Sunday, July 17, 2011

One Month!

Not too much to report since my last post a month ago;  I've basically been hanging out at home, working, seeing my friends between all their summer travels...  The family of our former AFS student, Klara, came to visit my family for about a week around the 4th of July.  They are about as AFS-oriented as you can get:  her father spent a year in Wisconsin when he was in high school; Klara spent her AFS year in Maine; her younger brother, in Ohio; and her younger sister, in Costa Rica.  They have also hosted two (I believe) students, one from Switzerland and one from New Zealand.  It was a lot of fun hearing about their experiences both living abroad and living with an exchange student, and I was able to get some input on what to pack, what types of things to get for gifts, how to survive the first couple weeks when you don't really understand everything, etc.

I have just one month left in the US before I start my exciting life in Belgium, parler-ing français and manger-ing des frites (j'espère).  It's beginning to be that time where I actually have to start crossing things off my list of things I have to do before I go, like getting some clothes and gifts to fill up my 40lbs of luggage and brushing up on some current events/Belgian politics and affairs so I'm not pegged immediately as a stupid American.  I can't decide whether to think that one month is way too short an amount of time to do all these things and say goodbye, or whether it's way too long to wait to get to Belgium.  I've been writing a little to my host family, which has been good for practicing my French, even if I'm still very much attached to (if you've never heard of it, it's definitely time to check it out... it's an online dictionary that has not only French-English, but Spanish, German, and a host of other languages as well), which hasn't helped me contain my excitement.

On Wednesday I went to the doctor to get a second health evaluation, in case I picked up any dreadful and contagious diseases in the six months or so since my last visit, and to verify for the consulate that I won't be a menace to Belgian society.  We had to get a special notary to come to verify my doctor's signature, which could have been avoided by using one of the consulate's special doctors; however, there are only, like, three in the entire country, so this seemed to be the easiest thing to do.

With the health form finished, I was finally able to get the application for my visa sent off.  This required a rather obscene amount of paperwork to be filled out and notarized, ands an Apostille (which, as far as I can tell, notarizes the notarization) to be obtained.  Now I guess I just cross my fingers and hope everything gets back to me before my departure date.

I also made an attempt at a shopping trip to buy some clothes for next year, most importantly, jeans.  I somehow managed to make it through this entire year with only two pairs of well-fitting jeans, the result being that both of them are now pretty worn out.  I'm also looking for pretty much everything else-- shirts, socks, underwear-- because I tend to avoid mall-land and I've realized that most of my clothes are in need of replacing.  I also want to get a good camera, not only to photograph all the amazing things I'll get to see in Belgium, but to photograph my home and friends to show to my host family.  Unfortunately, the trip was a bit of a bust (the only thing I've bought so far is socks), but maybe once I get my first paycheck I'll be able to go back again.

As for everything else, I'll get to it in time.  My summer is turning out to be somewhat less relaxing than it could have been, between the thinking about AFS and thinking about college (oh yeah, I'm actually not done with American schooling yet).  I'm a little nervous about having to to all my applications and decisions while overseas, but I'm hoping that if I get my list of colleges to apply to finalized and my Common App essentially finished before I go, the process will be somewhat manageable.  (Again, I hope.)

Alright, this post has dragged on long enough.  I'll be spending the time between this entry and the next deciding what to pack, buying things I need, working, packing, changing my packing decisions, finding time to relax, repacking so that everything fits in my suitcase... you get the idea.

À la prochaine!