Friday, December 31, 2010


happy last day of 2010!! hope you spent your day nicely..i hear theres a blizzard in good ol south dakota? figures! typical mother nature. here it's pretty foggy, so our departure tomorrow morning might be a little delayed. first i shall tell you about today. i slept in, ate leftover mac and cheese for lunch, then finished packing my medium-sized suitcase for our skiing trip. i say medium sized because i brought three beautiful suitcases from my aunts store with me to really tiny, one really big (over the limit for the airlines but they didn't notice) and one just perfect for this trip. anywho,it is stuffed with lots of warm clothes and ready to go! then i quickly rode my bike to the same store i bought my ski jacket at and bought a travel outfit for tomorrow. sweatshirt and sweatpants of course, only the best for our 9 (maybe more? less?) hour drive tomorrow, ridiculous! i'm planning on taking lots of dramamine and hopefully sleeping the entire way, prayers needed people--motion sickness is the enemy! so around 4:30 a friend from my class picked me up (she can drive now that she's i felt like a kid again, with your friend driving for their first few times-although its probably a lot harder with a stick shift. she couldn't believe our cars do the gear switching for us). then we went and picked up another girl in our class and her boyfriend. the four of us went to a house that thefirst girl was housesitting (are you confused yet?) and ate dinner and hung out. it was nice, a lot better than doing nothing tonight! i wanted to go out and "party like a belgian" (if you will) tonight, but we leave so early tomorrow morning that i figured it was a bad idea. so having dinner was cute, and its a pretty normal thing to do around here. heres the table, salad, and a picture on the way home! well, home for me anyways..they will continue to party at the reflex till 5am or something.
so now i'm home, and soon i am going with my host parents to see the fireworks from the chinese restaurant in oud-turnhout. earlier today when i was going to buy my sweatsuit (haha, lazy sweatsuit) i saw these chinese people roping off the parking lot of the restaurant and now i know why! so maybe i will try to get a picture and put it on here, if not im sorry. but now, i will tell you a little bit about my trip that we are going on tomorrow! tomorrow is driving day, long day in the car till we are in Austria. i think we are coming back next week friday, but i'm not quite sure i guess. we will spend almost an entire week skiing somewhere near Wald, Austria..i'm pretty sure thats the town name, if not, then its a resort name and i'm just stupid. so i've taken the 7 ski lessons on the magic carpet thing, bought a new ski jacket, and i'm hopefully ready to go. it will be a very nice time but i have no idea if i can keep blogging every night or not. i could be too tired, the wifi could be too expensive, or i guess anything could happen. i will try my hardest though, don't you worry! but overall i feel very lucky that my family is taking me!! it will be great fun. so just warning you guys, don't panic if there's no blog will come in a week or so! love you all, and thanks for reading. wishing you the absolute best in 2011, goodnight world!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


readers: hello/hola/hallo/bonjour/aloha/ciao! my impressive list of hello's. i will start by telling you that today was nothing important or significant, really. i started packing because we leave for our ski trip very early (4-5am) saturday morning. we had some cheese-ball type things for dinner. i'm restraining myself from going downstairs and drinking hot chocolate then coming back upstairs to blog. that was today. now, since tomorrow's blog is going to be more about my upcoming trip and how i spent my last day of 2010, i will take the time to make today a recap of my life in 2010. or better, how 2010 has completely changed my life. (sometimes i'm too cliche for my own good). i'll take you month by month, along my last few months of high school until my christmas in europe. the evolution is incredible. so here we go. january: 2010 came in with a bang, and by bang i mean party with a few of my friends where my asian friend yang brought his mini-claw machine. at this point the dollar store where i was working had just closed for good, so naturally i bought lots of stupid new years decorations and had people over to watch a movie. theres not much to say about february, i believe at this point i was having quite a few board game nights with my clan of friends from band, some of my fondest memories of high school. bananagrams and apples to apples are our go-to games. march, when "senioritis" really starts kicking in. march was filled with not much homework but definitely many baked goods. i there is no better excuse for cookies (other than christmas) besides st. patrick's day. at this point i seriously started to think about a career in the food industry. i specifically remember baking cookies and thinking, i could do this every single day for the rest of my life and never get bored. april: one month left of high school and i'm not going to college..yet. this was the month i found out i'd be coming to belgium for a year, instead of going straight to university like most of my friends. figuring out my post high school plan was really stressful for me, due to the fact that almost all of my friends knew by early march where they'd be going the next year, but i had to wait until april to go out on a limb and apply to be an exchange student. actually, there was really limb to go out on. i was pretty confident i'd be accepted, and belgium seemed like a sure bet..but it was the waiting that killed me. april was also a nice easter with the family at our house, spring started to show and graduation was right around the corner. with spring comes more cookies, of course. i also went to a john mayer concert with my friend katie. i felt really grown up going to a hotel and a concert (in fargo) without my mom. little did i know, "growing up" would take on a whole knew meaning when you're flying across the ocean alone embarking on a 1 year adventure in a place you can barely locate on a map. may: one more thing and i'm done with school: all state jazz band. nothing, i tell you NOTHING, has ever stressed me out more than all state jazz band has. for three years in a row i made a tape, got accepted, then procrastinated practicing until the last week. you think i'd figure out by the last year that crying to my dad doesn't make me a better drummer. but i felt oddly nostalgic about that last time playing. it was the first time i looked at myself in the mirror and said something like.. "shit, time to grow up now". finally..graduation from brookings high school. even after much controversy at school, i gave the welcome speech and compared life to a giant playground, and graduation nothing more than a never ending recess. i still have yet to come up with something as wise as that. touche, self. june, the beginning of my summer job at the pool. selling candy and admission tickets has never been i also took a trip to the black hills with my dad, my friend adam, and a foreign exchange student from norway to show him Mt. Rushmore. it was a nice trip, south dakota is a lot more beautiful than we'll ever be able to think of it. it was also my moms 50th birthday, and i think i made two of my most beautiful cheesecakes for her party. july: between working my butt off at the pool, we went to a waterpark with a bunch of friends in sioux falls and afterwards discovered "silly bands", the shaped rubber bands that are now too popular forwords. i also took a couple trips to the lake along with baking as much as i possibly could. august: visa is here, clothes are spread all over the floor, looks like i'm going to..Belgium? one last trip to the lake to say goodbye to family and europe here i come! at this point my brain was still in a little denial of the whole thing..could i really be doing this? am i brave enough, smart enough, good enough for this? here goes everything. both my parents drove me to the airport, i cried like a scared puppy hugging them goodbye. collected my thoughts on the flight to chicago, paid too much for airport wifi, ate my last hamburger and fries and boarded the plane. i'm seated by a little girl and her mom..and they're speaking dutch. it hit me, i'm leaving absolutely everything i've ever known and flying across the ocean to meet a mystery family waiting for me. needless to say, couldn't sleep very well on the plane and was immediately exhausted and overwhelmed upon my arrival. august was a quiet month for me here, not comfortable enough to say much. then september started and so did school. yet again, immediately overwhelmed by all the differences and the intensity of school. september still remained more a month of observation for me. god gave you two eyes, two ears, and one mouth. quietly enjoying all the new pastries and bike rides to school. october: feeling less like a tourist, but not like a belgian. went to some markets, visited a few towns and pushed my comfort zone beyond what i ever thought was possible. a few homesick times, but perseverance and a little shopping will get you through anything. november: starts out extremely homesick, wanting to throw my entire belgian experience away and fly home before my birthday. didn't happen. instead, went completely randomly with just my backpack from school to Ypres for Remembrance Day. absolutelya turning point in my experience here. i felt my two worlds finally starting to come together. my dad telling me the flanders fields poem, and finally getting to see it for myself. my brain was finally not stuck in the ocean. a glimpse of hope just appeared after a night in my first hostel and a torrential rain storm the next day. i could make belgium work for me. so my birthday came, had some exchange students celebrate with me..and felt okay about everything. even made my host family thanksgiving dinner, yum. december: nothing much to say i guess! easily survived christmas, and here i am now. missed my family, but skype made it easier. there's always next year. its all just weird to think that 2010 is almost over, and a little nervous to see what awaits me in 2011. excited for all the new adventures to come but also scared for some reason. so i guess what im trying to say with this blog is understand how i am now, and to see how far i've gone so far..i felt like you needed to know where i came from. or better yet, a comparison of my two lives; and how they're slowing coming to one. damn, by the end of this whole blogging experience i will be writing inspirational quotes or something? who knows. thanks for reading if you got this far, congratulations. goodnight, and enjoy your last day of 2010!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


hello everyone! thanks for tuning in to tonights episode of..whoops, i mean thanks for reading today's blog post! typical wednesday of christmas vacation here..nothing special i'd say. woke up too late for breakfast so we had leftovers for lunch. ended up making almost the same thing for supper, due to all the (still) leftover vegetables from christmas and the fact that my host brother and i were home alone. after lunch i tried out my new waffle maker that i got for christmas! it smoked a lot and smelled like plastic, but i think thats normal for the first time with a new machine of any kind. it was a little stressful because today i had two options. i could try out my new waffle maker, or i could make peanut butter blossom cookies..because we only had enough flour, butter, and sugar for one or the other. so waffles it was. i might have to wait on the cookies till after christmas break, considering we still have a lot of sugar cookies..that i didn't even find time to frost. after my attempt at waffle making i played a little bit of farmville on my computer. for those of you that don't know this, farmville is an incredibly-stupid-waste-of-time game on facebook. after that, i downloaded yet another movie only this one was 4 dollars (thanks mom for sending itunes cards!). it was titled "Easy A" and was a semi-typical high school drama movie. it made me miss and not miss american high school at the same time. i missed the familiarity of the school format but not the drama that comes from knowing everything about everybody. in that sense, school here is a lot different for me. at home i would wander the halls and know almost everyone who passed was never really a new face. well, until senior year when you stop noticing all the little freshman. in school here i don't know anybody or anything about the people that pass me. so i guess my point is that its just different living a life with no pre-concieved notions, and i wonder if that what going to college will be like too? which brings me to college. i've been here 4 and a half months and honestly i thought by this point i would have made my mind up about what i wanted to do with my life. absolutely not the case! part of me feels like staying in brookings wouldn't be so bad after being gone almost a year, but the other part of me wants to keep on finding new adventures. decisions are always so tough for me..or maybe i make them tough on myself. life is such a paradox! after the movie i took a shower then made dinner. as previously mentioned, dinner was somewhere between fried rice and wok. but it was good so thats all that counts. after that we left to bike to my ski lesson! turns out there was a big house fire right in the street we needed to go through, so thus we had to detour to get there. i didn't think the fire was that bad, but when we biked back on the way home i saw that it really was. i didn't notice because the house was brick, so it kept standing with smoke coming out..whereas at home, if its a serious fire the whole house caves in because its made of wood! my ski lesson was alright, im happy the lessons are finally over though. i can officially say that i didn't fall at all during my seven lessons! hooray! so i guess thats all for tonight. i think i want to drink hot chocolate then go to bed. goodnight!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


hi blog readers. day one thirty three...nineteen weeks in belgium, oh boy! this morning i slept in and it felt very very good! i went to bed early last night too, so it was just nice in general. i really like sleeping, seriously. especially sleeping here, because i find myself being far more tired than i ever have been back home, mainly because every day is something new, translating, or things like that. they told me before i even left that i would be really tired, but i'd call it more like exhausted especially during school days! so anyways, this morning (well lunch actually..slept through breakfast) we had pancakes! american pancakes, from a box of BISQUICK i got from the american store in antwerp last week. since i am not very intelligent, i forgot to buy maple syrup (they even had aunt jemima..oh well) so instead i made some whipped cream and it was actually pretty good. i also made some eggs with bacon an omlette kind of. taaaasty! so that was lunch. then the rest of the day i did basically nothing. ended up downloading a movie from itunes that i still have to finish tonight. i'm cheap and only rent the 99 cent movies..but sometimes they aren't that good. better than getting viruses from other websites though i guess..unless its someone uploading it on youtube, thats the best. so mid-way through my movie my host mom comes in and tells me i should start making dinner because we're leaving in an hour and i was like..what!? leaving...where...i just am watching a movie half asleep and in my pajamas..where could we possibly be going? turns out there was an entire conversation i missed at lunch. my host dad and brother and his friend (and myself of course) "had plans" to go go-karting tonight and i didn't even know it. i know we talked about going before but it was just an up in the air plan, kind of like we talk about going ice skating or eating pizza hut, just random thoughts. but at lunch time i apparently was completely blanking out of the entire conversation and missed it all. most of the time after a detailed plan in dutch they will say "can you follow that" or "do you understand" or something, then i snap out of daydream mode and start paying attention..but not today. today was one of the days where my brain just shuts down, doesn't want to listen to dutch lunch time conversation and starts thinking about random things in english. thus, i quickly showered and went downstairs to help my host brother make "wok". it was basically a slop of poorly chopped leftover vegetables from christmas with some soy sauce and noodles. it was good though, no worries! after that we left and went to the go kart place about 45 minutes away. it will always amaze me how long you can drive in belgium and barely be that far away..small curvy-roaded country. so i was pretty excited to drive since it's been over four months now..but when i got there i definitely second guessed my intentions. giant race track with many twists and turns, going 60 km per know what that is in miles? 37 mph! this was no thunder road or wild water west! too intense for me, so i chickened out and was a little disappointed in myself. but i figured if i every feel physically uncomfortable doing something it's a lot different than wanting to try something new like visiting a new town or eating new's more of a genuine fear of mine instead of a fear of something unknown. heck, i've go karted since i was like ten..right after playing mini golf in watertown, am i right? i said to the guy behind the counter...they go a lot slower in america and he said "yeah, i know. thats true. hahaha" proceeded by "if you have any doubt at all, then don't do it. it will make it harder for everybody else..blah blah". on top of everything else, i'm not even sure if i'm allowed to do it with the four "D's" of rotary. drinking, driving, dating, disfiguration, those rules. needless to say, i think i made the right decision. when we came home my host brother and i had some chocolate ice cream. normally there isn't ice cream here but it was leftover from christmas. it was really good, and really chocolaty compared to american chocolate ice cream. belgium chocolate will always be better than american chocolate, as for everything else..i'm still comparing. thats all for tonight, thanks for reading!

Monday, December 27, 2010


day 132, hi readers! this morning i woke up around 8 (way too early for christmas break) and went to ikea with my host mom and brother. it was about the same as in the usa. typical ikea. chaos and cheap swedish furniture. here's a picture of me pretending to read a book in my "new bedroom". i'm funny, i know.
after ikea we went to burger king! it was a funny story actually. i was sleeping the entire ride there, and when i woke up, BAM there was a burger king. so reluctantly my host mom let us go there and we got woppers..which my host mom likes to call "garbage" haha, i suppose that is true, but to each their own. so of course i took a picture of myself in burger king.
did i mention to you that burger king and ikea were both IN HOLLAND!? i've officially been to holland, more than just the amsterdam airport for 20 hours when i was twelve! hip hip hooray. i was awake a little while on the way home and saw a "staples" office store and a "fedex" place..we came to the conclusion that holland is a lot more americanized than belgium. its a fact! when we got home my tiny box my mom sent on november 30th was FINALLY here! it had brown sugar, cuddle duds, sweaters, and an old camera in it. that was nice to finally get after so much anticipation. then i finished making cookies from the refrigerated dough i had leftover in the fridge from this weekend. interesting eh? we had spaghetti for supper. that's about all i have for today! talk to you tomorrow readers!


merry day after christmas! hope you all had a wonderful time yesterday. today we got up earlier than i would prefer (um...before 11), had some cereal, then went to my host mom's sister's house. does that make it a host aunt and uncles house? i have no idea. but there was all the family that was also here yesterday so i guess belgium sure values their family time around the holidays..and in general too i think. so anyways. the kids split away from the adults and went sledding instead of walking in the snow, and it was not as bad as i expected. normally things aren't half as bad as i imagine them to be at first, go figure. anyways! here is me with my "host cousins" i guess you could say...before we were off to do some sledding.
notice the oldschool wooden sleigh..sledding here is like pushing babies is here. traditional. babies usually don't have strollers, they have carriages. as it is with sledding...i've seen so many more people with a little sleigh than a plastic thing, but today we had both. sometimes i even see people pulling their children to school on a sleigh, its ridiculous. so we spent maybe a half hour here then decided it was too boring and moved on to seek better hills. seriously, this hill was like 1/4 the size of larsens hill in brookings!
instead of finding better hills, we found close to nothing and ended up walking for a solid hour in the snow eventually finding our way home. quite a few times i made my host brother pull me on the little sleigh while we were walking, it was slightly humorous...just sleighing my way through a forrest in belgium! so when we got home i was offered to go in the sauna with my host mom and her two sisters. i had been warned the night before that it is no swimsuit-wearing matter, but wasn't fully prepared for what was to come i guess?! now, lets get a little background information here. at home the use of sauna's is pretty limited..there are some at spas, hotels, country clubs and things like that, but as for people having them in their homes its really not common. in fact, most of the time there are even signs that say "bathing suit required"..haha. needless to say, the more-than-casual stripping down was a bit shocking, and the feeling of warmth was as well. i think thats the first time i was actually warm in belgium! but i wimped out and stopped a few minutes early, oh well. but if i learned anything i learned this: europe has no shame. so that was my sauna experience, oh boy! for some reason i just cant picture my own aunts and mother doing that...hahaha wow. tonight we had kebab, it was good and really greasy. typical kebab..yum. but now im home and i need to go to sleep, tomorrow we are going to IKEA in HOLLAND! hooray! goodnight!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


World! Hello! Day 130 and it is CHRISTMAS! Wow! Merry Christmas! Who knew that i would make it through the vicious bouts of homesickness from Hobo Day, Thanksgiving, and whatnot and get to where i am right now. Its amazing how far i've come in about 4.5 months. I think the best thing i've learned so far is how to "go with the flow" and not be so anxious/overanalyze things. Basically, let your life do the living. Less impulsive, that's for sure! I'm not sure if any of you have ever left everything and everyone you've ever known behind you for a year..but it's a lot tougher than it sounds! But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and the experience i've gained so far is already far beyond what i ever could have expected out of myself. That being said...I want to try out for Survivor!!! Haha. Hey have you noticed my nice typing and punctuation tonight? It is my Christmas gift to you!! Easy reading for one night only. But now moving on to today! I woke up around 9, and immediately went downstairs to frost my two giant red velvet cakes! They turned out beautifully and everybody really liked it tonight! We served the cake with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and a few blueberries. It was beautiful, actually! Here's a picture for you! (The second picture is of the cake we did not eat because it was too much! look how thick this baby was! Yummy!)
After i finished frosting the cakes i frosted some mini christmas tree cookies that i also made yesterday. It took forever, and there is still more cookie dough in the fridge that i have yet to cut and bake! Oh my, tis the season. So then i took a shower and all the family from my host-mom's side of the family came. Between the champagne, dinner, dessert, and game was an all day ordeal!
It was nice and all, and in fact i enjoyed it..but of course it's weird because it is not MY family, you know? Spending an entire Christmas day with cousins, aunts, and parents that aren't yours is a little...odd? Not bad at all though, they are all very nice to so graciously accept me into their home and lives that i should not complain. But what exchange student doesn't feel at least a little WEIRD on Christmas!! A part that definitely wasn't weird was making smores..i'm not sure if everyone liked them but it was fun!
Tonight i Skyped with my whole family while they were getting ready to eat their Christmas dinner. Mom, Aunts, Uncle, Cousins, Grandma, and last but not least...Dogs! Thank God for Skype, seriously. It was a really nice visit, i'm very happy it worked out. I have a cool family, probably a pretty typical American family if you want to say that. I really liked how amazed my Grandma was with Skype! Heck, I'M amazed with Skype! If i was any other generation i would have to wait for a letter to come in the mail. So anyways. That's about all there is to say about my day. I'm going to call my dad quickly before i go to sleep, then my Christmas in Belgium will be officially over! Who would have thought i'd end up being here. Christmas 2010 will definitely never be forgotten!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


merry christmas eve everyone!! i wish you all a great night, along with a fantastic tomorrow. hopefully santa will visit you tonight, so you better hope you were good or you'll get coal!! if you are spending time with family, feel lucky! cherish that time even though family time can be a little annoying sometimes. that being said, i am lucky too. so far i've felt really comfortable with my host family around the holidays, so i thinkthats good! normally most kids get really homesick around christmas, which seems normal. but i'm actually fine now, it was before that was so much harder! i will never understand that,haha.but seriously, i was never one for "family time" so much back in south dakota, but now that i'm here i see how much it really means to me. i'm so lucky to have everybody back home supporting my year over here, it is great! it just doesn't feel like christmas, absolutely not, just saying! today i went to school to "pick up my report" because the school is too cheap to mail them remember! it wasn't bad actually..going, that is. of course my report was good as well. 94 in english and an 80 or something in dutch on my tests! then we stopped by the grocery store, and i came home and baked for a long time! i made 6 cakes that will be layered into tw0-3 layer red velvet cakes tomorrow! i also made a bunch of cookies and still will make more in the morning i think. so tonight we went to a nice Turkish restaurant in a town a few minutes drive away. it a very good time with my host host mom kept singing along to thepiano player, which made my host dad a little annoyed (in a funny way), and then my host brother was reading the menu in turkish and i just laughed the whole time. so this is what i ate on christmas eve...not quite like the oyster stew my mom makes normally, eh? the first is the main rolled/stuffed chicken dish then the crazy dessert next. it was like...a nutty flour on top of some ice cream covered in this paste? impossible to explain, sorry!
after that we came home and exchanged presents! it was cool, i got a waffle maker!! thats right, a belgian waffle belgium! then i gave them my gifts which i hope they liked, i am bad at buying presents for people i've known my whole life let alone 4 months, haha. then we took some pictures with the self timer, and i think they're pretty good! merry christmas (eve) to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


day one hundred twenty eight! lets see..what did i do today. not too much actually! went to some stores with my host mom this afternoon, but i was really tired or something. at first i had a headache from feeling car sick, then it didn;t go away..then i thought it was maybe because i didn't eat much today. then i just felt worse after spending like an hour in a book store. it was honestly a weird feeling..low blood sugar? it was weird. anyways. tonight i made CHILI for my family. not to be confused with "chili con carne" from like..mexico or spain or something. absolutely no! this was good ol american chili..along with cornbread! it was exciting. my host brother really liked the cornbread, i was happy! and they all liked the chili. tomorrow we might even make chili cheese dogs with the leftovers...hahah talk about typical american junk food! tonight i had a ski lesson. i didn't learn anything new, or maybe not anything at all..but i guess its good to practice. way better than nothing! but i'm really tired right now, and tomorrow i have to go to school to "get my report card" (school is too cheap/stupid/traditional to mail it..LAME) which makes me a little frustrated because all it will say is that im good at english class..go figure. but one more thing before i go! happy birthday to my cousin tony..17 today! wish i could be there for your birthday party tony, maybe next year! i'm going to miss my cousins this christmas..weird weird feeling!! its almost as weird of a feeling as thinking that tony is really feels like we were just little kids at disney land. proves that time goes way too fast. unless im sitting in language class bored out of my mind, then honestly time cant go any slower!! but for now all i can do is look back at last year's christmas, lake, thanksgiving memories..and remember that it usually ends up in chaos anyways. haha no just kidding, the small amount of family time we do spend together is always nice. here's my cousin and i at my graduation last may, just for fun. happy birthday tonyloaf, and goodnight all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


127! happy wednesday. wed-nes-day, is usually how i say it in my head. today i went to antwerp! antwerp is the capital of the antwerp province in flanders (the dutch speaking side) and so it is pretty big! antwerp is like the diamond capital ofthe least 80% of all the worlds rough diamonds pass through here, i find that pretty neat! so when my future husband gives me a giant ring, i can say "hey theres an 80% chancethat diamond was once in belgium" hahah, just kidding of course. but nonetheless i feel pretty cool being able to go to such wonderful places so easily! all i did was take the bus for a little over an hour and i was there. once there, i met two other exchange students at starbucks and enjoyed myself a nice gingerbread latte. after that we were off to the shopping street of course! would you believe it if i said i didn't buy anything!? there was this really cool shirt at urban outfitters in the "vintage" section that i REALLY wanted..but it was 33 euro and i find that a little too expensive. i took a picture of it just to see if any of you in south dakota have some input? hah! no, i really didn't want the shirt. but i laughed really hard. something about seeing a sturgis shirt in the middle of my belgian adventure just hits home and makes it seem like a small, small world. sort of beautiful in a way, you think? that is, the thought..not the shirt. hehe.
after that we went to a live radio broadcasting thing where the dj people live in a "glass house" (aka...plastic building?) for a week or something to raise money for kids in africa or something like that. i'm not really sure what it was about, but we got on tv for a little while! as we were there we tried to draw mustaches on our fingers, but it didn't really work. in this picture with me is my long last cousin mark..another exchange student from the us, only he's in the french part. we have the same last name..weird!
after that we walked around the very pretty christmas market and i got some random chinese fried things for lunch. crab, squid, shrimp, chicken and eggroll things..interesting! but pretty tasty.
as if that wasn't enough, i needed a pancake too...with nutella of course. for those of you that are looking to expand your horizons, go out and buy yourself a jar of nutella and a loaf of bread. tada! you're instantly european..
so then we had a good idea to go to the american food store! brilliant thinking! hooray! we were very excited. i thought i knew exactly which bus to take but who would know it..i was wrong. so after wasting about an hour on the wrong bus we finally got on the right bus and got to the beautiful store. it was awesome as ever!! i got more things for smores, some things for christmas cookies, and a couple seasoning packets for sloppy joes and chili..gotta love that! finally we were back to the station from the store and checked the train times. of course the train didn't leave for another 45 that was just enough time for me to enjoy a nice cheeseburger happy meal from mcdonalds. i'm so healthy. so now i am home, and that was my day. i really hope you enjoy reading it as much as i enjoyed writing about it and experiencing was definitely a good day.

but before i go, a congrats is in order for a special band director from Michigan. you know how there are just certain things, people, experiences and whatnot..that just make a difference in your life? it can be going to belgium, or simply an old family friend. this guy is definitely one of them in mine and for many others too! oh i tell you, from the kalahari to korean beef, whether he knows it or not he's definitely made a difference to me..and of course many many others! so congratulations on your award from SBO Mr. Greer..a wonderful band director, family man, person, and last but not least-comedian. i leave you all with a couple photos that i'm hoping will make you laugh even if you don't get the joke behind them. goodnight all.


okay so first off i will start out by saying that i am incredibly tired and will probably come back tomorrow night and edit this post, but i don't want to leave you all completely in the dark so here it goes! today i went to real school and took my specially made dutch test. it was really easy except i forgot how to say "it is cloudy outside"..but who cares. after that i came home and made some chicken noodle soup from a packet my mom sent me along with a grilled cheese sandwich. it was good! then my host mom and i went to a few stores and i took really good pictures of the snow but my camera is actually stuck in my pocket with the zipper broken so i cant show you them now. tonight i had a ski lesson and i think thats why i'm tired. i will show you pictures and tell you more later but until then...goodnight! oh and by the way i had 82 views yesterday..WOW! also thanks for all the comments!!!

okay now it is "tomorrow" and i'm back to share with you a couple pictures from yesterday! here is the beautiful snow first. i really enjoy the snow here. how it sticks to the trees, makes people drive slow, and makes belgium seem more peaceful. sometimes during the rain season i really felt that belgium was just a crowded traffic jam, but with the snow (although it is actually more of a traffic jam) all seems to be a lot more relaxed..but then again maybe thats just me. maybe it is, in fact, that my outlook has changed along with the seasons. hmm.
next is a picture from a store we went to. the store reminded me SO MUCH of the dollar store i worked at in brookings, oh my! it made me really miss and respect my over two years of work at that store, especially during christmas. oh we had so much fun wearing santa hats, stocking shelves, checking people out, eating cookies in the break room..something i miss so much! if there is one thing i don't miss about my time at the dollar store is stocking the wrapping paper. so i took a picture today of the wrapping paper shelves, just for fun.
but thats all i have for thanks for checking back!!

Monday, December 20, 2010


day 125..not-so-mundane monday! wow, over 8 thousand page views!! as i'm typing this i have 8, we shall see how many i have tomorrow and then thats how many views i will have in one day..hmm! well this morning i went with my host mom to a couple hobby lobby-ish stores. then i went to the grocery store to buy things to make cookies. when we came home from the store, i watched a little survivor (i have two episodes left, don't you dare spoil it for me!!) then we went to the post office to get MY CHRISTMAS BOX and also mail a box to my host sister who is in taiwan. my box from my mom is so amazing! a new pair of uggs (those are shoes, warm boots..for those of you not hip enough to know that), cookie sprinkles, make up, and things like that. what a nice mom i have! sadly the first box that she sent at the end of november is still M.I.A...stuck somewhere in customs in belgium. tonight i was in the kitchen for a long time making lots of cookies. i forgot how much work baking is! at home i would bake almost three times a its a couple times a month. its like the hobby that i always forget about or something. so i made some cookies for my class and for a friend! but right now i am really really tired and still have to take a shower. so here's a crappy webcam picture of the cookies..and also a funny picture my friend katie made today. merry almost christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


day 124..sunday funday, right? after a lovely croissant filled breakfast i CLEANED MY ROOM!! it took almost all day but it's done, and it looks very nice. here's a before picture. i still have to take an after picture..or you can just imagine it in your head.
i had a ski lesson at 5:30 and normally there's at least one other person with me in the lesson but they didn't come so it was a pretty intense hour! my legs hurt. after the ski lesson we had dinner..exciting right? can you tell that i'm really tired and this is going to be a short blog post? sorry about that! but after dinner i had a very nice conversation with my host mom. can you believe i switch houses in less than a month? makes me a little starting the exchange all over again! but everything will be great, i just know it. i'm really sorry that i don't have much to say tonight...i guess sometimes its better to just be quiet and content, maybe. so i'll leave you with that. oh and i called my dad today too, it was so nice! i really like talking to him. and i've decided that i really miss working at the dollar store with a santa hat on, listening to cheesy christmas music, and helping mean customers buy all their well-priced wrapping paper. those were the days. goodnight!


day 1-2-3, giggle giggle. today i woke up not very late, watched an episode of survivor, had a bowl of cereal, then went to my HAIR APPOINTMENT! i'm blonde(r) now, it's great! i was very pleased with the salon, the color, the hairstylist, the massage chair, and really the entire experience. i chose this place because they use the same product (Aveda) that my hair is used to at home and i think it was a nice choice! i mean, who doesn't like getting their hair done? it was a little different because they didn't use foils in my hair like at home, so i decided to take a picture..anyone who saw me probably thought i was really weird for taking a picture of myself.

afterwards i thought i would just take the bus to town and finally finish my christmas shopping..but no! i walked out of the salon maybe 30 seconds too late so the bus was not an option. at that point i had three options. 1) go home, get the bike, and bike to town. 2) wait 30 minutes for the next bus. or 3) walk. well, you know me..always in the mood for a good walk! ROOKIE MISTAKE! clearly i forgot that the sunny slushy midday of belgium very quickly turns into an icy, frigid, lonesome walk home. good news is i'm done buying presents. bad news is that my hands stopped moving about half way home, and i've spent way too much money this month. when in belgium, right? good news is that it's just so's a choir singing by the nativity scene outside the church in turnhout. gotta love that!
tonight we had "chinese fondue" as a trial-run before we have it on christmas too. its basically a pot of boiling broth that you throw random meat and vegetables into, then fish them out and eat them with noodles or something. it was definitely fun and tasty, but the entire time i kept thinking about how it reminded me of my "indoor s'mores maker" i have at home because there was a blue flame just like the canned flames the smore maker uses. so after dinner i awkwardly and half jokingly suggested that we make smores for dessert. after explaining what the heck a "smore" even is my host brother and i actually made them! i had marshmellows and graham crackers mailed to me and of course there was chocolate here. they liked it so much we might even do it again for christmas with the rest of the family, haha! god bless america.
after dinner i tried another time to make a red velvet cake. WAY more successful this time!! added more cocoa powder and also red gel food coloring i found in town today. (imported from america..same as i use at home!) so the cake had a great red color, deeper taste, and also a better texture from a combination of self-rising flour and the "classic" vinegar-baking soda mixture you put in red velvet cakes. i also made a new frosting tonight just to try it because we didn't have enough cream cheese left and also because yesterdays cream cheese frosting turned yellow its a pink cake with yellow frosting, gross! todays frosting was a way too classic buttercream..egg whites, butter, sugar, vanilla. okay..i've learned one thing. hand mixer + 15 minutes of whipping this butter first into a chunky lard mess then into an okay creamy texture = i'd rather have yellow cream cheese frosting. but here's a picture of the new cake with the old one sitting in the background..hmm.
well i'd say thats about it for today! thank you so much for reading, and also thanks for the comments, i really enjoy reading them. goodnight world!

Friday, December 17, 2010

122-4 months!

wow four months already! or also..four months done! this morning i went to real school and took my first exam! it was..ENGLISH! so it was pretty easy. i always find it funny that belgium's version of a "test" in say, math for example is only one page of questions...and an exam is like five pages, it's so much different than home. sometimes we would have a 15 page math test at brookings high school, thanks mr. keppen! but that really doesn't make one system stronger than the other, it's simply an observation. after lazily taking the bus to out-turnhout i stopped by a hair salon and made an appointment for tomorrow!i haven't put any color in my hair for over 4 months now and honestly it doesn't look that bad, but i'm feeling like some blonde highlights to make myself feel better about it being christmas or something. normally i get my hair done every other month or so, but my natural colored roots really weren't that big of an issue these days. without the sun it was a little darker of course but i'm still happy to say that my hair is naturally pretty light, and my eyes are definitely blue..hooray for that i guess. today ispent more time watching survivor on my computer again. its getting so good! my host brother was very nice and went to the post office with me to mail my box..but bad news! the USA has some major security nonsense going on, so my box might not make it back till FEBRUARY! but i hope it goes sooner because there are some tasty chocolates in there that need to be eaten!! it was expensive to mail but aslong as it eventually gets there i guess i'm okay. then i went to the grocery store and bought things to make a red velvet cake. i'm practicing my dessert making skills for christmas, because apparently i get tomake dessert for christmas. first try with the cake wasn't bad, but i'm going to try another time with adifferent frosting and more red color. tonights was honestly red velvet cake is so good!! amen to my father for being southern otherwise i'd be red-velvet-cake-clueless. speaking of which, dad if you're reading this i will call you sometime soon when i think you're not busy..i really like talking to my dad! after the cake i made snowball cookies/mexican wedding cakes/russian tea cakes and they are SO GOOD! they are the first thing that actually tastes just like home..i love it!
well on the topic of food, tonight i had my first "bicky burger" from the frituur and honestly it was ridiculous! it was pretty good actually but its just a weird hamburger with a mustardy-ketchupy-"bicky burger sauce" on it along with some french fried's almost impossible to describe!
while the burgers and fries were frying away at the frituur, i payed a visit to the nativity scene in oud-turnhout..complete with a REAL DONKEY AND LAMB! i asked them if they were cold but they didn't answer me. so i just took a picture then other than the hamburger and some more survivor watching that was the highlight of my night.
now i'm going to finish episode 10 of survivor season 21 and go to sleep..thanks for reading, and HAPPY 4 MONTHS IN BELGIUM TO ME :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


day 121 and happy thursday! yet another not so exciting day, but thats alright! rainy day here, actually. tonight it was even snowing, yippee! i cannot explain to you how painfully boring language class was today. after class i took the bus home and it was stupid for two reasons. one, random scary fireworks that sounded like gun shots were being set off by some punks in town..what a damper on the holiday feeling eh? then the busses were so busy from all the students getting done with exams it was just annoying. maybe i'm lazy for taking the bus but whatever. i got home, had some BREAD for lunch (peanut butter and banana sandwich, actually! so good) and then literally sat in my room for hours upon hours watching SURVIVOR SEASON 21 on my is so good! i'm officially addicted. i found it on youtube with subtitles in Thai but if you look past them its fine..thats the only way i could find it easily and free, haha. i read on the keloland website that the south dakota lady makes it to the finals so i just had to start watching! you know me, always keeping up with keloland and the brookings register's websites..wouldn't want to miss any good gossip from south dakota! at one point i took a break to go with my host mom to the store that sells chocolates..i bought my family a WONDERFULLY DELICIOUS BOX OF PRALINES that i absolutely have to mail tomorrow. i'm half tempted to keepthe box for myself, but there are far too many chocolates in there for just one person to handle. if you're reading this, live near brookings, and want to annoy my mom..go ring the doorbell and tell her jamie said you could have a chocolate..if there are any left! trust me they're just that good, thus i couldn't possibly be on a diet in belgium, what a stupid idea. but after that it was just more survivor watching..i'm all the way to episode 6 now, but keep in mind there are no commercials so that takes less time too. well that is all i have for you today, so seriously thank you a ton for reading, i really don't think i could have made it to almost four months (tomorrow!!) without having my wonderful blog to share with everyone. so to sum up todays post: i love my blog, i love watching survivor, i love eating chocolate, and i love you for reading! ahhh and one last thing:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


well, yesterdays "question" wasn't exactly successful, but if you really want to it to be kept secret that you read my blog then thats fine with me i suppose. i just need to know that there are people out there who want me to keep writing, enjoy reading about my new life, or something like that. seriously sometimes i feellike i'm writing one giant book for absolutely nobody. but i hope there are people that like to read this, even if they do want it to be a secret :) its okay if you're shy, i understand. but overall i really appreciate whoever actually takes the time to read this, it means a lot to me to have so much support and people caring about what i'm doing..i just want to hear some feedback sometimes! moving on to today now! today i officially QUIT the diet. i could not stand eating only fruit and vegetables any longer!! but if i've learned anything its that a)fruit is healthier and tastier than cereal in the mornings b)i should never start smoking because i don't think i'd ever quit and c)my willpower can be pretty pathetic. i was never hungry, but it was extremely sad to not be able to eat CHOCOLATE. seriously, it was so hard..only 2 and a half days and i couldn't do it. i blame belgium! whatever, the diet is for when i get home, right? not important. so language class was BORING (apparently thats a very dominant word in my vocabulary, boring) and after class i did a little christmas shopping on the shopping street. all i have left is my host dads present then i'm done! oh and i still have to send my box to america..i wasgoing to do that today but the chocolate store was closed. so tomorrow, for sure! speaking of boxes, my mom sent me a box at the end of november and guess what, it is stuck in customs in chicago!! how lame is that? maybe its because she sent me brown sugar so i could make (pardon me, but) "nipple cookies" for know, the chocolate kiss peanut butter cookies!! maybe they think it's drugs..oops!! so it could be stuck there anywhere from 30-45 days.. sad story right? i hope my box makes it to america, in other words! tonight i had a ski lesson. it was difficult! my legs hurt now! but i'm improving i guess. the teacher said.. "are you sure its only your third lesson"..yes i'm sure..ouch!! but i will leave you with a photo..time to shower and go to bed! i guess i got a little bored earlier..classy eh?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


happy tuesday readers! another normal day in belgium land. (reminds me of my dad: its a beautiful day in dakota land!). had trouble waking up because i had slept so well! but after a couple snoozed alarms i was off and on my way to the bus stop. breakfast this morning was CARROTS! thanks, diet. i held up my will power throughout the distributing of birthday candy from a girl in the language class, but at the rotary meeting at noon i couldn't help it. soup, bread, pork, fried potatoes, green beans, rice pudding, and last but not least COKE! oh it was such a horrible way to cheat on the stupid diet, but tonight i'm doing fine. tomorrow is fruit and vegetables so i will be fine! meeting was fine today other than that, we just sit there and eat their food, get offered wine multiple times, listen to some people talk, then leave. after that i came home and made some more soup for the diet. i refused to eat any today, it's gross. so seriously that's about all for today, sad to say it! tomorrow i'm going to try and send a package and some cards to america. my mom sent me a box over 2 weeks ago and it hasn't arrived yet..its not normal! i think the post people lost it. oh well. thanks for reading, sorry i'm so boring today! no motivation i think..haha you should see me in language class..its like this: MUST. STAY. AWAKE. STOP. DAY DREAMING. AND. TALKING. !!!! feel free to leave a comment if you want! it should work for anyone to write, but if it doesn't then i don't know how to fix it. how about this, i'll make a question and you need to answer it with a comment if you're reading this and can figure it out.

QUESTION: what is your favorite blog post of mine so far? (favorite picture, story, funniest phrase, something like that.) comment if you can, just for fun.

Monday, December 13, 2010


happy monday, readers! i think mondays are my least favorite day of the week no matter what continent i'm living on! not saying today was bad, because it wasn't, but mondays are very..mundane? anyways, i'm determined that language class can't possibly get anymore boring. it took all of me not to leave early and catch the bus home..lots of people actually do that, just leave at the break if its too boring and say they have something else to do. but no, i stuck it out of course because i would never skip school! then after a crowded bus ride home (the students get to leave after their exams and go home to "study"..pshh, study.) it was time for some awesome diet lunch! normally we eat sandwiches on monday and besides junk food friday, sandwiches are my favorite. but today i could only eat fruit and soup with the diet so thats what i did! an apple and soup for dinner was just dandy, let me tell ya! but it will all be fine i'm sure. my host brother says i will only last till the 3rd day, he's probably right. but today i watched desperate housewives on my computer (it was so so good!!), cleaned my room A LITTLE, prepared my box to send to america for christmas, and wrote a few cards to send home too. it's beginning to feel a lot like christmas, folks..and i'm really not sure how to feel about it. i guess i'll just go with the flow and see how it turns out..the fact that its blizzard season in south dakota really helps ease the homesickness i think! well, for now anyways! but thus concludes my blog for tonight..extremely tired and must get my beauty sleep for language class tomorrow (i want to be alert of course)! goodnight world!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


lazy sunday day 117! slept in a while but didn't sleep the greatest because i think i'm getting a cold. but thats really not a big deal because everyone gets colds here i guess. i blame the weather. so after the typical sunday breakfast i watched desperate housewives from last sunday on my computer. it was a really good episode! then i watched some normal tv, then hung out being lazy in my room. around 6 we ate dinner and it was some mashed potato-hamburger-witloof (belgian endive) casserole. i'm starting to acquire a distinct hate for the endive vegetable, i'm not sure why. it's like a bitter version of cabbage and i kind of wish i liked it more because it's so popular here. oh speaking of vegetables! tonight i spent about an hour making a vegetable soup for my host mom and my DIET that starts TOMORROW! its called the "sacred heart diet" and its a modified version of the cabbage soup diet..or a nice crash-type diet. basically you eat all the soup, vegetables, and fruit you want. the last couple days you eat steak, tomatoes, and rice..but we'll see if i get that far. don't worry, i honestly don't think i've gained much weight..i definitely gained some muscle in my legs from the biking though! its just a good excuse to not eat bread for a week and prepare myself for the week skiing in austria maybe?! i only have language class every day this week except friday i have my english exam for real school in the morning..gotta study a lot for that.not! so my afternoons this week are free, hello NAP TIME! tonight i had my second ski lesson. i found it harder than the last time, maybe because it was a different instructor or maybe because my legs were hurting from the ridiculous amount of walking we did in brussels! but i still got the same "you move so naturally" comments so we're doing good! but now it's way past my bed talk to you tomorrow bloggers, when i will be complaining about only eating fruit and soup all day..wish me luck!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


yesterday was day 116 but i was too tired to write about it until today. we woke up, ate some hostel breakfast, then checked out and walked around a little more, had some lunch, then took the trains home. but i must admit something to you all, i intentionally left out one of the better highlights of my brussels trip yesterday..why you ask? because i feel it deserves a blog of its own. so that is what i will tell you about now. before i came here my family and i always talked about the little information we knew over belgium. my dad knew about flanders field, my mom knew about waffles or something, but it was my grandma that knew the most. she loved talking about the "pissing boy" in naturally, i was really excited to come and see it! once i got here i found out he actually has a name.."manneken pis"which is something like little boy funny! well this was my third or fourth trip to brussels and i FINALLY got to see it.
i had to almost physically push my friends to see this little guy after all the walking we had already done. and when i say little i mean REALLY LITTLE! he was so small and so cute! sadly he wasn't in a costume (apparently that is common) and he wasn't peeing either..too cold, maybe? but nonetheless i was really happy to see him! almost as excited as i was to go to Ypres on remembrance day. earlier this year i sent my grandparents a postcard with him on it, and apparently my cousins just love it and always giggle about the naked boy on the post card. just wait till they see their christmas presents! he's such a popular brussels icon; every tee shirt, shot glass, magnet, figurine, and even chocolate is shaped like him!
its actually quite funny to see the little naked peeing boy everywhere. anyways, that was my major excitement with my brussels trip, and i hope if any of you are ever in tiny belgium that you have the opportunity to see the also tiny pissing boy. small but powerful seems to bee this country's motto. if you're curious to know more about why this little naked kid is so popular, heres a link to wikipedia: ..enjoy! :)

Friday, December 10, 2010


gone to brussels with exchange students today-will update this day on saturday! thanks for checking in :)

oh hello! its now saturday night, and i am back from brussels! yesterday my host mom woke me up around 9 because she thought i slept in or was sick for school..but no, i actually didn't have any school since theres no language class on friday and everyone else is taking exams, haha! but it was okay because i had to get up anyways. i even cleaned my room a can actually see the floor again!! after a shower and abowl of cereal i packed up the backpack (speaking of which, who wants to buy me a north face hiking backpack for christmas?) and caught the bus to the station. i had about 45 minutes to kill before the train left to brussels, so i got some lunch. lunch was some apple pie and hot chocolate..just living the life i guess (have i mentioned the diet starts on monday?)! so i caught the train and met my three exchange student friends at the north station. let me tell you a little about brussels north, this is easily the most ghetto part of belgium i've ever seen. i say this because when you first come in on the train, there are literally like 5 city blocks full of prostitutes in the windows..and its like a bad car accident or something, you cant help but look! so im always a little scared at that station. there were lots of beggers and some even chased after us asking for money in french but we figured it out. after a little confusion finding the hostel due to my hand-drawn map..we finally found it! it was a pretty cute little place actually..a lot better than my first hostel experience! its really fun just hopping on a train and going somewhere for a day or two, especially when that somewhere is in belgium..that helps a lot! after checking in at the hostel, we walked around the shopping street a bit and saw an american indian random! i wonder if they are lakota sioux? doubtful! but it felt like listening to brule at the arts festival in brookings, haha.
next stop was the grand palace, or big square of brussels. i've been here my first week in belgium with all the other exchange students but never on my own. thus, we didn't know how to get there but we followed the lights on top of the streets (for christmas, like downtowns in the usa) and followed the flow of people and made it! it was decorated for christmas and it was really cool! a giant christmas tree, beautiful lights and loud christmas music! sights like that just put things in a whole new perspective.
after that we walked some more and i eventually got a little fruit tart, because i can. i seriously don't think i've walked that much in my entire life! we kept circling all the back and side streets looking for anything interesting. with the beautiful lights, 40 degree weather and completely charming atmosphere i bet we walked 10 miles and didn't even notice.
after more walking, more random (maybe?) christmas markets (still not sure if it was the real one but it was definitely christmas-looking) we went to a pretty popular bar/pub/whatever "delirium" ..its gotta be the biggest bar i've ever seen! but with that being said, it's also easy to make nice friends that will buy you cherry beers and talk about how much they respect exchange students. (yes, we did watch him buy them. no, there were no drugs added or i wouldn't be here to tell the tale)
so after the pub we went back to the hostel and then decided we were hungry. so we went and got some spaghetti at midnight!! how silly is that? but it was so fun, and yet again i find myself being HAPPY and CONTENT with where i am and what i'm doing. living is a lot easier when you keep your eyes open!!!