December 21, 2010

Four months... about

Each time there's a landmark date for my time in Belgium, it's always hard to figure out which day to mark. Do I mark four months after the day I left Cortez? Or four months from the day I and the other American AFS students left New York? Or four months after the day we landed in Belgium (which still screws me up because of the eight-hour time difference)? Or do I mark four months since the day that I first came to my host family? And, somewhat strangely for me, it's hard to remember which days were which-- my state of mind was so weird at that time.

So, in short, all I know is that this week marks that, four months ago, my life changed.  

And where am I, after four months? I'll write down everything I can think of right now. Though it might not be very deep or very well explained, I feel it needs to be said:

Four months later, I:  
--ride buses and trams around brussels and know what I'm doing
--can get lost in a large European city without freaking out
--wander around a city where almost everything's written in two non-English languages
--can walk outside and estimate the temperature in Celsius
--know about how long it takes to walk a kilometer
--ask for directions in French, and understand them too
--dream in Franglish
--complete full streams of conscious thought in French
--think in Franglish (in general--it's weird, I'll talk more about Franglish/Franglais in later posts)
--read books in French, and understand maybe 85-90 percent of the language (I've read Le passeur [Lois Lowry's The giver, translated into French] and Les justes, by Albert Camus)
--can make it to other cities in Belgium by train
--understand mostly everything on French-speaking television
--understand a tiny bit of Dutch
--say "I am Austin" and "I speak English" in Dutch
--want to learn more Dutch
--can hold a conversation in Frenchd, though not without mistakes on my part
--can finish an essay in French (even though it contains many mistakes)
--can type on an AZERTY keyboard as fast (or faster, in the case of accented letters) as I could on a QWERTY
--accidentally type the character µ when I chat online with people (it's right next to the enter key)
--understand the content (not everything, but the jist) of a lesson in school
--can hold philosophical discussions in French
--can have conversations with some people better in French than in English
--take runs around my town and don't get lost
--wear a scarf to school
--no longer love the rain as much as I did
--eat dinner in the European style, with my fork in my left hand and knife in my right
--eat raw meat (filet américain préparé!)  and not worry about poisoning myself (I'll explain that one later)
--know the difference between waffles of Brussels and waffles of Liège
--know about speculoos
--eat Nutella on bread for breakfast
--put chocolate sprinkles or chocolate spread on pistolets
--participate in conversations at the table with my host family
--can walk across a major border in Belgium-- between the Flemish region and the Brussels-Capital region
--make stupid little mistakes when I write in English (and hopefully correct them)
--sometimes accidentally insert French words into an English conversation
--unconsiciously make my writing in English long and complicated
--have participated in a flash mob (one of my dreams)
--am beginning to know about Belgian political issues
-- am great friends with people who, four months ago, I never knew existed.
--am great friends with people from places I had never heard of (the Faroe Islands, for example).
--am living just outside of a city that, four years ago, the only thing I knew about it was that Brussels sprouts were named after it
--am part of a school play
--can go to the theater and understand what's going on in the play
-- meet many people who don't know where Colorado is
--have met people from all over the world and discovered that we laugh about the same things

Voila...I've written as many things as I can think of right now. I know it's not all that well explained and not all that detailed, but you get the idea. Another time, when my frame of mind is a little more analytical, I'll try to discuss some of these things in a deeper way

Finally, here's a picture of me and my host brothers taken yesterday in the snow:

I've heard it hasn't snowed this much here at this time of year since the 1920s. Crazy... 

1 comment:

  1. Fun post, and great photo. How come you're the only one who is wet, and whose hair is messed up?! Love ya'!