The last week has finally pounced, the suitcases are filling frighteningly quickly, and addresses and final hugs are being shared all round. And up until the last minute, we've been making the most of Belgium.
Sunday we spent with Marianne, Cécile, and Pépé on the nearby 'mountain', la Mont d'Enclus, where we took the dogs for a walk and enjoyed the sunshine. And some good Belgian food, of course. The café with the great ice cream is pretty much the biggest reason most people bother climbing the hill. Afterwards we played a round of miniature golf, which I'd never done before. My game was pretty catastrophic, but Julia and Jade weren't too far behind, and we had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun. Americans missing the ball entirely and Icelanders sending the ball into their host mother's direction makes anyone giggle.
Monday night we went out for a final soirée with Sharon and Benjamin with a few other buddies from school. We had some good Belgian beer, went bowling, and had a good time reminiscing over the year and just being together. I will miss the students of Saint Union. Thank heavens for skype.
Tuesday Jean-Pierre took Jade and I to Kortrijk, a Flemish town about 20 minutes away. We visited the local museum to learn all about the battle of Gulden Sporen (Golden Spurs), which took place in 1302 in Kortrijk. The gist of the story is that a bunch of Flemish farmers rebelled against arrogant French aristocrats and these untrained foot soldiers managed to rout a sizable group of elite French Knights. The French won the war of course, but the historically unimportant battle became a romantic story and is a touchstone for Flemish and Belgian pride and identity now. The museum was extremely well put together, and the local politics of the day were really well explained. Belgium sure has a complicated, long history. With lots of wars. We also visited the local church, which was gorgeous (I'm going to miss visiting old churches) and checked out some ancient bridges before heading home. Not to mention I picked up a few more Dutch words; Dutch and English is incredibly similar. I can guess at a lot of it when it's written, and the accent isn't too hard to get, except for the g's. Keep learning right up to the last day!
Yesterday we went to Liege to say goodbye to other exchange students in the carré, a famous block of student-catering bars. Many flags were signed and we enjoyed even more Belgian beer. We might have eaten a few waffles too.
So overall: I can't decide whether to jump up and down about going home or whether to bawl my eyes out. I saw an American flag and almost started crying; I can almost imagine getting some kind of Belgian tattoo because it's my second home. I can't wait to hug my family and tease my friends in English, and I can't believe that I won't be able to joke about 40 dogs and say cowly beautiful anymore or be crazy with my two sisters here. Marianne has two more exchange students coming next year; I can't wait to talk to them and hear about their adventures in this crazy house. Life just doesn't stop moving.