Savannah - Outbound to Belgium
August 20th, 2014: 3 days in Belgium!
So my flight left Jacksonville on the 17th of August, at 2:11 pm. It was on time and even arrived 30 minutes early. We (Bailie and I) found our flight to Atlanta with relative ease and there we met up with a girl from New Jersey, Megan. We all went over to Brussels on an 8 hour overnight flight. I watched two movies and tried to get sleep but couldn't :(
The flight landed in Brussels at 8:30 am and I guess not getting up even once on the flight was a bad idea because once I did get up, I felt faint and had to sit back down (for the record: Mom, I did eat. I ate a lot on the flight actually) and had to ask the flight attendants for some water. But I was okay! I did lose track of Bailie and Megan though, they both got carried away with the crowd.
Once in the airport it was a madhouse of people in line for customs. Hundreds of people. Apparently every international flight landed at the same time. I saw Bailie in the distance and somehow Megan got behind me? Customs was really easy and took like 2 seconds. Then I met my host family and they seem so nice!! They're very welcoming and I think I will like them very much. Before we got home, they stopped at a bread shop and bought bread (baguettes and croissants ) for breakfast. They were yummy :) After that I wandered up to my room and crashed for like 4 hours. During that period, I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty bad. I cried and pretty much doubted every choice I had made. Not to mention my stomach hurt! I'm pretty sure it was jet lag because 1) I looked it up in my handy-dandy outbound handbook and 2)the next day, I felt so much better, so don't worry mom and dad!
I did get up eventually, and I'm glad I did because my family took me to a fair that was in town. It was so cute!! They had animals and rides and it was such a stereotypical fair that it was adorable. I went with my host mom and youngest brother to the grocery store to get food for dinner. I think they might buy food each day before dinner. I can't say for sure, but so far everything looks pretty similar in price range. My family eats a lot of veggies, which I'm not a fan of, but I'll make do. And somehow my host mom has it in her head that I don't like fruit? I'm not sure why, but I've happily eaten the tomatoes and cantaloupe she's offered so far. And for the love of God they have so many tomatoes. The pile of tomatoes is so tall! We even had a dinner of stuffed tomatoes, and my host mom made 12 and it didn't even make a dent in the pile of tomatoes.
So far my family has been speaking to me in English, so I'm not sure how much French I'll end up learning before school starts, but we'll see. I can understand why kids say they don't like to arrive more than a few days before school starts, it's awkward doing basically nothing. I try to study French, but again…we'll see.
The first night I slept for like 14 hours- I think it surprised my host family that it was even possible to sleep that long… oops. The second day of my exchange was my host sister Noémie's birthday. She turned 21. She's mentally handicapped, but so sweet.
As I'm writing this, it's the third day of my exchange. I'm not really doing anything, no one is really doing anything… My family will be taking me on a trip to France after my host brother Corentin turns 18 and leaves for Canada for his exchange (they'll be having a party in a few days to celebrate both). By going on the trip, I'll miss the meeting of all inbounds in Belgium. It's the only time all inbounds will get to meet each other, so I won't get the chance to trade pins there. They'll also get to go into the palace, so I'm sad.
I have one more older host brother, Guillaume who's 22 and 2 more younger host siblings: Léa who's 14 and Mattéo who's 12. Léa is eager to help me find whatever I need, but usually Léa and Mattéo just run around and play together or watch tv (and not cartoons, like the news or documentaries)
Some differences I've noticed so far, I'm going to list them all, even the obvious ones:
1- Roads and cars are smaller. But not just this, the ceilings to garages are smaller too. Like a normal sized truck back home would not physically have fit. The ceiling was max 6.5 feet.
2- The band-aids are different! They're more of a cloth texture and they're waaay stickier. At least my family's are.
3- Kisses are done as greeting, one on the left cheek. Once you're introduced, you're basically required to do so in greeting or leaving.
4- You're (unspokenly) expected to eat all the food on your plate. And don't for a second believe the portions are smaller, because they're not. They're just as big as back home. And then these people go for seconds and thirds! If you physically cannot finish what is on your plate (like me), someone else will eat it. I don't eat a lot as it is, but I'm flabbergasted by how much they expect me to eat. Already on the second night my host dad gave me a smaller portion :P
5- At least in my house, there's no central air. Only problem, I don't know how the heat works. There's a radiator in my room, but I do not know how to use it. And that whole "heat rises" rule apparently does not apply to this house because it is degrees colder upstairs.
6- People leave their doors and windows open, except this lets flies in. Only thing, no one notices them. I'll bat them away but the rest of the family doesn't even register their existence. (I've asked a few other people, this is not just my family).
7- There are no sheets on the beds, only covers
8- There's no bags in stores. Whatever you buy, you walk out with in hand. Also, the people who work in stores aren't as friendly/helpful. You know when you walk into a store and someone who works there (usually) comes up and asks if you need anything, or if you look a little lost they'll ask to help you. Nope. I was looking for a hairdryer and the one they had on display wasn't below with the other hair dryers. There was a lady right next to me for the entire time I was looking and not once did she ask if I needed help :( By the time I gave up looking and was trying to word in my head how to ask this lady for help, my host dad walked up and helped me.
I'll update with more differences (because I know I love reading those) and more experiences once school starts in a few weeks (September 4th).
Posted on Wed, August 20, 2014
by Catrine Fredrikson