This Sunday Julia and I participated in AFS Belgium’s long-anticipated flashmob in Brussels! (A flashmob is when people show up in a public place and all begin to dance to music. There are also flashmobs where you just show up at a certain time and freeze.) We have been practicing the dance since we arrived in Belgium, but we had to keep it on the down low because flashmobs are supposed to be a surprise. We took the train to Brussels Sunday morning to meet up with AFSers from the entirety of Belgium. We got to see our friends from orientation and we Americans shared some very welcome American hugs (Belgians are big on kissing, but not so enthusiastic about hugging). We kissed each other too, and laughed about how we would have been shocked two months ago. We also compared notes on our deteriorating English and improving French. I also discovered that Julia and I are not the only northerners freezing to death here---it is HUMID! And if we are freezing, I can only imagine what the poor Mexicans are feeling.
All 170 of us practiced dancing all day until we had our act together, and then we went out to assimilate into the tourists in the area. We ogled the Godiva chocolate pumpkins (Halloween is sorta recognized here), oohed and ahed at the Belgian lace, and walked around gaping at things waiting for the music to start. When Jai Ho came on, my group started dancing. I ended up in the front corner, and found myself confronted with about 30 tourists’ cameras pointed at my terrified face! (PLUS a journalist’s camera! I do believe we were on the news.) We had some goofs, but all in all we rocked Jai Ho, Alors On Danse(Belgian), Tik Tok, Yankee Daddy, and the Waka Waka. There was laughter and smiles all around, and I think AFS definitely made an impression on the tourists that were present! We even got a couple of them to dance with us. Definitely an awesome experience.
Afterwards we hung out in the station with some other students and a Norwegian boy and I happily debated the plausibility of conservative politics and the existence of God. The others rolled their eyes at us. This week I made an Italian chicken dish for supper for everyone---Cecile and Pépé included! It wasn’t quite as amazing as when I made it with Lauren (she wasn’t there to keep me on my toes!), but it turned out well. Unfortunately, I didn’t know Marianne doesn’t like peppers---one of the principal ingredients. We laughed because she picked them out and we said she was eating like Julia (tu vas être forte est grande jamais!) I also made split seconds (demisecondes) and those were quite a hit. Cécile thoughtfully brought me baking powder and PEANUT BUTTER without any sugar! She is so sweet and I love her!
Friday several friends came home from school with us to look at some photos of Alaska and hang out. We looked over some AK photos, met the four-footed residents (some of them, anyway!) talked about twilight, looked over Icelandic things, and ended the evening by singing Hakuna Matata in French, Icelandic, and English. Good fun, and I was very happy to have finally invited some people to do something!
I have another Belgian saying: Garder une poire pour la soif= Keep a pear for thirst= save something for hard times.
Touchtou and I still play Frisbee almost every day. There’s been a handsome Blue Heron in the area, and we see him most days. It has been rather muddy lately, so sometimes I bring back a brown dog instead of a white one! (insert towels and scrubbing here).
There is a tantalizing bakery just across the street from our house, so Julia and I went there this week to get something for breakfast. The bakery is full of croissants and pastries and so many good things I don’t know the names of. When we left with our loot in tow, the Belgian weather assaulted us with a surprise downpour. Julia seized the day and led our speedy retreat across the street. We may have been rather damp, but the sweet raisin bread was totally worth it. I think we will be visiting that bakery again. And our reconnaissance was very useful---we wore raincoats to school and avoided soaking by several more surprise attacks!
I can definitely feel my English grammar slipping…I’m forgetting some words too. But on the other hand, I am passing ALL of my classes (which was my goal!) and I can understand so much more! Speedy speaking does not confound me like it once did---I can even understand Marianne’s conversations! Mostly, anyways. Yesterday I filled out a true and false section in Science and Technology test and realized after I’d turned it in that I had put T for the true answers instead of V for vrai! My teacher laughed and said it wasn’t a problem.
This weekend I am going to a youth festival with the Marie Jeunesse (a Catholic youth group, basically). I am super duper excited, and thanking God for putting together several coincidences that gave me the chance to go!(My French teacher gave me the card of an American pastor who is familiar with Alaska, and when I talked to him about Anchorage and Moose Tracks ice cream he invited me to this festival on the other side of Belgium. Then I realized that one of the students in my class is also involved in Marie Jeunesse and found out that he is going too, so we can take the train together and I won’t get lost and it’s going to be amazing!) Anyways, I am excited. The festival is going to be in Libramont, which is in the Ardennes. I haven’t seen that corner of the country yet, so I’m pumped!
We also have a vacation from school next week. Fall break---what a splendid idea! I think I’m going to try to make an early Thanksgiving dinner that week. Julia wants to learn to make an American apple pie, which I am all for! Now to find the Belgian equivalent of Crisco…
Speaking of food, I finally discovered what is in Filet Americain, a popular sandwich spread: whipped egg, mayo, and raw hamburger meat. It's actually really good. It's basically just raw meatloaf. But most Americans definitely do not eat it, so the name remains a mystery.