JP outbound to Belgium

I don't know how to start this. I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of feelings. This will read more like a list of thoughts and anecdotes, but that's how I'm feeling right now and I think it's helpful to the future exchange students reading this anyway.

I arrived a little dead-feeling, because the trip was long and uncomfortable and stressful. Flights were delayed and missed, I had to track down KLM/Delta employees, I know every square meter of the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam now...long story short it took three hours of running around Schipol to get a replacement train ticket to Brussels.

My host parents came to get me at the Brussels Airport and weren't the slightest bit annoyed at me for all the trouble with my trip, the changing time of arrival etc. They have proven to be one of the coolest, most welcoming and active families I have ever known. They participate in and enjoy life to the fullest and I love them a whole lot. My host brothers are the best. My younger brother adores me and he asks what I'm doing every day to see if I can hang out with him. Yesterday we made waffles at home and it was super fun.

The day of my arrival, my French was awful. I've studied very, very hard for three years, at school and outside of school with other Francophone people I've met, and I could barely string together sentences. But two days later, the jet lag wore off, and I felt the gears start to turn. Now I have conversations throughout the whole day, and I work with people if there's a word or an expression I don't know (worst case scenario, we just look it up online or in my dictionary). Every day I feel myself getting a little better, a little more confident, and the sentences come with a little more ease.

I was reunited with one of my best friends, Gus, who did his exchange in my city/at my school two school years ago, because he lives in the same city as me in Belgium. In addition, my third host family hosted my good friend Ella last year, who I've also known for a long time from Tallahassee. The world is small.

I'm in love with my village, my city, and this country. Exchange is one of the hardest things you'll ever do, and I've already had one of the most difficult and emotionally taxing days of my life here-- but I also wake up every day and look out the window and know that this is definitely the path I was meant to take, because in just a week (OH MY GOD IT'S BEEN SEVEN DAYS ALREADY) I have also experienced the best time of my life. And this is only the beginning.

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