Chloe Dooley
2007-08 Outbound to Belgium

Hometown: Keystone Heights, Florida
School: Keystone Heights High School
Sponsor: Keystone Heights Rotary Club, District 6970, Florida
Host: Hannut-Waremme Rotary Club
         District 1630, Belgium

Chloe's Bio

Hi everybody, my name is Chloe Dooley and I am a senior at Keystone Heights High School. I’ve lived in the small town of Keystone for most of my life, so living in a big town, or even city, in Belgium would be a new experience in itself.

First of all, I love sports. This includes watching and playing, even though I may not be the best. I especially love football and basketball. Basketball is my favorite sport to play. I am hoping that I will have some sort of opportunity to play in Belgium.

I love working with little kids and have done so in many ways in the past. I’m hoping that one of my host families has young kids, especially since they will be the only ones on my speaking level when I first arrive. J

I chose to apply to be a foreign exchange student so that I could do something different before attending college. I also wanted the experience and the opportunity to learn French and more about myself.

I’m very thankful for being given this life changing opportunity and am looking forward to learning about the Belgian culture (especially since I wasn’t even sure what continent it was on when I was told I was going there-oops) as well as the French language!

I’m sure there will be tons to come later.

Au revoir,

Chloe


September 2 Journal

 So today I had been here exactly two weeks and not much has happened but I will start from the beginning...

The night before leaving I had every single friend of mine over at one point to say goodbye. I had no sad goodbyes, I was determined not to because it is only going to be a short year before I see them all again. Received some cards, pictures, letters and an awesome video w/ other people saying goodbye and talking to me and my friends serenading me w/ all of our songs. I decided to leave all those things at home because I would no doubt cry every time I saw them here. I had planned to have 2 of my friends stay the night but ended up having 3, plus me equals 4 in my queen sized bed- not the most comfortable 2 and a half hours of sleep I've had. Woke up at 5:30 in the morning and woke them up and cried a little when I said goodbye because they are the ones I will miss the most.

I arrive at the Jacksonville airport with my mom, dad, sister, and aunt and the first thing I see is that my flight will not be leaving until 2 hours after the original time. So, we leave (saw Blaire and her friends and family on the way out and told her about the delay) and go to Cracker Barrel for some breakfast and looked around the shop in there. I also took a 30 min cat nap on a bench outside. The morning was good, not depressing or anything-thank god. Then we returned to the airport and hang out for another hour. Half an hour or so until boarding Blaire and I decide we should go in. We take some pics together and w/ our families. My goodbyes were ok- no one cried except my mom, who I was very proud of for not breaking down the entire morning (especially when she had weeped while a lunch one time a month earlier!) until the very end, and that's when I had to go because she would make me cry. I cried all the way through security and turned back to look at my family to wave bye about 20 times until finally I turned around and couldn't see them anymore.

Blaire and I stayed connected to home while waiting to board- her on her computer and me crying while reading the letter my mom wrote, the letter my best friend wrote, looking at pictures my aunt gave me, and beginning a huge notebook my sister made in a 3 ring binder of cut outs and things to entertain me.

The first hour and 50 min flight is a blur- I slept. Blaire and I arrive in Washington Dulles and walk across the airport to our gate. I called my mom and ate Subway while listening to Blaire talk on the phone. Sabrina found us and informed us that we are at the correct gate, but should be at the other one w/ all the other exchange students because it is bigger. So, we head down there and meet a bunch of people, some of which were going to Argentina, some of which have already become good friends. After awhile all those going to Belgium went back to our gate and I began to hear French. I got excited hearing a boy in a family saying oiseau (when seeing a bird flying around), knowing what it meant.

The second flight was 7 hours, but quick. All the exchange students were seated in the back and I had a window seat next to Erin from Oklahoma. After talking w/ Erin for a bit I slept most of the flight, only to wake up for dinner and to listen to one cd. We arrived in Belgium half an hour early. We were in Belgium- I was so excited.

I'd been imagining this moment for awhile now. How it would be first seeing and meeting my host family? Especially after hearing about everyone else's at the Welcome Home Dinner. Them all standing there, smiling big, possibly w/ a sign, and excited when greeting me. Nothing like I imagined. First of all, when you get off the plane, you are in the back and no one is there because you must go through customs and get your luggage first. So after going w/ Blaire through both and to the money exchange, we headed out. The first thing I see right up front is a family w/ a sign that says Blaire. I am now alone. I walk back and forth for about 40 minutes lugging my 50 pound bags, a purse, and a back pack looking for my host family. They had sent me pictures through email so I knew what they looked like. I looked everywhere, even in the restaurants. FINALLY, a girl I had only met at the last airport, Slone, told me that who she was with wasn't her family, but the Rotary people of Belgium and they could help me. They finally got me with 2 men (one who is going to the dad of my 2nd host family), one who had a sign that said the name of my host club on it (which I had walked right past because I didn't remember the actual name of my host club, only the district number) and the other with a sign that had my name, it was small but I still don't know how I missed it.

They take me up 3 floors to meet my family. Excitement builds. The first person I see is my host father. I had been worried what he would be like because he is the only guy in my family and had never sent me an email like the rest of the family and didn't smile in the pictures. But he is so friendly and nice and jokes around all the time. He is pretty good in English and I have seen him do nothing but smile since I've been here. I also met my host sister Elizabeth, who is 15, and my host mother Micheline. I met their other daughter Marie Charlotte, 18, who literally left 5 minutes later for Iowa. So, while everyone was trying to be happy to see me, they were all crying because of Marie Charlotte. There were also a few of Marie Charlotte's friends as well as some other adults who I'm still not sure who they were.

From there we left for home, about an hour and a half away from Brussels. We live in Nandrin, which I still cannot say correctly w/ the French accent, and is 23 kilometers outside of Liège. My house is beautiful, just like the rest of the houses. Every single one, looks older w/ the brick (but still beautiful) and has flowers in the yard and window sills. Inside they gave me a tour (I am staying in Marie Charlotte's room). When they took me to the garage to show me where the extra drinks were, my host mother couldn't think of a word- so I tried to figure out what she was trying to say and said "recycle" because the recycle bins were next to the drinks she was pointing at, and she said "yes, bicycle! we have bicycles here" and pointed to them. It was about 9:00 in the morning, but I felt like it was early evening. We had breakfast- I immediately grabbed the nutella, having heard about how great it was before, and it was. Going to grab a second piece of bread (which is always fresh) with nutella, my host mom made a comment on how exchange students usually gain weight. Thanks... I took a nap by noon.

We went to the market, which is so small compared to our grocery stores, and then a separate place for fruit and meat. They also go to a separate place for fresh bread, which is so good. I rode a bike there once w/ my host sister for 5 or 10 minutes. Let's just say this isn't Florida. The terrain isn't exactly flat.

So many things are different. Little things like the way the flush to the toilettes, the way they flush, light switches, outlets, etc. Milk is half and half and I like skim so that wasn't a good change. But my family did buy me a different milk which is better. They are so nice, always trying to make me comfortable. I'll ask them if they have something, just to know if they do, even if I don't like it and they go out and buy it for me. Everything here is smaller too, cars of course. The bowls too, I feel like I'm eating my cereal out of a teacup. The keyboard is different as well, but I have gotten used to it.

My first culture shock was the nudity of women in the body wash ads, on TV, and even in a plain old magazine in the doctors office. Within a week I had to go to a doctor due to a rash I've developed for some unknown reason since day one.

So far I have tried crepes, chocolate mousse, ice cream, and rabbit, which I like. I'm not so found of goat though. I have yet to have a waffle and it is driving me crazy!

I've spent a lot of time at home except on the weekends because my parents go to work during the day. My school starts Wednesday and I cannot wait! It's a Catholic school and I will have all the normal senior year classes, except French will be at a lower level. We don't have uniforms, but we can't wear certain bright colors like yellow, red, purple, pink, or any bright blues or greens. I'm ready to make friends my age- so far I have only met a 19 year old girl (one of nine kids of my host mother's best friend) and the other exchange students of my district, which I had a blast w/ this past weekend at our Rotary weekend.

I've been shopping, to the small town of Huy twice, once w/ my family, once with the Rotary exchange students of my district, to the mall, to a BBQ, a dinner last night that lasted from 8:15 until 2:00 in the morning, and a small art show.

Until my next book...

Chloé


October 6 Journal

 So I haven't been able to write until now because I didn't think I could actually write a whole journal entry without being negative the whole time. I thought, Belgium has nothing to offer me and I have nothing to offer it. Plus, I was BORED OUT OF MY MIND. But, over the last week or two, I am slowly starting to change my mind. I am learning more French words every day, therefore my French and comprehension is improving, making everything a lot easier. I started school over a month ago, so I guess I will start there.

The first day of school my host mother walked me in, in true first day of kindergarten fashion, and we ended up meeting up with a woman whose daughter had gone to the Netherlands and had a boy from Venezuela. Everyone gathered in the court yard for the principal to make her little speech. In it, she informed them that they have an exchange student from Venezuela and then when she said they had one from Florida there was a lot of commotion and ohhhhs and awwws in the crowd- so much that you couldn't even hear about the third exchange student, a girl from Massachusetts (that I met later)- and I have to be honest, I felt kind of cool at that moment.

The first two days of school I just followed a girl who had decided to help me around to her schedule because I didn't have one. They gave it to me on the 3rd day. Now, two days ago, I found out that this girl, the one who has befriended me, always makes an effort to keep me included, and always makes me truly laugh, is moving to Canada in 3 weeks because her dad will be working there now. Bummer. One thing I find funny here is that everyone says Florida as Flor-ee-da as opposed to our Floor-duh. That is what the girl calls me: either Flor-ee-duh or Floride (in French). Like Liam, I have different classes every day w/ the same people. Other things that differ from my school back home: there are stairs everywhere, it's old and an abbey, teachers switch classes, we get an hour for lunch, there is no track for gym, we have a 15 min break at 10:15, teachers erase boards with wet sponges and scrape the water off with things that are like the windshield cleaners at gas stations, classrooms for the same class change from day to day, free periods, and there isn't exactly an uniform - but you can only wear black, dark blue, white, gray, other neutral colors, and brown (which isn't even technically allowed). Probably more, but I suppose I am used to a lot of it by now.

Every morning I wake up and put on about 3-4 layers while waiting for the bathroom (I've never had to share a bathroom with someone where I couldn't actually go in while they were in there too), and head off to about 6 of these classes each day: Spanish, French, English, Math, Gym, History, Biology, Physical Science, Geography, Religion, and Chemistry.

The students: boys wear way too much gel and slick it into weird mohawks - it's disgusting. All of them are extremely studious and anal with their pencil bags, rulers, highlighters, and large 2-ring (yes, 2) binders with plastic sleeves for every single paper inside them.

Two activities that I've gotten involved with here are swimming and basketball. For swimming I go to an indoor public pool every Friday and swim down and back a single lane with my host sister and 4 other girls for an hour doing various strokes while wearing a swimming cap. I love it. Not the swimming cap that is, I look like an idiot and it doesn't even keep your hair dry, which I thought was the purpose of them. But yes, it is a great work out and something new for me, as opposed to leisurely swimming in lakes and pools at home. And I can only laugh when I look around and see everyone in their professional looking one piece Speedo, while I'm standing there in my bikini from Aeropostale with little pink hearts all over it. As for basketball, I practice from 8:45 to 10:15 on Monday and Wednesday nights with girls ranging from 20-24 years old. At first I was intimidated, but practices are so much fun and not as serious as at home. But unfortunately I cannot play in games because my nationality is not Belgian.

We have a meal with some amount of family every weekend for some reason or another. I used to dread this, being bored out of my mind for hours with too much food and me not knowing what anyone was saying the whole time. But, things have improved a great deal. Last weekend was like a big family reunion at these grandparents' farm. We all ate an actual pig that was roasting when we arrived after our walk through a nature trail to get there as well as waffles (finally!) and pie for dessert.

Today my host sister and I are babysitting a little boy of 2 and girl of 1-it should be fun!

*Chloe*


November 11 Journal

 Sorry that it has taken me until the middle of November to write my journal entry for October. When the beginning of November rolled around it had seemed like I had just written, plus I have actually been very busy.

I am now becoming one of your typical exchange students. One who loves their family and everything so much that they don't want to leave. Well, not yet anyways. It seems to me that my exchange has been the opposite of what I had been told it would be like. I was in fact homesick and bored in the beginning and now I am doing lots of things - rather than the other way around.

We had a week of vacation at the end of October and it was absolutely the BEST. I went to London for about 3 days - which was an amazing trip. Then, went to a Halloween party, visited grave sites (which really wasn't bad w/ my family - real quick and not emotional or anything) and had a meal for Toussaint, hung out for a friend's birthday, and went to another family meal, and then the North Sea on the last day. Then school started back - ugh. Let's just say that's not my favorite part of exchange. But I do have to say that my favorite part of school would have to be my French classes w/ the primiere (equivalent to 7th graders).

I really love my family here so much. In the beginning, there were some things that annoyed me, but now I realize just how lucky I am. I've heard about other host families here who won't let them (the other exchange students) go out when they will let their actual kids, eat foods in fear of them getting fat, or take them or pick them up from places, which results in them usually having to go home super early from outings just to catch the bus/train sometimes. My host family is the exact opposite. I really am lucky. They let me go out, are always within reason, let me eat whatever I want ("if I get fat, that's my problem", as it should be), and always try to pick me up or take me to hang out with friends if possible. They do for me exactly as they would do for their own daughter. Some students hate being home, but not me. Just today I decided it was necessary to tell them how much I appreciate everything they do for me and wound up crying. Because I was so happy. Being an exchange student just makes you more emotional sometimes I guess. I will be with them until April and will surely be attached when it is time to move.

I'm really loving how much conversation I can understand nowadays, especially in my family. It's great. I'm no longer completely lost all the time. Sometimes I cannot think of words quickly or talk as fast as I'd like, but my speaking is really improving. I really am proud of myself sometimes and can't believe how easily it is beginning to come to me. I think in French sometimes and can sometimes say things without thinking about it first. But I still haven't had a dream in French!

The holiday St. Nicolas is on December 7th, but up until that date my host sister and I will be receiving candy each morning. It varies in each house, but we have already started. Apparently here St. Nicolas is a bigger deal than Christmas. More presents, etc.

Unfortunately I have stopped basketball. I was always too tired with the practices starting at 9:00 and not ending until 10:30, especially after a day of trying to understand French.

Nothing much else to report on. Everything is going great and I am staying busy with nothing in particular.


January 9 Journal

 So I'm going to try to write my journal entry about November and December before the end of January sneaks up on me. I just never seem to have time to write or don't feel like it. I'm constantly trying to catch up on my email but there is just never enough time...

So-lets start where I left off.

Random things:

End of November:

-Went to my first movie at the movie theater with Blaire and 2 other exchange students. We saw 'American Gangster' in French and even snuck in candy just like at home. I snuck in a waffle while they had baguettes-how very Belg of us.

-Had a makeshift Thanksgiving with Blaire and the same girls and my oldie from Australia.

-Went to a friend's school's 'soiree'

December:

I just started back school from about a months vacation because I didn't have to take all the exams. We are supposed to pass 2, so I attempted 3. Anywho, in the meantime I did a lot of shopping in Liège for presents for my host family and happened to find some things for family back home as well. But Im getting ahead of myself-so lets go in order.

Two important things to know about Christmastime in Belgium: the 'Marche de Noel' ("Christmas Walk"-the German translation is Christmas Market) and St. Nicholas.

Marche de Noel- As far as I know these exist in Belgium, France, and Germany. And are in about every major city. They are like festivals back home-but all the booths look like little log cabins. They are specifically for Christmas and go all through December. Here they sell lots of little presents, knick knack items, ornaments, Christmas things, jewelry, etc and FOOD. One Wednesday each month our Rotary district takes us to do something interesting together. In the past months we've gone to see caves, mines, and a sugar factory. For December, they took us to Aachen, Germany for the Marche de Noel there. It was really great. I had a German bratwurst and this pancake-like thing, but more sugary with cherries. It was sooo good. I don't know if that is due to the fact that I hadn't had a pancake in about 4 months-but it was good. Another specialty of all the Marche de Noels is hot wine, which was pretty good.

St. Nicholas- As I mentioned in my last journal, this holiday is supposedly bigger than Christmas. But I only find this true with the enormous amounts of candy we receive. Like I said, my host sister and I received a little candy each day for about a month until the day of St. Nicholas. Then, the day of, there was a table full of candy, oranges, gum, and other 'goodies' and a present for each of us. I received a robe. We didn't actually celebrate it on the day of but waited for the weekend for my host dad to get back from a business trip. I also received some waffles, some oranges, and some money from the grandparents later that day. I don't know what was up with the whole orange thing but I like them so it's all good.

Other events of December:

-Went ice skating

-Went to France for a weekend for some Marche de Noels there with my host family. We went to 2 different ones in 2 different towns Saturday and Sunday. Saturday night we stayed in a hotel in Germany. I really don't understand that-but maybe I would if i looked at a map of exactly where we went, because everything is so close. But I was just along for the ride. It was funny to me because they were using English as the central language to speak together, and as an Anglophone, I found this a little bit amusing. That night I did my first translation though! My host mom was trying to ask for a menu in French and when I noticed that the waitress didn't understand I translated. That felt good.

-I also shopped in the Marche de Noel in Liège and Namur

-At this point I was all Marche de Noel'd out

-Attempted to make chocolate chip cookies that didn't turn out too great in my opinion

-Went to an Opera. Now this is something I thought I would never do in my life-but given the opportunity, I decided to go. I really looked forward to it, but when the night came thought, is this going to be boring? But not at all. Granted, I couldn't exactly understand what they were saying the whole time-but there were subtitles, oh wait-but those were in Dutch, so scratch that. But it was mainly just the singing which I'm not even sure I could understand in English. But there was a lot of dancing and gymnastics and fast-pace stuff going on, it was really entertaining.

-Dyed my hair brown since I cannot seem to find someone in this country that can give me blonde highlights how I like.

Christmas

Christmas eve my family went to my host uncle's house. We arrived at 7:30 and had champagne and about 6 appetizers while we went through our little secret santa game. Then we made it to the table at 11:00 pm to begin our 5-course meal. At this point I wasn't even hungry. I find their Christmas to be a lot more fancy here, in this family at least. My family made a big deal out of what we would be wearing and to wear something nice, no jeans, and like I said-the champagne and 5-course meal, which consisted of some pretty fancy food. In the middle of dinner we played this game that was pretty fun where everyone put a post-it on their head with the name of a celebrity-written by someone else of course, and then we went around the circle asking 2 questions each for each turn trying to guess who we were. I was Hillary Clinton. We ended the meal and got out of there by 4:00 am. I find this a little bit crazy because then you are exhausted for the next day. Even my host uncle, whose house we were at, went to bed at 2:00.

So the next day I got up at 11:15 and was informed that we would be leaving for my house aunt's house in 30 min. Here we go again. I got dressed and then we opened our presents. This was tough for all of us because of course the first thing I open is a mushy card from my dad and then they had received presents from their daughter who is on exchange in Iowa right now. I also received lots of presents from home which was nice. Anywho, we finished this in about 5 minutes. I know my family isn't normal, but at home we usually take turns opening presents so everyone can see what everyone got and to see that they appreciate the gift from whoever. But even after talking with other kids they say they open presents at the same time at home, but not all, just one. And then get another, etc. Here I never got to see them open my gifts so I really have no idea of they liked them or what because I didn't get to see the looks on their faces. But usually I like to, because I like to feel good about what I bought for them. Christmas day didn't really feel like Christmas because we just had another really long family meal like we always do- so it was sort of like every other weekend. Except for the fact that a few presents were given before. Which I found this really random how only a few people bought for a few people. I know we already did the secret santa thing, but I just didn't understand how they decided who they were going to buy for. I was so tired from the night before, and sick-so I skipped the main course and took a nap in the living room with my host grandpa. How he was the only other one tired I do not know. But it's funny, because it's always us taking naps in the living room in the middle of the meals-no matter whose house we are at. That night I called my dad and then my mom, but then talked to my sister for awhile and then felt too bad to talk to my mom.

The next week was probably most definitely the hardest week of my exchange. I had started to feel sick the weekend before Christmas and went to the doctor that Monday. Then, it heighted on Christmas day and for the week after that. I had swollen glands on my throat and it really hurt to swallow. (I don't know what's up with us Belgian exchange students getting sick...) I felt pretty alone this week. I felt like no one cared and had to take care of myself, which really made me homesick, especially for my mom-since I still hadn't been able to talk to her because it hurt too bad and she is normally the one to take care of me. Plus, every day I was missing out on things. Things got really awkward really quick with my house family.

Thank god I was better just in time for New Years. I went with 2 exchange students to a private party at one of their schools. We paid 25 euro for dinner (pita) and all the drinks we wanted and danced all night. And even counted down in French! The next morning I had to take an early train home to go visit all the grandparents with the fam, since apparently this is what the Belg do on New Years Day-visit the grandparents. The whole day I was about to fall asleep sitting up due to my lack of sleep. That night I finally got to call my mom!

On January 2nd, I left for Denmark to visit Anna! It was a little colder there-and so much wind since she is right on the water. I got to see her school, her town, and hang out with her family and had a lot of fun! She has 4 host brothers and sisters and the girls are our age and it's amazing how good the Danish are compared to the French or Francophones should I say, when it comes to speaking English! But then the trip ended sooner than I knew it and it was time to return to Belgium and school.

Recently everyone has begun to change host families, except me. I will be staying with my host family until the middle of April because my old second host family lives in a different town too far away for me to go to school. Why I was assigned to this family in the first place, I do not know. This makes 8 months with my first family and 2 with my second. So I requested to move to my now second family a little early. While there are no problems (everything was oddly perfectly back to normal when I got back from New Years) I would like to have more time to get to know my other family and experience more than just this one. Because there are some things that I still question if they are Belg, or just something that my family does. But, this is not possible, so it is how it is.

We have started dancing in gym which I think is really funny because that is something we would never do in the U.S. We also did some 'gymnaste' type stuff too.

At the end of the month I have to give a speech for French class that includes my opinion on something. I've decided that I'm going to do it on why people should do an exchange. Then my next Rotary meeting I'm giving a presentation on my 'region'-so a little on the U.S. and then the rest on Florida and my town. I'm actually really looking forward to that because I like to tell people her about where I come from.

Being an exchange student you kind of change your opinion on how good you are at your language each day. Some days I feel like I could possibly be saying everything wrong in some way or another between the conjugation and feminine/masculine words. Others I feel really good and just say what I can and what I do know in the areas of conjugation and the whole feminine/masculine thing. I pretty much have speaking and lots of vocabulary down, so I'm mostly trying to crack down on the conjugation. I just wish people would correct me when I know I'm saying things wrong. Lately, I've been feeling pretty good about my French. My host counselor's wife even told me yesterday that she thinks I already speak better than my oldie! So that was a nice compliment.

A bientot (for those of you who know French I can't find the accent marks on the keyboard-désolé)


March 26 Journal

 Hello everyone. I just got done reading my last journal to see where I should start from and I feel like all that stuff happened soooo long ago! Which it was almost 3 months ago, since I've skipped a few months because they go by so fast!

So the day after I wrote my last journal I decided to ask my host mom if we were still planning on taking a weekend trip to Paris since they told me we could do that instead of me paying for the Rotary trip-or if I should start trying to make some other plans to do that. And she was like, I dont know, havent thought about it. A few hours later that night she came into the living room where I was and asked me "What was that question you ask me earlier?" Well, I had been talking to her alot about alot of stuff before dinner like I always do, so I couldn't remember. And she was like, "about going somewhere..." And then she told me we were going to Paris that weekend (it was Thurs night)! Turns out that they were already planning it before I asked, but she just had to check with my host dad that night about a hotel or something before she told me and then I had happened to ask about it at the same time! It was so awesome and I will never forget it.

At the beginning of February we had vacation for carnaval and I went on a 3-day trip to Holland w/ Rotary. It was so cute. Main word of advice when you go there: the bikers (as in regular bikes) have the right-of-way. You hear that bell, you better dive out of the way. One night they took us to the red light district. That's right. It was hilarious and a little scary though. Oh, good story. So when we were leaving I walked by a window and I was like-"that's a man!" (drag queen) Then a random guy walking down the street goes "that is definitely a man". I was with only like one friend at the time, so I ran up to the rest of the group and told them the story. Then I hear "hey, that was me!" He was still walking by us and I didn't realize it-ha.

Went to my school's soiree one night-that got a little boring with all the techno. That and "techtonic". I don't know if the others in Europe know about this, but it's the type of dancing they do to techno. And that is one thing I won't miss.

The other weekend I went to a little town called Durby for a Rotex activity. It was really a lot of fun. There was a ropes course in the trees, just like the one we did. But the difference here was that there were 4 levels-which went from easiest to hardest, and since it was set on a slope/mountain, as each level got harder it also got higher off the ground. We did the first 2 levels in the morning and then went for the "death ride", as they called it. This is a zip line that goes off a mountain thing 62 meters up, where you are to literally RUN off the slope and DIVE into the air. I was pretty much scared when I was up there. I have to say, I didn't dive- but I did run and it was so cool. If I had the opportunity to do it again I would dive cause then the fear is gone. In the afternoon we did the other 2 levels-which I cant decide if they are harder than ours, since I had to fall off that one. But it was pretty hard being short when your support was a rope above your head which was a bit of a stretch. It was a really good day though.

Right now I'm in the middle of my first of 2 weeks of Easter vacation. Everyone from my school left to go their Rheto (Senior) trip to Italy on Sunday. Half of the Rotary exchange students left for Greece Monday and the other half left for Italy Tuesday. So I've been at home alone (even my host sister was on a school trip in Rome and just got back last night) chillin' for the past 5 days. It really hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be though.

Sunday was Easter, my last big family meal-w/ this family at least. Then we went to my first and probably last professional soccer game! It was really cool. I'm really glad I got to go. I felt like we were so close to the field since I'm used to football games. It made me excited to get back to American football next year. Oh yeah, but before we had like a 5 course meal cause we got the tickets from my host dad's colleague, so we were in like the businessman/rich people section inside. Note: this makes 2 five course meals for the day-with only an hour between the two-and usually when we have those type of meals we don't even eat dinner!

I've also been keeping myself busy with college stuff like paying tuition deposits, signing up for orientation, and doing some research on where to live and also organizing my room and some things for my mom to take home for me. I've enjoyed being an only child the past couple of days-getting to do whatever I want home alone-not like I'd ever want to be one in my life-but here it's cool. And I will be in my next host family because their kids are all grown and out of the house, I think. But I'm not sure cause I don't know them at all.

The reason that I'm not on any of the Rotary/school trips is that my mom and sister are coming to visit me the day after tomorrow! One more day. I'm going to meet them at the airport at 7:00 am Friday morning. I don't even think I'll be tired cause I'll be way too excited to see them. We will stay in Brussels for a day, Liège for a day, eat dinner with my host family, and then go to Italy! It's going to be so great. I'm just afraid for when they will leave. But it'll be ok. Cause then that weekend I'll be switching families, so that'll be a change and then my dad and grandma will be visiting me for about 10 days at the beginning of May.

I remember when I'd look ahead in my planner to my birthday, February, and March and my mom visiting and think how far away all that was that it wasn't even worth thinking about. Now even going home is right around the corner. I can't believe I'm already to the point of only 3 months left. I feel like it will go slow while I'm in it but then once it's over I will have felt like it had flown by. I will be ready though. Ready to get back to life, doing school work that counts for something, and get back to the heat!

Oh yeah, I also feel like I am going to have so much culture shock when I get home. I didn't understand this when they told us about it before we left, but now that I am here, I get it, cause there are so many things that I forget about that exist over there while I am over here and will remember about randomly every week.

<3 Chloe