Sunday, June 28, 2009

The End..or close to it

So my semester is officially coming to an end. I leave back for the United States in less than a week. I am sad to leave Belgium but I think I am truly excited to come home.

Unfortunately, I am not the first to leave Louvain-la-Neuve. Many of the friends I have made have already gone home, including the majority of the Clemson students. Luckily, it will not be the last time I see them. I have a class with two of them in the fall. I'm sure it will be interesting. Something else unfortunate, all of my roommates have left. So now it is just me (spare for a few mice, eek!) in an apartment for 9. When they left, they also took the tv and the internet with them. So I am writing this from outside of a school building (they are all closed because classes are not in session). This makes it difficult to stay online for long periods of time because my battery life is little to none, and it also makes it difficult to post pictures. I will post pictures when I get back to the states.

Since classes have been out, I have traveled a bit. I think one of the most eye-opening experiences I had was my week-long trip to Vienna, Budapest, and Bratislava. These experiences were not just from the places I visited but also from the people I traveled with. I went on this trip with two Portuguese guys. We met up with a few people along the trip, but the entire time I was the only American and the only native English speaker. This means I was asked a LOT of questions about the English language and only now do I understand why people find it difficult. We really do have a lot of exceptions, and compared with a Romantic language like Portuguese, it is quite different.

I was also asked a LOT of questions about the United States. They are not lying when they say that everyone will ask you about your opinions of President Obama. It's incredibly true. I was also asked a lot of culture questions. I was told that Portugal is one of the most Americanized European countries (they told me that over 90% of their movies and TV shows are from the States) and when they think about the US, they think about California. Most people didn't know where South Carolina is. I didn't expect them to though, it's a relatively small state (of course, not in comparision to their countries). I found it difficult to answer a lot of the culture questions because I only know the South (and have sadly, never even been to the rest of the US). I had to explain that while where I live we may not have a lot of European things, they very well may have them in other parts of the US. One of my friends said that he now thinks of the US as several different countries put together because the different regions and states are so different. I'm glad he thinks this way, because especially when it comes to cultural things, this is kind of true. I hope that from everything I told them, they understand the US a little better and that I didn't mess up on anything.

The trip itself was amazing. I am truly glad that I was able to see a little bit of Eastern Europe because I didn't think I was going to be able to travel there. All three cities were so beautiful. In Vienna, we went to the Leopold Museum. I think it very well may be my favorite museum. I never knew anything about Austrian Secessionists but I definitely think I will try to learn more. Budapest by far had the most to do. It is huge and there was stuff going on everywhere. Their Parliament is gorgeous, one of the most beautiful buildings I've seen in all of my travels in Europe. Bratislava, while small, is very picturesque. They also have a lot of random statues. These statues aren't of famous or important people, just random people. They have one statue that is just a man coming out of a manhole with a sign that says "Men at Work" next to it. It's very cool.

After that week of traveling, we did a lot of walking, enough to put a hole in my shoe. This is the second pair of shoes that I've done that with since getting here. I keep shoes for years at home but I come here and I've already ruined two pairs. My shoes are obviously not made for a lot of walking.

Alas, that is my week-long adventure. I will hopefully post at least one more time before I go home and probably a few times once I get back (with pictures!).

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