• Jakob Hettinga

1 month down, we got this!!

Wow, I can't believe that I've been here for a month, it feels so short!! I guess I'm just having too much fun... The past few weeks I've started to be able to have basic conversations with people at school and it really encourages me as I am able to make new friends. It feels very homely here and I really enjoy it, however, there are still a few slight differences here that remind me that I, indeed, are on another continent... But once you look past these things, its actually quite similar. And, its not as if these things are bad or wrong, just different, that's how I like to look at it.

The most surprising thing I noticed the first day of school was that the binders here only have two rings instead of one. It is a little inconvenient because I brought a huge binder for my school but I didn't expect it to be different. Also the sizes of the paper is A4 instead of letter, not much different but a bit bigger. The school here is much more strict and very different but mentioned this last post. Once again, the fact you leave your shoes on inside is very weird considering how much it rains here you are taking them off most days anyways. Also, the people here are so warm and welcoming. Everyone at school knows each person in the class even though they aren't in their friend group. Along with that, perhaps because I am the Canadian, everyone is just so friendly and want to talk to you, and kiss you on the cheek, something very different to the relatively cold Canadian culture (pun intended, enjoy the snow back home hahahaha). Late suppers threw me off for the first few weeks but I am accustomed now. As well, the transportation and accessibility here is very impressive compared to Canada and I have to announce that the train station in liege is by far the most impressive. One thing I do miss is the big city, here, in Braine, about one third of the shops are vacant and another third close before 4, Gabi and I describe it as a ghost town. This just means that I am often out of the town to Brussels, Liege, or Mons. I can say that this exchange is always keeping me on my toes and I always expect the unexpected. However, we are expecting a lot of rain this week which isn't too fun, classic Belgium (as I joke about the Canadian weather).

So, how's my French going. Well, honestly I did not expect to progress this much in a month actually. It's mostly because of the amazing people I have met at school who try to talk to me during class. I call it the brute force method, don't do any particular studying, just go for it head first and hope for the best. Brute force method works btw. As of last week, I've been able to, more or less, have a very broken conversation with someone. It's very encouraging because now all I need to do is improve my comprehension skills and widen my vocabulary and I will be able to have a solid conversation. Thanks to the power of texting, I've been able to improve my grammar and sentence structure while learning the past and future (-ish) way to speak. I message students from school who are so kind and patient as I brute force my way through the conversation, as well as meet some amazing classmates. All in all, I think it won't be long for me to understand the majority of basic conversation and start being able to understand the complex subjects at school.

This has possibly been one of my favourite months of my life and there are 10 more coming. Even with the rough start before school, with homesickness, I am enjoying being around new people who are so kind and welcoming, and accepting this year's challenge of learning french!

1 month down, already having the time of my life!

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