Sunday, May 29, 2011


Imagine for a minute.

Brick walls. Barbed wire.

Every door, closed. Locked. Numbered.

You, inside. Praying to a god who seems to have forgotten you.

Who you now know has forgotten you.

You're hot, you're cold. Shivering, burning.
Whatever they choose, you suffer it.

The horses have names.
You have a number.

The horses have stalls.
You have a cage.

Finally, freedom.
In a way.

They regret.
But that didn't save you.

Horror. Pain. Loss.

This was Breendonk.
And it wasn't even the worst.

Don't let this happen again.

(for more information:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bare Feet, Backpacks, and Bastogne

It's a beautiful, warm, and uncommonly dry spring in Belgium, so I've been doing a lot of traveling on the weekends. I generally meet up with other exchange students and spend the night somewhere...and I've been going through go-passes like crazy. SNCB probably loves me.

Anyway, last week I finally went to the North Sea! I went to Brussels on Friday night, where I went out with several exchange students at Delirium. Then Johanna, Liam, Austin and I took the midnight train back to Austin's house for the night. We got up early enough the next morning and headed to the train station...only to find out that no trains were running through Linkebeek that day. Perfect.

So, instead, we took the bus and a tram into Bruxelles-Midi, where we found a train to Blankenberg. From there we took the tram to De Haan, right on the North Sea. We stopped at a grocery store to get our picnic of baguettes, goat cheese, américain préparé, and apples, which we ate in a park.

There are these funny little buggy/bicycle hybrids all over. They're really popular near the sea.

After lunch, we walked over to the beach. Liam and I went wading in the (rather chilly) sea, while Johanna and Austin looked for pretty shells. We were lucky with the weather- it was actually supposed to rain that day, but it ended up being sunny and warm enough. It was windy, of course, but it was still very pleasant.

In the afternoon, we decided that it was a good time to get back to Brussels. But first...instead of taking the stairs, Austin decided to climb the wall, and the rest of us followed. We're always in search of adventure, no?

We walked barefoot through De Haan and got on the tram with sandy feet, content with our day.

A week later, Mathilde, Johanna, Austin, Liam, and Trey came to visit me in the south. On Saturday we went to Bastogne, where we visited a few very interesting museums. It's so cool to learn about our history from a different perspective.

When Johanna, Mathilde, and I walked out of one of the museums, there were a few American military trucks driving through downtown Bastogne.

This is a picture of the Christmas meal during the Battle of the Ardennes. We were standing in that room, where the chairs are set up as if they had all just left the table.

Mathilde, Johanna, and Trey stayed an extra night and we all went to the Allure Libre in Habay on Sunday. My host family and I ran, while the three of them went and found a playground and cheered us on from there. We went to my host grandparent's for lunch afterwards, where Mathilde and Johanna gave Trey a haircut. They did a really good job, actually.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just Two?

I've been trying to avoid counting down, but it's apparently inevitable.

Two months.

That's what I have left- two months in the European life I've been dreaming of all through high school. It's a vicious ultimatum. I usually try to think "I still have two months" instead of "I only have two months," but it's difficult not to know when I can come back, and even harder to know that Belgium will never be the same again.

I think I'm going to try to spare your eyes and cut off here. Instead, I'm going to talk about hope.

Hope, because I can remember the last time I had two months before a departure. Rewind to June 2010. I was a junior in high school, suffering a bad case of senioritis. I had been accepted into the AFS program in Francophone Belgium and I had basic information on my host family. I was ready to be finished with Ogdensburg Free Academy, to leave, and to learn. I imagined that the days went slowly as I roamed the streets of Ogdensburg in the moonlight, humming to myself and wondering how bright the stars would be in Beckerich. Preparing myself to leave then was easier - I knew that I would be back in less than a year. But I remember the anticipation, the excitement, and I am so excited for those of you who are experiencing that right now. So let your days go as they will. Relish this anticipation, for it will be well answered!

And now I should go. There's a particularly beautiful springtime from which I need to profit.

I love my beautiful Beckerich.