Sunday, September 19, 2010

More on Daily Life

By popular request, here is a sketch of my daily schedule.

6:45 Wake up, kick the dogs out of my bed, kiss Marianne good morning, get ready. I eat breakfast, which is very un-Belgian, but I feel it is necessary to start the day with some kind of nourishment. Belgians sometimes eat something small and sweet for breakfast with coffee, so to be more culturally accurate I have pared breakfast back to more of a yogurt-cereal affair rather than all-out breakfast. Julia normally comes streaking in at the last minute for some bread and Nutella (nom!).
School starts at 8:10, and it takes 13 minutes to walk to school. Once we’re there, we mill around and wait in the courtyard for the teacher of our first class to call roll and lead us to the classroom (same room each time, but it’s always locked. They also lock the bathrooms most of the time.) We have two classes, each about an hour long, before a 15 minute break. Most people then eat waffles or chocolate or some kind of snack, and this is the time to buy a ticket for what you want to eat at lunch(baguettes, fries, pizza, pasta). The bathrooms are momentarily available. An important note on the bathrooms: you take the toilet paper from a big roll outside the stall. Also, there are no paper towels or other methods for drying your hands, so most people don’t wash their hands at all.
After the break, there are two more classes and then one hour for lunch. The first part of lunch is spent in the ‘refectoire’, the commons, where the actual eating happens. After that, everyone goes outside to hang out or play soccer or whatever. Then we get shooed back inside by a teacher and we have another 3 classes until 3:30.
After school we walk home and I play with Touchtou, do homework, blog/email/facebook people, read (Middlemarch at the moment), or undertake some sort of expedition to the mall or the store. Marianne finishes work around 8 PM, so that is when we eat dinner. After dinner Julia and I clear the table and wash any dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher. After dinner Marianne lets about 10 of the dogs inside to help clean up leftovers, and then the entire pack follows her upstairs to sleep on the couches and watch TV. Then to bed I go, after kisses.
 Wednesday and Thursday I have half-days (unless we have observations), so I eat at home with Marianne, Marie, and Catherine (the two women who work at the clinic). For meals we eat a lot of different things. Marianne normally cooks for lunch, and then sometimes in the evening. Often we have sandwiches for dinner; cheese (the good stuff. Gouda, Camembert, Brie, etc.), ham, salami, Filet Americain (I have no idea why it’s called that or really what it is. It’s a meat spread. I joke that that’s what they do to Americans they don’t like.), shrimp, butter, etc. Other times we have rice with chicken, roast pork, pasta with meat, some kind of casserole, mashed potatoes(instant) with meatballs, tartiflette(amazing French casserole with cream, potatoes, ham, etc.), salad, and whatever else is handy. Sometimes we go to friends’ houses for dinner and Pépé and Cecile come to eat dinner twice a week. There is also a drawer of chocolate and Belgian goodies open to the public. In short: there is absolutely no danger of starvation.

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