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!