Friday, August 19, 2011

1 year(?!)

once upon a time, an 18 year old american girl named jamie set out on an adventure (that would possibly change her life forever). the blonde haired teenage diva stuffed her life into 3 (slightly overweight and oversize) suitcases and did something completely out of character by hopping on a plane..alone. the plane would first take this girl through a lengthy layover in chicago and then proceed to fly halfway across the world to the waffle capitol of europe. nothing but good old belgium. upon her arrival her first host family waited anxiously outside of the baggage claim area with balloons and a sign that she, in turn, didn't even notice. (had to have been the jet lag. i mean, who can sleep when they've just left their entire life behind?). so thus, a tired, nervous, only-english-speaking jamie jumped in the family jeep and chatted the 1 1/2 hour drive away with her new host family. eventually they stopped at the local bakery (which would become her favorite due to the fact that they have the best koffiekoeken ever) and bought croissants which jamie didn't eat because she was sleeping! eventually, the family woke her up and they all went to eat chinese before they took the host brother to get the bus to camp for the next week or so. after a long day, jamie slept for the next 16 hours. [and that was my first day in belgium.]

before going to belgium, i thought the world was large. now i know that the world is not only large, its huge, and yet so small at the same time. huge because it takes multiple hours in a plane to get across the ocean to wherever you're going. but small because i know that a part of my heart and myself is still in belgium. (yes, belgium. that small country between holland and france). every family i had, every friend i met, every classmate i laughed with, every exchange student i cried with, every church i saw, every pastry i ate, every beer i drank, and every step on those darn cobblestone streets i all changed my life.

almost nine months after her arrival date, it was time to come home again. slightly early due to personal choice, but nonetheless it was a beautiful ending. jamie woke up just like any other day, made some coffee in the cool coffee maker, ate some bread and home-made pear jelly. eventually, jamie and her host mom mailed one of multiple boxes to home full of clothing and memories. later that day, after her host mom helped her stuff cookies and goodies into her (already super packed) suitcase, a few friends came over and said their goodbyes. that evening, jamie and her second host family sat down and had dinner one last time. spaghetti was jamie's choice for a "last supper" in belgium. she still has no idea why. well then it was bed time, and i guarantee you jamie slept a total of 45 minutes that night. [and that was my last day in belgium.]

after coming home from belgium, i've realized that life is about choices. cultures are only different because they choose to do things a different way. sure, belgians can make thick american pancakes and bacon and eggs for breakfast, but whats wrong with eating some simple bread and jam? not only is it about choices but its also about resources. maybe there is no pancake mix in the cupboard and bacon is outlawed in a certain country, who knows. i do know that to me, i see it as this: an individual in this world survives by making choices and utilizing resources. the other day i decided to paint my fingernails. i painted them brown because it was an option i found appealing. i could have chose red, but i didn't. i chose brown instead, and thats what makes us different yet the same. even if we all had the same options, maybe red or maybe brown, we wouldn't all be the would we? i am an individual, and i am a part of this awesomely unique world.

exactly one year later, this very same american blonde girl awoke to the sound of her father turning on the tv in a hotel room somewhere on the opposite side of home, south dakota. eventually they packed up their things, loaded two friends in the car, and drove back to brookings (8 hours away). making a pit stop in sioux falls, jamie actually got some new glasses. (one's im sure she would have never been brave enough to pick out before her experience overseas may i add). eventually, jamie and her mother drove home in her oh-so-american cargo van and then made dinner. they had spaghetti for dinner. jamie cooked. she made sure to add lots of vegetables, just like her host family in belgium did. [and this was today. just another summer day after my unforgettable foreign exchange.]

Sunday, June 5, 2011


my dear, dear reader. for what may be a final time, hello. i hope my writing tonight finds you well and happy, wherever and whoever you may be. we are now into the first few days of june and i have been home for almost three weeks. i will be perfectly honest and say that i have been intentionally avoiding my blog these past few weeks for reasons i can't even begin to describe. part of me came home, and instantly went back to the same mindset i was in before i left. i don't know if its good or bad, but i do know that when i adapted that quickly the part of me that was so happy to be back also just left belgium out of the picture. half of my head tells me belgium never happened. i was never an exchange student, i was not gone for nine months, and it was all surely just a dream. I have the same friends, i work the same boring job, i eat the same dinner, i drive the same car, i pet the same dogs, and i wear the same clothes. nothing has changed, and i must have been dreaming. maybe its like i went on a week-long vacation? i find myself answering questions about this almost imaginary place i apparently went to and knowing all the answers. i can tell you exactly what i did, who i was with, how i got there, you name it. but i just dont BELIEVE that i did it. i probably sound crazy, i know that. i hope you're starting to see why i haven't written since i got home.

nothing has changed, except for everything. nothing has changed, except for me. the other part of me sees everything in a different light. i struggled quite a bit speaking english the first couple weeks, and i still find myself saying "een beetje" (a little) and "ik weet het niet" (i dont know) in dutch instead of english. i see myself picking out shirts in my closet i thought i would never wear again in my life. and i hear myself saying a bit wiser, possibly more mature things. i got a desk in my bedroom to make it seem more like my belgian rooms. i eat fruit and granola in the mornings because that's what i did there. hell, i even bought myself a NEW BICYCLE so i could have one like i did over there. trust me, there's still a part of me that remembers..and will always remember.

iv'e been fairly busy in the time i've been home. i had about a week to get rid of the jet lag and figure everything out back here again before i started my summer job. (and for the record, i had a great flight home with nobody on my left and the isle on my right..then customs in chicago was a breeze!) so yes. i'm a cashier at the pool and i've worked almost every day for the past two weeks. i enjoy it, so i don't mind working all the time. besides that, its really boring so we just talk, eat, and read a lot of the time. i have spent quite a bit of time with my friends since i've been back too. maybe not as much as i'd like but as long as we can laugh at the same jokes from last year then it's perfect.

you know. i can't seem to think of a way to end this, because somehow we both know that it will never end. "jamie goes to belgium" started as an attempt to remember the important things, a time-filler to stay away from facebook, and a way to show my family and friends what i was doing. i never thought i could have my entire journey written down for the world to see! i suppose, as with most things in life. with my blog, with my journey to belgium, and even with fishing...
you just have to be brave enough to attempt some things, take some risks, and you never know what you may find :)

wishing you happy exploring, good eating, and a fabulous day! and of course, THANK YOU FOR READING! sincerely, Jamie M. South Dakota-Belgium August 2010-May 2011 :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


dear world, today was my last day in belgium. my feelings are impossible to describe, surprisingly sadder than expected but at the same time looking forward to being home again and seeing everybody, but overall its sort of a feeling of...nothing. just..blah. i've had the experience of a life time, and have journaled almost every day of it. for that, i am forever grateful, and i will never ever forget my time here. the people i've met, the places i've been, the things i've seen, everything has made my experience unique and wonderful. teary eyed jamie is not a common sight, but we all knew it would happen eventually. its not even that sad, actually. its just weird! saying goodbye to everything and everybody. my life will never be the same, and so really, i'm happy. i am content. im proud of myself, i've done my best almost all of the time and i really have grown as a person. its something nobody will ever be able to understand, and nobody will ever be able to take away from me. to all good things there is an end, my friends. its not even something ending that really matters, its what i'm going to make of it and how i will use it for the rest of my life. its sort of like love, its never over! (or so they say in "the notebook"...ya know, the movie.) haha! so today. today, today, today. this morning i woke up like any other day, got ready, and went downstairs to eat some BREAD and have some coffee! after that, my host mom was so kind to help me totally finish packing, stuffing cookies and clothing in every last corner of my suitcases! after tons and tons of double checking and rearranging tonight, i think my suitcases are set to go. well actually, right when i thought everything was ready...i received an AMAZING present from my class! i had a few people over after school to say bye for one last time, it was sad and nice and just..good. my class gave me like a 5 pound box of chocolate bars, it was sooooo awesome and beautiful because they all signed their names on a chocolate bar and on the box :) it was also funny, because i made cupcakes in ice cream cones and when i went to serve them BAM! half of them fell on the ground. oh well. live and learn. hopefully i don't spill anything tomorrow? such as items falling out of my suitcase because its so stuffed!!! but yes. it was nice to say goodbye, although saying goodbye is never nice. does that make sense? so i had my share of teared eyes with the girls from the class and there it was. who knows when i will see them again, hopefully i can comeback on a trip here someday or maybe i'll even see some of them in the US someday! sometimes its a smaller world than we think. for the rest of today, it was sort of relaxing. actually, not really. i tried to go to the post office with my host mom to send a 10 kilo box, but it was like 200 grams over and so she had to go back home and get tape and then re-seal the box after i took things out of it..boooo! tonight we had spaghetti. my host mom asked me what i wanted to eat for the last time here and for some reason i chose spaghetti. comfort food or something? after dinner manuella came over because shes spending the night to get up with us at 5am and drive to the airport with my families! i love my families here, and i love everyone that i've met here actually! where does the time go. i really have no idea how its even over, i mean i know i'm going home a little early but still..thats 9 months of my life that went by in a snap. for all i know, i could be dreaming. maybe we're all just dreaming anyways. but to end this all, i have a quote, of course. quotes never do enough justice, but sometimes it can sum up how you feel a little bit. so here ya go! “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” -Orson Welles. im so thankful and blessed to have had this opportunity. my exchange year was the best the decision and best experience of my life. belgium, you will always be in my heart!!!!!!!!!!!! thank you for the great year, EVERYONE! <3 hugs and hugs and hugs from jamie the girl who loved to blog in belgium. ps: here's my speech video! and i'll write something when i'm safe and sound back home.

Monday, May 16, 2011


hello world!! well, another day in belgium is at its end, and here i am blogging again for one of the last times...very odd. so, today. a day of packing packing and...more attempts at packing. i feel really lazy saying this but i had pajama pants on the entire day :p haha lazy sunday i suppose. but seriously, i dont know what i would do without my host mom. she's helped me so much with packing! everything is folded perfectly in the suitcases but i still have too much, UGH! so i have a 20ish pound box i'm going to mail tomorrow and hopefully the rest goes well in two 50 pound suitcases, a carry on mini suitcase, and my backpack. we shall see. definitely curious how that will all work out! actually how everything will work out. its all just weird!!! and tiring. maybe thats why i was so lazy today. just sort of sick of thinking about leaving, sick of thinking about packing, and yadayadayada, ya know? here's sort of how i felt today.
beautiful eh? but other than packing, there were also a few other things that i did today. such as...ATE MY LAST BELGIAN FRIES! and drank my last belgian cherry beer! if thats not sort of depressing i dont know what is!
yum yum yummmm, fresh fries in my belly. gotta love that eh!? guess we'll have to buy a fryer at home and make some fries ourselves then too. can't say i didnt learn much in belgium ;) soooo after dinner tonight it was again sort of weird, because i said "goodbye" to my host brother and sister...because they went back to university for the week, and i wont see them next weekend like normal because, well, i'm leaving on tuesday! i can write that a thousand times and i still won't realize that i'm really leaving. is that a normal feeling? i don't feel like its over. i don't feel like it ever started, actually. maybe when i'm home it will feel like i never even left, who knows. it feels like a year of dreaming...a world i created in my head or something. a good world, mind you! but yeah, enough attempting to describe how i feel because its probably impossible to say. also, to whoever asked about my speech...i'll upload it to youtube and put it on here tomorrow night, so you have something exciting/entertaining to watch for the last time, i suppose. but no worries, i havent forgotten about it! well, bed time now..i probably shouldn't start getting on american time just yet! still another lovely day in belgium to come. beauty sleep is much needed. goodnight, and as always thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


hello world! happy saturday! woah, already saturday..and what a great saturday it was! i definitely enjoyed myself today. i think everyone i was with enjoyed themselves as well. so, as you can see if you read what time i'm writing this...its late. i'll get to why that is later. must talk about the day in order eh! so this morning i woke up not too late then had some breakfast and started BAKING! my host mom made chocolate mousse, then helped me make tiramisu, then i made little strawberry cheesecake things too. note to self: generic cream cheese, not philidelphia brand, is really salty in belgium. sometimes generic is not a good idea! ah! oh well. it was not so bad. i found it pretty tasty actually! here's me putting the finishing touches on my little strawberry cheesecakes tonight..
anyways, it was a nice morning of baking. i love baking, even if i'm not the best at it, it will always be a hobby that i enjoy. sooo after that i got ready for the afternoon/night! couldnt put on nice clothes before i started baking of course..that doesnt make sense, haha. so i brushed the flour off me, took a shower, and threw on a dress and the off we went! tonight was really great. i went with both of my host families and my almost-3rd-family (because im leaving early..) and first we went BOWLING!!! it was awesome, i love bowling..but i think between the two games, my highest score was 77 and the total high score between ALL OF US was only 117. hahaha pretty much professionals, i know. so here we are! a great picture of myself and the kindest Belgians i've ever met!
doesn't it look fun? is it not weird to think that no more than 9 months ago these people were total strangers to me?! i feel like anything but a stranger now. they were my families, they will always sort of be my families, and they will always be my friends. not only was bowling really fun, but then we went to eat CHINESE! i seriously love belgian chinese food. i know that doesnt make sense, but i mean it! in turnhout there's a nice chinese place my first family took me to for my birthday, and theres also the one we went to tonight in oud-turnhout thats also really good. its not like eating noodles from a box from kings wok in brookings or like eating an eggroll from hyvee. its like a cast-iron skillet of food they bring you almost like fajitas at a mexican restaurant. hard to describe, but oh so tasty! the weird part is that my first night in belgium my family went to eat chinese at this place, and here i am..almost the last day, and we're back eating chinese. its all coming full circle i guess! the first time i was completely tired, not hungry, understanding nothing about dutch. and now here i was, excited to eat chinese with some tasty wine, casually speaking dutch with everyone and almost done with my adventure. so here we are...
afterwards we came 'home' to have to dessert of course! little did i know i would be receiving beautiful jewelry, a photo book, apron, scarf, and other awesome things like a LUNCH BOX (i finally have my own! that makes me feel like a true belgian) from the families...i dont deserve presents for leaving..especially a little bit early, ah...seriously the nicest people in the world..heck, i dont even deserve chinese for leaving. and bowling! wow. it was great. sooo just for giggles and gratefulness, here are my awesome (but not quite complete) families one, two, and almost three :)

definition of a great day! might even be my favorite day of all...hmm. well thanks for reading! hope your day was splendid as well!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


hello! ahh, stupid stupid blog! couldn't write anything about yesterday because the blogging website was down, how sad is that!? my last few days of writing and all the sudden BAM...i try to log on as usual and start writing and it pops up and says sorry temporary problems so yeah, i couldn't say anything. but i'll sum up what i did yesterday now then. lets see, last thursday in belgium. i...slept in, like a ton. till sometime after 11, haha! then i made myself some chicken noodle soup (that i still had from boxes my mom sent me) for lunch and then went the whole afternoon to school. i did of course basically nothing in school but i'm really getting into my new book that im reading..water for elephants, actually its a movie thats out not but i refuse to see the movie before im finished with the book :) its always risky to do it the other way around. other than that, i don't think there was much exciting yesterday that i can remember. i took a picture of my school yesterday, because that was actually my last time at here it is, folks. the front of my belgian school.
het heilig graf...the holy grave. hahah yes that is THE NAME of the school. i'd say its properly named. i have lots of good, bad, weird, interesting, and funny memories from that place. as with everything, i shall try to take the best from it and remember the good things. the glass is half empty, or half full. i'm leaving belgium, and going back to america. or, i'm going back to america, and leaving belgium. its not the going home part or the being here part that really matters, in fact it doesnt matter where i might go for the rest of my life. its all what i make of what i've experienced. take the positive, appreciate the adventure, and don't forget the good memories :) gee i sure know how to RAMBLE! who did i inherit that from? or is that just a special jamie trait because i dont really know anyone in my family who rambles/writes garbage like i can. buuuut yes. that was yesterday. now on to, TODAY! happy friday the 13th, weird. i'm going to blame the fact that its friday the 13th on the blog not working yesterday. but today! friday! last friday here. ah that is SO CRAZY to say. its already the weekend. and the days keep going faster. this morning my host mom helped me close my belgian bank account. i have some euro's left and i'm not sure what the smartest way would be to change them back into dollars..because i've pretty much decided shopping is just a bad idea. nonetheless, i did end up buying a new scarf and dress today. not important :p haha they cant just give me CASH back and expect me not to spend it. oh well! so then i went to dutch class for the last time. it was an interesting last time. we all had to grab a newspaper and read an article and say what it was about. i picked an article about how the belgian youth thinks the sexual consent age is too high, haha that makes for an awkward class. oh well. the teacher liked how i provoked discussion though i think. our class never talks. they also never do their homework. that makes for a frustrated teacher, haha. so that is done forever then! i've learned a lot in dutch class, i really have. i'm thankful i did it. afterwards, i went with manuella to find a nice place to eat my last "smoske" here. its like the belgian version of a sub sandwich, only way better and on a baguette with tons of veggies and things. here's how cute we are!
and here's the cute place we went. like a circus looking thing! a fun house, haha. it stayed sunny most of the time as we sat outside even with some clouds in the air...
and last but not least, the sandwich. I WILL SURELY MISS THIS.
so that was nice. then we shopped a little bit, because thats what girls do. and eventually i came home and didnt do much. i went to the grocery store with my host mom and sister to get things to make dessert for tomorrow! i'm going to experiment making "dessert cups" so like mini versions of big things like tiramisu and strawberry cheesecake. and my host moms making chocolate mousse too...hip hip hooray for food! oh speaking of food (really thats all i ever talk about now isnt it...) tonight for dinner it was..SUSHI! ah! i have always and will always have an extremely weak stomach when it comes to looking at things like...raw fish. even if a steak is too red in the middle it freaks me out. even knowing that there are raw eggs in something like chocolate mousse (no matter how good it tastes) still freaks me out. why am i such a baby! so anyways, it was a pretty platter...
but i ate a waffle and a banana instead, tehehe. good thing i didnt go to japan otherwise i'd be soooo skinny by now! or i'd finally get used to eating weird raw things. one or the other. after that we went to a concert tonight! a flemish singer lady named Eva DE Roovere. it was good but sort of short!
it was nice to do something and see some music, and the drummer with his hippy hair wasnt bad looking either. nice of my family to take me!! on the way back i was walking with my host mom as she was biking then i felt bad that she had to go slow so i just ran the whole way home. it was funny. just running down the belgian streets in a dress and sandals. reminds me of the time i ran in brussels with a beer in my hand to catch the train. hahaha oh belgium, thank you for the memories. so thats all for tonight! three or maybe four more blog posts...which im sure will become more because i'll have afterthoughts i will like to jot down. so thanks for reading! have a nice rest of your day :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


hello! ahhh, why do i always realize that i've been here a certain number of weeks the day AFTER it is already passed by? what i'm trying to say, 38 weeks and 1 day in belgium. lets see...what did i do today. well, i magically managed to wake up and go to dutch class..only one more day of that left on friday! thursdays i never have language class. its only four days a week. so yeah. already half way through this week, WEIRD! well since it is in fact half way through the week, that can only mean one thing....waffle wednesday! my last waffle wednesday. soooo tonight i definitely enjoyed my last fresh belgian waffles. i even attempted to make some myself! then i did a self timer picture of myself and the color turned out weird so i just made it another color anyways..
you cant really see all the waffles im holding, but whatever. a picture is a picture. other than eating lots of waffles, my host mom helped me pack a lot of my things today. we figured it would be a good idea to get the majority of it done, especially to see how much i have and if i had to still mail anything. i reaaaally dont want to mail anything, i'd rather just leave it here, and it looks like i probably won't have to. one suitcase is full with its 50 pounds, and the other has probably...10 more pounds i can put in there. plus i still have a little carry on suitcase, a backpack, and a purse. i think i can i think i can i think i can..the little jamie that could...stay within the baggage limit! haha, it will all work out. most things do. so other than that, i watched an episode of "secret life of the american teenager" on my computer today, because i'm lazy. just my way of mentally preparing myself for my next big change and phase in life..laziness. no thats not true, its just a very addicting television series. i suppose thats about all i have to say for tonight. thanks for reading!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


helllllo! what a day, what a day. well, didn't go to dutch school this morning. let myself get a little extra beauty sleep and prepare for my presentation this morning instead of leaving class halfway through anyways. its almost like i did them a favor by not disrupting the class and leaving, right? haha just kidding. but yeah. i had my rotary presentation this morning! and YES, i did get a video of it! but NO, it's not going on my blog yet because i'm too tired to upload it to youtube tonight. tomorrow or sometime for sure! but i can say that it went SUPER well and i'm very satisfied with myself. it probably couldn't have gone any better if i wanted it to, and i think thats a good thing. as for pictures, my first host mom took some and so did a rotary guy, but unfortunately i don't have them all yet so here is what i do have. a self-timer picture of manuella and i before going to the meeting...
and a picture of the "american food" we ate there. normally we eat soup, then some kind of fish always with cheese sauce, then a random dessert. but this time the nice guy made an american menu for me which consisted of a caesar salad, hamburger and fries, and cheesecake. cool eh!
you can also see that i put my business cards and pins on the table as well...because i still had a lot of them leftover, haha. i found it a nice personal touch. gee i'm classy, not. but yeah! after the salad i gave my speech and then we finished eating and i almost got sick on the car ride home because it was really warm outside and i had just eaten soooo much at the meeting, what the heck body. host mom still had to go see her mom today since it was her 91st birthday, and i was going to go with but not if i was feeling so carsick. soo apparently there's a long lost trick i've never really known about or thought of i guess...apparently if you have a small amount of say, amaretto, after dinner it helps to "aid digestion" aka a "digestif". interesting? or it was her excuse to celebrate my no just kidding!! only a very small amount was consumed of course..
so i tried that and it seemed to work for me, because i didnt complain the whole car ride to antwerp. weird! sooo then we visited the grandma for a while, sat outside and had a kriek (the cherry beer) and enjoyed the pretty decent (but buggy/pollen-y) weather. so that was nice! i hope i can sit with my real grandma too when i get back! only a week now. starting to feel weirder and weirder. tomorrow after language class i suppose i should start packing then...odd. but i'm very content with today, and content with everything i've done here. in the end, thats all that matters! so goodnight and thanks for reading!

Monday, May 9, 2011


happy monday, reader! what another great day here! although it was a little cloudy and also just a monday in general, it was still a very nice day. this morning i went to dutch class, where i was bored out of my mind and had a stomach ache for some reason. whats the perfect solution for a stomach ache, you ask? my perfect belgian lunch with a few of my classmates...made complete with deliciously unhealthy fries with an obnoxious dollop of mayonnaise on top and some really fatty mini eggroll things.
ridiculous, right? lucky for some reason my stomach ache went away after i ate, haha. still not sure why! and yes..that is a salt packet. don't judge me, it may have been my last time going to the "frituur" eh!! so anyways. after that we went to english class. now, i dont leave until next tuesday which is a week from tomorrow, but next monday i don't plan on going to i guess it was my last monday at school and my last day of english class! so weird to write that! so wouldn't you know it..after about halfway into the lesson correcting our papers from last week..the teacher is like, okay now we are going to put away our things and have a little party for jamie. WHAT! it was soooo nice of them, or the teacher, or whoever's idea it was. we drank cola and juice and ate chips and they all wrote notes to me (in english, it had to be part of the lesson still haha) and it was super kind of them all. i'm going to read the notes when i'm flying home..weird thought! but then i told the class, or i made someone else tell them, that i still wanted a picture of all of us together since i already have a lot with just the music class but not many with check it out!
of course someone thought it would be a good idea to lift me...and then it wasnt cool enough at hip-level, so the poor kid in the green had to hold me up, haha! it was indeed a very nice year with my class and the whole big class. hopefully someday i can see some people from the class again! who knows where life may lead us all, right?? tonight i practiced my rotary speech at the place where i'm going to give it tomorrow. i think it will be pretty good! i will try to get it on film and then maybe you can watch it as well if that interests you. if not, i'll for sure manage to get a few pictures of me in my sexy rotary jacket for ya! last rotary meeting, and last tuesday in belgium tomorrow. gosh, its all getting weird. if anything, i'm just very thankful i've done what i've done, seen what i've seen, and met who i've met. my life will never be the same. (in a good way!). well thanks for reading tonight and for one more week to come,goodnight!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


hello world! what a lovely day in belgium. the weather was so beautiful! i even sat in the sun reading a book for like...45 minutes, then i got too hot and quit. oh well. just trying to work on my tan ya know! sooo today i did a lot of nothing, typical jamie on a sunday eh. but actually it didnt feel anything like a sunday today. it felt sort of like a summer day when you really dont know what time or what day it is. but nonetheless, it is definitely a sunday. which means that tomorrow is definitely monday. which means school. normally that would be a little dreadful, but it's my last week of school this week, and everything is sort of getting blurry and fast now. impossible feeling to describe! but before i start the week, i have to give credit to some wonderful people today, because it is indeed mothers day today! yippee! i miss my mom a lot, but now not as much as i did in the beginning. i mean that in a good way! in the sense that, i've become more independent and unattached myself from the hip of my mom, haha. anyone that knows me knows what i mean! i have the best mom in the world, i really do!
remind me again what day is childrens day? then maybe she can write a blog about me! hahah just kidding. but having the best mom in the world is not to say that i havent had some other great ones along the way! i've also been so blessed to have two wonderful host moms while living here in belgium! they've helped me so much, and been so kind and loving its just super!

lucky for them they only had to put up with me for 5 months of my life, unlike my real mama mary who had to put up with all the pleasantness that comes with raising an only child, muahahah sorry mom. but what i'm getting at is that every mom is special, and every mom deserves a thank you weather or not its from a real kid or a random student from across the world! so i suppose that's all i have for today. i would have baked some cookies today but i tried to work on my presentation and i don't want to come home much fatter than when i left..hmm...we'll see how that works out. thanks for reading and goodnight!


heya reader! today was another AWESOME day in belgium! such lovely weather, and tons of nice people to go with it. this morning i woke up a little late and eventually got ready and met some people from language class for lunch! actually, we were going to meet for coffee..but i didn't have breakfast, and it was noon we drank something then ended up eating soup too. its cool that i've met so many nice people from my language class! us outside landers gotta stick together eh! i made them take a self-timer picture with me...
representing Lithuania, the Philippines, Brazil (haha manuella the other exchange student in this town with me!) and myself of course. then we went on a sort of walk and look what i found..
the little professor of turnhout! i remember when my mom and i googled "turnhout, belgium" once upon a time this little guy popped up, and we found it funny that brookings where i come from also has a little professor! hahaha definitely ironic. so i finally got a picture with him, and i think it made my mom happy. after that i came home and actually worked on my presentation. i read it out loud a few times (thats awkward...especially in another language, talking to yourself in your bedroom..weird) and i thought it was going to be soooo long but really its only like 9-10 minutes. oh well. thats because i talk too fast. you would think that it wouldn't be a problem the whole "talking fast" thing, especially in another language. but somehow i manage to mush up the words and talk fast to the point where nobody can probably understand me. so needless to say, i'll have to keep practicing tomorrow. a lot. tonight was really cool though! i'm home late, as you can tell if you see the time when i'll publish this blog post, but its for a good reason! i was at the birthday party of manuellas 2nd host mom vicky. she's a cool lady, actually their family is actually pretty cool too! so the theme was like safari/tropical/african and it was a neat party! not only did we walk in and instantly receive pina coladas in hollowed out real coconuts, but then there were these crazy cool african drummers and a dancer that came and loudly started playing and eventually taught us to dance!
it was really neat! the photo doesn't do it justice. picture it with loud drums, tasty appetizers, and lots of tropical clothing. here's manuella and i at the party, looking bright and ready for the tropical safari night!
tonight i really felt like i was leaving for the first time ever, i think. i still don't realize it, trust me when i say that. i can hear the question "when do you leave" 50 times and still not feel like its in under 10 days. buuuut tonight manuella gave me the first in apparently a series of two going away presents. gosh she is so nice! she gave me a photo book from pictures of her and i this year. like one of those cool ones you make online! there are funny ones from way in the beginning up until now. we've done a lot here together as exchange students and friends. its just....really nice. i definitely appreciate it. i'll try to post pictures of it tomorrow :) well, seeing as its late and i might get up early and go to a quilt thing with my host mom tomorrow, i'll probably leave it at that for tonight. thanks for reading, hope you had a nice day as well!

Friday, May 6, 2011


ello reader! happy friday..TGIF! it's a little after ten on a friday night and i am yet again suuuuper tired, weird. probably because the whole afternoon i worked on my presentation again. i can officially say that the powerpoint and the "speech" to go with it are done, and i've had about 50 different combinations of pictures and ways to word things in the process..but i'll stick with this version and print it off and start practicing tomorrow i suppose. but before i could finish that, i had to go to/went to dutch class this morning. we learned about...cell phones. again. first we learned about weddings for like a week straight, and now its cell phones. easily the two stupidest lesson chapters from the whole year! and the poor new teacher gets to give the lessons, which sort of makes her come off as dull and boring, but really its just the lesson material. i think shes a pretty good teacher, but its her first time doing it so its too soon to make any judgements i suppose. the weather was great today! after class i went with manuella and looked for clothes for a party from her 2nd host mom that we are going to tomorrow. its african themed, and you're supposed to dress in tropical/safari things. luckily my family has some african pants and a colorful dress that i can wear, now i just have to choose between the two. but here i am attempting to model a turban thing like shakira. waka waka eyyy....
something tells me i look a little more chinese than shakira/african ish. oh well, better luck next time. anyways. outside of the language class there is this awesome tree/bush thing (somebody smart tell me the name of it?) and i made manuella take a picture with me and the tree haha..spring spring spring!

it smelled really nice but there were lots of bugs and bees by it. but thats about it for my day. 10 more days here, i'm having to ignore my feelings more and more about it. they arent sad, bad, happy, or anything really. just sort of contemplative i guess. especially when i'm writing my presentation, haha. makes me think about the whole year a lot. well, thanks for reading. goodnight!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


hello! another short blog, because i'm tired of course! this morning i didn't have dutch class, it was so nice! then after lunch i went to school where i had jazz class. i have to play with them for the school's open house day a couple days before i leave, so thats nice i guess! then i watched my class practice for their show thing they had tonight. since the beginning of they year they have been working on their end work thing and that included like a big paper they all had to write and then tonight they had a concert thing with some theater pieces mixed in. here's a picture...i think they're giving flowers to the teacher here or something..
haha, its sort of hard to describe. but yeah! thats what i did tonight. for the rest of the day it was nothing exciting. i went to the grocery store and bought some chocolate so i make sure and have it included in my suitcase weight! then i will hopefully still have place and fit that darn giant chocolate bunny in there...but im starting to have my doubts...two fifty pound suitcases, and so many things i want to bring home..uh oh. well, thats all for today! thanks for reading, have a nice day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


hey world! afraid i'm going to cut it short tonight because im really tired. this morning i went to dutch class and i think it gets more and more boring every day! today we learned about cell phones, what the heck. we took a quiz with questions like "do you have a cell phone" and then did a word find, yippeeeee fun. after that i came home and had lunch, then tried for a little while to work on my rotary presentation again. ahhh im SO SICK OF THAT THING! i will be very happy, and probably nervous, when i give it next tuesday. i got so sick of it i tried to take a nap, but ended up laying there for over and hour and sleeping for like 20 minutes in total. today was "crepe wednesday" (it switches occasionally with waffle wednesday) so for lunch we had like warm stuff and dinner was a sandwich (or i guess i had soup..) and PANNENKOEKEN (literally pancakes, but..they're crepes. trust me on this one. american pancakes = so not the same)!! i finished my soup, ate an awesome pancake with nutella and then decided i wanted to try making them myself. it was so fun! maybe i should open a store, haha. making thin pancakes is way cooler than making the thick flap jack stuff! sooo after that i was back to work on my presentation, which my lovely host sister reviewed through email and gave me lots of comments i could use/switch up with my wording of things. i ended up spending like two hours on the couch between both of my host parents with my computer sitting there helping me and "perfecting" it ;) i still have an hour or more to go with writing more things and making a few more slides, but then the goal is to practice practice practice this weekend so i can pronounce all this nonsense a little better. dutch can be a mouthful eh! but now i'm going to go to sleep...tired tired tired! thanks for reading! and whoops...happy one day late 37 weeks in belgium to me!


wow, another day another blog. it seems like days are going faster and faster now. hard to imagine that two weeks from now (this exact moment as im writing this, actually..if all goes well that is) i'll be arriving in the sioux falls airport and going back to my life as i knew it at home. like i said before, i'm trying not to count down..but look how fast it's all gone. here i was 9 months ago, writing my first few blog posts that said the same exact things as now only in reverse. laying in my own bed again, still having to pack my suitcases, another adventure in my journey of life. every day is an adventure if you make it one! home will always be home, belgium will always be belgium. 259 days in belgium, and 2 weeks left. crazy. so enough of that nonsense, more about today! this morning i (reluctantly) went to dutch class..and we had a test. LOVELY.(not). actually it wasnt that bad! the class complained a lot though, because we went on a walk around town for like an hour then we had to come back and write about it using the past tense. i found it easy, and a walking was sort of refreshing although it was really windy. but some people were just party poopers! so hopefully i will get my test back tomorrow and let you know how i did. i think it was my last test in dutch class, ah! after that i didn't do much. i came home, because there was no rotary today. usually when there's a rotary meeting it lasts forever and then i go to school for like one class or not at all, because every other tuesday they don't have a last lesson. but when i got home i wasn't that hungry yet, because im sort of sick of bread and it's cold outside. host mom showed me how to make soup! actually, i asked her what to do and then experimented myself. its really common (or from what i can tell it is..) to always have soup here. before dinner, after school, lunch..or whatever. but its not like chicken noodle soup, its like..freshly made vegetable soup. i remember my first host mom made really amazing pumpkin soup..ahh tasty! basically what you do is..take every vegetable from the veggie drawer in the fridge, wash them and slice them then put them in a soup pot on the stove..fry them a little then boil them for a while in water, add some bouillon then MIX IT ALL TOGETHER with a crazy soup mixer thing that makes it like baby food. actually, it tastes really good, and its relatively healthy as well. but what was unhealthy was eating cookies as i came home around midnight tonight...whoops? am i really going to try and study nutrition next year? haha! i'll work on that this summer maybe...or not. anyways! tonight my host mom and brother and i went to a really funny play! my was-going-to-be third host dad (but now i leave in may..) was in it and it was about a guy who found a suitcase full of money. parts of it were sort of hard to understand because they were speaking a flat ugly dialect of dutch from Turnhout. it's funny to hear but its really mumble-y so if i didn't listen hard enough then i didn't catch some jokes, but overall it was cool! what else for today...i decided to try washing my hair with bottled water, because i'm soooo sick of hard water here. it really didn't make a big difference, just a nice way to waste a couple euro's on a bottle of Evian. apparently the movie stars do it when they're on vacation, or so google says anyways. what i did notice though is that my hair is already getting longer..they may have weird water here, but now it grows like crazy. see!
but like i said. everything will be weird when i go back home. water, language, people, weather, absolutely everything. hmmmmm. love you all, thanks for reading!

Monday, May 2, 2011


hello! day 258, what a nice, silly, surprising day. started out the morning by getting on facebook (its how i inspire myself to wake up..knowing that i can sit on facebook for 10 minutes before i have to get out of bed, haha horrible habit i know), anyways i turned on my computer and almost everybody's status was about osama bin laden. now that is REALLY weird news to hear when you're just waking up in another country. it's definitely a good thing that they got him, but although that solves everything that's not going to happen by just killing one guy. but what do i know, i hate talking politics. i just know that as an exchange student its weird news to see on facebook. soooo after that i ate breakfast and went to dutch class. i thought we had a test today, but actually its tomorrow. i would have rather had it today then it would be over with! but now i get to look forward to it tomorrow. after that i went with my host mom to tell my school i'm leaving (which they seemed less than interested in hearing, not even sure if they knew i went there..haha ironically my last day is friday the 13th, weird), then i figured out how to get a new belgian debit card for my last week because i lost my other one. whoopsies jamie! then i went to english class at my "real school" and it was also boring. everyone had to give a "book report" about a book they read in english and almost nobody had read anything. i can never imagine if i had to read a book for spanish class or something, that sounds impossible. but this is still a lot different. whatever. after school i went for a little while with my host dad to the big church in town to hear about the newly repaired organ. it's huge! inside there are over 2,500 different pipes! the guy told us about how they just spent the past year repairing/restoring it and it was interesting but a lot of technical words i didn't understand. oh well. here's a picture anyways.
the organ was cool and all, but the coolest part of my day was definitely something else. on sunday my host mom came home and said "jamie won the easter bunny"..and i was really confused, i thought..yeah, i just misunderstood her. then she said it again, and then a 3rd time in english. nope, i understood alright. but how is that possible? then she pulled out some yellow tickets that she got from the baker and told me that she won a giant chocolate bunny! of course i found this hilarious, but by the time we wanted to get it the bakery was closed. so today we went and got our rabbit. i can't stop laughing at it. its really a giant chocolate bunny. almost 5 pounds of delicious belgian chocolate!
what a pity that he would get smashed in my suitcase! guess we'll just have to make lots of hot chocolate or something. haha, thats all for today. thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


hello blog world!! glad you're reading on such a bright and cheery day like today. since the weather is just so darn nice, and since it makes me so darn giddy, i have a new blog layout! it's way better than the other one, in the sense that its colorful and fun and the other was i hope you like it as much as i do! but yes. happy may day as well! although belgians dont celebrate the first of may like we do with little baskets and playing ding dong ditch, it was still a nice day. back to business. today i woke up late because i was up too late last night..typical eh. then i cleaned my room a little and eventually made my way downstairs and had a banana. then i came back to my room, procrastinated on facebook and whatnot, then went outside for some belgian fries and hamburgers for lunch. if i could combine the hamburgers from america and the fries from here, my life would be perfect. actually, my life is already perfect..considering perfection is just a personal perspective of what you want it to be! anywho, i love being able to sit outside eating lunch with such a lovely host family and lovely weather! its hard to imagine that it is really so cold at home still!! you poor midwesterners. if i could send the sun i would! but other than eating and procrastinating (my two favorite hobbies), i also worked really really hard on my rotary presentation today. i'm happy to say that the first draft of everything is complete! check out my happyfaced webcam picture..
if that doesn't look like a girl whose completed something than i dont know what is! haha, anyways. the powerpoint is 90% finished, just a couple pictures i need to find still such as one of my dog (hint hint mom go take a picture and email it to me) and then it shall be finished. and my "essay" or "speech" to go with it (which will hopefully turn into just a guideline if i can memorize/ramble on eventually..) is also complete but needs major corrections! i feel like my dutch writing is not as good as my speaking, but thats normal. with a new language you usually are first good at understanding, then speaking, then reading, then writing..but i still think i did a good job. heck, its an entire presentation in dutch. with or without lots of errors im content! so this week my family will help me correct it and make it a little better then i can practice in the weekend then next tuesday i give it at the lunch meeting of the rotary! i'll try to get someone to film it because that makes for some good memories i think. last thing for today is a picture of course! a while back i bought these two little dutch flower pot things at the sunday garage sale type market. and when i decided to mail a box of winter things home, i stuck a few surprises such as cookies and the little flower things in there too. sooo my mom got the box and although its really cold still, three little "may flowers" peeked through the cold ground and she put them in her new little dutch pots :)
so happy may day everyone! getting a picture like this is way better than any may day basket filled with cheap candy that i could ever receive would be! goodnight.


hey reader! happy day 256 in belgium to me! and happy reading to you! soooo another busy, decent weathered (that cant be correctly said, is it?) day here! this morning i got up early and went to a rotary/exchange student thing. it was actually a meeting for the outbounds (people who are leaving) for next year, but a few of us that are here and a few who are already back for a year or so now came with as well for "extra information" and whatnot. truth be told, one girl talked a lot about her experience in colombia, the councilors talked, and the rest of us sort of sat there waiting for it to be lunch time. well eventually it was lunch time, then we ate sandwiches and came back home. exciting eh? actually, i said one thing as they were talking about the rules (5 Ds)..they were like, in america you cant drink till you're 18. and i was no thats wrong, its strictly 21. nobody believes me! because everybody here does it from like..12. whatever. but its cool to see the people that are going places and stuff! i remember doing that last year. an exchange year is such an exciting and sometimes stressful and long process to prepare for! its not like you just hop on a plane and leave. there's the plane tickets, visa, host families, school, blah blah blah. rotary does a good job figuring most of it out, but for the record...applying for a visa SUCKS. ok enough negativity. off subject rambling tends to be my specialty. after that i came home, sat outside for a solid 10 minutes, then went and got ready for the night already! tonight i went with my host parents, brother and sister to an opera in antwerp! it was awesome! it was from a flemish opera company that my host sister is interning at. it was in a really pretty hall...

and it was in GERMAN! with dutch subtitles on a board thing. between that and the english overview in the program, i could pretty much follow all of it. lots of..opera singing! haha. but the orchestra was suuuper good, and the stage was this double circular turning thing that we got to go back and see after the show. anyways, it was really nice of them to take me with and i'm very glad i got to see it! i think my favorite part of today was when we got home around midnight (the opera was 4 hours long!) and still were a little we just start eating WAFFLES! haha belgium is awesome. thanks for reading, goodnight!

Friday, April 29, 2011


hey world! well, today was officially a GREAT day! since my dutch schedule keeps changing from lessons mon-tues-wed-fri to mon-tues-wed-thurs blah blah blah, my host mom and i just went and had some fun instead. its not my fault they switch the schedule every time the teacher gets sick and we have to move to another class! anywho, today we went to Leuven, which was a little over an hour drive. Its a big university city in belgium, and it was really fun! the weather at first was a little questionable, the sun really wanted to come out of the clouds and finally it did! not like last week when i was laying out in my bikini, but when you didn't feel the wind it was really nice! hey south dakota is your snow melted yet? :) hehe! sooooo besides finding lots of cute shops (i may or may not have bought two scarves and a skirt..who knows..yes, more for the suitcase to go home, oh crap!), we also meet up with my host brother (who also rode home with us, because university students go home EVERY WEEKEND!), and ate lunch. could you follow that sentence, because it was a little choppy, sorry! we went to this lunchy type place and sat outside and i had an ammmmaaaazing salad! i think i could eat salad everyday for the rest of my life. especially ones like this with bacon, apples, feta, grapes, and some other random things.

deeeelish! but, there was a downside to my lunch. although the salad was fantastic and it was nice and quaint to sit outside...a gosh darn bird POOPED ON ME! and on my host brother. like literally ORANGE gooey stuff on my back and hands, absolutely disgusting! but whatever. i did my best to get over it, and it was actually quite an annoying sort of "a bird just went potty on me" sort of way. then we walked around a little more and eventually got tired from such hard work (shopping, walking, whatever) "just like two grandmas" said my host mom..and so we sat outside to drink something.
there is me! and there is the city hall. faaaaancy!
so thats about all for today! tomorrow another busy day, going to something with the rotary in the morning and then to the opera tomorrow night. lucky lucky me. goodnight! thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


hello world. nothing special thursday going on here...hate to say it, but yet another blog for today i think! i went to dutch class this morning, where we learned (AGAIN) alllll about weddings, then had to write a story about a wedding that you've been to in your life. boring. i dont know if the point of the lesson was to use past tense verbs, or just to learn about weddings? i guess its quite relevant if i was going to get married in belgium (like many from my class) or if i needed more vocabulary words such as courthouse, bride, ceremony, certificate, blah blah. anyways, it was sort of lame. i'm getting more and more disappointed in my lessons, but i'll do my best to stay positive for my last couple weeks eh!! after that i came home and had lunch (which included a hard boiled egg leftover from dying easter eggs on sunday, hahah i think my family is afraid to eat them because they're...colored), then went to my other school for a few afternoon lessons. today i had jazz band then a class where we normally learn about art and history and blah blah blah but today we learned about jazz, so they were actually two nice lessons! in jazz band we got to play new songs for the first time in what seems like forever. i feel in my arms that i'm not as good as i used to be, but hopefully this summer i can get that back to normal. but still i had fun and did my best. i guess on the 15th we play for this open house thing which will be nice to still participate in a school activity right before i leave. hmmm..lets see, what else. then in the next lesson we learned about big bands and listened to "take the a train" and then started talking about charlie "bird" parker and the teacher asked me what was supposed to go between charlie and parker and i said bird and then he told me that i could stay for the rest of the lesson, haha odd teacher. tonight we had quiche for dinner, with leeks and bacon. nobody uses leeks in america, or from what i know they arent that popular. here they are in everything. especially soup. that and fennel. weird white and green vegetables that we always ignore. hmm...well thats all for today, sorry i'm so boring. goodnight!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


hey world! happy wednesday..and in my case, waffle wednesday!! every wednesday school is done around noon, so we always have pancakes or waffles for lunch or dinner and "real food" for the other. other than going to dutch class this morning and hearing ALLLLL about weddings in belgium, morocco, iraq and whatnot..the most exciting part of my day was eating a waffle and taking a nap. yeah thats right, i took a nap! and i'm still really tired. i think its something with the weather, or i'm getting sick..because unless i'm super tired i never take naps. and i wasn't that super tired today. actually, i just never have enough time for naps. so here's a series of photos that you'll hopefully like. the life of a waffle before it enters my stomach..

awww cute little heart shaped waffles! eaten warm with nutella and/or peanut butter of course. i can't wait to make them at home with my waffle maker from my first family!! it was such a good christmas present. maybe i should have a waffle party when i get home? hopefully i still have friends that will be able to hang out with me, weird to think about. ah there i go again, talking about home. stop that jamie! haha. but time to go to sleep early tonight. thanks for reading, and sorry if you're craving a waffle now....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


hello! well, gotta warn ya blog writing inspiration for today is really low, so i might ramble or it might be really short. we'll see. anywho. today! happy tuesday, first day after a looooong easter break. today was MY first day of the next level of dutch class...level 4! i'm so proud of myself. but the bad news is that my teacher will be sick for another month, so we're all stuck in the class of another lady for this week and hopefully they will find someone else to teach us next week..we'll see. so for now our class is big, loud, and still easy for me. interesting! today after dutch class i went to the rotary meeting. no meeting next week, then the tuesday after that is when i give my presentation...and then i'm gone. soooo weird! i could swear it was just yesterday when i got here. but, i can't keep talking about my feelings about leaving because that makes for one boring blog right? well..i don't have much else to say, so i'll go back and talk about something that i didn't mention about yesterday. yesterday as we were sitting outside drinking cola and whatnot, these funny looking people approached us and it turns out they were tictac people! yes..tictac people. or..people dressed in white with a tictac box backpack.
so anyways, we all got free tictacs. then i shared them in dutch class this morning because i'm so kindhearted. and that is my funny ending story for today. sorry i'm so boring! thanks for reading. goodnight!

Monday, April 25, 2011


good day, blog reader! i think today was my favorite day of my exchange so far. i would say my favorite day in belgium, but it wasn't in belgium! this morning we woke up early, ate breakfast, then hopped in the car to go to KEUKENHOF! assuming you don't know what that is, it is the WORLDS LARGEST FLOWER GARDEN..full of millions of pretty flowers, and mainly..TULIPS! first we drove to my first family's house and then we all drove a couple hours to get there. it was absolutely amazing weather, beautiful flowers, and great company. we walked around, ate lunch, and took lots of pretty pictures! enjoy..

all of us!! lovely isnt it? there are so many more pictures but that's all i'll put on here. after looking at the flowers at keukenhof we drove about halfway back home to a city in the netherlands named Breda. it was nice, and just really nice to be with everyone all together.

after walking around a bit we (and the rest of the town, it was so nice outside) sat on a terrace for an hour or so then went to an awesome turkish/moroccan restaurant for dinner. look at the yummyness we all ate..
dutch/turkish version of applebees appetizer sampler platter? ;) but i'm really tired, and unfortunately i have school tomorrow again...but i must say that this has been an amazing "spring break" with Italy, cookies baking, speech writing, beautiful weather, and a lovely day in holland. i am so lucky, and sooo thankful! love you readers!