roma.

Oh yeah, forgot to add in there that I'm going to board a plane this afternoon and head off to Italy for ten days.
Better yet, I'm going to visit and stay with one of my good friends, Sabina, who was an exchange student in the US last year.  She lives in Rome, and we're going to Tuscany for New Year's Eve.

It's just like a 10-day youth exchange in Italy, something that Sabina and I had always talked about as I was going to Belgium and she was returning home.  We'd both be in Europe, so we'd have to visit eachother.

But in all honesty, I never thought it would happen.

I'm going to see her in four and a half hours. 
Is this reality?

plaisirs d'hiver.

 



belgië, zijn muziek.

I stood in front of the doors of Woudec in Alsemberg.
It had taken me fifteen minutes to walk there- five minutes more than usual due to the frequent slide of my feet on the icy sidewalks.
The doors opened up for me, and as my legs rushed in, ready to find refuge from the cold, I heard the common beep which signaled my arrival.

I raised my eyes from the ground as I walked forward and saw an elderly woman speaking with an employee of the store.
"So is it supposed to work this way?"
"Yes, that's right. Here, let me show you."


While thinking about how much I'd liked the employee's accent, I realized he was talking in English. They were talking in English.

I continued to the counter, waiting for the person in front of me to finish. In his hands was a Nikon DSLR, and he was saying something along the lines of "Mijn camera werkt niet goed."

At that moment, the other employee who had finished showing the woman how to use her cell phone walked up to the counter and smiled at me.
Returning the smile I said, "Bonjour, j'ai besoin de développer des photos."

He then led me over to the machine for the instant prints, and explained to me how to go through the process. We spoke in French, but at the same moment he was suggesting something to the man with the camera in Flemish.

Despite what most people think, I really like the sound of Flemish.

Something I've realized recently is that comprehension takes away from the beauty of a language. If you know the meaning of the words, you listen to understand them and forget about their natural beauty, natural rhythym. I used to be awed by the sound of French; I was so enraptured by the music of words although they had no meaning. But now the language is so common, so everyday that it's lost its essence of beauty. Though if I turn my comprehension off and just listen, I can hear it. This method pleases me momentarily, but then afterwards I always get the blank stares of "You really didn't understand what I just said?"

But I'm in this tiny store, only about as big as two bedrooms, yet three languages surround me: English in my head; French from my mouth, his mouth; and Flemish from theirs.
And at that moment I thought of how much I'm going to miss this, this diversity of language, when I return to the US.

Everything I read will be written in English.
Everything I hear will be in English.
Each word I say will be, in English.

I'm not sure how I'll be able to handle such monotony.
Or how I'll feel when each word I say is right, proper, unaccented.
I'll be able to speak freely, and I'll lose the smiles that are often developped in response to my words.

Is it really already the end of December?

-0℃❅☃

my class:
my host family:
our christmas tree:
(Mom, I didn't know what to do with myself as I was helping to decorate the tree. I could put the ornaments anywhere I wanted to! Yet, I did have the tendency to direct where each ornament should have been placed, but I kept the dictating to myself. I figured that's only your job. :p)

the snow and his smile.






As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m experiencing the nervous feeling of time passing all too quickly.

This is my fifth month in Belgium. I’ve been here for four months in total, but this is the debut of my fifth month, which is uncomfortably close to the halfway point. I tend to wonder if I’m truly making the best of my time, especially since it’s being dispensed at the same rate as my money.

At this point, I find myself focusing on my studies more than anything since my exams commence the week after next, but at the same time I think that maybe I should be spending my time exploring the country rather than in my room memorizing its politics. Most other exchange students laugh at the idea of school and succeeding, but I actually feel like I’m capable and that I should try, especially since this year counts for me in the United States. Though, in the long run, will I regret spending my time gaining knowledge I will more than likely soon forget rather than wandering about the country, taking trains and introducing my taste buds to chocolate, beer, and waffles that they could never meet in America?

But I can’t say that I haven’t experienced the things I’ve wanted to. To me, it’s not necessarily visiting every city and tasting all the food which makes an exchange; it’s more so that which can happen every day. It’s what I’ll always remember although most other people probably won’t, like the first snow of the season, everyone with pink noses which barely peek over at least two cozy, knitted scarves; the constant sound of sniffling; fingers huddling in the shelter of mittens; and permanent smiles, white as the snow which caused them. It’s, later that day, being chased by the threat of a snowball clenched in my best friend’s hand, obstinacy eventually causing it to soar directly toward my already numbed cheek, leading to both of us tumbling through the snow in a war with no final victory but the teacher’s smile as we entered the next class powdered white with rosy cheeks.

It’s being told “Appy Tanksgiving” throughout the day, making it a little better that I was going to school for the first time on the last Thursday of November, and then teaching my host sister how to make pumpkin pie that evening. It’s hearing grace in Spanish, French, Hungarian, Chinese, and English as four American exchange students surrounded a table bearing stuffing, roast beef, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce they had prepared themselves, introducing the tradition of Thanksgiving to five different nationalities.

These are the things which make me happy, just the little things. If I'm feeling down, I think, "Jordann, you're an exchange student in Belgium, and you're here because you earned it," and I just feel better.

However, I have been dealing with more melancholy feelings than usual the past couple weeks. I've realized that I don't necessarily feel sad from being away from home on a regular basis, but I do when I realize that things are changing when I'm not there. It's as if in my head I have an image of this world, exactly the way it was before I left. I know that in time, I'll once again live there, which comforts me. But when I realize that my world's changing, I become overwhelmed. My world is becoming unfamiliar, and there's nothing I can do to change it. The image in my head no longer provides comforts, but fear instead.

I know that my best friends are changing; I know that my aunt and uncle are moving away. But what can I do about it? My mind is adamant to change, but it's going to happen whether she wants it or not.

So, Jordann, just be tough. Focus on now, not the past or the future.
Focus on the saying the words "littérature" and “amoureux”. Focus on the smile of the snowman you and your host sisters built in the backyard. Focus on finding your gym bag you forgot on the bus.

Just laugh, like always.
Smile to just smile.

je te promet.

What to write? I feel like I should express something new, something different about Belgium that I've yet to share, but my thoughts are blank. Maybe if I just write aimlessly, ideas will meet me along the way.

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving
and my amount of indifference worries me. Naturally, I should be longing to be home with my family and friends, smiling and laughing at jokes I actually understand, staring at a table overwhelmed by plates bearing turkeys in pilgrim hats buried by prepared home recipes, or rather those of Martha Stewart and Paula Dean.

Naturally.

But I just don't register anything. I think the speed of time confuses nostalgia. I don't know what home is anymore. "Chez moi ici", "chez moi aux Etats-Unis". Chez moi.. chez qui?
Though, it's not that it really bothers me. En fait, it's actually a little comforting.
I've found "home" in myself. Home to me is now the feeling of familiarity and comfort, not necessarily walls and a roof.

I'm at home when my headphones plug my ears as their red wires tangle in my hair,
or when I'm wandering without a destination, my camera resting with curiosity around my neck.
I'm at home when my back rests against the bark of a lonely tree and I can sing to only him;
I can inhale the new air of spring, crisp air of fall, or brisk air of winter
and watch the sun or the clouds or the rain or the birds,
whoever decides to join me that day.

Home is an escape, which to me is simplicity.

I don't think anyone here really understands that, that I find happiness in the simplest things.
It doesn't bother me when I eat lunch with no one but my ipod and rooted best friend. It's relaxing to be in solitude de temps en temps.

It's great and all that you're truly concerned about my well-being, but I'm not going to cry in a corner because you have plans to eat with someone else. I'm not as fragile as you think, I promise.

À qui je parle?

Okay, I'm done expressing the sorrows of my pride,
which then brings me to another thought:

to be an exchange student, you need to let go of "you".

Well, at least at first. Initially, you need to talk and try to make friends, but not be frustrated that you lack personality. If you aim to express yourself and show your true character, you'll only feel unsatisfied by your inability.

I always find myself trying to be Jordann, but I can't. At first, I was so bothered by it, but over time, I realized that it's just the nature of a language barrier.

Ironically, the inability to express character builds it. I find myself feeling more content with who I am each day although others don't truly realize it.

I just constantly think, aimlessly yet deeply;
consequently consuming my time.
Par exemple, I've been writing this post for nearly two hours now because of my thoughts

who now think it's time to go.

leaf piles.

My legs have been wanting, more than anything, to snuggle their toes cosily into grass, feeling the crunch of forgotten, fallen leaves;
to spring into a mountain of red, yellow, and orange;
into the fire of autumn: the ceremonial bonfire which welcomes the snow.

My hair wants to intertwine with, lace her fingers with those of the fall;
become so tangled up in careless, child-like play.

My arms want to swim through the colorful, cackling pool the trees have made for them;
make snow-angels that smell of crisp earth, sunshine, and the gentle, constant breath of the season.

Though it's been raining,
raining for four days straight.

But today it stopped.

I looked outside to see that every tree was bare
and that my host dad had raked up all the leaves,
detaining them in big, black garbage bags.

They're sitting on the curb.

en fait.

I've recently realized how happy I am.

Truly, honestly
happy.

I miss, but I don't desire.
& gratitude overrules any
notalgic
or melancholy feeling.

And isn't that life?



the city of.

When I try to think back to the past four days, from Saturday to Tuesday, I can't seem to grasp reality. The speed of time and strength of laughter have teamed up to prohibit clarity of thought.

Therefore, thank goodness for my camera's memory, which never seems to falter, as well as a small notebook in which my pen decided to express her thoughts. Without the two, I would have woken up yesterday morning and simply smiled: the smile of a night's sleep overtaken by a perfect dream.

Nonetheless, what I do recall of Paris is that it met stereotypes and broke them as well. It truly is "The City of Love": I've never seen so much romance (hands always held and lips always kissed) in such a small radius (in reference to the radius in which we visited, by no means is Paris a small city). Also, Parisians do take pride in their fashion. I don't think I really saw anyone badly dressed apart from a few tourists. And, of course, cuisine is taken in a pretty serious manner as well.

However, I never really sensed the rude and stuck-up nature that people often think that Parisians have. Four teenage back-packers sat down in Café Angelina, a café with high ceilings and chandeliers, and they were treated like any other Parisian with his curly moustache and Dior chemise. Later, the four walked into Courrèges boutique, all too close to the Champs-Elysées, in search of Empreinte parfum. The tall black man behind the counter, wearing a sweater all too tight and probably all too expensive, smiled and displayed nothing but warmth and hospitality.

Never once did I receive a cold sneer or bitter words. But maybe they're saved for tourists who expect everyone to speak English and have no sense of courtesy.

Moreover, here's just a quick summary of my four days in Paris, which will be better illustrated by photos:

Who did I go with? Michelle, an exchange student from Colorade; Savannah, an exchange student from Massachusetts; and Jacob, an "exchange student" from Australia.

Where did we stay? Aloha Hostel, close the the Eiffel Tower. I recommend this hostel to anyone going to Paris.

What did I see/where did I go?
Day 1 (our night of arrival): The Eiffel Tower;
Day 2: Versaille, Musée d'Orsay, Latin Quarter, St. Sulpice;
Day 3: The Louvre, Pont Neuf, The Seine, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysées by night;
Day 4 (note: while carrying bags): Café Angelina, Courrèges, Champs-Elysées, The Seine and Pont Neuf for shopping, train home.


par hasard.

Today, my house started to scream when I opened the door, and nothing I did would make it stop crying. Therefore, I called my host mom and took her advice, which calmed him down in less then thirty seconds.
Oh, the many things one learns from age. I guess having four kids helps as well.

But I have learned that Belgians believe that drinking too much milk increases one's probability for cancer. I'm sure they'd take the Got Milk? campaign in the United States as propaganda glorifying death. So Belgians barely drink milk, yet my eyes still can't believe how many cigarrettes they see wedged between lips: red lips, full lips, dry lips, pale lips. All lips accessorized by a fashionable white stick, but I'm sure a white milk moustache would be much more ludacris.

Oh, society, how I love thee. I'm really not intending to convey cynicism right now, but I suppose that's what my fingers want to type. They feel so free and spirited on this QWERTY keyboard.

And by the way, at 13h15 on Saturday I'm going to take a train from Brussels to Paris, and I'll take one back to Brussels on Tuesday.
Paris, the city of lights.
With three other exchange students,
I'm going to Paris.
I really still can't grasp the concept yet. I guess when I see the Eiffel Tower from the view of my hostel, reality will set in.

A trip to the Catacombs for Halloween sounds just a bit more appeasing than "trick or treat."
:D

Après Paris!

Jordann

let's go vikes!

I came here with the mindset that, without a doubt, the European education system outshone the American since that's what I had been told, and I never second guessed it. Though, now that I'm here, it's truly hard to judge which is better. It simply depends on what one feels that an individual should gain from his or her school career: purely just knowledge or knowledge, a well-rounded character, and memories? Should "fun" and friendships, both between the students and the students and their teachers, be incorporated in school or be left outside the classroom?

If your response to the latter question is yes, then the European system is for you. Students here go to school to go to class. They learn by taking notes, studying, and taking a test. There are no review games or group activities, chemistry labs or computer exercises. The teachers lecture, the students learn: or at least they're supposed to.

Nonetheless, although the essence of "fun" is absent from the European system, it does have positive aspects for the students:
Similar to college in the United States, students don't have the same classes every day: they have a certain number of hours of each course depending on their option, better explained as a "major". For example, I'm in an Economics path: therefore I have only 2 hours of Science a week, where as the students in the Science option have 4 hours of Biology, 4 hours of Physics, etc. Therefore, since I only have Science two times a week, it's not necessary for me to do my homework that night, making it a lot less stressful than in the United States where all the homework is crammed into one night since we have the same classes everyday. This also explains my observation that students here sleep a lot more than in the US.

Also, the European system stands favorable because the constant stress of college doesn't exist. Here, college is not expensive and open to everyone: a complete contrast than the system in the US. Students don't have to do extra-cirricular activities, volunteer, or "compete" with GPA's. They don't have to get straight A's, they just need to get above a 50% in each class so they don't have to redo the year. Nonetheless, repeating a school year here is unbelievably common and not looked down upon, and it seems as if almost every student does it at least once in his or her school career. Therefore, the environment is a lot more relaxed. Receiving a 5/20 on a Math test isn't that big of a deal, and there's really no privacy with test scores. The teachers just announces them to the class, and if not, everyone asks, "what did you get?". Also, students here seem to have a lot less responsibility: working an after school job isn't really that common (since they don't have to help pay for college) and it's no big deal if you don't participate in any extra-cirricular activities. The students live how they want to, without being driven by the ever-present thought of college.

Nonetheless, as for a parent's point of view, wouldn't they think it's better to have this thought of college motivating their child to succeed? In this way, the students earn their education, seeing it that it is expensive, unlike here where the students just have it handed to them without any sweat and tears. High school may be excessively stressful in the United States, but that's what builds character, isn't it?

In addition, everyone here has the mindset that school in the US is so much easier than in Europe, but I really don't agree. In this system, the courses in general may be more advanced and the students learn overall more information, but that's it. School is just school: simply for learning. But in the US, it's so much more than that. School is student council and the football team, mock trial and yearbook. School is AP classes and chemistry labs that you have to figure out for yourself. There are also no senior projects, school newspapers, or a morning newsteam, which represents the lack of connection with the community. Also, in the US, students have a lot more homework and long-term assignments such as Independent Reading. Though in my opinion, that makes the European system more favorable since "busy work" doesn't exist, which is just practical.
Therefore, all in all, students in the US may not gain as much "knowledge" in highschool as students in Europe, but they do gain character. Though isn't the more in-depth learning what college is for anyway?

Another major difference between school in Europe and America is technology. There are not TV's or computers in every room, and the computers in the lab we do have are probably dated from 1999. When I explain the idea of Smart Boards to the students here, they can't even imagine it. Technology is not incorporated in the class room at all, where as in the US it's necessary. I didn't realize how much of a privilege Class Roll was (a site which allows each student to view his or her grades) or teacher websites until I came here. Now, to even think of e-mailing one of my teachers is just unimaginable, which then brings me to my next point: there are no relationships between students and teachers at all in Belgian school.

Adults may view this positively, as teachers are meant to teach, not become best friends with the students. However, if a student bonds with a teacher, he therefore doesn't want to disappoint them by not doing well. In the US, I found that a lot of my motivation came from my teachers. Not only did they help me to learn, but they were my mentors and inspired me to go beyond expectations. Here, a teacher is just a teacher, like a college professor in the United States more or less.
Also, in my school, teachers don't have their own class rooms: therefore, there isn't a "homey" feeling or decorations on the walls (but there is grafitti), and if a student needs to talk to a teacher, he can't be sure as to where they are.

There's also no school mascot or school spirit here. I miss pep rallies and football games more than ever right now. MPATV is going to be my most watched channel when I return home, and I'm always going to read the Cymbal. I miss the senses of humor and varied methods of the teachers in the US. I miss the school library and my locker, or just the fact that everyone has a locker.
But more or less, I'm glad that I miss all of these things because now, when I return home, I'll be able to appreciate school and be grateful for the small aspects that most students typically overlook.

More or less, I'll be able to make the best of my senior year.

namur: by foot, water, and air.

This past Saturday, Michelle and I were driven to the Ottignies station where we missed the first train, saw that the second was cancelled, waited as the third was delayed a half hour to finally make it to Namur for another Rotary event. Consequently, we were about 2 hours late, but it was kind of for the better: we missed the typically-longer-than-necessary speeches of the Rotarians and made it for interesting part of the day.

During lunch time, (which was about the time of our arrival) we, the pack of 100+ exchange students, were released from our cage to liberally explore Namur at our own disposal.






Savannah and Michelle got Australian ice-cream, which is the big franchise here, and we simply strolled around Namur, taking pictures and being the perfect tourists who actually have more of a purpose. There were a lot of small, unique shops and clothing stores in a smaller, central area, which made the city a lot more enjoyable for us than Brussels or the larger cities of Belgium.

After aimless wandering, around 2pm, we were all herded back together to then go on a boat tour of the Meuse river.





During the boat ride, all of the exchange students just talked and talked like usual, describing our time in Belgium so far and realizing how much we all have in common. Always, we can talk for hours and never see the minutes pass. Time never just wants to take a breather and hang around us for a bit; he's always just running away.

And then he made it to Sunday: I opened my eyes at 7:34am to then walk out the door 16 minutes later. My host mom dropped me off at my counselor's house which I left around 8:30am to then drive to Namur once more. Again, it was for Rotary, but not the exchange program. It was called "One Day in the Air" and it was to help less-fortunate (more or less mentally handicapped) children fly for the first time. Overall, it wasn't really what I expected since most of the kids who participated didn't have a disability (or at least one that I could realize). Though nonetheless, all of the kids left with smiles on their faces, so it was a successful day.




the little bits.

I've realized that I haven't described any of the little, different things about Belgium, so here it goes:

1. Being barefoot in a house is generally not accepted.

2. My family makes their own yogurt with a special yogurt machine. (Mom, you really need to buy one).

3. There's no snacking in my house (where as in America, snacking is a national past-time).

4. If a teacher is absent, you don't have class. End of story. The implied rule is that if the teacher is more than 15 minutes late, you can leave.

5. Teenagers think smoking is cool. I've never seen so many 12-year-olds with cigarrettes in their mouths, nor have I ever been asked for a lighter or offered a cigarrette as many times in my whole life as I have been the past month & a half.

6. American music is EVERYWHERE.

7. English is a "cool" language, and it seems as if it's everywhere and everyone knows it. Yet, when you need to use it the most, you can't.

8. "Wat is dat?" is Flemish for "what is that?"

9. After school, you study, of course. No one knows anything different.

10. Wednesday is the cool day to go out with friends since it's always a half-day.

11. Belgians take their weekends and holidays very seriously.

12. Hollister and Abercrombie still give you the "popular" edge among teenagers.

13. Every girl owns a scarf.

14. Eating dinner before 6pm is unheard of, at least in my house. My host sisters complain that it's too early at 6:30pm.

15. Most Belgians think that most of the world has no idea that their country exists.

16. There are vending machines with beer in them. You scan your Belgian ID (which everyone must have), and voila! Your Jupiler!

17. The perception of distance is dramatically different. To walk 2 kilometers is way too far and to drive over an hour is unbearable. More or less, the American "close" is the Belgian "far".

18. I have yet to see a drunk person regardless of the liberality of alcohol.

19. I think Michael Jackson is loved more by Belgians than Americans.

20. There are machines that make orange juice right in front of you. It literally just squeezes the juice from the orange as you press the button for the drink to go in your cup. They're in deli's and quick marts like we'd have fountain drink machines in the US.

And that's about all I've got for now.
-Jordann

la descente de la lesse.

As I clumsily plopped myself into the back seat of the yellow kayak, I didn't know what I was in for. I just knew that for one, I had never been kayaking before, and two, the kayak was on a silver, moving conveyor belt that was about to spit Michelle (my friend in the front seat) and me into the river without any sympathy.

But there were about 60 other kids, other exchange students, thinking just about the same thing, right?

"Left, right, left.. Jordann, that's the right!" "Okay, we have to work together, more power.. shit. Damn tree." "Okay, we're going backwards, wrong direction." "Back paddle, other way, work with the river."

"Just follow my lead."
"But I'm a really bad dancer.."

But before long, we learned the rhythm, the dance, of kayaking. Our paddles were in sync: we learned to work with the current and use only our strength to move when the river wouldn't help us.

20 kilometers. How many miles is that? More than I thought, more than I felt. We had a lunch break along the way, during which Michelle and I helped with others to pull people in from the river and then help them back out when it was time to go. We helped to drain the kayaks and to ensure that there were 2 paddles and 2 life jackets in each. If someone had a question, we answered it. If someone didn't have something, we found it. I'm pretty sure that there were a good many people who didn't think we were part of the exchange student group, but rather river guides at the rest area. Or at least I felt that way, and it felt so good to help.

The sun began to shine on the second half of the journey, after the lunch break. I don't know the words in English or French to describe the beauty or serenity of it all, of being that submerged in nature. Typically, I would express it in photography, but I didn't take my camera. I'm not sure if I should regret that decision or be content about it: I'm glad my camera is safe, but I can't imagine the photos I could have taken. But oh well, I'll be okay.

Here's a picture that I've gotten off of the internet:

The trees weren't that colorful since it's not that far into autumn, but yes, I saw that castle. It's le Chateau de Walzin. We had no idea that we'd see it, and you can only imagine how I felt as I was kayaking down that river and I looked up to see that.

"We're kayaking through the middle of Europe. We're teenagers and we're kayaking through the middle of Europe. In 30 years, I'm going to be like, 'Oh yeah, I remember my first time kayaking.. I was 16 years old and it was in the Ardennes.' I'll smile, reminiscing, and say, 'Only in Belgium will you be kayaking, and in the beauty of it all, a guy you just met will ask you if you want a sip of his last beer.'"

I really do want to do it all again: I know I will one time or another in my life. Michelle and I decided that each engaged couple needs to go 20km in a kayak to see if they can actually stand eachother in marriage. It really is a test of tolerance and team work.

Oh, and by the way, I've completely mastered using a fork and a knife.

a friend.

Today at school, during the 20 minute recreation period, I found myself alone. So, instead of searching for a familiar face, I made the best of the solitude.

I remembered that yesterday, as I wandered aimlessly about the campus while I had a free hour, I met my best friend: a tree on the edge of the campus quietly hidden among the others. As I sat down, it felt as if the trunk had formed to the shape of my back, or vice versa. The silence was the best I'd ever heard, a music of rarity at Collège. I was perfectly in solitude, with the exception of two squirrels who wouldn't stop chasing eachother around a nearby tree. "Finally," I thought as I exhaled, slumped down, and closed my eyes.

I wrote a note that day. That day, yesterday. But today, during the 20 minute recreation period, my camera decided he wanted to meet my new friend, because he, of course, has the final say.

& this is what he told me:





the wonder of immune systems.

Time to rethink:

In my last post, what I said about my host family, I take it back. I realized that they were always on the move because they didn't want me to be lonely or bored. Rotary tells our host families time and time again that when in solitude, we're most vulnerable to homesickness.

However, homesickness isn't what I'm suffering from: it's just plain old make-you-feel-miserable sick. In the US, I never got sick (in recent years of memory). If I did, it was usually only for a day and nothing that could truly stop me. But after one month here, my immune system decides to just take a break after about 16 years and 8 months of protection. And my host family has just been wonderful about it.

Yesterday, my body truly didn't want to do anything but just shut down, so I spent a day doing a lot of nothing worthwhile (just a little homework); and today here I am, my mind with a little more of a positive outlook but my body feeling just about the same. I actually hope to get some school work accomplished today.
Here's my list:

☻ study (the impossible) Math for quiz tomorrow;
☻ translate/understand notes for law;
☻ create timeline of French literature after translating the packet;
☻ study the world for my geography test in a week and a half for which I need to know.. the world;
☻ translate/understand Economics packet.


Ah, pas grave... je souhaite. Time to get movin'.

Wish me luck & bonne journée,

Jordann

mojitos.

Time for catharsis:

Okay, I've exceeded (barely) the one month point of my stay in Belgium, and I still don't know what to think. I do know, though, that it hasn't felt like a month. Everything still feels like it's moving so quickly, especially the time and my host family. Don't get me wrong, I'm lucky to be living with such kind people and I'm so grateful for everything they've done for me, but I just don't know if I truly "click" with my family. For them, it's always "Go, go, go! Make sure you do this, don't forget that" and "Oh, I have this planned for this day, and this for the other day." Everything (the language, school, and adaptation to culture) is already so overwhelming, that time to just do nothing, to breathe and relax, is indespensible to me. But I'm not sure if my family knows how to cope with free time: in this house, it seems as if you always need to do something.

Plus, it doesn't help that learning French takes away so much energy: it's like when you run different applications on your cell phone, such as playing games or music, which make the battery lose charge more quickly. I run the French application all day, so that by the time 9p.m. comes around, my battery is dead and sleep is the only way to recharge it.

I just need time for me: time to lie down, write, and listen to music; time to just think.

But on the contrary of the difficulties I'm facing, I'm truly happy with the friends I'm making and the way my social life is developing. Last night, two girls (Orlane and Lauranne) who are in a few of my classes (and help me no matter what) invited me to go to the disco-tech with them. Of course, I agreed, because it sounded fun and as an exchange student, you always have to say "yes" (within reason). So around 7p.m. last night, I rode the bus to the train station where Orlane and her father picked me up to take me to their house for dinner. When I walked into the door, I saw two guitars sitting in the living room, and I knew I was going to have a good time.

Little did I know, Orlane's "step-mom" was an exchange student in the United States when she was my age, and it felt so good to talk to someone who understood what I was going through and had lived a life which was impacted so much by her year abroad. It also felt good to have someone (Orlane's dad) constantly say "en français, en français" when we began to talk in English and didn't realize it. Just because of last night, from being with friends who don't speak any English, I feel like my French improved so much. Nonetheless, Orlane's father, I just love him even though I've only spent an evening and morning with him. He plays the guitar, sings, and always wears a smile :). I think if I was placed in their family, I'd be the happiest little american-gone belgian girl in the world.

But to continue, before long it was time to leave the house and begin our night. Around 11P.M., I left with Julie, Orlane's step sister, to meet her friends in a little club in Braine-l'Alleud, which was just.. interesting. I don't really have another way to describe it. I literally felt like I was in That 70's show and I walked into Eric's basement where I met Hyde. Afterwards, Orlane and her father picked us up to take us to the B-club, and as we waited in line we met a few girls, one of whom spoke perfect English. She said to me, "It's so cool that you've been here for a month and you've already made friends who have invited you out. But how do you communicate with them?" I find so much amusement in people who think that I live here and don't understand or speak French at all, but all in all, it's pretty frustrating.

And finally, we were next to present our ID's to the guards at the entrance of the club to ensure we were of age(just like what you see in movies), and I pulled out the copy of my passport (the only thing I had), "Je suis une étudiante echange d'Etats-Unis, donc je n'ai pas une carte d'identitie. Mais c'est mon passport."

He looked at briefly, and said, "No, c'est pas assez. C'est une copie."

I just stuttered, "Quoi?", as Lauranne and Orlanne started arguing in a blur of French. They told him that I was in their class, I don't have an ID yet, etc., etc., but he just refused to listen. Although a little beforehand, we had seen him allow another foreign girl who didn't have an ID enter the club. He said something about me being American, I still don't know exactly what, but I could tell by the intonation of his voice that it was negative.

He talked to me in English like I was stupid, and asked me where my real passport was. I replied, "Chez moi."
"Oh, you speak French now, do you?"

Before long, my friend Lauranne was in tears, still passionate with the argument, while Orlanne and I were simply speechless. Then, we were politely asked to leave.

I wish I knew exactly what the security guard said. Everyone explained it to me, but I didn't grasp the concept word for word. I just know I heard "rascist" a lot, and Orlane's dad told me, "It's okay, Belgians love Americans. If it weren't for you, we'd be German, so don't worry about it. You're a charming young lady that shouldn't have to deal with people like that."

So instead of the B-club, Orlanne, Lauranne, and I went to nearby bar called Black and White. We were welcomed inside by a man playing a Djembe drum and the sound of African music and walked toward the back of the dark club to find three red, cushioned chairs which surrounded a tall wooden table. We talked, laughed, and danced; and I think we had a more memorable and I guess "kindling" experience than if we were actually permitted inside the B-club.

I stayed at Orlanne's house that night, last night. Her bed reminds me of mine in the United States, which I love and miss so much. "J'ai fais une rêve d'..."

Which brings me to today. Hello, how are you?
Probably tired of reading this, or at least I know I'm tired of writing, so I'm going to call it quits.

À bientot,

Jordann

viens avec nous.

It's Sunday, my first Sunday of the now-started school year, and I've been doing school work (or at least trying to), listening to music, and playing guitar all day. "Wait, how did you get a guitar? I thought you had to leave yours at home?". Well, I did, and I've been suffering from withdrawal for the past month, but I went to lunch at my neighbor's house today, and little do I know, their daughter plays guitar (and loves photography) so they let me borrow it until she comes back from Spain next Wednesday. The tips of my fingers never hurt so good :).

"So your first week of school, how'd it go?"
Well, honestly, I've never had so much emotional variation in a week, haha. My first day was actually the Friday before this past week, which was just a day to go over rules, organize, and receive paperwork. It was a day of cluelessness, and I was accompanied always by my ceaselessly racing heart. After having a kind of "home-room" session with my titulaires (teachers who you go to for help throughout the year), I had to go to 5th hour, which, as I looked at my schedule, was nothing. I then realized that lunch time follows the 5th hour, which meant I had 2 hours to do whatever I wanted. Awesome,right? Except for the fact that I had no friends and no where to go.

But before I continue, I'm going to explain the campus of my school:
I attend l'Institut Cardinal Mercier, which is a smaller school (consisting of 2 small buildings) on the campus of Cardinal Mercier. The other, significantly larger school on the campus is Collège Cardinal Mericer (which consists of, I think, 2 large buildings). Basically, students go to Collège unless they want or need to learn in a smaller class. In Collège, the class sizes are on average 20-25 students where as in l'Institut, there are about 15 students per class. But of course, the two schools share the same cafeterias (there's a café for 5th years and 6th years (juniors and seniors) which I'm a fan of) and sport center, and the students of both schools always mingle during recreation. There's a 15 minute recreation after 3rd hour and an hour recreation after 5th, plus free periods if you have any. During recreations, students aren't allowed in the schools (unless it's raining) and you can leave the campus if you want. It's so liberal that I feel like I'm in college, and it's refreshing not being stuck in the same building the entire day.
Also, here, teachers don't have set classrooms: they change day to day, which I find extremely confusing. It also results in the lack of a "home" feeling of the classrooms like in the US. There are no decorations on the walls, only graffiti (which is mostly in English). I am still surprised by the tolerance of the degradation of the school, which one can view positively since the school is focusing on education rather than fixing the school or negatively since the school looks more or less like a wreck in comparison to (most) schools in the US (as far as I know).

Okay, so back to my first day of school where I had too much time, no friends, and no idea of where to go. I sat down on a curb outside of my school, grabbed a pen, and began to write "I have two hours to do everything and anything I want, but what do I want? I want to make friends, but how do I do..."

"Jordann, ça va? Viens avec nous," a smile said to me. I looked up at my classmates, returned the smile, and marched along with the pack of them. I ended up straying away with two and having a decently good (thanks to my gesticulations due to my lack of words) conversation until lunch time. After hopelessly searching for her for about a half an hour, I ate lunch with my friend Savannah, who is another Rotary exchange student who attends the Collège.

I had hope, that is until I realized that my first class was French. The teacher seemed worried, yet willing to help; I was stressed as I could barely understand a word he said. But afterwards I had English (phew), which enlightened my mood.

Okay, so that's my first day. What about the first week?

Well, toward the beginning of the week I came home unbelievably exhausted, and I just wanted to sleep. Learning a new language consumes so much energy. I also felt so frustrated since I'm adapted to doing so well in school, and now it's the opposite. But by the halfway point of the week, I realized I need to learn to cope with failure. Before long, I will be able to understand French, and I need to do horribly before I can improve. After that realization, my days seemed a little brighter. It seems that I'm making friends pretty easily: a group of girls that I typically eat lunch with invited me out with them next Friday. Everyone in my class has made an effort to talk to me and to help me out when I needed it. Notre petite américaine préférée ! :D is what one of my classmates posted on my facebook wall. So all in all, I really enjoy school and being the "foreign exchange student" instead of the "smart one" at Mount Pleasant.

But it's dinner time now, donc au revoir!

a different kind of tourist.

Yesterday, two American exchange students met at a train station in the little spec of a country nestled snugly between France, Germany, and the Netherlands, a country that most don't know as Belgium. At 11:48 a.m., they rushed onto a train that had the intentions to depart at 11:46, but it didn't want to leave the girls behind. Mardi, 31/8/2010, Braine-l'Alleud to Bruxelles Centrale is what both the girls wrote on their key cards, even though the train conductor never came.

In approximately 900 seconds, they were there. Clueless, excited, and smiling: they were there. After descending the train to then ascend a flight of stairs, they searched for a map they could not find, but oh well. They would later buy a Brussels Guide in The Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule with three coins, a 2euro piece from one wallet and two 1euro pieces from another, saying bonjour and merci to the woman at the counter, hoping they sounded as if they lived there, because they did.

The Grande Place: The Corporations Houses, the House of the Dukes of Brabant, L'Hotel de Ville, the King's House. L'Ilot Sacré. Les Galeries Saint-Hubert. The Royal Palace. Oh, and of course the legendary Manneken Pis.

But they didn't know where they were or what they were visiting. They had no plans, simply desire to explore and discover. Their cameras were exhausted by the end of the day, as well as the word "wow" and themselves.

It was the perfect adventure.

21 & 26 août.

Okay, I want to post as much as possible, but motivation and time have abandoned me. I'm trying my hardest to find the former at the very least. Nonetheless, I wanted to recount two past events that occured during the month of August which deserve to be remembered and shared.

First, on the 21st, which was my first Saturday here, I got in the car with my host mom and dad and their Italian friend, Gio. I vaguely knew where we were going: the only knowledge I had that we were headed off to a concert. So I assumed it was in Brussels because when I think of concerts, I think of cities, and therefore I thought Brussels. Though, after dropping my host dad off at Bruxelles-Midi for his trip to Paris, we continued to drive, and drive, and drive.

"You know where we're going, right?"
"Nope, not really."

Gio, surprised, then continued to explain that we were going to the town of Beloeil in rural Wallonia. Each year, at the domain of the Chateau de Beloeil, thousands of people come to enjoy the acts of classical music playing the whole night among the property of the Chateau.







The last photo shows what was by far my favorite performance: first of all because I love the cello, and secondly because of the imagination and talent needed to think of/perform the act. The celloist acted as if she were an insect hatching from her cacoon and with her she found a cello, representing the wings a caterpillar finds after he metamorphosizes into a butterfly. Her "cacoon" was suspended by the trees, about 30 feet from the ground, and she played the cello with her feet and hung it out her cacoon: she was a musician and an acrobat.


Now for the 26th of August, which is an event most exchange students to Belgium anticipate. All of the three Rotary districts, around 300 students, met in Brussels for a "formal ceremony" welcoming us to Belgium.
I couldn't grasp the concept of how many exchange students there were, and that's simply in the little country of Belgium. My exchange here has consumed my thoughts for months and made such an impact on my life and to see nearly 300 others that have, more or less, gone through the same thing is just amazing, for lack of a better word.
Nonetheless, here's a link of the website with photos and what we saw/did in Brussels that day: http://www.yepevent.be/Photos.htm.
Mais maintenant, I really need to do some school work. But I'll be sure to post soon to share how school in general is coming along.

all apologies.

I've been in Belgium for 13 days, and I haven't updated at all. Desolée, but can you truly blame me?

It seems as if every single one of those 13 days has been planned out, minute by minute. Though, now, I have some time to breathe.

Okay, you don't really want to hear me apologize, do you? What's my host family like? What have I been doing? How's Belgium?!

Well, my host family, in all honesty, is what I expected more or less. Actually, my entire stay so far has been almost exactly like how I expected it to be. I think I spent too much time thinking about Belgium when I was in the United States that now nothing comes as a surprise to me.

Everyone in the family is kind, generous, and patient. They smile with me and understand what I'm going through language-wise since everyone (my mother, father, and 3 host sisters: the youngest being 12) are all fluent in French, Flemish, and English. And yes, the latter is the greatest downfall.

We're always told by Rotary that we shouldn't let our host families speak to us in English, etc., etc. But simply having the knowledge that my family speaks English inhibits my learning. When I find myself tongue-tied while speaking French, I don't become frustrated, I just speak in English. I don't mean to, truly: it just happens. Then at the end of the day I become frustrated with myself for talking in English so much. I tell myself that the next day I'll talk only in French, but the temptation of English is too strong.

But don't get me wrong, I'm learning: just really slowly. It seems as if I'm in a never-ending French class in the United States. I learn, but just not as much as I would if I was completely submerged in the language like I should be.

Okay, enough with talking about language.. I get frustrated just expressing myself. So what have I been doing?

Well from the 22nd up until yesterday (the 28th) I was at the sea: the town of Knokke to be more specific. Most of the days the sun was out (surprisingly), so we spent hours at the beach appreciating the rarity which is sunshine, making Ségo (my youngest host sister) into a sand-mermaid, and walking along the shore.




We also went on a day-trip to the Netherlands



as well as a day-trip to Brugge



and I loved every single minute of both trips (although it was raining). They're both my idea of Europe: beautiful architecture and small, independent shops bordering every crammed, stone street.

And I apologize, once again, but I have to go. We're eating dinner and afterwards I'm going to a welcoming party for another exchange student.

à bientot!

waiting.

It's currently 1:30pm, and I'm sitting in Pittsburgh International Airport. I've been here since 11am, and now in 15 minutes I'll finally be boarding my connecting flight to Washington.

I didn't sleep last night so that I could sleep soundly on my flight, but, unfortunately, excitement is the strongest caffeine. I don't think I'll be able to sleep, at all. But I'll hope, since I usually pass out in any moving vehicle.

From D.C., my flight to Belgium leaves at 5:47pm, and then, after eight hours in the air, I'll arrive in Brussels airport at 7:30am, finally meeting my host family and beginning my adventure.

& now I need to go, my flight is boarding.

Au revoir,

Jordann

mots de juillet.

My last post was on my last day of school, and now it's already my last day in Pittsburgh.

Last year, I started the tradition of staying at my Aunt and Uncle's house (in Pittsburgh) during the summer to attend a Young Writer's Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. It's a two week program, and I love every minute of my stay: one, because I love the city life; two, I love Young Writer's; and three, I love spending the time with my Aunt, Uncle, and their dog (my cousin) Guinness. I left my hometown on the 10th of July, a little over two weeks ago, and now I have that same amount of time until I leave my town (and country) again for Belgium. Am I really leaving?

I don't think that the reality of my departure has quite set in. I think about leaving all of the time, but I just can't grasp the truth of it. I have a date, August 15th, which is truly the only substantial proof I have. My visa has yet to come in, but my travel agent said not to worry about it. So in a week, I'll worry. But for all I know, my visa may be waiting for me at my house. I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

18 days.
18 days and a long list of "to-do's" and "to-buy's". I'll get it done. Procrastination rules above all others. Therefore, instead of working on my host parents' photography books (the gifts I'm making for them) or writing some more thank-you cards to everyone who has supported me, I'm sitting in a dark computer room- illuminated only by the computer monitor, chewing on a water bottle cap, and typing this post. I might as well do it while I can (which is a very common motto for me now-a-days).

As for my french, I had been fully convinced that the summer would be a time of devotion to learning so that I'd be able to converse by the time August 15th rolled around the corner. But I was wrong. Summer brings laziness, and I've been infected by the "oh well, I'll learn" plague. I mean, I know basics: a little over 2 years worth of french studies. I can read and understand fairly well, but when it comes to speaking.. it's another story. J'ai un accent américain, un accent terrible. I guess I'll just have to go with it and finally learn to be a quiet person.

It's an adventure. Who wants to jump in feet first?

Well, this water bottle cap has suffered enough. That means I'll be going.

Goodnight,
Bonne nuit,

Jordann

last day of school.

My best friends and I in Photoshop class:

greensburg, kansas.




I just created this in Photoshop class, and I felt like sharing it with the world.

quelle heure est-il?


Why, hello there.
Wait, I mean, salut.

Il est minuit et demi, et je ne suis pas fatiguée. Donc, je vais écrire, mais juste un peu.

This is supposed to be an english blog, forgive me.
Well, I've yet to share a few details about belgique avec vous.

Most excitingly, this is my school:



Collège Cardinal Mercier en Braine l'alleud. Just a step down from Hogwarts, huh?
For you to gain a better understanding of how I feel, this is my school now:





and on my first day of high school, I felt like I had never been in a building so big.
I can't even begin to imagine how I'll feel as I ascend those stairs, staring up at that I building I had seen, but never truly saw. But I can estimate that my heart will be racing 978,562 beats per second, and I'll be wishing I was studying my french right now instead of writing this post. And, more than likely, I'll trip at least once. Us Americans don't use no stairs, we have our escalators and elevators.

Which reminds me, I never really went over the title of my blog to ensure a full understanding. Most of you probably caught it, but I'll go over it for those of you who aren't as witty. From US to Them: it's a pun more or less. It can be interpreted as: From US (The United States) to Them (Belgium); or From US (as in all of us, a sense of belonging and togetherness) to Them (a more distant, less comforting sense). Nifty, eh? I was listening to Us & Them by Pink Floyd when I got the idea, so I can't take all credit for originality.

Mais je pense,
I think it's time for sleep. I have to go to (the latter) school tomorrow. It wouldn't be so bad if it were the former.

bonne nuit.

-_- zzzzz

j'oubliais.

I think my lack of posting conveys the amount of time I have en ce moment. My life: work, school, work, sleep, repeat. What haven't I written about? Too much. An attempt to record everything would probably mean no sleep for me tonight, but that's not really unusual anymore.

Well, let's see, since my host mom e-mail messaged me, we've been in steady correspondence. Currently, we write to eachother en français, which calls for a need of improvement on my half. Donc, I've been skipping lunch and studying with mon prof français, which I feel is truly helping (hence my random words in french throughout this post). My teacher couldn't be more supportive of my upcoming experience, and I'm more than excited to return to school my senior year just to have conversations in french.

All in all, my life has been consumed by my job at the oh-so-wonderful Pizza Hut, but Rotary, thankfully, allows me some time to breathe. I've had district conference, which was a weekend at Nemacolin Woodlands resort with five inbound & six outbound exchange students. We made music & laughed, sang & rock-climbed. But most importantly, we fit five people in a smart car (: Three days we stayed together, from April 9th-11th, and then two days later, seven of us left for a week I'll never forget.

Maxi, Sabina, Bia, Edwin, Zack, Emmeline, and Jordann all got on a plane on April 13th at a time too early to remember. They left to go on a trip to volunteer, but they didn't realize it'd be so much more than that.

For lack of time, I'll just post the article I wrote for the Rotary newsletter to explain & describe:

Before leaving for Greensburg, Kansas, I could not imagine why people would try so hard to reconstruct a town located in the heart of Tornado Alley. How could everyone work so hard to rebuild their businesses, homes, and lives, fully aware that they could easily be destroyed again? But before leaving for Greensburg, Kansas, I also never imagined that a natural disaster- one of the worst recorded in our country’s history- could devastate a town for the better. Prior to the EF-5 tornado, Greensburg was falling apart: it was just a small, rural town, like Mount Pleasant, struggling to make it through today’s age. But after the tornado, Greensburg was able to fall back together again. The ability to rebuild and “go green” brought publicity to the town- and is now bringing tourism and revenue. Though not only did the tornado positively impact Greensburg’s economy, but it also strengthened the community. Every citizen shares a pride in their town, having all contributed to piecing it back together again. Although the tornado demolished houses, trees, and parks, it did not affect Greensburg’s spirit. It’s a town where everybody greets anyone they see with a wave and a generous smile. We all, as strangers, felt more welcome there than we do in our home towns. Also, the citizens of the Greensburg share true gratitude for everything they have and are given. We were only a group of kids volunteering for a week, out of the thousands of volunteers that have helped, and they treated us as if we had given them the world. This appreciation, which is absent in the lives of most Americans, made me think that maybe our country would change for the better if it were devastated- but that’s beside the point .

Throughout the week I painted, hammered, and sweated- but every drop of sweat was worth it. I learned new skills, such as how to use a table-saw, and gained insight of the different lifestyles around the world, causing me to become more prepared (and excited) for my exchange. Although Kansas is in the United States, it felt like another country. I’ve never been in a place so flat, and instead of vast forests and winding roads, there are miles of level farmland, adorned with an occasional windmill, and straight, seemingly ever-lasting roads. I also had the opportunity to strengthen friendships with exchange students from Italy, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, and, while I was at it, I learned some Spanish (and that I can’t roll my R’s).

When I agreed to go on this trip, I never imagined I would gain so much. Now, I can’t wait to return to Greensburg and see the buildings we helped to finish and the town completely rebuilt. All in all, I would like to thank Rotary for making this trip possible. I can’t have enough gratitude for every opportunity they have provided for me.



And that's that. For some reason I feel like my writing has lost all of its jordann-esque tonight. I guess it's just what exhaustion will do to a creative, existentialist mind.

Mais il est 11:11, donc je souhaite aller me coucher.
I'll write to you at a future time, unknown now, but surely to be discovered.

Bonne nuit.



PS: I finished my visa and found out everything about my home, school, town, etc. I'll post details next time.

:D

joyeuses pâques!

In my childhood, the moment that I woke up on Easter morning I would bolt down the stairs, anxious to delve into my Easter basket and begin to find the eggs the Easter bunny had hidden around my home. As I've grown older, the excitement has worn off, and I'm more excited to sleep than to see what my Easter basket has in store for me.

Though this morning I glanced at my phone, jumped out of bed, and sped down the stairs with more excitement than I thought possible. But why?

I have my e-mail set up so that a notification sends to my phone when I recieve a new message, but I can only see who the message is from and most of the subject.

My phone read: 4 new messages when I woke up this morning. Two were from my best friends and said, "Happy Easter :)". The other two were from 700- meaning e-mail notifications. I opened them. The first:

F: Dominique
d******@ho
S: FW: The S****** family in wate
Sent to: jordannnreplies@aim.com



The second:

F: Dominique
d******@ho
S: The S****** (2)
Sent to: jordannnreplies@aim.com



At first, I thought, "What the heck? The sher-ers? I have no idea... OH MY GOD!"

I jumped out of bed- ripping the sheets off, pulled on my robe, and ran down the steps- jumping two at a time. I heard, "Happy Easter!", but I failed to return the greeting. I opened up my e-mail, and sure enough, they were e-mail messages from my host mom, Dominique.

The first read:

From: d******@hotmail.com
To: jordannreplies@aim.com
Subject:
The S****** family in waterloo- Belgium (1)
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 21:22:17
+0200


Good evening Jordann,

We are pleased to welcome you in our family
in Belgium through the Rotary.
We got you nice file and learned a lot about
you.
You will find in attachment a few pictures from us, also six people, but
our two older daughters are on the go:
Fanny (18) will go to university and
be back on week end only and Charlotte (17) leaves for Australia.
But
don't worry there is a lot going on around us...
In our newsletter you
will learn a bit about us all.
Jus a few questions now:
- do you like swimming?
There are a few outdoor and indoor swimming pools around
and during our summer and begin fall we love swimming.
- have you ever skied?
The second family, very nice people loves it and goes during the
school break...
- do you have a family discount card? Here it is important
for transports, Brussels is 20 minutes away.

Have a Happy Easter and I will write to you very soon again.
Do pratice
your french because my next mail will be in ... french!
Dominique S******



With this e-mail I received a biography of the family (in French) that I'm in the process of deciphering. Also, she sent pictures
of my home:



of my room:

and others of my family members. The second e-mail consisted of more photos of my family.

I replied with excitement, trying to use French as much as possible (which wasn't a lot), and I shared pictures of my friends and family with them.

My home is beautiful, my mother is kind, and I have four host sisters- two that I'll be living with and one only on weekends. What more can I ask for? Now I just have the task of learning about my family by reading the letter in French. I'm asking my French teacher for some help.

This has been the best Easter of my life, no exaggeration. :D

hallelujah.

What I learned over the weekend: I need to break the habit of saying "see ya" as goodbye.

Starting at about 9:15, I felt like I had already started my exchange. I was talking to my peers from Venezuela, France, Italy, Brazil and to others going to Germany, Spain, Austria, Switzerland. Different languages, different customs, yet one common factor: we were exchange students, either now or in the coming year.

My roommates: Sabina from Rome, Italy; Pauline from Lille, France; and Mary Elizabeth from State College, Pennsylvania. Though, even though we were from different parts of the world, we seemed so familiar to one another. I guess that explains the creed my group and I created during one of the activities: Friendship knows no language.

The experience, such a new one. Yet, as my departure date nears, it will be familiar to me. Now I'm excited, more than ever, to go to leave the United States.
Yet, I realized that I should probably look into Belgium a little more. Sure, I think I've read nearly every article about the country that I could ever find, but I haven't really retained the information I truly need, only the random facts. I've had the notion that I would simply "discover" everything. Ya know, adventurous me. But someone made me realize that it's better to know about Belgian government, chocolate, and beer, and then, as I live there, I'll "discover" what it's like to live in a monarchy, sense the delicate chocolate as it overwhelms my taste buds, and sip a beer that's renowned.

I think it may be time for me to hit the hay now- that means sleep, in case you're not familiar with my country lingo.

bonne nuit, buona notte, goodnight.
-_- zzzzz

waffles™

leave the found behind to
dance with the lost and the forgotten;
they remember

left, right, left, right

without pencils,
blue or black ink only.

colors burst to drain themselves
and wake with the black, white, and grey

they sing out of tune,
but with melody

to remember that focus is disarray,
disarray is-

hello,
without meaning.

a new world,
a lost world,
a lost day,
a lost hour,
a minute found,

to then find the forgotten
who remember

that no eyes can see,
not until they breathe.

©jordannfunk

o_O ™

Hello, or bonjour? I'm not even sure what to say anymore. Words don't seems to have meaning.

I'm Jordann, and I'm a person. Nice to meet you. More than likely, if you're reading this, you already know who I am. More than likely, if you call yourself by the name of Logan, Kristen, Frany, or Nicole, you're thinking, "You're so gay." Regardless, for those exempt of that thought, hello- or bonjour?

In roughly 5 months from now, I'll be leaving. Leaving wet water beds and cigarettes, Webkinz and Ninja-spice. Leaving Logan, Kristen, Frany, and Nicole (my best friends-in case you're lost), and midnight walks around the block. Walks to Wal*Mart and Frick Park. Walks to train trestles with paranoia. From the "home of the brave" to the homeland of french fries? I don't have a euphemism for Belgium, but that makes it all the better. I'm "exploring the unknown." You know, I would, since I'm the "brave" one. Tough. Iron man. But I feel like I'm made of glass. Slowly cracking, soon to shatter. Though, once I leave, I'll be made of iron once again.

Shouldn't it be the opposite? I just can not wait to relieve myself of this stress, purely based on one corrupted force: money. I need $5,000 to not worry. I have $2,000- I'm worrying. All I seem to do is work, work, work. Money this, money that. Can't we just earn global perspective as youth ambassadors free of cost? The dollar has no significance to me, though it has such significance to society. Why must we live by the guidelines of money? I thought humans had the brains. But we're controlled, in the "land of the free".

Nonetheless, "broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one's lifetime", so I must travel before I can have such opinions. Mark Twain knows best.

Well, hello- or bonjour?
I forgot that people may actually be reading this, so
just to make my Virginia Woolf-esque rambles clear, next year, from August 2010-July 2011 I'll be a Rotary Youth exchange student from the United States to French Belgium. For which I have the utmost gratitude, Rotary Youth Exchange is probably the least expensive program any student could ever participate in. All you have to pay for is airfare, insurance, and other minor needs. Compared to most programs that cost around $10,000, the need to make $5,000 should seem like nothing. But to make it completely on my own is no small task.

I actually made a graph that hangs above my desk in my room. Branded across the top is the single word: BELGIQUE! Every time I make money I scribble with a blue high-lighter a little higher on the bar of the month. Last time I heightened the February bar to $2,000. Now I just have to work on March. Though, with my new job at Pizza Hut and revenue from businesses and family members coming in, I finally feel like I'm making progress. Slowly but surely.

But it's probably about time for me to leave and do something constructive. Like Chemistry homework. Oh, the wonderful life of an American teenager gone global.

I'll just remember to scribble it down here so you don't miss a moment.


Yes, that was cheezy.

but
Good-bye,
or au revoir?

this is a blog

that you may find profound, deviant, or insipid.

It may teach you, inspire you and leave you lost in thought; or it may bore you and cause your eyes to drag slowly shut.

You may read it for an hour, or maybe not at all.

Maybe you'll get to know me, maybe in ways I don't even know me.

I left the United States in August 2010 as a Rotary exchange student. I'll leave Belgium in July 2011 as Jordann.

about me

My photo
Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium
I follow the sun.