Nikki, outbound to Belgium

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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

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