stuff huh? It's all overwhelming but I know I will get it done. I am also working on getting my CV ready for applying to an internship, I really hope I am able to get one because it pretty much is my dream!

Well back to what I probably should be doing, getting research done/writing my research paper for Friday's conference.

Check out to look at the college I will be attending while abroad.

Tchao! :-)