Monday, September 27, 2010

School, Food, and Family.

Okay, so I haven't written in a while. First things first, here are the promised pictures:

The first picture is the bus stop (I take the bus to school here), then the courtyard at Athénée Royal d'Arlon, and the last is the Salle des Rhétos, which is the room for only the 6th year students. I finally have my final schedule for school. I dropped all of my Audiovisual classes so I can take an additional French class, which I will start tomorrow. So here are my classes, followed by the number of hours per week I have the class.

French 6°- 5 hours per week
French 2°- 5 hours per week (That's right...10 hours of French class per week)
German 3°- 4 hours per week
Math- 4 hours per week
Physical Education- 3 hours per week
History- 2 hours per week
Drawing- 2 hours per week
Infography- 2 hours per week
Morale- 2 hours per week
Geography- 1 hour per week
Physics- 1 hour per week
Chemistry- 1 hour per week
Biology- 1 hour per week

Unlike most students, I don't have a specific option. I decided that it was more important for me to learn French than anything else at this point, so that's why I have two French classes, one with 6th years and one with 2nd years (in the United States, they are 8th graders). My German class, which I also start tomorrow, is with 3rd years (freshmen).

But enough about school. Let's talk about food!

In the US, most people think of waffles, beer, and chocolate when they think of Belgium, and for good reason. The drinking age is 16 in Belgium, so my first beer was actually legal! And the best part is...I didn't pay for it! It's kind of funny, actually. On Friday the first week of school, my history class walked to the center of Arlon for a commemmoration of the liberation of Arlon. However, my teacher realized that he had read the time wrong, and we were there really early. So, instead of just going back to school, we all went to a café for a drink, which my teacher paid for. Everyone at my table was shocked that I had never had a beer before (since it's illegal under 21 in the US), and they told me "You're in Belgium. You need to try beer." So I did.

And it was pretty darn good.

Last weekend, we went to a town in Luxembourg that had a festival to recall the Middle Ages. It reminded me a little bit of the Sterling Renaissance Festival in Sterling, NY. There, I tried a Gaufre- a really delicious Belgian waffle. The desserts and pastries here are amazing- not to mention the chocolate. But that is not all. The food is usually really fresh. My family grows a lot of food in the garden- pears, potatoes, apples, and peaches, just to name a few. We buy eggs from the neighbor across the street and bread from the baker. Preservation isn't a problem- a loaf of bread is usually gone in a day and a half in our house. A jar of Nutella lasts about the same amount of time. A lot of the food I eat here is similar to what I eat at home, especially since my family in the US eats a large variety of foods, but I have tried some new things. I had mussels with my family, which my host mother loves. I also tried frog legs when we ate with Michel's parents. They were actually really good.

We spend a lot of time with relatives, something new for me. In the US, my family is spread across the country. I have family in Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New York, Ohio...and that's just the beginning. Family here is really close, especially since Belgium is so small. Michel's brother actually lives next door, and his parents are there quite often. Anyway, last Friday, we went to Isabelle's parent's house since it was her father's birthday. I met her two brothers and their families, but her sister was unable to go. On Saturday, we went to Michel's parent's house for supper (when I tried frog legs). And this past Friday, we went to Isabelle's brother's house for supper. Her brother has two sons, both of which go to Athénée Royal d'Arlon with Flo and I (Victoria goes to a school in Luxembourg now, since it has more of a focus on athletics). The older son is in his 3rd year of secondary school, and the younger one is in his 6th year of primary school. I really like spending time with our family.

Yesterday, I went to Bastogne with Michel and Isabelle, but I think that deserves its own post, so I will post about it soon (but not today).

I'm loving it here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


So, I survived my first week of school. It's rather difficult to understand everything...and I definitely don't. Belgian school is rather different from my school in the States. Here, I take the bus to school. We start at 8 am and school ends at 4 pm. However, we get an hour for lunch and Wednesday afternoons off. 5th and 6th years are allowed to leave school for lunch or for study hall. As for my classes, the basics are French (5 hours a week), History, Geography, Religion/Morale, and Physical Education. I'm also taking Drawing, Infographie, Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (each science is only one hour a week), and German, as well as some Audiovisual classes, but I'm going to drop the AV classes and take an additional French class. I'm also dropping German, since I'm in a 6th year course right now. I might take a first-year course if I can fit it into my schedule. I started school on Monday and went out for lunch. So far I've eaten at five different places...Monday I went to a sandwich shop with some girls from my class, Tuesday I went to Le Patton with Flo, Wednesday I ate at home, Thursday in the cafeteria at school, and Friday in the Salle de Rhéto. I'll post pictures next time, but my computer is not cooperating right now.
Anyway, school is all right. Athenee Royal d'Arlon is about the same size as my school in the States...about 100 students per class. On Monday, I was mostly just lost. I didn't understand the language, the layout of the school, and I only knew seven people. Tuesday was the hardest day. That was the day my school started in the States, so I missed my friends a lot. Plus, I had four hours of Production, which I realized I'm not a huge fan of and don't understand. The rest of the week passed normally...I understood fragments of lessons, except in German class, where I understood nothing. On Friday, I had two hours of Physical Education. For the two-hour classes, we walk to another school that has a track. I think this school year will be pretty good, and I'm sure my language will improve.

Until next time...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

So, usually at this time I would be scrambling to finish the summer assignments that I left for the last minute, but instead I'm trying to cram in just a few more words into my French vocabulary before school starts tomorrow. It will be the first time I have been a new student...well, since kindergarten. People keep asking me if I'm nervous. Nervous? Well...

I'm scared as hell.

However, I have taken two tours of the school with Isabelle, so I know the general location of most things...cafeteria, gym, study hall, etc. And today, Flo introduced me to some of her friends, who can help me if I get lost at school tomorrow...which is pretty likely. I think I'm going to like this school.
In other news, I walked around Luxembourg (the city) last weekend with Isabelle, and we visited the Grand Duke's palace. She also took my picture with the statue of the Tall Banker. After, I met her parents. I have 4 grandparents here! On Tuesday, my AFS Advisor called me to see how everything is going. Unfortunately, I haven't met her in person, since she didn't go to the Comité Sud-Luxembourg Pot Luck on Friday. Ah, well. On Saturday, we drove to a town in the Flemish part of Belgium a little north of Brussels for a track meet that Flo and Vic were both participating in. It was hard to try to understand French when there were so many people speaking Dutch, but I enjoyed watching the races.

And now, I'm going to bed. I need to be well rested for my first day of school. *gasps*

bonne nuit