Bailie, outbound to Belgium

May in Belgium

Since Belgium doesn't have a Eurotour, they split us into two groups. We could either go to Spain for 10 days, or to Italy for 10 days. I went to Spain with all the other gringos, and all the Latinos went to Italy. And those 10 days were probably the best days of my life. We were crowded in this tiny bus driving 20 hours from Belgium to Salamanca, Spain. Sleeping, eating, and annoying each other the whole way. Another kid from Florida, David Newman, brought his bongo drums and didn’t stop playing them till 1am and another time when at 3 in the morning, my friend Zoe from Kansas wouldn't be quiet and another kid from Canada threatened to throw her out the window if she couldn't keep her mouth shut while we all were trying to sleep.

But every day of the trip we had something to do like touring castles, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, met the Real Madrid team (well, we saw them from afar) then we got the rest of the day to explore and go tourist shopping if we wanted. Well, in comes these too Aussie newbies that I've never met before. Steph and Jessica, I ended up rooming with them the rest of the trip and still today they are my absolute best friends.

I can't even put into words how amazing that trip was. When we were in Madrid, at night we had some free time till midnight. And our hotel was in the city center across from the Royal Palace, so we were out singing in dancing barefoot in the Royal Park 100 feet in front of the Palace. We almost got in trouble because our game of Duck Duck Goose got a little too noisy. At that hotel there was a group of American high school kids on an EF tour from South Carolina and they had the most southern boondocks accent that I haven't heard in so long. I got homesick right then. But it was kind of cool explaining to them that we're here in Spain on spring break and they all said in unison “You live in Europe?!” I guess it would be kind of dull for them to visit Europe just for a week and fall in love with it, then have to go back home to The States.

But the last night of the trip, our hotel was right on the beach in Barcelona. We all sat on the beach and watched the stars. Some of us even jumped in the freezing cold water, and then ran back to the hotel for a hot shower. But that night was one of the best nights of my life. Everyone was so happy and carefree that I was wondering what it would be like without these guys in my life and I just couldn't picture it. They all have dug their claws deep into my heart and its going to be the worst thing in the world to say goodbye.

But here it is, the time has come to where I have less than a month in this tiny little country. 27 days to be exact. And even though I love it here, I am so ready to come home. The Spain withdrawals are over and now the anxiousness of seeing my friends and family is setting in. I can't wait for a steady stream of heat waves, sweat stains, and sun tan lines from being at the beach all day. (And real fruit that doesn't taste like artificial chemicals).

Don’t get me wrong, I'm going to miss this place like crazy and there will always be a place in my heart for Belgium. But now my comfort zone is calling me. My family and friends are waiting for me and I think 10 months is an appropriate time to start wanting real southern style Sweet Tea again. Just knowing that I’m going back makes the cravings set in.

Looking back on my exchange, 10 months is a lot longer than I thought it would be. It seems like I’ve been here for years. I wish I had more philosophical things to say about my time here, but I think I'm still in shock that it's already over. The fall months went by so slow, and now the spring months are going by in a blink of an eye.

I know that soon I will be wearing my blazer, which weighs a whopping 6 lbs will all my pins on it, at Brussels International Airport boarding my flight to come home to the good ‘ole U.S. of A. I’ll hug my host family, and then go cry with all my other exchangers who made the trip out to the airport to say goodbye to me. It's going to be really hard to walk through those gates and possibly never seeing them again. They are what made my exchange unforgettable. They filled my memories with happy times, comforting times, and the best times of my life.