How’s your day been?

It’s oddly fitting that today’s Dictionary.com ‘Word of the Day’ is ‘harrowing’. Because the last 24 hours have been just that – at least the distressing part of the definition. I’m way too exhausted to try to explain with any kind of coherency what happened. Just know this; it had to do with the car, I got stuck in France over night, I forgot my cell phone in Belgium, and I’ll have to go back either tomorrow or Friday to retrieve the car. I know I said in a recent post that the drive to the Monument in Vimy was going to take 3 hours (according to Google Maps). It was actually just over 2, so that was good. We were late leaving and still got there before our projected time.

This is another one of those ‘how could I be so stupid, this is all my fault’ moments. Although this time I’m not laughing and don’t think I’ll ever laugh. I’ll look back on this “adventure” as a period of growth – I just wish it didn’t involve other people’s property. I’m getting pretty good at taking the train though.

So this – my 300th post – is not very exciting despite the “exciting” events which have recently transpired. Obviously since I’m here writing this I’m fine – physically. Emotionally, well, it’s been a stressful 24 hours.

                                                                                                                      

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Rien à Déclarer

That’s the title of the movie we watched tonight. In English Nothing to Declare. Even between trying to listen to the French and trying to read the subtitles I found it absolutely hilarious! A lot of it was the acting and the situation, but still. It’s a movie about elimination of the France-Belgian border in the 90’s. A Belgian Francophobe custom’s officer teams up with a French customs officer as part of a mobile border patrol experiment. I’ve never thought of it while I’ve been here, but how many people were forced to find other jobs when customs checks were no longer necessary at the borders within Europe? There’s a Romeo & Juliette element thrown in as well. If foreign films (well foreign to me anyway!) interest you at all, and if comedies interest you at all, and you don’t mind reading subtitles I would definitely try to check it out. I suppose you could watch it in English, but I’m thinking it would lose a lot/most of what makes it a great movie. And besides that, it’s always best to watch a movie in its original language if possible. I know during one particular scene the Frenchmen was trying to pass off as Belgian so he was trying out different accents. First he was trying out the Liège accent. That didn’t work. Then he was trying to do a Brussels accent. Again, didn’t work. I was able to catch a little hint of a difference, but it was hard because they talk (for me) so very fast and it all sounds French to me! I guess it would be the same for a non-English speaker to listen to someone try different American, United Kingdom, Canadian accents. To us English speakers they all sounds drastically different, but for others they might not, I don’t know. It’s the only comparison I can make.

I definitely want to watch it again. I was laughing so hard. Actually, some of the translations were a little odd; in the subtitles the Belgian called the Frenchmen ‘frogs’ all the time. But what he was saying in French was ‘Camembert’. It’s a type of cheese. One that Greg and Adeline happen to like a lot. And he kept calling them ‘cheese-eaters’. At least that’s what the subtitles said. I’m so glad I watched it with them. Hilarious. ^_^

That’s the most exciting thing that’s happened all day. I spent most of the day glued to my chair organizing my blog. And then I go and make more work for myself, but in the end, I think it will turn out great. I’ve only managed to get up to February 18th in the categorizing and tagging process, and I guess that far in searching out, what I feel to be, the ‘most adorable moments’. As far as the food and drink portions go, well, part of that was I’m having fun creating pages, and part of it is because if people do happen to be interested in that stuff me separating it like that will be easier than using the search option. And maybe people will be more inclined to look if it’s all laid out for them. Of course, it’s going to be a while  before it’s all ready and in some ways doing it now is kind of silly since I only have 4 months left (of this blog anyway), but still, it will be here forever essentially, so someone is bound to find it useful…….

Skype is a wonderful thing…most of the time.

And so ends the first month of this year of our Lord two-thousand and eleven. I didn’t really do much today except go to French class. I’m getting a little more comfortable in it and with the people. It seems like every class there’s someone new, so I’m no longer ‘the new one’. I’m the only native English speaker and there are 3 other girls who are the only one’s to speak their native language; one from Russia, one from Kenya, and one from Vietnam. For everyone else in the class there’s at least one other person who speaks their mother tongue! Although, quite a few of them speak a little English (for example, the 3 I give rides home to) so between French and English we make it through. Although I’m getting better at just relying on the French.

There’s this one guy (he’s married with children…don’t get any ideas) who jokes around a lot. We’ve been talking about food and nutrition the past few classes and he says he’s ham. Or a ham. Basically, he is a big ham :D. And people say women talk a lot! The guys don’t stop talking! They’re always joking around, it’s like elementary school all over again, but it’s fun. We all still learn and even though there is sometimes giggling when we try to pronounce things and do it wrong and have to try a million times (it happens to everyone), it’s all in good fun and we know that our turn for messing up will come! Everybody’s really friendly. I can’t remember everyone’s names yet, partly because the name part goes by fast, partly because they are names I’m not familiar with, and partly because everyone has some sort of accent that makes it hard for me to catch what is name and what is other stuff sometimes. And I wouldn’t even  know where to begin spelling the one’s I do sort of remember!

So basically, it’s becoming something that I can look forward too instead of be super nervous about.

Also, I just spent the last couple hours chatting with my friend Bronwyn via Skype. It’s amazing how time flies. We couldn’t use video because it said the internet connection wasn’t good enough. She said she doesn’t have very good internet, but it was still nice to hear her voice. So…By 9pm or so (3pm your time) I’m usually free. If you happen to be online and want to Skype with me look me up! I’m listed as living in Belgium. Just search my name and Belgium (Wasseiges) and you should find me!

I went for another walk today. I figured out the route I’ve been taking is about 5kms or so (give or take .5km). That’s a nice hour long trek to make a few times a week (everyday would be great!). I just stick in my headphones and off I go! It’s pretty chilly again, so I’ve got my hoodie tied up and my jacket hood and scarf and mits…the only thing I’m missing is my snow pants (that I was sort of considering because the wind gets pretty nippy…but there’s no snow). It really feels like it takes no time at all and once you get off the main road there’s not much traffic.

Oh! One other thing I wanted to mention is the difference between town signs here and in Canada. 

<–   Welcome to Wasseiges! (All town signs are similar)

Goodbye Wasseiges    –> 

Grand Promenade

Today made me think of history class. All the mud. Think WWI, Passendale and Ypres. If my research is right this village and city are in the West Flanders province in the north (Flemmish) part of Belgium. Let me back up a bit. This morning Adeline, Bastien, Sylvain, and I went for a walk. A long walk. Adeline has this booklet made of routes we could walk…some are from the house, others aren’t. They range from a couple of kilometers to several! The one we did today was about 3 I think? I’ll have to check with Adeline tomorrow, but I think it was between 2 and 3. We walked along back roads so there wasn’t much traffic (which was really nice, because at home I don’t really have that option – meaning they may be back roads, but they’re gravel so not as nice, and there’s more traffic). To make the trek shorter, we used this dirt (mud) road through 2 fields…a tractor road. It wasn’t bad walking in the center where there was grass, but as it was Bastien had to walk because I wouldn’t have been able to push the stroller with him in it! We got to this section that was all mud and we had to carry the strollers one at a time through it. This was part of what made me think of WWI. Kind of a downer, but really I was just in the mindset that I’m in a country that has so much more history than mine. Of course WWI wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things, but still, in general Belgium has much more recorded history than Canada. I may not be a history buff (like some of my friends ^_^), but I still find it interesting on occasion :D. 

It felt really good to be out walking. It wasn’t too cold while walking, but there was this chill wind that forced me to put my hood up even though I looked really silly. Then again, there was no one to see me! Also, by the time we neared the end of our journey (at the end of the mud road), we ran into a farm with donkeys. Bastien is quite  adept at imitating them. Then again, he’s good at making a lot of noises! I like his car, motorcycle, and bird noises (‘chirp, chirp’ ‘chirp, chirp’)

Today was also the day of French class #2. We talked more about the calendar and we talked about writing a C.V. (a résumé and I have to write one for next class). We also went through each month and what veggies and fruits were in season. The calendars she gave us were from a grocery store. Did you know there was such a thing as white asparagus? I didn’t. But my teacher said they are special to Belgium and you can only get them in May. Or something like that. But I guess you can get them in jars anywhere. I also was able to give 3 of my classmates a ride home. That way they could stay for the whole class and not have to take the bus! 

Today is a good day to have a baby. Adeline’s brother and his wife, and friends of Adeline and Greg both had their babies today! That being said, I love babies. Even though Sylvain cries a lot, he is very adorable. He’s starting to make the cutest noises and you just know he’s having a conversation with you (if only we could speak their language…). Also, he’s playing around with facial expressions, and his smiles are very welcome. Basically, I feel like sunshine and rainbows when he coos and smiles. I know its super cheesy, but it’s true, you can’t help but feel amazing when a baby smiles at you!

Ta, ta for now.

Bonne annee!

Ok. So I almost dropped the ball here. I’ve got 31 minutes before I miss a day of blogging. Although if I go by Toronto time I still have 6.5 hours! The following is an outtake from last night. I wrote it down on paper before going to bed….I guess it was very early this morning. Here we go:

What a night! We had so much food (some I liked, some I didn’t) and the dessert! Delicious chocolate truffles and more. It is now 2:42am January 1, 2011. Which means it’s not even 9pm for you guys in Ontario and in Vancouver it’s not even 6! (I still can’t get over this time change thing….) I’m spending the night @ Jean-Go’s, and we cleaned up most of the party stuff. There will be a menu for this evening coming, and I got pictures of some of the desserts, but I didn’t think of doing that for everything else. The things we had tonight are not common here, most of it is for special occasions only. I had a great time trying new food and I’ve discovered that I like duck…at least the way it was done tonight. That’s all for now, I need sleep. One more thing; Jean is going to help teach me how to cook. He’s invited me over to learn. It sounds like fun and I’m hoping that I can learn to enjoy taking the time to make things. Bonne nuit!

So that only really touched the surface, but the most important thing to take away from this is that even though I didn’t know what they were talking about unless Jean translated for me, I still had a great time.

Also, we had this drink that was like champagne, but was not champagne because it did not come from Champagne, France. It was made by Jean’s uncle, and had Bubbles for Him and Bubbles for Her. Very exciting.

I leave you now with some eye candy ^_^:

Here at last!

I’m here! I’ve been in Wasseiges, Belgium for a few hours now and am loving it! My room is bigger here than at home 😀 (pictures to follow). I’m pretty tired from jet lag and everything, but I’ve already got my bank account set up and tried to go to the bakery for bread, but alas, it was closed. The bank’s right across from their house! So cool.

Anyway, I should go now, but I’ll be back with another update sometime.

Holly

                                                                                                                                                  

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