Wednesday, May 19, 2010

10 Belgian tidbits

Here are some tidbits I found in the handy-dandy encyclopedia:

  1. Belgium is a constitutional monarchy
  2. The saxophone was invented in Belgium
  3. Belgium is home to NATO (Noth Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the EU (European Union)
  4. Belgium has 2 official languages: French in Wallonia, Dutch(previously known as Flemish) in Flanders, and both in Brussels (the capital)
  5. About 1% of the population is Protestant; 85% are Roman Catholic; 30% actually attend church
  6. Antwerp is the largest city in Belgium
  7. Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands in 1830 (Younger than the USA!)
  8. 30% of Belgians are Walloons, 60% are Flemings
  9. Everyone over 18 is required to vote, and if you don't, you could be fined!
  10. Belgium is famous for lace, chocolate, and beer.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hey there! I am an Alaskan girl preparing to broaden my world by paricipating in a year-long program with American Field Service in French-speaking Belgium. A year abroad was a difficult decision for me, as I have already graduated from high school, but I believe the total cultural immersion unique to high school exchanges and host families will be invaluable to my growth as a person and my education outside the classroom. I made the decision to defer my enrollment at Gonzaga University as an honors student and take the plunge.
I have lived in Alaska for my entire life, but I have been on a tourist trip through a few European cities and have traveled throughout Alaska and the lower 48 states. I anticipate a lot of cultureshock and claustrophobia after being used to duct-taped, spacious Alaska, but I am thrilled to have the chance to become fluent in another language and meet people with different ideas and perspectives. I hope to gain a better understanding of my own culture as well as Belgian culture and how they interact within the wider context of world culture. Let the adventure begin! Allons-y!