Nikki Johnson

Belgium

Hometown: Saint Augustine, Florida
School: Pedro Menendez
Sponsor District: 6970
Sponsor Club: Coastal St. Johns County
Host District: 2170
Host Club

 

My Bio


Bonjour, Hallo! I'm Nikki, currently 17, and a junior at Pedro Menendez High School, bound for Belgium! At school, I'm a club person: Interact, Future Business Leaders of America, Student Council, and National Art Honors Society, among others; subject wise, I particularly love math, but Spanish is a close second since language learning is pretty radical to me. Outside of school I'm either playing games, crying over dramas, or hanging with friends for "study" groups, or in our case, an excuse to binge on Starbucks coffee until the sun goes down. I also have a special love for art, so all my papers are covered in doodles (my teachers either love it or hate it), and I'm thinking of going into Animation, along with other things. I have a wonderful family, with my dad from Buffalo, NY, and my mom from Udon Thani, Thailand, who run an Asian Market, along with a two pets: Mailbox the dog (yes, he is named after a Blue's Clues character), and Bambeau the cat. I'm an only child, so I try to surround myself with friends (I really treasure them). We're a pretty lively family and we're usually up to something all the time! Belgium is pretty far away from home, but I feel pretty excited participate in a new culture and share mine with others (I sure will miss mom's cooking, though). I'm really thankful to Rotary for this opportunity and guiding me, and my parents for finally letting me go for it! Wish me luck in Belgium!


I made my first snowman ever in my life in Belgium. All my friends told me he looks disgusting

I made my first snowman ever in my life in Belgium. All my friends told me he looks disgusting

Me n my friends after our chaotic exotic dinner !! turns out exchange students are pretty good cooks

Me n my friends after our chaotic exotic dinner !! turns out exchange students are pretty good cooks

The belge friends ! Feat. left to right Chloe, Manon, me, and Elise ! Not pictured - Denela and Adelaide, alas

The belge friends ! Feat. left to right Chloe, Manon, me, and Elise ! Not pictured - Denela and Adelaide, alas

Me n my girl Valentina ! We visited Antwerp and did... a lot of walking

Me n my girl Valentina ! We visited Antwerp and did... a lot of walking

Listen... Antwerp has a cool station

Listen... Antwerp has a cool station

Namur is the city closest to me ! It's a real nice place for shopping. This was from the top of the citadel

Namur is the city closest to me ! It's a real nice place for shopping. This was from the top of the citadel

Journals: Nikki – Belgium 2016-17

  • Nikki, outbound to Belgium

    Read more about Nikki and all her blogs

    Guess whose inconsistent self is back ? Meeeee it’s me. But a one month time gap is better than like, a five month one, and lots of fun things have happened in literally just the past five days so let’s go to the nitty gritty fun stuff. Also my b I would have had this up sooner but I was like, if I have 10 days, I’ll just write it up and leave it open and add to it as the time goes by. SO here we are.

    First of all, if you come from a place where you primarily drive and there are no hills (@florida), you’re gonna get toned legs, no kidding. Pretty sure half my theoretical gained weight is like, muscle mass (but then again I’m not checking that). Second of all, there are a lot of places to climb - one, the citadel in Namur, which I climbed with my favorite Argentinian gal Valentina. We almost died going up in, then almost got like, locked in because we hung around for too long oops. Second, the nightmare stairs of Liege - next conquest of ours. Soon. I’ll keep ya’ll posted. Maybe. Ya’ll know me.

    Second of all, despite my french comprehension being pretty dang solid, obviously I’m still a fool considering how I decided, yeah, I just got this pizza hut coupon for a LARGE CHEESY CRUST pizza for only 7 euros. I thought that was realistic. No. No. The coupon meant “-7 euros” off the purchase. The pizza was actually like 24 originally. Read the fine print or your wallet will cry. Despite that “minor” oversight, Valentina and I still celebrated a good six-months-since-arriving-anniversary (we burned those calories by climbing the citadel, fyi).

    Third of all, have your friends cook cool stuff for you. For us, we recently had a big get together organized by our Rotex where everyone cooked something pretty indicative of their host country and had a big feast. Except it actually wasn’t for us, but we shared anyway and let me tell you you haven’t lived until you’ve tried south african stew or truly genuine empanadas. Meanwhile, I made deviled eggs (the secret is pickle juice ! ), like six other people (and yet, surprise, no one made hamburgers as far as I could see ! a crime, frankly). But anyway, you have the world at your fingertips, so give it a taste yeah !!
    Did I mention I switched families yet ? Have I done talked about that ? If so, whatever, I’m just going to reiterate that I absolutely adore my host family. True gems. It’s so nice to feel like, not ostracized, and gee they’re just really relatable. I actually cooked some traditional Thai food a while back which was a pretty big hit, and as for me, I’m supplied with boudin. The most delicious lunch meat on this earth. I don’t know what I’ll do when I get back. On another note my host family is planning like a mini vacation by the belgian sea side and I’m stoked for that. They know I love me some beach.

    Have I also mentioned how much I love my friends here ? RYE ain't playing any games when they say that the friends you make there are forever. Already, my Belgian friends are planning trips together for after exams, and even for next summer - they might come visit in Florida, or we might even go to Thailand together. Truly people of my heart and soul. To be truthful, I feel lucky to be really close with my Belgian friends (close enough to have a mock war. Ya’ll remember hornets ? I brought those suckers back), considering I’m one of the few out of the exchangers I know who is actually close with them. I was surprised to find out that some of the other exchangers were having trouble like being “real” friends with the Belgians. Sure, it isn’t easy to make friends in another language, but it sure is possible. 
    Which segways into how much I also appreciate my exchange friends here too. I’m glad to have two really great buds from Cali, Selena and Katy, along with my bud Valentina from Argentina. We’re always out on some kind of big adventure shebang - already planning some new things now. It’s hard to find a balance between time with exchange friends and local friends, but I think I found it, and boy is it nice.

    And I guess a side note - if ya’ll newies are concerned about making friends here - don’t be, really. With other exchange students it’s definitely easy - you already have a lot in common ! With belgians, it can be a little tough, but the tried and true method that’s worked for many an exchanger is - follow a group around. Just shadow them for like a month. It sounds absolutely bizarre and mildly creepy and stalker like, but eventually they’ll adopt you in (sometimes literally. “Nikki if you don’t want to go back to the US we’ll adopt you. You can study law with me”). It works. And I quote, “Nikki you were so cute at first like a little ghost and you couldn’t speak french but now you’re literally a mess.” If that’s not friendship then I don’t know what is.

    In any case this is long winded and really convoluted and confusing but when you’re having the time of your life and you have so much to talk about it’s hard to organize it. I have like sixty other little anecdotes but this is already really long. I’m still shook that this chapter in my life is like, halfway done, and I’m a little scared to come back because like. Belgium is my home, not even my second home, just straight up another home besides my home ya know ? If you don’t, you will soon.

    And my final side note - for any of ya’ll new kids heading to belgium next year, if you need an extra leg up or wanna know something, don’t hesitate to contact any of us belgian outbounds - I promise I’m not as dumb as my journal makes me sound and I can give decent advice. Usually. You can find me on facebook or like… ask somebody about me. Ask Colson, he’s going to Brazil in the upcoming year (that’s ma boy !!) so he’s around. Anyway I’m on carnival break so possibly expect (or maybe don’t) some updates while I go do things. I’m gonna play mario kart with my sister catch ya’ll on the flip

  • Nikki, outbound to Belgium

    Read more about Nikki and all her blogs

    Literally a year ago I turned to my friend and said "I don't get what people are talking about with the whole "I didn't have time to do my journal thing, I would totally write one like every week."" Evidently, I'm fake and also a liar because that didn't happen. No. No I totally get it now.

    So what better time to fill in my journal than the start of a new year, 2017 ! :^) This is really me saying, I said I would do it after Halloween, then after Thanksgiving, then after Christmas.... But whatever your favorite neighborhood slacker is back.

    Exchange is busy - really busy. In my case, I was late (carrying my habits - oh so smart), so I had even more loose ends to tie up. And after that... all I wanted to do was run around and explore. So I did and promptly forgot all about "journaling," oh no, my life was explore discover eat.

    But anyway - it's been wild here, in a good way of course. I've learned a lot of Belgian things, Belgicisms if you will. Like, if you try and call frites "french fries" you'll be lectured for an hour about how France is faux and definitely did NOT make french fries. Or the mildly terrifying driving here - my first host family found my screaming hysterical. Or how most Belgians have the ability to blow their nose anytime, anywhere, meanwhile if I want to cough I'll literally exit the room. Amazing. I envy their courage.

    Anyway. Belgium is a small country. Which maybe sounds like some kind of con, but no, it's totally actually super great. Everything is literally just a train ride away, and gee howdy if I ain't taken advantage of that. Bruxelles, Liege, Antwerp, Bruges... those are the big ones but I still have more exploring to do.

    And eating - Ya'll know I like to eat. I would be some kind of fiend if I didn't help myself to the food they have here - and boy it's g o o d. Waffles, two kinds, Bruxelles and Liege. Both great, but better with chocolate, whipped cream, and bananas. Chocolate. I don't think I've tried enough but I can make a sound judgement : it's delicious. Stoemp is essentially mashed potatoes with more vegetables which frankly is delicious and I can live with it. Mussels, of course delicious. And frites - literally why I live and why I exist and before you get weirded out about the mayo with the frites, it's not that bad I promise (but FYI, good luck finding normal yellow mustard here - it's all dijon ! Another FYI, gaining weight is so faux here considering you walk literally 60% of your life away. It's balanced).

    Oh my gosh no speaking of chocolate let me tell ya'll about CHOCOLATE HANDS. They're chocolates shaped like hands that are popular in Antwerp because apparently... there was this legend about some giant named Antigoon (???) who essentially accepted a severed hand as a payment for crossing I think a river. So they sell chocolate hands. Wicked.

    Oh let's talk about the people here too ! I love them. I love my friends at school they are literally the best and I adore them. At first it was one person and then it multiplied into five and now we're this clique of six that is in direct opposition to the other clique of six in our class (not really but I'm being dramatic). But no I'm so thankful I found good people here they're terribly kind and have great humor and gosh I just :,) They're good. I'm in the sixth (last) year here so we also ! have a cool end of the year trip for the "Rhetos," which for us will be in Greece ! I'm super excited to spend time with them there. My Rotary Club is also frankly super cool and I actually enjoy going to meetings so much I usually go two times a month. They're all very sociable and patient with my ugly French and I'm very thankful and lucky to have them with me. Even though the meetings are literally five hours long and death is knoc king on my door after them it's okay because we all have fun. And also shout out to my girl Valentina who is the only other Rotary exchange student in my area and club she's from Argentina and I adore her and her cool Argentinian knowledge. It's good.

    Uhmm non sorry this is literally so disjointed I think of things as they come but I promise I'll find the time to add in some little stories because ! I have some good ones. Hopefully I'll find the time to tell them because I'm either doing something or I'm dead asleep with no in between. 

    Also bisous to my Rotary team and my family and friends back home I miss ya'll and think of ya'll everyday ! I'm doing my best to make the most out of the great opportunity you all gave me here in Belgium ! 

    (Side note no pictures my phone force updated and restored itself so all 5000 of my photos have hit the road ! :,( I'll add some when I get some good ones !!)

    A la prochaine ;^)

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