Friday, 26 April 2013


For some reason Easter was not Easter this year.

For Easter break this year my host family was going on trip to Florida and could not take me with them because I had my own trip to Italy. My family left a few days before my trip started so I stayed with a fellow rotary exchanger and friend, Yurina and her host family for Easter weekend.

The whole weekend seemed like any other. When Easter Monday came we went to the grandparents house for brunch. It was a nice morning and a delicious meal, but just not the Easter I'm used to.

Another new experience.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Les Mis-érables

Ok, anyone who knows me knows that I love musicals... and plays...and movies... and theater in general.

I am willing to admit that I can become "extreme" on the topic (sorry, my english has left the building and french phrases are coming out in english)

This year when I went to London I fell in love with Les Mis on stage. Then as time crept closer for the premiere of the new movie staring Hugh Jackman, I was not capable of talking about anything but Les Mis.
Unfortunately, Les Mis did not open at the same time it did in Canada, or the States, or Germany, or the Netherlands...(you get the picture...)
The movie opened in Canada on Christmas day, so obviously my family had to be the first ones to see it...and tell me all about it...and sing all the songs. Then slowly the posts on FB started mentioning song lyrics, and reviews. I was being tortured because it would not open in Belgium until the end of FEBRUARY...
So I did what any crazy canadian exchange student who lives on the boarder of a neighboring country would do; I went to the Netherlands for the sole purpose of seeing this movie.
Then I went a second time... Then when it opened in Belgium, I obviously had to see it closer to home...
Needless to say I may be obsessed... and I apologize to my friends, fellow exchangers and my host family for putting them through this torture...

Which will not end soon because I now own the film....
sorry  ;)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

I.D Controls

Here in Belgium people must carry their I.D on them at all times. They do this for many reasons, the scary thing is when you forget your I.D at home and a police officer asks you for it...

They have "controls" to insure that people actually keep their I.D on them. I thought it wasn't so serious but never the less I always have it on me, except once when I went to Liege for the afternoon, so I was nervous once I realized I had forgotten it... I was lucky, no control for me.
The next day my friend told me that she was "controlled" around the same area where I was that same day... LUCKY!! (me, not her. lol)

You can get controlled, AND fined when caught without it, even on the train. For Example, I was on the train one day and this guy was using a Go Pass (the same pass I was using) but didn't have his I.D on him to prove he was the valid age to use the pass...From what I got he was fined 30€ on the spot the charged, and was black listed or received a warning on the train's system...

Lesson Learned:


I'll admit I'm a little ( possible slightly more) scared...

Monday, 11 February 2013

Mom's Visit

So my mom came for a short visit at the end of January. It was a very sudden decision and she arrived just as suddenly.

On Tuesday January 15 I was talking with my mom about what I was up to and we lightly talked about the possibility of her coming to visit me, but it seemed impossible because the opportune time for her to visit was already upon us. It was the perfect time for her to visit because I was on holiday and she was in the exam period (she's a supply teacher, among other things). Fro our conversation my mom just asked me to look into the possibility of getting permission from my Rotary district here for her to come.
As well as talk with my host parents to see if they would be comfortable with my mom visiting me. My family is so wonderful that my host parents insisted that she stay with us in the house. I love them so much. When I look back on it, I think that they were crazy, who lets a strange Canadian girl live at your house for 6 months and then after knowing this girl for 10 days, allows her mom to visit her (which could make her home sick, among other things) and INSISTS that her mom stays with them as well? I can not express in words how much I love them and how crazy they are!

On Wednesday I asked my counselor if it would be possible for her to come as long as I filled out all the right paperwork. So then later that night I talked to my mom and said it was possible (but I thought it wouldn't be probable for such a short window of time). Well then.... my mom said "Jess, I found a great deal on a flight so I can come..." I was stunned for a moment or two, talked for a bit more then I started organizing the mountain of paperwork (last time I did the same paper work for my trip to London it took me 4 days.

On Thursday the paper work, calls and emails began and was sent off to get approved.

On Friday I called my counselor in the afternoon and he told me that he was in the middle of writing me a reply email to my request... annnnd he wouldn't tell me over the phone and at that time I was on my way to Maastricht for the rest of the afternoon.... great....the anticipation was killing me!
When I got home I checked my email and my request was approved, MY MOM WAS COMING!
Friday night I called my mom and told her the good news that night( her time) she bought her ticket for Tuesday January 22... one week from the first real discussion about my mom coming. (sounds like my application process to the mother, like daughter???)

Over the course of the weekend I was on skype planing what we will be doing when my mom arrived. We were excited and my mom at moments had "panic attacks" because it was all happening so quickly. "Oh Jess, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!"

We had an amazing time. We took one big trip to Ypres for two days and then to Brussels for two day, as well as small day trips. I will have other post about each trip later.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

My school

A New Begining

A fresh start is exactly what I needed. If you've been following my blog you would know that things have been a little less then ideal with my first host family. If you haven't I suggest you do, I've been told I can be funny at times and that it's not a terrible blog, not to toot my own horn or anything... :)

ANYWAYS... Before changing families I was.... physically stressed and drained, but as the date of my family change approached I felt more and more excited. It was a strange sort of excitement. It started off as me being excited to move away, then it became an excited for a new adventure and surroundings, then finally about 3 days before I changed I began to feel the same (and yet different) as when I was starting my exchange, as if I WAS starting a second exchange.

From the moment I walked in the door I was never a guest (which is exactly what every exchange student needs in my opinion) I had sisters teasing me in a loving way, parents who wanted me to feel comfortable but was not afraid to ask me to do things.

In my second host family I have 3 younger sisters: Sara 16, Sofia 13, and Stephanie 10. Which is a very similar dynamic as in my own home: Me 17, Jacqui 16, Grace 15, and Jonah 11. I thought that it would be a change to have three little sisters with a bigger age gap between sibling (note: in my family: 17,16,15) however I found myself in practically the same enviroment as home; sisters fighting about clothes, teasing each other about our silly mistakes, sharing animated stories at dinner about everyone's day...

From day one I felt myself relax and no longer forcing myself to smile all the time but actually smiling all the time! (usually because some one was doing something silly :P )

My back yard
The surrounding country side


Sofia, me and Stephanie

View of my house from behind

Sunday, 20 January 2013


I have now talked with CBC Radio One on Ontario Morning three times. It has been such a wonderful experience for me, and I'm so grateful that they have given me this opportunity.

It all began after I did and interview for a newspaper article along with Natassja, who is another outbound student. So Natassja and I enjoyed our time talking with the Barrie Examiner,and as the interview was coming to a close, our interviewer asked us if we wanted to add anything else... My Mom being my Mom (sorry, I can't explain it any other way...) wanted to share how proud she was of me, and said that she was so excited for me because she had an idea about what waited for me on my exchange because she went on exchange with the same program when she was 16.

The radio called me less than a week before my departure to see if my Mom and I would be interested in doing an interview because they thought our story was interesting
My First interview was on August 15 with my mom. the main topic of the interview was the lead up to my departure; how I was feeling about to leave and how my Mom was feeling watching me go having a little bit of an idea about what was waiting for me.

The second interview was October 5. This was a follow up interview about what has been happening, the differences I've noticed, how I was feeling and dealing with the culture shock.

My third and most recent interview was on January 4. The focus of this interview was on my encounter with homesickness. If you've read my Homesick post in December you already understand how I could talk about this for ten minutes...

I will keep you posted about any other interviews in the future...

Friday, 4 January 2013

3...2...1... Happy New Year!!!

For New Years it is absolutely mandatory to go to a party... that's Belgian culture for ya.
So I was going to go to a party in Charneux.

My New Years eve evening started at 7 when I went to a friends house to eat before heading out. There was a total of 8 girls there, 3 exchange students (Canada, USA, and Japan) and 5 Belges.

We laughed ate and had an all round good time. we did not leave to go to the party until 10:45!! this is a totally new experience for me. at 11 I'm in bed...

It was quite an experience  at for me at the party... it truely was shocking what I witnessed. I thought I would not see a party like that until university not at a party where the majority of the population was 16,17 years old!!

By 1am , I had more then my fill of New Years. I didn't end up leaving until 3:30 (never in my life have I ever). At that time I was a little ticked off and now longer was "having a good time." It wasn't until a couple days after that I could laugh about the whole thing.

That's one thing off my list of things never to do again (to that EXTREME)

... I'm not a party girl...

Disney Magic

We left at 4am from close to Liege and did not arrive to Disneyland until close to 11am. We walked and walked until we got to the front gate... like at any theme park.

Elenore, Elizabeth, and Yurina (missing Charline, and me)
It's a small, SMALL WORLD!!

The Chicken faced her fears and went on Space Mountain!!! I was screaming and everyone else was me...

This was the first moment of the day where I totally let go of everything and was living in the Disney world.

It was a lovely fun day, filled with screams, laughs, and good times. It might have been drizzleing the whole day but we didn't notice.
We stayed until after the fireworks and light show after closing.

We were told that the bus was leaving at 11:45 sharp and that they would not be waiting, and I knew that they would not be waiting... we did not get out of the park itself until 11:35 then we had all the walking to do. As time ran out we just ran faster and faster. Now I'm extremely asthmatic meaning it does not take a lot before I need my puffer. After running over 300m in cold weather, I was wheezing like there's no tomorrow. Don't worry I lived... I know a few things to help calm down my asthma. One of the most painful thing s that I could do was to laugh, so what were we doing laugh at me laughing like a smoker... oh man...
We didn't get home until 4:30am...again...
Needless to say due to all the rain and cold I was sick the following days...