Friday, September 16, 2011

First Full Week of School

I just finished my first full week of school! (Although I had almost a full week last week, because the first day was last Tuesday.) So far school has been going quite well. I guess it's true that school is boring no matter where you are. It's even worse because I can't lose focus without getting completely confused. I've already become good friends with the other exchangers at my school (There are 7, with AFS and WEP combined, from Chile, Ecuador, Switzerland, Slovakia, 2 from Venezuela, and the US (Guess who?)) and have been making native friends as well. The language barrier (with the natives, because all the other exchangers speak English) is definitely noticable but I'm getting better and better at overcoming it! I'll list my classes and the # of hours I have it per week: Math(4), Francais (5), Physics (1), History (2), Biology (1), English (4), Social Studies (4), Espagnol (4), Chemistry (1), Gym (3...), Religion (2. I attempted to switch to Morale but apparently I'm not allowed to), Geography (1), and 5 studies spread throughout the week. There are 9 blocks (including lunch) which each last 55 minutes.
Every Wednesday at my school (and most schools in Belgium/maybe Europe) we get out at 12:30, and since it was a nice day I decided to take some pictures of my room and the farm. In the interest of not making this post longer than it already is, you can see them all on my photobucket here.
This is my room! Behind this there is a little hallway with a desk for me to study and some more storage places.

This is the view out of the window in my room!
One of the cows (bulls? I don't know.) with the grass I cut in the front of the picture. I almost killed myself driving around on the lawn mower (and had more than one person laugh as I tried to maneuver it) but I managed to get the hang of it and cut the grass in my host grandmother(Monique)'s yard without completely destroying it.

Calinou (sp?), the little kitten that stays at Monique's house but loves to run around the entire farm. She's very cuddly and I'm obsessed with cats so we're a good pair. Monique also has a little dog who is also absolutely adorable (and stops being shy as soon as I'm holding food of any sort. :)).

The ostrich that I didn't know existed until I saw it a few days ago! I'll try to list all the animals on the farm: cows, deer, chickens (including an evil cock that likes to chase me), sheep, a peacock, ducks/several types of birds that I don't know the name of, an ostrich, a bunch of rabbits, a horse, and I think that's it (not including the cat and dog).

After taking a bunch of pictures I went over and had a snack with Monique and she showed me all the family pictures she had in a collage on her wall. I read/translated a magazine on her couch for a little while, which I have found really helps me with vocabulary. It's also really helpful to just talk with her, because (as far as I know) she speaks no English and therefore our conversations are all in French, and she explains things by describing them in French rather than just giving me the English translation.
Today (Friday) I had a relatively easy day at school, with a study, french, another study, gym, math, lunch, and then another hour of math. Usually I would've had two hours of English afterwards, but the teacher was away so we were going to have two more studies. I, along with two other exchange students, decided to leave early (with permission) instead of sitting in study for two more hours. We made a loop around the center of Neufchateau, stopping at the grocery store (the other girls bought TONS of junk food, but I hadn't brought my wallet to school so I only had 2 euros) and then walking down to a pretty lake and eating their food at a little bar. Afterwards, we walked back to the school to find our rides and go home. I made little peanut butter and jelly (did you know they don't have grape jelly in Belgium?) squares to bring to my AFS meeting. It was my first time meeting everyone in the Luxembourg chapter and they were all fantastic. There was a buffet with foods from every country and we just got to talk with all the other students and get to know each other. I met my counselor who is really nice and lives quite closeby. I have 2 night orientation with the Luxembourg chapter 2 weeks from now, which I think will be really fun!

Tomorrow I have to wake up early to catch a train to Brussels where I'll meet my first host family and stay with them for the weekend. We're going to go to a little theme park on the coast of Belgium called Plopsaland and I think it's going to be really fun!


  1. Hi Olivia,

    What a mignon petit chien in the photos!

    Great blog! I am reminded of being immersed suddenly in a Belgian school...almost 50 years ago...and how super tired I was at the end of each day from trying to follow conversations. It gets easier!

    Mary Flanagan

  2. Hello Olivia, I am glad you are having a great time in Belgium.

  3. Hi Olivia!
    Very fun to read your blog. We visited all the places you talk about! You know both Tamara and Vincent were born in Brussels? We lived right next to the "Parque Cinquantenaire" and the European Community. I signed up my e-mail also for Tamara to read your posts. You're a great inspiration! Good luck with it all and looking forward to read more about your experiences.
    Caroline Mitchell

  4. Mary - I agree, the dog is absolutely precious! And "super tired" pretty much describes me exactly right now, so I'm glad that it gets easier! On the plus side, it has forced me to go to bed at a normal hour rather than back home. :)

    Katie - Thank you! I was reading your description on here and I have to say I miss watching reruns of Gilmore Girls (but if I could find it on TV here I would have no chance of understanding Lorelai/Rory in FRENCH because they speak so fast!)

    Caroline - I just looked up where you lived and it isn't too far from where I lived with my first host family (in Nederokkerzeel, although it's about 15 minutes outside of the city) and I'm sure I passed right by it when I visited Brussels. I've only been a few times so far but it's a gorgeous city! Tell me if there's anywhere you think I need to visit, I've been enjoying having a train station nearby and a GoPass for 10 rides. :) I don't know if Tamara is thinking about exchange at all but if she is (and has any questions) tell her to talk to me!