Aug 30, 2011

The first week.

So, I have now spent one week (and a few days days to be exact) in Belgium. I love it. My family is very warm and welcoming, they really make you feel at home from the beginning. In a way it's weird to think that I've ONLY spent a week here, certain faces and habits are already normal to me.

 For one, the bisous, you greet people by kissing them once on the cheek, within the family too. This could cause problems for someone coming from a place like Finland where you aren't that close to people, where the greeting consists of a handshake, if that even. But for me, I find the bisous really great, you're much more familiar with people here. Another one would be wearing shoes inside. In Finland wearing shoes inside would be considered a tad bit rude, but it's easy to get used to this too.

My first week has been full of new faces, a new language and some new places. I live close to Tournai, which is the oldest town of Belgium, and I've visited Tournai quite a few times, it's a very pretty town in my opinion. I've started my days quite late, had some lunch and mostly waited until my hostsister Jade comes home from work. We've been out to have some drinks with her friends a few times, there's a really nice celtic pub called Cornwall in Tournai, full of metalheads and such, me likes! I've tried many belgian beers, and surprisingly enough, liked them. I really didn't like beer when I left Finland, but here you have such a big variety of flavours that I can't not like them.

Here, at home it's common to have several friends over for dinner or lunch, some evenings we've been 12, and understanding all the French being spoken at the table is quite a challenge. But my French is improving, I hope so at least! I can have some basic conversation and understand what people are saying every now and then. On Friday I start school which means lore French, which is always good! My hostsister from Hong Kong arrives on saturday, so for a while we'll be three exchange students in the house, until they find a family for Valeriya.

I guess that's pretty much all for now! Â bientot (j'espere)!
Bisous, Julia :)

Aug 22, 2011

Je suis en Belgique!

Soo I am in Belgium, finally! I'm sorry for all possible errors I make while writing, the keyboard of this pc is different, and my english is veerrry bad at the moment :D

But Fridya the 19th I left home at 12.30 without realising that I was actually leaving.. It didn't even hit me at the airport.. Saying goodbye to my parents and all was weird but I couldn't understand the fact that I wouldn't see them soon again. We were three girls on the flight to Brussels, which was really nice since we were all slightlyyy excited and of course nervous too! Iida and Josefiina, thanks for the company! :) Our flight landed at maybe 18.20 in Brussels and that was finally it, we were in Belgium! Afs volunteers met us at the airport and afyer getting our luggage we were escorted out to take the shuttle to the hotel where our orientation camp would be held. Once we arrived at the hotel it was already after 7, almost 8 o'clock so we immediately had dinner and then there was some progral in the evening; the big guy of AFS Belgique held a speech and then it was bed time for us, which was good since we were quite exhausted :D

We had a fairly early wake-up in the morning, so everyone was tired at breakfast. And all of a sudden I saw a very familiar face there; my host sister, Jade! I was surprised to see her and I must've seemed like such an idiot when we first talked as the surprise of the situation just got to me and I barely spoke :D Well, during the day we did some similar stuff as on the camp in Finland in May, of course now the information was more Belgium-specific, but still it wasn't that much new info to be honest. But it was really nice to meet all the other exchange students that came to Belgique! And the feeling, when you saw someone you already knew by their face through facebook or some, very bizarre :D As the afternoon passed by, everyone became more and more nervous, since the last thing at the camp was of course the most exciting one, we were to mleet our host families for the first time! Well, my hostmum wasn't there so I didn't meet anyone new at that point anymore but the others had roses that they gave to the families that were waiting for them with big signs with the student's name on. I thought that was quite nice really :)

I've now spent a couple of days in my new family and all I can say is that they are indeed a bit crazy and different to the ordinary family, but I like them! The house is HUGE, and there are tons of animals but it's nice so far, really. We have a Russian girl here too, temporarily seeing as there are some problems with the Hong Kong girl's visa, and the Russian girl, Valeriya, didn't have a family yet. She's funny.  So far, we've visited Tournai, the big city nearby, I've tried a couple of Belgian beers (and liked them!! :D), and tried speaking French, which isn't that easy to be honest. I'll put up some pictures on the blog at some point, but right now I only have them on my camera :D

I think that's pretty much all for now, I'll try to update soon again, but no promises, I'm sorry :D
Hugs, Julia! :)

Aug 18, 2011


Tomorrow. That's it. Tomorrow. I never thought I'd be writing this since the departure date has always seemed so far away, but it is indeed the 18th of August today which means, yes, I leave for Belgium tomorrow. My flight leaves at 16.40 which means I'll have to be at the airport at 14.30 so we leave home around 12.30. Basically I have less than 24 hours at home. Wow.

I went to school to meet people for the last time and it felt so weird. Everything was so familiar, yet I didn't feel like I belonged there. Saying goodbye to important people isn't easy either.. It's weird. "Hey, bye now, see you in a year!" I'll miss my friends and family so much. And I've had a full day of that :D But at the same time I'm so excited to go, I've been waiting since I don't know when for this, so now that it's finally becoming reality, well, I'm happy! My bags are packed and I managed to stuff everything into one suitcase and my trolley, so proud of myself for that!

That's all for now,I guess my next post will be from la Belgique then!
Hugs, Julia =)

Aug 10, 2011


Packing has to be one of the most difficult things ever. How do you pack for one year? I'm planning on taking one suitcase of max 23kg and a trolley of max 8kg as my hand luggage plus a bag that will pose as my hand bag, while really being stuffed. Still, it seems impossible. :D Everyone keeps on telling me I'll never fit everything I need into one suitcase, which really just adds to the stress of it.. :P Because I fear they might be right. But oh well, if I do forget something very important, it can either be sent from Finland or bought as new in Belgium, after all I'll be able to find pretty much all the same stuff as in Finland... So it should be alright in the end :) I still have 9 days to figure it out!

I also got some paper work done today. I had to have some forms signed by my parents at the register office in the presence of some clerk and I have to make them aware of the fact that I'm moving abroad for a year.. Complicated stuff.. Afs also sent me a mail that said I'd be needing 6 official passport pictures so I had those taken too, and ugh that is the worst thing ever. What is it with those cameras that they always manage to make you look awful on the pictures?  Oh well, I guess those pictures are better than the one on my actual passport, taken in 2003? :D

My days are quite full it seems.. I have four more days work, three in a row now and then one more later on. Two farewell parties, one with friends and one with my teammates. Two games. One day I promised to go to school still. And well, the rest of the time goes to meeting up with friends, spending time at home and of course, as the title says, packing. Truth is, I've got to get it done, in the end it is ONLY 9 days left. And to be quite honest, I can't wait to get to Belgium! Excited!

Aug 7, 2011


I haven't posted anything on the blog for quite some time, mostly since I haven't had time due to work and other things going on, but also since I simply had nothing new to tell : D Well, now I finally do!!
First of all, I FINALLY have a host family!!  I'll be going to the small village of Kain, which is located in the far west of Belgium, very close to the French border! It's a place of about 10 000 inhabitants, so quite a change of scenery :D My upcoming family consists of a mother and two children, a son and a daughter, but neither of them actually live at home anymore, they only visit during week-ends. On top of this I'll have another host sister too, another exchange student, from Hong Kong! Now this will be interesting! :) The family lives in a big house so I understand I'll have my own room even. The family also has a FEW animals... I must admit I was prettyyyy surprised when I read their file and saw that they have about 40 dogs, 20 cats, ponies and goats and such.... WOW!  It seems like such a warm house full of life! I can't wait to meet them all.

My school in Belgium will be Sain Union de Kain which is located at a walking distance from home, about 1km, sounds great to me. It's less of a theoretical and more of a practical school with different branches to choose from. Not complaining, probably means less stress for school work!

It's less than two weeks until my departure date now. How weird is that! My last post was about how it was less than 3 months to go... And it doesn't seem like long ago that I wrote that..  Two weeks seems like nothing but at the same time it feels like a long time in Finland still. I really need to start packing though.. One of the less pleasant things according to me :D  I still have 6 days of work out of the 12 I have left. During those 12 days I'm also going to have a farewell party with some friends, play a couple of games with my team, get my things packed and spend some time with my family and friends. Wow, I'll probably run out of time here :D

That's all for now, I'll try to be better at updating from now on :)
Hugs, Julia :)