Episode 7: Midpoint of Exchange

Reference: https://www.ryese.org/outbounds-2014-2015/

Well I would like to say that I’m in the middle point. The point where my English is getting bad and my French isn’t getting any better. The transition point where I’m kind of getting better at French and my English is slowly deteriorating. This is the point where I feel like I’m not improving in French because the progress is not as visible as before. I also feel that my English is leaving me slowly. It’s just a really hard feeling to explain because sometimes I don’t understand it myself.

Apart from my language, I would like to say that I am quite an adventurer. (It’s getting harder to write some words in English because I would think of the French word first! >.

I switched families the 4th of January right after my trip from the North Sea. For me, I thought I was really good at adapting but boy was I in for a bit of a surprise. Normally, I would remind myself that we must change families to learn more. Let’s just say, the experience is TOTALLY, COMPLETELY, and JUST different. I cannot use any other word to describe my mixed and biased feelings because I do not want to offend anyone. It’s just DIFFERENT. But different is good. Different means I get to learn more of what not to do.

I learned that compatibility is truly important in a relationship. No matter how hard you try to get someone to like you or you to like someone else, it just doesn’t work out because there are no common shared interests. I feel like in order for there to even have a relationship, first there must have some type of interest whether if it’s food, sports, religion, etc. Without an interest of wanting to learn more or know more about a person, it’s a bit hard to create and maintain a relationship. I’ll just let that sit in your head. Think deeply. If you have done just so, you will understand what I am trying to convey.

On the bright side, I am blessed to be able to change families because I get to influence more people. I get to meet more people. Sometimes, I feel that we get too used to our environment that we don’t consider the people around us. Do you know your neighbors? You live next door to them but you might not get to talk to them or even meet them. That’s how I feel if I just stay in one family. I would only know one family. Thank you Rotary for making us change as a MANDATORY obligation. Because of this, I get to know more than just one family and potentially have more than one family.

On the 13th of February, my second host dad said the one thing that made me feel like I have done and accomplished my mission of doing this exchange, “I am really happy that Rotary is giving me this experience where I am learning daily.” This phrase has made me realize that this is a TRUE exchange, where I am learning about the Belgian culture and exchanging my culture and vice versa.

Instead of living in a small village five minutes from the bus stop, I now live in the countryside more or less. I now live about 15 minutes from the bus stop where I have the liberty to walk home, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the scenery and on top, fit in some exercise some days after school. Before on Saturdays, I would travel and visit the cities throughout Belgium because it was convenient but now, I mostly rest at home and hopefully get to spend more time with my second host family. I find that I am cooking and baking more, which I would have never thought I would do. To the point where one of my Belgian best friends gave me recipes books in French for my birthday!

In the month of January:

  • I went to the Opera House in Liège two times! The first was with a Rotarian couple where we saw a classical music concert. The second one was with my host mom (it was her first time!), Karine, for a Rotary event where we saw a show in German!
    • I presented and shared my story and experiences with the ladies of Rotary (Inner Wheel in Belgium)! We exchanged our Rotary banners and I gave each member my homemade Rotary pin! ☺
    • I went to eat an afternoon snack with a lady from Inner Wheel at her house. We shared our photos from our Vietnam trip and she invited me to go to Germany with her for a weekend in the near future!
    • I cooked a three-course meal for Karine’s birthday the Sunday before her birthday! The family enjoyed it very much! I am ecstatic because I now have a rice cooker. No more bread for me!!!!

Throughout the month of January, I learned more about myself. I really don’t know how I do everything but somehow I just do. It’s a miracle.

In the month of February:

  • I got to ride a horse for the first time! ☺
    • I changed my hair! The perks of having a host mom who is a hairdresser!
    • I did a weeklong exchange to the Czech Republic with my school. It was a week of English, French, and a little Czech. I lived with a host family and it was just an incredible and unforgettable experience. We went to Prague, Czesky Krumlov, Tabor, Lidice, and a couple of other places. I got to see Cat, who is doing her exchange year in Czesky Krumlov. I now have another family within another country. It’s unbelievable the people you get to meet and the things you get to do just in one year! I actually got to eat Banh Tet on Vietnamese New Year in CZECH REPUBLIC! Talk about international! So I got to represent Belgium when I was in Czech Republic and that was pretty cool!
    • I celebrated my birthday with some of my Belgian friends on Wednesday. We went to eat hamburgers together. Then on Friday, we celebrated the Belgian way! 😀
    • I got to share my Vietnamese New Year a week before with my second family by letting them taste one of the Vietnamese New Year’s candies! ☺

Thank you Rotary for this unforgettable experience! I feel very loved from getting to do all the things I get to do! I am very fortunate because initially I was not able to go to Czech Republic but in the end I did because I have made many strong relationships. One of my Belgian friends gave up her spot for me to get to go.

Only four months left, but many more wonderful memories to come!
A little preview of my adventures:

  • London, England in March with my Belgian best friend, Aurélie
    • Luxembourg in the end of March with Rotary
    • Throughout Italy during the two weeks vacation in April with Rotary
    • Barcelona, Spain at the end of April with my school
    • Germany some time in the near future

One year. One memorable year filled with unforgettable memories. One chance to discover everything: the food, the culture, the people, the voyages, the language and the way you react.

The moment when you accidentally click enter …

Please check out the pictures and be heartfelt! 😛 Just kidding!

A thousand thank you Rotary for everything you do. For inspiring us to be the best we can be and for cultivating thoughtful and internationally aware youths throughout the world!

Gros bisous

Je suis contente d’être en Belgique. Je ne veux pas un autre pays parce que Belgique a capturé mon cœur! Il reste plus ou moins quatre mois et je me sens que le temps passe trop vite. Arrête un peu pour moi. J’ai plein de choses à faire!

My return date is July 22nd, one day after Belgium’s National holiday!