Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 146

Vrijdag, 30 December 2011

Woke up, and after talking to Denise and Frederik, I learned that there was a huge windstorm last night.  Hmm.  Didn't hear anything.  :P  Got ready, and then Denise and I left for Nice.  Had a good talk along the way, and there.  We visited the markets and the old city, and the Christmas market that was up.  But, the weather in Nice was hot.  20 degrees Celcius (almost 70 Fahrenheit).  So, picture going to a Christmas market in that weather, with palm trees and such around.  Yeah.  Not a Christmas feel.  But they had a little ice skating rink up, which was pretty funny.

We then tried to go to Cannes, but the traffic was horrid, so we just went home to Tourtour.  There, it was still windy, and like 7 Celcius (~45 F).  Big change.  Read some of my book, and then we had dinner - hamburgers! I was surprised - they planned it without me knowing.  Then, after talking more, we watched two discs of this series about someone in the British Navy during the French Revolutionary Wars.  Great so far.

Anyway, gotta get some good sleep tonight - New Years Eve tomorrow!  Slaapwel!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 145

Donderdag, 29 December 2011

Woke up, had breakfast, got ready, and then we went on a loooong drive.  Probably like 10-430.  Went to this huge gorge, drove around one side, down to the bottom, back up the other.  Really, really gorgeous.  At home, took a quick nap (sleep was minimal last night), had dinner, and read more of my book.  It's broken in half, and I juuust passed the broken part, so I'm pretty proud of that.  Anyway, here are some of my fav pics from today (and yesterday).  Slaapwel!

Trying to be artsy-fartsy with this one

Tourtour, where I'm staying

Memorial to someone who died in the gorge

I love being at the right place at the right time

Day 144

Woensdag, 28 December 2011

Woke up late, and didn't hear anyone up, so I just stayed in my room reading.  Turns out they were up, but too far away for me to hear them.  :P  Had some breakfast, went to the market in town, saw on old timey oil mill that was still running, had a drink outside, lunched, and then went on a 2.5 hour walk with Frederik.  Home, read more, dinner, read more, and then talked to some people online.  Great night.  I'd show some pics from today but I was too lazy to upload them - maybe tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 143

Dinsdag, 27 December 2011

Whoo, another great day.  Woke up, had some breakfast, and then we were off to Saint-Tropez.  Beautiful, absolutely beautiful, town on the Mediterranean.  We got there, shopped in a little market (I got a bracelet thing), and then walked down to the water.  Stunning.  Got some good pics there, walked along a little beach, and then got something to eat at this fancy restaurant.

Walked around a bit more, and then we went and checked out some roman ruins in Frejus.  Not much to see, but it was really cool.  It's always surprising how well they stay in tact.  Drove home (did some shopping on the way), read a bit, had dinner, and played Uno.  Fun night.  Anyway, it's time for bed, so slaapwel!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 142

Maandag, 26 December 2011

Woke up after a nice, long rest, and then walked to town with Frederik to buy bread.  Nice little walk for the morning.  Had breakfast, and then we drove to a supermarket in a different town to buy basic foodstuffs.  Stopped at a little craft place on the way back, which was really cool.  I feel like I'm going to spend so much money while on vacation here...

Home, worked on my photobook (Denise helped me with translating), and had lunch.  We then went for a nice walk around the countryside around the town.  About an hour or two, but it was really nice, and a really beautiful walk.  Stopped in town for a drink, and then got a few good pictures of the sunset on this little overlook in town.  Home, started cooking dinner and read an English book they had here.  Ate, read more, edited pictures, talked to some friends, and now it's time for bed.  I think it's going to be an early day tomorrow.  Slaapwel!

You can see a bit of the village to the side

From our walk earlier in the day

The hills are really beautiful

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 141 - Kerstmis!

Zondag, 25 December 2011


Woke up, finished my packing, and then we were on the road to Tourtour, France.  Population: 472.  Definitely my kind of town.  We left like at 7am, meaning I only got a few measly hours of sleep, meaning I slept in the car.  We had breakfast in Luxembourg (crazy, right?), and got to Tourtour around 7pm.  Wasn't that bad of a trip at all, besides the last hour which had a lot of turns.  It was nice actually - I've missed long car rides.

Got to their house here (which is beautiful, by the way), and then went out for a nice Christmas dinner.  It was nice to talk and get to know Denise and Frederik more, and the restaurant was so quaint and adorable.  Back home, I skyped (yes, again) with my family to say Merry Christmas and whatnot, but now it's time for bed as it's a full day of me being impressed by France tomorrow.  Slaapwel!

Oh, and because I didn't have the photos on my comp earlier, here's what my new room back in Belgium looks like.  I really, really like it.

The left window was open - it's not usually that crooked looking

My bedroom

My "American Corner", as I call it

Day 140

Zaterdag, 24 December 2011

Slept in, got ready for the day, packed, and then went downstairs.  I found a HUGE stash of CD's in the living room, so I spent probably close to three hours down there ripping CD's to my computer.  Skyped with my parents a little bit, gave them a tour of the house, and had them say hi to Denise and Frederik.

A bit after 5 we left for Christmas Eve at Denise's family's house.  Quite a few people there, and they ALL got gifts for each other.  That, coupled with the fact the party had quite a few courses (appetizers, then a small course, then the main meal, then a cheese plate, then pie, then chocolate), made it a long party.  We would eat a bit, then the little kids would grab from the pile of presents and hand some out for like 40 minutes, then more food.  Oh, and did I mention that the little little kids only spoke French?  The night was basically all the in French.  Thank goodness I was sitting next to my host siblings and their dates (and all of them went on exchange!).

But it was a really nice night.  Some of the family members gave me gifts too!  I got a scarf, gloves, and hat from Denise and Frederik, a box of chocolate from the grandparents, earrings from my host brother's girlfriend, a box of candy from a relative, and a book about Belgium (in Dutch, French, English and German) from another relative.  Great fun, and so sweet of them.  They really didn't need to do that.

Got home around 1am or so, and then I skyped my real family and my neighbors, which was also a lot of fun. Completely different atmosphere than the whole fancy family party, but it was one I felt more comfortable in.  I got a great screengrab from the call - the neighbor's kids decided to play nerf wars while we were talking once I started talking to the grown-ups.  I thought it was pretty hilarious.

Ended the call fairly early, seeing as how I leave for France in the morning.  And on that note - I leave for France in the morning.  I don't know if there is any internet there, so there many not be any updates on this until January.  If not, Happy New Year everyone/ Gelukkig Nieuwjaar iedereen!

Anyway, by the time anyone reads this it'll probably be Christmas, so:
Merry Christmas everyone!
Vrolijk Kerstfeest iedereen!
Frohe Weihnachtenl
Joyeux Nöel
Wesołych Świąt
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Natal
Felice Natale
Glædelig jul
God jul
Hyvää joulua

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 139

Vrijdag, 23 December 2011

Woke up, figured out where the food was for breakfast, and then Denise drove me to Hoogstraten for the bus.  There's a stop by the house I guess, but as it was dark out by the time I got to the house last night, she said she'd just drive me.  Plus, I need to get off the bus in Hoogstraten on the way home, and have her pick me up, so I needed to know where to get off.  :P

Met a friend from my Dutch class on the bus, so we just talked the entire way.  At class, as so many people were on trips already, we combined with another class and did a quiz.  Of course, my team won, so we got a little prize (an ornament!), and everyone got some candy to eat during, so that was fun.  We got done like an hour early, so I made it home pretty fast.

As soon as I got there, it was lunch time.  This family owns a business which is like attached to the house, and as it was a holiday, they made spaghetti for all the workers that were still working, had a drink with them, and did a little gift raffle.  I hung out with them for all of that, which was really fun.  Still pretty tired from moving in, so I took a little nap after that.  Woke up around 6, and went downstairs.  Denise was talking to Julie (her daughter, my age, on exchange in Colombia).  We ended up talking for like an hour, and showing each other music.  Everyone in this family likes ska/reggae as well, so I'm definitely going to fit in.  :)

Afterwards, watched some TV and talked with Frederik, then the three of us watched a movie and some TV and just chilled out.  Lots of fun.  Now, going to get a nice long night of sleep before the holiday party tomorrow (and probably skyping with my parents).  Slaapwel!

Day 138 - Moving Day!

Donderdag, 22 December 2011

Whoa.  Moving day.

Woke up at 7 because I forgot to turn my alarm off (no school as the buses and trains weren't running), and heard Marcela and Truut talking.  I texted Marcela (yes, I was too lazy to stand up and walk like 10 steps to her room) - turns out her ear started bleeding overnight, which would explain all of her ear problems.  Went back to sleep, as I knew it was going to be a long day, and woke up at 11 to Truut knocking on my door.  She brought Marcela and I breakfast in bed, which was soo sweet of her.  We had talked about it like our first week here, how getting breakfast in bed was just such a fun thing (I don't remember why, but Marcela and I talk about everything).

We all ate in my bedroom, talked, and then Truut gave Marcela and I little presents and a card.  We got a little snowglobe that says "Gelukkig Nieuwjaar" (Happy New Year), and two patches, all of which we put on our blazer (Marcela and I love putting stuff on our blazer; it's like an addiction).  Lots of fun.  Truut left to go do some things, and Marcela and I just sat in my room talking, eating, and listening to Christmas music.  Turns out she had went to the doctor when I was sleeping, and now had to go to a specialist (ears, nose and throat doctor), and that she might not be able to fly because of her ears.  That was TERRIBLE news, seeing as how tomorrow morning she had plans to fly to Vienna to meet her biological family to travel with them for the holidays.  Her mom was on Skype, so she told her that she may not be able to meet them, at least for a few days, and her mom just started bawling.  :(

Anyway, around 2, we left for the doctor.  Turns out it was just this crazy thing that usually only happens once in people's lives, and the doc just had to puncture the things (kind of like blisters) in her ear, and wash it out.  We got a video of him doing it, just because we thought it was so cool.  :P  Luckily, he said it's fine for her to fly, so that was a huge relief.  Home, she had to put in ear drops and lay down, so we watched a bit of "Game of Thrones" and finished packing.  I dropped off a Christmas present at my third family, moved my bags downstairs (HEAVY), and waited until Truut and Siemen were back from his school (they were at a parent/teacher conference thing) to go to the next family.  Before we left, Truut gave Marcela and I another present - matching winter pajamas!  It was wonderful.

Then, went to the next house to have dinner.  It was pretty fun - we just got to know each other a bit, and then Denise (host mom 2) showed us around the house, and went over the basic rules.  Marcela and I don't share a closet anymore - we're all the way down the hall from each other!  :P  Marcela then left with Patrick, Truut, and Siemen, as they were driving her to the airport the next morning for her flight to Vienna.  It was really sad - last time we'd get to see each other this year.  :(

After they left, Denise showed me around a bit more, and I unpacked all my stuff.  Of course, I'll need to pack in like two days for our France trip, but whatever.  Afterwards, I went downstairs and talked a bit with Denise and Frederik (host dad 2).  I showed them a drumline clip, as they were confused why I would go to Dadizele every Saturday, seeing as it's on the exact other side of the country (the house now is like 1km from the Netherlands, Dadizele is really close to France).  After seeing it was like 1am, we decided to call it a night and go to sleep.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 137

Woensdag, 21 December 2011

Woke up fine, ate, packed a little bit, and then was about to leave for Tienen for a Rotary event.  I thought Marcela was too sick to come, so I just yelled at her that I was leaving (seeing as how she was taking a shower).  But, apparently she wanted to go with as she was feeling a bit better, but our bus was in 15 minutes.  She changed quick (well, quick for her, I was pacing around because I wanted to go), and we left the house and RACED to the bus stop, seeing as how we left the house like 4 minutes before the bus.

Barely got the bus.  Finally, some luck.  Of course, then it turns into a "Days of our Lives" moment, as Marcela and I like to call them.  See, there's some protests going on with public transit workers, and like Patrick and Truut and everyone was like, oh no, it starts tomorrow it's fine.  I had checked online this morning and seen that yes, it started today, but no one believed me and I wasn't going to argue it.  I texted all the exchange students and emailed our Rotary person like 2 hours before we left to ask if the thing was still going to happen, and they all said yes.

So, back to us on the bus.  About 10 minutes into the ride to Herentals for the train, Marcela gets a text.  And then she just does the loudest, most obnoxious laugh, and everyone was looking at her.  Turns out it got cancelled, and so Santi texted her to say so (even though like 10 minutes before he texted me saying that it was on).  We were just laughing so hard - I just knew it was going to happen, and of course, the one time we had luck with the bus, we don't need it.

We just got off at the next stop and walked back to Lille, seeing as how it was a nice day and it gave us a chance to talk and catch up about everything that happened yesterday.  Got home, just laughed about it for a while, had some food, and packed.  And oh goodness, I don't understand how this happened.  I have so much stuff.  I mean, one box  and my backpack are just filled with school stuff (books, papers, etc - so many because I have a book for basically every class I was in at the school BEFORE we started Dutch lessons - I don't even use any of the books now).  But besides that, I have my suitcases and my carry-on filled up, plus a bag with presents for my next family, plus my trumpet case, plus my blazer which I can't pack, seeing as how there's so much stuff on it.

It's ridiculous.  I never realized how much stuff I have.  I'm so glad my family is coming in April - they're going to have to take so much junk home for me so I actually have room to bring home gifts for everyone.  But finished packing, took a nap (hey, packing is hard!), had dinner.  Had a drink with Patrick seeing as how it's my last night here, but when we were watching TV he fell asleep.  :P  Went upstairs, talked with some other exchange students online and friends online, watched some drumming videos, basically just relaxed.  It's hard to believe it's my last real night at Patrick and Truut's.

Wow, and just realized it was exactly a year ago today that I got the email saying that I was selected to go to Belgium.  Wow.  I can still remember how excited I was - it was like Christmas came early.  Great way to start winter break: ruining my life by making me just look up things about Belgium online.

Skyped with my family to catch up and talk about their trip here, and now it's time for bed.  Slaapwel!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 136

Dinsdag, 20 December 2011

Rough morning.  Got to school, got a migraine about halfway through the day.  Rushed out of class to get the first bus home, ate, and then napped until dinner.  Packed a bit, and then went to fanfare repetition.  Stayed late again, seeing as how I have to miss the last one of the year next week, and I didn't need to wake up for school the next day.  It's so sad to think I won't see any of those guys until 2012!  Anyway, got home and basically went to sleep right away.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 135

Maandag, 19 December 2011

Woke up so very tired.  Dutch school, got a few little naps in as I finish things quite a bit faster than most other people.  Bused to Lille, dropped my bag off and ate, and then went to Antwerp with a friend for a few hours.  Just walked around and looked at the Christmas market and decorations.  Didn't buy anything, but I was pretty tempted a few times.  Maybe I'll go back later.  :P

Got back to Lille in time for dinner, and as everyone was gone besides Marcela and I, I just got some packing done and napped a bit before going to bed.

Day 134

Zondag, 18 December 2011

Woke up after a terrible night of sleep.  It was raining and hailing like all night, which is usually fine, but where was a window RIGHT ABOVE my head, so it was fairly loud.  Basically just looked at music before we drove back to the clubhouse.  Got on the road to Dunkerque, France for another parade.  Same routine as Saturday - sandwich on the bus, soup at the place, change, do the parade (no hills today!!!), eat again, and then drive back home.

Now, it was like 9pm by the time we got back to Belgium, and there wouldn't be enough time for me to go to the clubhouse and then to the train station, so the bus just dropped me off at the station, along with two other guys who go to school in Gent.  It was nice actually having people on the train with me for once.  Made it back to Herentals at midnight, and then Patrick came to pick me up as there (obviously) weren't any buses.  Got home, ate and skyped with my Mom and one of my brothers for a bit, and then collapsed into bed to sleep.

Day 133

Zaterdag, 17 December 2011

Long, long day.  Woke up for drumline, finished packing, and was out the door by 7:20 for my bus.  Made it to drumline, and got on the bus for our parade in Nivelles (French part of Belgium).  There were two other Americans there (besides Adam, a guy who's in the drumline and living in Belgium as his dad's work moved them here).  They marched with one of the guys in the US, so they're here to visit for like a month.  We had a blast talking, mainly because if we talking with any kind of thick accent or a lot of slang, no one could understand us.  :P

We got to the parade (we got free sandwiches on the bus!), put our stuff in a room, and then got some food.  There was soup (in cups), but being Americans we all (meaning Team America: Adam, the other two Americans and I) grabbed spoons because well, it's soup.  The guy that was visiting was trying to get some of the salad, but it was only for the actual workers at the parade (we didn't know that), so it was really confusing.  But anyway, when we sat down, we just kept getting all these odd looks seeing as how we had spoons.  Probably the most awkward 10 minutes of my life.  Even when we stopped using them, we got funny looks.

Made it through that, went back to the room to slowly get changed and get our facepaint on.  Basically just hung out with Team America, got to know each other, played some stupid word games.  Pretty fun.  Then, it was time for the parade.  So, the theme for our float was the "Ice Queen".  Basically meaning, we were loosely dressed like old Russian soldiers (or so I was told), and there was someone dressed up like an Ice Queen on the float.  About 6 guys were playing simple drum things in front, along with one guy who was mic'ed to say commands.  The rest of us, however, had to push the float.  And we stopped, we had to just cross our arms and look at the audience, no emotion at all.  That part was easy, considering the parade was 2 hours and all up and down hills - looking angry or expressionless was pretty easy after losing all your energy.

Once the parade was over, we got to get out of our costumes, and we were fed again (two food vouchers - I got two burgers) and just hung out a bit.  Bussed back to Dadizele, said goodbye to the other two Americans (they weren't doing the Sunday parade).  Of course, it was a false alarm, as everyone went upstairs to drink more.  I, along with like half the members, was really tired, so I just sat down and tried to stay awake.  Finally everyone went home, so we could lock up the clubhouse.  Went to the one directors house with another kid, watched some TV, and finally got to bed.

Oh, and here are some pictures from the parade Adam's family got - I didn't take any pictures seeing as how I was in the parade.

On the right side, pushing: Bobby, Adam, and Blake, all from Team America

That's me in front!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 132

Vrijdag, 16 December 2011

Rain again, but of course today I forgot both my umbrella and hat, so I was really wet by the time we got to the Dutch school.  Tried to dry off before class, and was only partially successful.  Easy day in class, kept almost falling asleep after I completed the worksheets (everyone else takes quite a bit more time).  Our usual group went for tea, so that was a nice distraction.

Home, and then we went to Maastricht with Truut, Siemen and Marcela.  It took forever to get there because of traffic, and it was raining, so I was kind of grumpy, considering it was perfect nap weather and I really didn't want to be outside.  We got some hot chocolate right when we got there, and then, magically, Truut just let Marcela and I go off on our own.  So, of course, we went on the ferris wheel first, did some shopping in the little Christmas market (I got a hat for only 5 euros!), and then wandered around stores for a while.  Met up with Truut and Siemen, got a snack, and went home again.

And something magical happened on the ride home - it started snowing!  Marcela has never seen snow before in her life, besides on TV or in pictures, so she was freaking out and it was just amazing.  Nothing was sticking, but oh well.  At home, she left quick to go spend the night at a friends house, and we started dinner.  Like 15 minutes later she comes back, soaking wet - she missed her bus by only a few seconds, as she saw it when she was locking her bike.  Our typical luck :P  Patrick luckily drove her to the train station, and she texted me saying the snow was sticking and covering everything and she was just so happy.  :)

Packed up my bag for this weekend (two parades for drumline, and spending the night there, so I won't update until Monday, seeing as I won't get home until like 12:20 Monday morning), started organizing my things so I can pack for my second family easier, and now it's time for bed, seeing as my bus is in less than 8 hours.  Slaapwel!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 131

Donderdag, 15 December 2011

Woke up a bit late, and it was raining.  So, what did I do?  I decided today to have my tea in my thermos since I didn't have time to have it for breakfast, but since it was raining fairly hard I also had my umbrella.  So, that made it a little difficult to bike.  :P  Dutch school, had our first test.  Really easy, and then did some grammar work after.

Home straight after, had lunch with Patrick and Truut, and then watched "Princess Bride".  Man, great movie, and now so many more jokes I see online make sense.  Read a bit, had dinner, and then left with Truut and her friend to go make a scarf.  It was actually pretty fun - I made a purple one, since she wouldn't let me make a black or grey one.  But Truut was making part of a vest, which took longer (quite a bit longer), so we didn't get home until like 1030.  Home, got online (it went out completely earlier - I have no idea what's up), and now it's time for bed.  Slaapwel!

Day 130

Woensdag, 14 December 2011

Great lazy day. No school, or Dutch school, so I slept in, had breakfast with Marcela before she went to Antwerp, and then did some Dutch and Latin studying on the computer. Had lunch with Patrick, who then left to go work with the cows, leaving me alone. So, what did I do? Played videogames and read. Man, I'm so interesting. Went online (via the wired internet) for a bit to answer some emails and read the news, then went off again to read more and take a nap.

Had dinner with Patrick and Truut, and then when Truut left for class I spent a while working on a photobook, and then watched "The Four Feathers" with Patrick. Great movie – gotta love Heath Ledger. Then, basically just went to bed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 129

Dinsdag, 13 December 2011

Basically the same as usual, expect Marcela stayed home sick today. Had some fun moments with the Dutch class today – Vladimir, this guy from Russia, got everyone to laugh. We had an exercise where we were talking about different activies (swimming, mopping, shopping, etc), and we had to reply with if we liked doing them or not. The teacher asked if he liked vaccuming, and he said no, naturally. She did this hand movement, like, go on, because he needed to do the whole sentence (No, I don't like vaccuming). So, instead of doing that, he just says, "My wife". Everyone just broke out laughing and cheering for him. Gotta love it when people don't follow the exercise. :P

Got the bus right away, which was awesome. Home, made french toast with Marcela (better than last time; still not good), and then we set up the Christmas tree! Truut likes making it look nice, so we only put on ornaments that were kind of the same (white or light brown, and white lights). She seemed astonished that back at home we'd just put everything on. I dunno, I like how that looks, but then again I don't know anything about decorating or fashion.

Did some music related things (and took a little nap) before dinner. Everyone was messing around, so that was really fun. Came upstairs to discover the internet was out again. :( Didn't even last for a day. Studied some Dutch, and was going to do Latin, but by then I was super comfortable so I just layed down and read until fanfare.  Rehearsed, stayed until midnight or so, and then came home and just crashed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 128

Maandag, 12 December 2011

Got up, and then had to go to my Latin class for the exam from 830-12. It went... okay? I totally bombed the first part, like, there's no way I got even close to a passing grade. I missed so much more than I thought after I started going to Dutch classes. But the second half of it was okay. It was all about culture and mythology, which I of course missed in class, but I had done like 5 or 6 years ago in my English class. Thankfully I still remembered some of the mythology, so with my feeble translating skills I could figure out just enough of the story to remember what was going on. Whew. I think the teacher was surprised I put anything at all.

Of course, I ended up talking to the teacher a bit after the class, so I missed my bus by like 5 minutes. Whatever. Went to the high school, checked things online quick and ordered my secret santa gift. Left, got some candy, and finished reading Slaughterhouse 5 at the bus stop. Great book. Home, Marcela was already there. We made some fries, and watched The Proposal. Both of us weren't feeling too well, so we just took a nap.

Got up, read a bit, and the internet was finally back up!  Got to actually respond to people, and check my RSS feeds.  After almost a week without stable internet, I have a huuuuuge backlog of things to read.  Thank goodness it's exam week.  :)  Talked with some people, uploaded some photos, and now it's time for bed.  Slaapwel!

Day 127

Zondag, 11 December 2011

Got woken up around 930, as we were going to Brugge. Had a quick breakfast, and then went to the car. I was going to take a nap, but of course I had decided to put in contacts, so I couldn't. :( When we got there, we couldn't find a place to park for like 20 minutes, which made me keep thinking about how I would hate to drive in Belgium. I miss American roads and parking lots so much.

Basically spent all day walking around. Had some tea early on, went to a Christmas market (soo many people), went to some art galleries, saw some churches, ate (inside, so Marcela could warm up), walked more, and went in the ice sculpture tent, which was really fun. It was cold enough in there to feel like home. :P I went down this giant slide made of ice, which was pretty cool. But the carvings were amazing! It was Disney themed, so you could see like Wall-E, Cinderella, Peter Pan, etc. Pretty cool. Spent like 15 or 20 minutes in there, but when we got out Marcela was going on and on about how cold she was. :P

But anyway, we had to have some hot chocolate to warm up before we went to the car and went home. Still no internet, which is a total bummer. Truut said she's having someone come over on Monday to try and fix it. Had some tea and food before watching "Evan Almighty". It was so sad to see Jon Stewart doing the little TV show on the movie – it made me realize how long it's been since I've seen the show.

After that, basically just went upstairs to fix up the pictures from the day, and went to bed.

Pics from the day:
Wall-E ice sculpture


Awesome looking church

Day 126

Zaterdag, 10 December 2011

Woke up with a few hours to spare before I met some people in Antwerp, so I watched like 3 episodes of "Game of Thrones" while I got ready. Got to Antwerp around 230, met up with some people from the drumline, and a few of their friends. We basically went around shopping until 6. I actually bought some things, which thankfully were cheap. It was really pretty – there were lights in the streets and a bunch of street musicians, so it was a lot of fun.

Took the train to Kontich, where the MIA's were. We all changed into our gala clothes on the bus, did our hair and stuff quick, and then went inside. Of course, there was a lot of waiting. First we had to wait in the entry way to get in (the bus driver was coming with us, and it took him a while to park the bus elsewhere). We first had to go into this big garage (the garage for the TV studio we were at, I assume). You could buy drinks there, but most of us just stood around. No chairs, which sucked because I was wearing Marcela's shoes (I didn't have good gala shoes), and they were like at least a size or two too small.

Then, they called people without tickets into another room. We all had tickets. Bummer. After like an hour total we finally got to go in. It was... small. Like, it really was just a TV studio. Tons of lights and a stage and such, but still small. We went to sit down (there was a row of audience seats open), but no, they said we had to be part of the group standing in the middle. They wanted a bunch of people packed in there so it looked like there were toooons of people there. Luckily the bus driver snagged a seat, so we all put our bags with him. Of course, that meant I left my camera with him, so I didn't take any pictures. :P

This one guy, I have no idea who he was, starting tell us when to cheer, and what his hand signs meant (this meant cheer more, this meant stop cheering, etc). We had to practice cheering and such a few times. Pretty silly. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the artists started coming in (they were sitting fairly close – not like, we can touch them close, but we could see them really well.

Basically, the show was a lot of talking, singing, and turning around. On one stage they did the announcing the awards, and the artists giving speeches if they got the award, and the other stage was where the performances were and where they played video clips of the nominees (or just some other random video clips). The performances were a lot of fun, even though I didn't know like any of them. One of the drumline guys explained/translated most everything, and kept adding his own commentary, which was pretty fun.

Anyway, the coolest part was when the band "School is Cool" performed. They had probably like 15-20 guys from DrumSpirit playing this simple drum beat on stage with them. It was so cool seeing that many people I know playing on that big of a stage! I wish I had gotten a video of it.

Afterwards, we all got shuffled out of the room to that first waiting room/garage. It was still like 1030, so I knew I could get a train, but I just didn't know what time (the internet was COMPLETELY out at the house – even the wired didn't work). People were nice enough to pull up the website on their phones and tell me when I had a train. Of course, then I had to call Truut and say what time she needed to come pick me up in Antwerp (no trains anywhere closer). But, funny story, I had no credit on my phone, so I couldn't call or text. I was in the middle of texting Marcela when we were in the garage, and poof! ran out of money. Oops. So, I had to use someone else's phone to say that I would be in Antwerp in like a little over an hour, and then just hope we would find each other.

Went back to the bus, got my bag, and rushed to the train station (right across the street) because I knew I NEEDED to make the train since it was the last one. Made it just fine, ended up in Antwerp. I got a text from Marcela (I can recieve texts, just not send them), and she said they were in the big tent in the station, by the exit. Okay. I went in there, didn't see them. Huh. Maybe they were outside. Nope. Went back in the station, tried the call Marcela and I do when we're lost, checked the tent again – still nothing. Found a little thing where I can buy phone credit – you needed to pay in cash, and I had no cash with me, only my card. So, I went outside to the ATM – broken. Back inside to try to find an ATM, and then Marcela found me. Apparently they were in the tent thing, but they were so short I didn't see them over the table. :P

Drove back towards home, stopped at Patrick's work. There was a big festival thing there, with lights and fire and everything – Marcela and them were there when I was at the MIA's. When I got there, of course, it was over, but we went inside and said hello to everyone quick. Finally went home, probably around 2am, and just crashed.

tl;dr: Antwerp, MIA's (Music Industry Awards), home

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 125

Vrijdag, 9 December 2011

We woke up on time today! Big accomplishment. Got to Turnhout, I decided to walk around for a bit since the weather was nice. Dutch class, with a tea break in the middle. Pretty easy day. Then Marcela and I went out to eat with three ladies from our class, just to talk and kill time. Picked up Jenna from the bus stop, and then we walked to the movie theater.

Of course, they wanted to see the new Twilight movie. I obliged just because I thought this was the movie with all the stupid things (well, more stupid than they usually are). And boy, it was. I was laughing most of the time, and Marcela and Jenna and I kept whispering about things (yeah, yeah, we're those people). It was a lot of fun to hang out with everyone.

Marcela and I barely made our bus (as per usual), but we managed to get home okay. Had to try on some dresses (Julie, Santi's host sister, and Jenna lent me some today) because I'm going to the MIA's tomorrow (Music Industry Awards – gala dress code). Finally got an outfit picked out (after borrowing things from Jenna, Marcela and Truut).

Probably going to watch a movie tonight before bed – it's going to be a long weekend. Slaapwel!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 124

Donderdag, 8 December 2011

It was really hard to wake up today – I felt like it was so cold I could see my breath in my room. Thank goodness my bathrobe was right by the bed. Dutch school, which was same as usual. Had tea again during the break, talked about maybe going to Germany with one of the ladies and her husband on the 19th.

After school, we could go home, because it's now exam time at the high school, so it's just exams in the morning and afternoons free! Ate, had to run some errands (apparently Marcela and I didn't have insurance set up here), and then took a nap. Actually, quite a long nap. Like, I woke up around 8pm.  Had some food, and then watched some stuff with Patrick and Truut.

Oh, and as you may have noticed, the internet is not really working here. The wireless is out, and so we have to connect to the wired internet downstairs (though I didn't know that until today – I though EVERYTHING was out.) So, if I'm not answering emails or things, that's why.

Also, learned when we switch families today – December 22nd! It's a little weird, because it's right before Christmas, but Marcela leaves on the 23rd to travel with her family, and our second family leaves on the 25th for their trip to France (which I'm going on~). I can't believe we're already going to them! It'll be fun to see what's different between families.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to my real dad!  I wish I could be there for your birthday.  I hope you have a great day!  Love you!

Day 123

Woensdag, 7 December 2011

4 months!

Had to wake up for the early bus today, seeing as we had regular class and not Dutch school, so that was a bummer. Listening class (listened to "The Sorceror's Apprentice" and "Carnival of Animals", free period (usually Latin, but it was so windy the trees were going to like 45 degree angles so I decieded to just study at the school), English (music quiz thing for fun), and science (went over what the exams would cover). Then, went to the train station since I was going to Hasselt to hang out with some people.

So, of course, this is another edition of Kelsey sucks at public transit and trains (Marcela was already there). I made it to Herentals just fine, and got on the train that was going through Mol to Hasselt (and, apparently, some other city). So that was fine. But, apparently the train split in half at Mol and so half the train went to Hasselt, half went somewhere else (I was on this half). I didn't know this, so I was sitting perfectly content on the train, just checking my phone because I knew I would be arriving around 2. But, at one stop, the train started going back to Mol. I was super confused, so I asked the guy that checks the tickets what was going on.

He just said to get off in Mol, and then told me what platform the other train would be at. Okay, whatever, I'd just be an hour late, no biggie. So I got off the train, and waited for the train to Hasselt, which was only like a 20 minute wait. And waited. Then they announced that the train had broken down in Herentals, and was cancelled. The next Hasselt train would be an hour later.

I was seriously considering going home at this point, but I really wanted to hang out with everyone, so I stuck it out. There were like two other people that needed the Hasselt train, so we were all kind of waiting together. Finally got there 2 hours late, which meant I only had 2 hours to hang out there. Vicki (Australian) and Sravya (Indian) picked me up at the train station, and we took a bus to some sort of Christmas theme park. Everyone else was iceskating, so Vicki, Sravya, Jenna (she stopped iceskating) and I got some food and a warm drink and just sat inside and talked. It was really nice.

Then, we did what we were planning to do the whole time – hold up signs that say "free hugs". See, as an exchange student, we are severely lacking in hugs. Like, we only ever really get hugs from other exchange students, but no one else. So, we all thought we'd try this. They had done it a bit earlier, and they said people didn't really give them hugs, but we got SO MANY! Little kids, seniors, and everyone in-between. It was so much fun, and everyone was left smiling afterwards. We only got a few strange looks. :P

L->R: Sravya, Vicki, Jenna, Allen, Me, Kimberli, Bernardo

Took the train and the bus to get back home (which went smoothly, thankfully), ate, and basically just did some Dutch homework and went to bed. Oh, and I totally started (and finished) The Color Purple. Yay for having time to read!

Day 122

Dinsdag, 6 December 2011

Woke up to find Sinterklaas treats on the table. :) Went to Dutch school, chatted with everyone and had quite a few more funny moments, and then Sinterklaas came and gave us candy. We had to sing a little song for it though – it's pretty funny to see people who are almost 40 singing along to the little kids song.

Speaking of songs, the teacher played this really stupid song in class (it's about like the possessive case for Dutch), but it's SO CATCHY. None of us could stop singing it afterwards, and we made her play it again. :P I can't see it getting out of my head any time soon.

Lunch, and then school. Had the acting class, which was basically just everyone having to do the part of their little play that they knew. We actually did it for two periods, since she was teaching us for the next class anyway. Then, a period in the library and then I went home.

But that took FOREVER. There was so much traffic, that it literally took an hour, when it usually takes half. Thank goodness my iPod was charged. Had dinner, and was going to take a nap, but my room was too cold to get sleep comfortably, so I went downstairs with the fire and curled up in a blanket and watched NCIS and Dirty Jobs until fanfare rehearsal.

There were like 4 new people that joined, including two little kids probably like 10 or younger that joined trumpet section. And, of course, they got placed between me and the rest of my section. And the guy on the other side of me wasn't there, so I was pretty isolated. Pretty funny though. Drinks and talking after, stayed until midnight, and then went home and basically passed out in bed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 121

Maandag, 5 December 2011


Well, it didn't really start out that way.  Woke up to Patrick knocking on my door 15 minutes before I needed to leave for school - definitely overslept.  Actually managed to pack a lunch (which I don't even do some normal days), had breakfast, and got ready.  Marcela was a bit slower (she woke up at the same time), so it was quite a rush to get to the bus on time.

Which, of course, was late.  We would have made it at the normal time, but since it was late, we were just like, we rushed to wait at the bus stop?  Got to school, did the homework that was due, and then class.  Some pretty funny moments today, and we learned about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet.  Basically, from what I've gathered (so this may be wrong; please correct me if so) that Sinterklaas is kinda like Santa.  You know, the whole red coat and white beard.  But, instead of riding reindeer, he comes on a steamboat from Spain, and then rides a horse.  Oh, and instead of elves, he has Zwarte Piet, which is basically like his slave.  Picture someone in 17th century clothes and black face, and that's Zwarte Piet.  And he's the one that carries around the sack and gives out the candy.

So, yeah.  Pretty fun to learn about.  And I was drinking one of my bottles of Mountain Dew (waking up suddenly makes me really cranky - Mountain Dew cancels that out), so it was a good day.  We lunched, and then when we were walking back to the school, it started HAILING!  Like, little hails, so it was almost like snow.  Marcela and I were so excited!  Marcela, because it was close to snow (yes, she's seen hail before, but only big ones - small hail was soo close to snow!) and me because it was close enough to snow to remind me of home.  :)

A period in the library, music theory, and then Latin.  We had a vocab test I was unaware of, so... let's just say it's good I don't need to pass classes.  I am going to attempt the exam next week, so that should be interesting.  The teacher was surprised that I would even try - I don't think that's a good thing.  More hail and some thunder/lightning on the walk to the bus stop, which was fun.  Talked with Marcela on the way home, and then, much to my excitement, a package for me was on the table!

And it wasn't just any package - it was from my secret santa!  And not just any secret santa - my online secret santa!  See, there's this website I go on that's been holding secret santa (and many more) exchanges over the past few years.  I've done the summer one twice, and this is my second time doing the winter one.  Basically, out of allll of the strangers from all around the world that sign up, you get matched with someone.  You send them a gift, either anonymous or not (my guy is in Spain), and then someone else sends you a gift.

So, I run upstairs with the gift, and had Marcela take pictures of me opening it (you post what you got on an online gallery so everyone can see what you got). SO AWESOME!! I got RosettaStone Level 1 for Dutch, which is a great language learning software, but pretty expensive. And not only that, but also a voucher for £40 of wine from this one website (note: around $62 or €45)!


Needless to say, I was stunned and super excited.  I was literally shaking - it was probably one of the best and most thoughtful presents EVER.  It's all I could talk about during dinner, and I rushed upstairs after to put the pictures online so everyone could see how awesome it was.

But the day wasn't over yet.  Then, we went to Robyne's old judo club because Siemen was dressed as Zwarte Piet to give out candy.  We went to watch them give it to the little kids, and then when the older judo group (Robyne's group) went to see Sinterklaas we moved a lot closer to get some good pictures.  Of course Siemen, knowing we were laughing at him, had told the guy before that we were exchange students, so they had us GO UP THERE and take pictures with Sinterklaas and the Judo club.  It was fun, but completely unexpected.

Siemen is in the blue

With Robyne's Judo club - the guy in blue in the right corner is my  third host dad!

Us with Siemen

Then, there was more talking and Christmas-y goodness, after which the judo club started to practice so we started for home.  As Siemen was leaving too (they had to go take off the costumes and get the face paint off), he attacked us and got Marcela, Truut and I with some of the face paint.  Got some candy (the bags they were handing out to the kids), and went home.  I installed my RosettaStone software, and tested it out a bit - it's so cool!  I really want to do more, but I need to get to bed.  Slaapwel!

Also, SS, if you're reading this, THANKS SO MUCH!  Starting tomorrow, when I seriously start using the software, you have to know that a lot of my upcoming memories will be thanks to you, and your helping me learn the language.  I'll always be grateful to you~

Day 120

Zondag, 4 December 2011

Well, it's basically been a movie day.  Woke up around 10, ate, showered, did some homework, and then went to watch Harry Potter 6 downstairs with Marcela.  After that, no one was around and we watched another movie (P.S. I Love You) since Marcela said it was super sad and always mad her cry.  Did some stuff online, and then Marcela, Truut and I went to see Tintin in 3D in Turnhout.  It was really good!  Fun movie, and we watched in English, so there were Dutch and French subtitles for the whole movie, so that was fun.

Home, pinned some stuff on our blazers (mine is finally looking like a respectable exchange student blazer), and then talked with people online.  Got to skype with a friend I hadn't seen in a long time, seeing as they just made a skype.  After that, just went straight to bed since it was pretty late already.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 119

Zaterdag, 03 December 2011

So, fairly long day.  Woke up to rain.  And not the usual rain it's been here, which was like a light spring rain, but fairly hard.  Phooey.  Packed up everything for drumline, and Patrick said he'd drive me to the bus stop, which was nice.  Bus and then train, and of course by the time I was in Antwerp my iPod had died because I forgot to charge it.  So, I decided to buy a magazine (The Economist: The World in 2012) since I was bored and it was in English.

I had also been trying to text people to see if I had a ride from Kortrijk to drumline.  See, I forgot to confirm with someone last night that they were picking me up.  And when I tried texting her, I kept getting no response.  Texted someone else, told me the other girl was working and would be late to rehearsal, and thus couldn't pick me up.  Tried texting someone else in the line, no response.  By then I was on the train and halfway to Kortrijk, so I was freaking out a little bit.  I finally (and by finally, I mean like 20 minutes before I was at the station) to get someone to pick me up - thank goodness they're a good sport about it.  They were totally fine with it, which was great.

At rehearsal, I got my member jacket!  SO EXCITED!  It's a great jacket, it looks really nice, and it's pretty warm.  Rehearsed, etc, and then there were announcements at the end (like usual).  But, of course, they ran long because there's a big event next weekend (a handful of members get to play at the MIA's, Music Industry Awards, and then the rest of the members have a chance to just go with).  By the time they were done, it was 6:13.  My train home was at 6:40.  One of the director/tech guys said he could always drive me and my section mate (who also needs to get a train there) to the station, so we were waiting for him.  I was freaking out, because Truut and Patrick said that I needed to be home on time because it was Siemen's birthday party with the family.

We (meaning me and the other kid getting the ride) went up to the guy, asking if it would be okay to leave now so I could get my train.  He asked when my train was, and I just said 6.45, seeing as how I actually didn't remember for sure, but I knew it was around then.  He looked at the clock - 6.23.  The guy he was talking to was like, You won't make it, to which the other guy said, But we can try!

And so he runs out of the room, grabs his stuff from upstairs, and we run out to the parking lot.  We sped quite a bit, and finally ended up at the train station.  I just dash out of the car with my bag to my platform, right at 6.40.  No train - it was 5 minutes late.  My section mate shows up about a minute later (his train is at the same place, 30 minutes later), so we just talk for a bit about how awkward it is to be running full speed to get there and then realize that you're still early.

But it was all good, the train came, and I made it back home.  Patrick picked me up from Herentals (no bus until 10, and it was only 9 then), made it home just in time for dessert.  :)  Talked with Marcela and some relatives until they left, and then was told about my second family!  Apparently I might be going on holiday with them to FRANCE!  I'd have to miss two parades with drumline, but I think they could do without me (especially since I still don't really know the parade music >.>).  I skyped with my parents a bit to figure out what I should do (I'm still really torn, but I know I'll like never get another chance to go to France), and then went to bed.  Great night.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 118

Vrijdag, 02 December 2011

Well, Marcela was late this morning (I got up on time, finally), so we were still almost late getting to the bus.  Geez.  Class was okay - a lot of people didn't have buses and thus didn't show up, seeing as how there was a protest or something in Brussels (I have no idea about it, that's just what I've been hearing).  Got tea again during the break, which was really nice.  Lunched quick by myself and then studied some Latin in the library (Marcela and Santi went out, but I didn't want to spend any more money).

Had a music theory class, where they were basically getting ready for exams, and then art history, where we talked about exams basically, and then spent like the last 15 minutes waiting to leave.  Even the teacher kept checking his phone to leave.  Marcela and I went home straight away since she wasn't feeling the greatest, and I was a little tired.  No one was home when we got there, so I studied a bit and took a nap before dinner.  Finished a movie with Siemen and Marcela, and then they were going to watch something like Superhero Movie or something else that's not my taste, so I went upstairs and worked on a little photobook.  I think I need one for my Rotary speech in April, so I may as well work on it now considering I'll procrastinate on it once it gets closer.   :P

Anyway, drumline tomorrow, gotta rest up!  Slaapwel!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 117

Donderdag, 1 December 2011

It's December!  What?!  It doesn't feel like it at all - there's NO SNOW, it hasn't even snowed and melted yet, and it's 52 degrees!  I refuse to believe it's December with these conditions.

Anyway, was actually on time this morning.  Only slept like 10 minutes past my alarm.  :P  Dutch class, which was pretty fun.  We always have a little pause halfway through the class, so Marcela and I went to a little cafe right across the street with some ladies in our class to have some tea and talk.  Yep, the same people we went out with the day class was cancelled, sans the guy.  We're making plans to meet up for a movie sometime soon, so that should be fun.  They're all nice ladies, and it's a lot of fun to talk with other people who know like EXACTLY where you are in learning the language.

Finished class, lunched with Santi and Marcela.  As today is Thursday, the school sold bacon sandwiches, so Marcela and I got those, and were basically talking about it all day.  Man, they're so good!  The songwriting class, where I basically do nothing now because the lyrics are basically written.  Then the class where I actually get to play, which was actually decent this time.  Then was a music theory class where they basically just went over what the test was going to be about.  A few of my classmates then realized that I don't take exams (as I don't need to, and I don't understand what's going on anyway), so a few of them got a little huffy about that.  I'm fine with it, because I get off of school like 2 weeks early.  :)

Home, watched Ratatouille in Dutch (with English subs) with Marcela since no one was home.  Truut and Siemen finally got home, and we ate and talked a bit.  It was Siemen's birthday, so we chatted with him a bit more than usual.  Then, everyone went to do their own things.  I finished Catch-22 finally - oh my goodness, it all makes sense now.  I used to start the book, get like 200 pages in and then just put it down because it didn't make sense.  But now, everything makes sense.  I spent like 20 minutes after I finished reading just sitting there thinking about the book.  Wow.

Went upstairs, got ready for bed, and got some things sorted out.  Studied some Latin, though I'm still waiting on my brother to answer the questions I sent him (seriously Collin, if you're reading this, answer my emaaaail, I don't understand!).  Talked with some exchange students I hadn't seen in forever (stupid them being in the French part), went online a bit, and now it's time for bed.  But first, news!  I got mentioned in another little news article, this time from DCE (Drum Corps Europe).  Yay!

Okay, now no more news, but stupid little rant time.  The way they tell time here is so... frustrating.  Sure, most of it makes sense, but for half past, they do something silly.  Say it's 1130.  They don't say it's half past eleven, oh no, they say it's half twelve.  It's so confusing!  "Half twelve" is six, not 1130.  And I always mess it up when people say, because I'm so used to hearing "half past".  Marcela and I (and everyone we sit next to in our Dutch class) agree that it is silly.

So yeah, that's about it for the night.  Slaapwel!

(Also, I just got an email showing me that my entry from a while back was mentioned in the CR Rotary Weekly Bulletin.  If any Rotarians happened to stumble onto my page now, Hi!  Feel free to leave comments anytime, I love getting them!)