When two or three weeks after I got here, I was very schoolsick. There was a part of me that desperately wanted to be at Oberlin High School, in the library during Spirit Week or at football games. I think this was driven by a.) there was so much going on (Homecoming, etc.) and here, I still wasn't really used to the way things are run.
Now, as Thanksgiving draws near and election season is past, I realize that the period between now and February is going to be one of the hardest parts of my exchange. It just feels so weird to be here but still be American. It was like this on 9/11 also -- it's just so weird to be surrounded by Belgians. They're aware of what happens in the States -- I don't know how many times I've been asked if I like Barrack Obama -- but it doesn't affect them in the same way it affects me, even though I'm in Belgium, and it's such a strange feeling. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, Halloween passed by, and I barely knew. The stores didn't have Halloween decorations, no one put anything in their yards, and although I went to Liege and people were dressed up, I don't feel like I missed a Halloween or even like Halloween happened at all.
I don't know what to attribute that too -- that I didn't see many pictures of Halloween, that I was busy with things here, or the fact that the holiday is so commercialized in the United States that without the candy companies reminding me by changing the shape of my Reese's cup I didn't really realize.
I celebrated All Saints' Day with my host family this year, and I think the 'new' sort of overshadowed that I would have liked to see Trick or Treators and my mom dressed as a giant whoopie cushion.
I accidentally give myself these reality checks. Today I was sitting in History day dreaming, and when I arrived back in the present, I realize that, holy shit, I'm in Belgium. Despite the fact that I've been here two and a half months, and I've started missing things about American culture, I think that it's yet to really dawn on me that although I'm in an different place, everything at home is carrying on essentially the same without me. It's a little unfathomable to me... Maybe because perception is our reality, I'm finding that when I'm not home I just feel that it should be on pause, or something.
But I think in the next month and a half, I'm going to hit a brick wall: Yes, I just missed Thanksgiving and yes, the world goes on without me.
But now, just for the actual updates on what I've been doing here, not just my ramblings:
First of all, in Belgium, they have four breaks, not just three. One fall break, for All Saints' Day, but it's an entire week. Two weeks at Christmas and New Years, and then another week at Carnival and another at Easter.
During my fall break, I did a lot of things in Liege, but also went to Namur for the first time!! It's a very nice city, I didn't take any good pictures, but it was very different from Liege. A lot smaller, first of all, and also a little bit cleaner and safer feeling! More like Huy.
This is a castle! I walked a "ballad" with my host family and everyone stopped for lunch at this castle. It was absolutely beautiful, I didn't get a good picture but behind, there was this huge valley and all the leaves were changing. Inside, there were all the family names inscribed on the walls above these huge, classic busts.
This was in the south of Belgium on All Saints' Day. My host dad's brother lives in a farm in the same area that he grew up. I was confused, but they run a golf course with farm animals! The Belgian country side is so beautiful.
There was a party at my school -- literally, a PARTY. Not like Homecoming or Prom, an actual party. This was that night, several weeks ago, and these are my friends!
I'm going to try and blog more regularly again... I always tell myself that I'm going to blog about the week on Sundays, but somehow it gets away from me.