Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The day after Christmas, my host family took a drive around part of the perimeter of Luxembourg. First, we drove right across the country into Vianden, a village just on the border of Luxembourg and Germany which is home to a rather famous castle. In the 1860s and 70s, Vianden castle was host to Victor Hugo, who wrote about the castle. There is a Victor Hugo museum in Vianden, as well. I didn’t see that, but here is the castle.
On November 19, 1944, this was the site of the Battle for Vianden Castle, notable as a battle in the Luxembourgish resistance against Nazi Germany. Since there is a view of Germany from the castle, the Luxembourgish military could look into the German territory and report the movements of German troops to the Allies. There is a memorial for the American soldiers who had liberated Vianden.

We went into Germany...

In Igel, Germany (close to Trier), there is a preserved 23 meter Roman column. It dates back to the 2nd century. Covered with sculptures, it serves as a funeral monument for Secundini family. Apparently, it is the only surviving funeral monument north of the Alps (pun intended).

Igeler Säule

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I finished school on December 24th. I had a Biology exam that morning and then we waited around in the Rotonda for our scores. I only failed one of my exams! Unfortunately, it was History, the only one I actually needed to pass. But on the bright side, I did get a better grade than some of my Belgian classmates, even though most of the information was completely new to me. So, all in all, I don't feel too badly about it. Here are the rest of my scores...the grades are out of 20 and a 10 is still passing.

Morale: 20
French: 11
Math: 12
History: 8
Geography: 10
Biology: 11
Drawing: 18
German: 16

I didn't take my exams for Chemistry or Physics. I was required by AFS to take four exams, and I took eight out of a possible ten, so I think I did pretty well.

After our exams, I went to a few cafés with my friends to celebrate the end of exams. I had to remind myself that it was December just did not feel like Christmas. We got back home at around 5 in the afternoon and I wrapped some gifts for my host family. We opened gifts before dinner on Christmas Eve. Among other things, I got a book of French expressions from my host family. They told me that I'm not allowed to leave until I learn the entire thing...

...we'll see how that works out.

I went to the church in my village on Christmas Eve. It's the only time I've been to a mass since I left Ogdensburg, and we weren't even sure what language it would be in. As it turns out, it was in Luxembourgish, so I didn't actually understand any of it.

On Christmas day, my host family went to Habay to spend the day with my host father's family. We spent the entire day just talking and eating. It was wonderful. It seems that, in Belgium, Christmas is not as big a deal as it is in the U.S. Sure, our vacation here is "les vacances de Noël," but Christmas itself seems to be just another reason to get together with family. There are gifts, but not too many, which is nice. It seems calmer, somehow, which may have been the reason I didn't feel Christmas spirit like I do in the States. In short, Christmas was different...but I liked it anyway.

I'll explain the rest of vacation in another post.