Sunday, December 29, 2013

Return to Belgium: Summer 2013

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time now. About five months, to be exact. But i could never bring myself to the realization that I actually did it, I actually went back. Maybe it's not that I went back, necessarily, but that I went to begin with. That the little missing chunk of my heart actually does a place, in people, in food, in things, in just an overall incredible culture completely different to my own. I've lived the past couple post-exchange years in a bit of denial. I've tried my best to move on and pretend that I am not any different than anyone else, reasonably just to make the whole "american college life" thing easier. But forever there has been this burning desire inside of me to go back and face what I did, who I was, what I created, what I left, and the whole "Jamie goes to Belgium" life. So what do you know, for two weeks in July of 2013, trusty partner by my side, I freakin' did it.
And oh my God, it was incredible.
I knew for a long time that I wanted to go, but when my friend Adam offered to come with me before he attended a music camp in Italy...I knew it was really time for me to visit. Adam and I visited A LOT of cities in the short week he was with me, including...
and Ghent. Incredible, right? but you know what was even better than showing Adam all of the cool places I have written so much about in this blog?...SEEING MY HOST FAMILIES AND FRIENDS AGAIN. not to mention the wonderful hospitality offered by both the Peeters and the Plessers, and the fabulous travel companionship from my best Belgium friend Quinten. But seriously, the Peeters gave Adam and I an awesome bedroom, separate bathroom, and lots of fabulous food and love as we came in and out of their home during the first week of my stay. Not to mention the Plessers, who not only have figured out how to put up with me (attitude and excessive belongings both) but gave me a cute room, delicious food, and wonderfully smelling laundry to SHOVE in my bag upon my dreaded return to the US. Seriously. I can never thank these people enough, so i will just keep sending American candy for holidays, I guess.
Amazing! So after a few fun days traveling (and by that I mean trying lots and lots of food..and BEER!) around the top half of the country with Adam and Quinten, I bid Adam farewell to Italy and continued on my merry way to stay at the Plessers house. Before leaving the Peeters, however, my awesome friend Quinten and I (this is the same friend who visited me the summer i returned to the US, mind you) WENT TO PARIS for the weekend! How cool is that?
It was one of the best decisions of my life! Just an hour and a half with the train from Brussels and boom, adventure in Paris awaits! We had a wonderful time exploring the city, including about 100 baguettes and a few bottles of (cheap yet delicious) red wine. Oh, and the sights were pretty incredible. I am proud to say the third time is a charm, especially when visiting Paris. That's pretty cool for 22 (21 at the time), right? So back to Belgium we went, for a few last days in the second place I call home. A few relaxing days by the pool, just completely enjoying and thinking about life. There was also a quick trip to the sea included, and my host mom Katrien also bought me the most wonderful necklace of my life, which I have worn every day since. But it was all just fabulous. And after one last dinner with both host families, it was all over.
Crazy how time flies, but even crazier how experiences change you. I would not be anywhere close to the person I am now without the places i've been, people i've met, things i've seen, you know. that stuff. So I guess if i've learned anything, its that life is really, really good. While I may never be able to redo those homesick days back in 2010, im content with the fact that I can take long flight across the pond, hop a train, have a cherry beer and some fries, and use my key to get into a house I can always call my second home :) Belgium- ik hou van jou. Tot de volgende <3 -James

1 comment:

  1. You are exactly right little it the places you've been, things you've experienced, people you've met (and especially those that have become more like family) that make you into the person you are. I know that my study abroad experience has changed me as well.........its just always hard to describe to someone that has never experienced it.
    Love you little sis,