Parents Came to see How Belgium Does Things

So I may be doing this blog more or less because I’m procrastinating on doing my presentation on Belgium for Rotary. Shhhhhhh 😉
I’ll make it short and sweet so I can get back to work, don’t worry Mom.

So from the days May 3rd to May 8th, my parents from Canada (have to specify which… I now have 4 sets of parents) came over to Belgium to do a little visiting.

It started off the night of the 3rd where I had to pick them up at the Brussels airport at 10:30pm. Waited and waited for them there super impatiently. I had no idea what to expect after not seeing my parents for like 8 Months! When I saw them I think the only difference I noticed right away is that I’m pretty much the same height as them now and mike has more grey in his beard! 😛 I was also super nervous that they may have changed or that I may have changed which is completely normal and to be expected after 8 months. But within a few minutes everything seemed to be back to how it used to be! I guess I may have missed them a little bit 😉 I gave big hugs and introduced my host dad who drove me to the airport to them. We then had to go find the rental car place and navigate or way to my host families house. We got lost a couple times but hey roundabouts and dark turns aren’t very easy to figure out.

The next day, Wednesday, May the 4th be with you. We left early in the morning to start our day! I showed them around my school, mainly the machining class I work in every week with the new skills I’ve learned. After the school we made our way to Namur, where we met up with one of my Belgian friends Max and Explored the Citadel (kinda like a castle/old military base) We saw a golden turtle and ate some meatballs and fries at the top. I also may have showed them some beer. Which yes, they did enjoy very much! After the Citadel we went more towards the city centre to check out some churches and buildings. When we were done in Namur, all 4 of us went to Dinant. A beautiful little town on a river, also home of the Saxophone. Oh by the day did I mention it was 20-28 degrees with sun every single day they were here?! They lucked out! When we got there I showed them the cookies that are specialty in Dinant. They make the cookies into artwork pretty much and if you try to eat them you will break your teeth. We then Saw the giant church and then the house of Adolf Sax. The guy who invented the saxophone. We were gonna go to the citadel in Dinant too but this one we had to pay for so we cheaped out and my parents decided we should go for a milkshake or something. We stopped in a café and milkshakes we probably a thought for about 30 seconds until they saw beer on the menu. So with Belgian traditions, I of course had to show them some of the other beer Belgium has to offer. When we were finished with our beers we decided we would go to a small town called Floreffe. In Floreffe there is a giant school that has a brewery in it. School with beer? Umm yes please. So Max showed us the way. Poor guy had to deal with Mikes crazy driving Aha! When we got there we thought there might be a tour of the brewery or school but turns out there was just a lame exposition going on there that we didn’t want to pay for so we just went to try a beer that was made at that school. At the end of the day we brought Max back to where he needed to go and we had a Rotary meeting to go to! The Rotary meeting was probably the worst thing for my mom because she doesn’t understand all french nor speak a lot of it. So she had to sit there awkwardly and do nothing. I found it funny ahah. I guess I talked to them a little bit but hey they made it through the meeting! We beer, wine, fish and croquettes! (tater tots) After the meeting we returned to my 1st host family’s house. My host father Gaspard immediately offered beer and/or wine. So for like the 4th-5th time we had some more beer! Was good for the parents to get to sleep well!13254547_10156867353950247_8895091938009028485_n.jpg
Gotta love selfies.13247714_10156867355200247_6427136194669519753_o.jpg
Golden Turtle!13198489_10156867369605247_5397327766845991146_o.jpgDinant13248350_10156867371265247_2039936142683229471_o
Mom and I hanging with Mr.Sax13235169_10156867370475247_2363026142471763087_oMike and I chilling with Mr.Sax

Adventures don’t stop! Thursday May 5th was a more chill and relaxed day. We started the day at a Market in my town. I thought it was going to be just a lil’ol’ market but nope! It was full blown with thousands of people and judging events for pigs and buff cows with crazy muscles, sheeps, horses an’ all! We had a giant sausage on a bun for breakfast and then met up with my 3rd host mom and siblings at the market. We walked around the market for a bit but it got so busy you couldn’t walk without touching people constantly. My town has about 4000 people in it and I honestly think all 4000 were on the streets and possibly even more! After the market we followed my host family for an hour or so to the Abbaye De Maredsous. This is were monks and nuns had lived and were very famous for their beer and cheese! Now they continue to make cheese and beer and you can even go to school there. Mainly its a nice are to stop and grab something to eat and drink. Like a trip to make on your motorbike down all the winding roads to get there. We enjoyed our beer and Croque Monsieurs (Fancy words for grilled cheese!) After the visit of the Abbaye we went to check out the gardens of Annevoie. We then discovered on arrival that you had to pay to visit the gardens so we decided not to go. We didn’t feel like paying to see sprinklers and flowers. So we took the scenic route home according to the GPS. Before going to my 2nd host family’s house for dinner we stopped at the pub that is in my town. We had a couple drinks while we talked and shared stories. When we got to my 2nd host family they started making dinner for us on the BBQ. I told them awhile back that Canadians love BBQ and we eat lots of meat… I think I made the mistake in saying we eat lots of meat instead of eat meat often. So they cooked a platter of multiple different meats for us like steaks and sausages. It was extremely good! My host brothers and I even got Mike to play soccer with us!

Not slowing down yet. Friday May 6th. Busiest day of them all! Today We were going to Oostende, Bruges, and Bruxelles. We started off with Oostende, we took and train there. They got to experience some Belgian train travel. When we got there we had no idea what to do so we just started walking and exploring. By the way, Mom you walk slow ughhh. We finally made it to a Café where we wanted more fancy grilled cheeses but they weren’t serving lunch yet so we just settled for some awesome tasting expensive coffees. We sat there drinking coffee while being entertained by a dog playing in a fountain. The fountain would shoot water out of the ground at random intervals and kept hitting the dog in the face. He kept getting mad at it by jumping at it only to get it in the face once again. After our fancy coffees we headed to the beach. It was super sunny and beautiful outside. 13173476_10156867379450247_4837917445931166441_o.jpgOostende Beaches.
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Oostende
We waked the beach for quite some time until we wandered our way back into the city to find food. We found another Café where they sold food so we decided to get something to eat. Well it was just about after 12 so that means more beer taste testing for my parents! We got a beer and Croquettes again. Tater tots loaded with cheesy goodness. Mmmmm. After the Café we made our way back to the train station. We weren’t lost but at the same time didn’t know exactly where we were. But thats okay, that’s what exploring is for! We hopped on the next train to Bruges. When we got to Bruges we started to walk once more. Me trying to tire out the parents as much as I can while they were here aha. We stopped at a corner store to get a drink and we were off once again, out exploring the unknown for my parents. We spent the afternoon wandering and peeping our heads in and out of museums that we were too cheap to pay for. Until we found one thing that was worth our time. Our at least my mom thought it was anyways. The Wild Mouse. A random set up roller coaster. Like for a midway. 3 euros each and she told us we HAD to do it. So she really had to twist mike and I’s rubber arms to do so.13179082_10156868260995247_1102321642985506882_n.jpgPre-ride excitement!13153467_10156851146820247_1025324039_n.jpg
The Wild Mouse!
Not only did we buy the ride but my mom said we had to buy the after photo too. Not going to lie tho. For a random set up roller coaster for a mid-way it was actually pretty awesome. May have gotten some whiplash from it though. After the ride we started heading to Bruxelles. This is where we would be staying the night. We booked a hotel last minute there. I showed them around Bruxelles at night and even showed them my favourite pub that all exchange students usually go to. We even had live entertainment or english classic rock songs. Was quite awesome. After the pub I showed them the Grand Place and we sat in the middle for a while and just hung out. We made it to our hotel around 1am and passed out for the night, only just to begin the next day nice and early!13165911_10156835381825247_2393545973918441987_n.jpgGrand-Place Bruxelles13239891_10156867413240247_5691275765224406216_n.jpg
Grand-Place Bruxelles

And then there was 1 more full day. Saturday May 7th. Saturday we met up with my 3rd Host father and siblings to visit Bruxelles during the day. We started the day off by going to Quick (Belgian Mcdonalds) for breakfast. Then we found our way to the subway station. From there we took 2 different subways to get to the Atomium. We may have almost got lost but I didn’t want to admit it. We made it there first try so No need to complain. 😉 Its a giant building that looks like an Atom! After the Atomium we took the subway back to the city centre to see Manneken Pis. He’s a little person made out of bronze that sits there peeing. Yep thats probably the most famous thing of Belgium. After seeing that we walked around more where we found a stage with Mexican music playing and people watching from all around. After that we went to grab a cold one with my host father and talk for a bit. When we were done in Bruxelles we took the train back and headed back home to my 3rd host families house for dinner. They made us amazing dinner and served us exotic Belgian beer. All of my host families took amazing care of us! Parents and I were off to bed early. We had to get up early and get to the airport for their 10:30am flight but also be there a couple hours early.13246436_10156867425850247_9174150932237112889_o.jpg
The Atomiun is actually made out of iron, the shape is iron in crystallized form.13241281_10156867425165247_7056598432117911308_n.jpg13248598_10156867426265247_5336639705190133387_o.jpg
Manneken Pis is extremley tiny ahah

Sunday May 8th. We were off for one last car ride together. It was sad to say goodbye to them already but at the same time not even a big deal. We gave hugs and simply said see ya in a couple months! ahah Will be back home before I know so might as well keep the parents away for as long as I can now! 😛 I’m getting super anxious to go home and see all my friends and family. But at the same time I’ve worked so hard to have the life I have here right now that it tears me to have to leave all my other family and friends. It feels like I have two separate lives and I need to be apart of both of them but I’ll have to forever leave behind my exchange year here. I will always have my family and friends from Belgium though thats for sure. I’ll get my family and friends in Canada to come to Belgium with one day.

Whoever wants to bring me to Belgium with them I’ll be your free tour guide, just pay my tickets 😉 I could get us some free places to stay though!!

58 days and counting! Til’ next time.

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Italy Was More Than Ok I Guess

So we’re well into May and I’m super behind with everything!
Been crazy busy!!!

Italy Italy Italy

Where do I even start?

Well from the beginning I guess eh?

Monday 28th/Tuesday 29th of March
    Started off the day by getting driven to the train station. Excitement levels were off the hook and I couldn’t even imagine what being in Italy would be like. Had to wait 15 minutes for the train which seemed like 10 years. Once I got on the train I also had a 30 minute train ride. Which if 15 minutes felt like 10 years well this felt like 20 years. Time was passing too slow and I just wanted to get on the bus. Oh and also my train was late. I finally made it to the meeting point at the Brussels train station. With a good 10 minutes to spare. We left at 9am. From Brussels we drove to Liege and then Arlon to pick up more students. Once we were finally on the road it was a huge party…… For about 3 hours, then we all realized this bus ride was gonna totally suck. We drove through, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland and then Italy. Did I manage to sleep on the bus? No. I think I was able to get 1 hour of sleep on the bus. It totally did not work out. Between being really uncomfortable and super excited no sleep at all. I had fallen asleep around 5am on the bus only to be woken up at 6am with Rotary yelling in the bus microphone saying hey guys we’re stopping to eat, you have one hour and then we will go back on the road and arrive at our destination in one more hour. So yea we spent like 24-25 hours on a bus. Our first stop was in Rome. We did a whole ton of walking around the city even as tired as we were. But everyone was super excited and ready to go so it was okay. I followed the group around taking pictures of cars and bikes I saw along the way. Maybe some monuments too but the motorbikes were better. 😉 We all had stopped in a giant plaza to walk around for a bit. Leave it to me to get lost. I went to get a coffee and 5 minutes later everybody was gone. But I had a map that said when and where lunch was so I was golden. I made it to lunch with no worries. Just had to do some tourism of my own. Our first lunch was pasta, salad and some type of pork. Not gonna lie the pasta was good but the rest was lame. Still good though! After lunch we all made our way to Vatican City. Vatican City is a state inside Rome. It’s considered its own country and is where the Pope lives. It is like the headquarters for all roman catholicism. It is filled with magnificent artwork and stunning buildings. But of course I managed to get lost there too with some friends. We were all lined up to go through the Sistine Chapel, a very famous chapel where you have to get ushered through because people around the world are trying to get in to see inside. Meanwhile my friends and I were ahead of the group a little bit and we got ushered out by security. We saw that our group was allowed to stay with special permission but security didn’t care and they had a job to do! We exited back where we started but the rest of the group exited out another door. So my friends and I went on an adventure with the map again to find out where the bus was gonna pick us up so that we didn’t get left in the town! We ended up finding the bus before everyone even got out of Vatican City so all went well. Unfortunately my camera died that day so I only have a few photos of Vatican City. After our long and exhausting day with very minimal sleep on the bus we were all very excited to get back to our hotels to eat supper and go to bed! When we got to out hotel it was on the coast of the ocean. It was too late to go swimming by the time we got there but dont worry we eventually did. Again for dinner we had pasta, some meat and salad. After dinner rotary said we were allowed to go get a drink at the bar. How could we say no to a nice cold beer after a long hard day right? We all slept like rocks the first night.

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Tourist Ready

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It’s not the Paris love bridge, but hey.DSCN2865

A cool building which I believe is one side of Parliament. DSCN2866Gothic era church.DSCN2885A wall with Latin on it.
Couldn’t tell ya what it said.DSCN2892
A Mercedes Benz parked in front of a fancy hotel not caring how much space of the road he took. Doesn’t matter because he’s rich?DSCN2897The grand place where I got lost.DSCN2904Dreaming…DSCN2949Vatican City’s entrance.DSCN2966
Morning view of the ocean from my balcony.DSCN2968
Our cute little hotel in the middle of no where.

Wednesday 30th of March

So this day. Probably one of my favourite days of my trip.
Started off with waking up to amazing sunshine and the view of the ocean. My room was on the 3rd floor so I had quite a pretty view. (Photo shown above) The sun was just rising so the photo looks a little dark. We lucked out and had sun every single day in Italy. One we all rounded up on the buses we headed off for more driving. Gosh darn did we ever hate that bus already. It was practically our home. We got off on some random road totally confused. We walked about 500 metres and voila! The colosseum was right there. To see this in person is the most spectacular thing ever. Like of course you’ve seen movies about it and like photos about it. But standing beside it really gives you a sense of “Holy F***!? It’s huge!!” Definitely a highlight of the trip. Unlike the first day in Rome, the second day was ancient Rome. We got to visit the more ancient parts that have been discovered around the Colosseum. Many parts of Rome were found by accident. Italians would go to build roadways or buildings and run into ancient buildings and artifacts. This day we got to do a lot of exploring and walking around. We also got to have a guided tour of the Colosseum. This day wasn’t too jam packed but we definitely enjoyed it! After the guide we had more free time and went to get a cold beer in the hot 25 degree Italian weather! (rotary said we could) After free time we all went for supper and headed home.

DSCN3148.jpgRome wasn’t built in a day.

DSCN2979.jpg Colosseum is huge.DSCN2998.jpgFontana di Trevi.
DSCN3174.jpgI found an orange tree but was too high up.DSCN3097.jpgInside the Colosseum.

Thursday 31st of March

Off we went once again on the bus! We had to leave early in the morning once again. We headed for the Royal Palace of Caserta. Spent the whole day at this palace walking around the amazing interior, and seeing the amazing gardens and back yard. The tour guide that we had had a super non emotional voice but still told funny jokes. He wouldn’t crack a smile. After the day of just walking the palace we headed to our hotel.
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DSCN5619.jpgDSCN5622.jpgWith the scorching hot weather the walls were at least nice and cool!DSCN5633.jpgItalian sculptures.DSCN5638.jpgDSCN5661.jpgAll the ceilings had paintings. Fancy that.DSCN5682.jpg
Backyard/Gardens of the Palace. The big mountain in the background is actually a volcano.
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The giant pond of the palace featuring Canada.

Friday April 1st

Another one of my favourite days of the trip! It all started off in the morning with changing buses. We didn’t know why we were changing buses but oh well. They were kinda older and weren’t too comfortable either. Our first stop was Sorrento. One of the more popular cities because it is famous for its lemons! Yep lemons. We got a couple hours to just walk around and explore there for a bit. Was a good excuse to get gelato. Which is by far the best tasting ice cream I’ve ever had. Just sayin! After Sorrento we went on a scenic bus ride/tour to the City of Amalfi. How we got there I have no idea! The mountain edge road could barely fit two cars side by side never mind a couple greyhound buses and add sharp blind turns into the mix and you’re just asking for trouble. The bus driver was extremely skilled and I could tell it wasn’t his first rodeo. And from hearing it out of the bus drivers mouth when someone cut him off… Yes, Italians do actually say, “momma mia!” while waving there hands around.(If you havnt seen the video I made of the bus driving its on my facebook and I’d encourage you to watch and see the skill he has!) The town of Amalfi was very tiny but very nice. We got free time when we got there to go for lunch and explore. I had pizza for lunch, because ya know, Italy. Duhh. After Amalfi we started heading to another little mountain town. Ravello. In this town there is a brewery for the drink Limoncello. Which is probably by far the best liquor in the world. Especially homemade out of real lemons. DSCN3235.jpg
Sorrento doing a little photo shoot.DSCN5758.jpg
DSCN5767.jpgYou could say we almost succeeded.DSCN5764.jpgAlleyways of Sorrento.DSCN5789.jpgBus ride view. Straight drop beside us.DSCN5804.jpgA little rest stop over looking a village.DSCN5810.jpgMe and my friend from the Sault.DSCN3271.jpgThe modeling dog at the rest stop.DSCN5863.jpgCity center of Amalfi.DSCN3295.jpg
Lunch didn’t last too long.DSCN3343.jpgThe store didn’t actually have drugs. I investigated.DSCN3372.jpgOur group.

Saturday April 2nd

We got to go for a boat ride. Had to get up nice and early to get the docks. If you missed the bus you’d have to take a taxi to the docks or just end up not going. (Yes there were a few Canadians that missed the bus and ended up running. Surprisingly not me!) Once we got one the boat it was quiet for very little. The 84 students started singing and dancing together. Who needs coffee when we start our own flash mobs! The other Italians on the boat seemed quite confused at first but before we knew it they started singing songs of there own like we were. Was definitely a fun boat ride. When we arrived on the coast of Capri we headed straight to another smaller boat. We got to circle the island and get a tour. We sometimes got as close as a couple feet to the island seeing different opening off the cliff faces and seeing red coral growing up the rocks. After the Tour we got onto a bus and went to the town of Anacapri. A smaller town on the Island. We walked around for a bit then got lunch. Guess what I ate… Yep… Pizza! After lunch we got to ride little chair lifts to the top of a mountain. From there we got to see the whole island. Also the weather was beautiful and sunny! After the mountain visit we got a little bit more free time before our boat showed up. Then we headed straight back to the hotel.DSCN3443.jpgDSCN3425.jpgCrystal blue ocean and crazy cliff faces.DSCN3454.jpgLunches were always a blast.DSCN3453.jpgCaprizza Special.DSCN6022.jpgJust out for a lift are ya bud.DSCN6094.jpgView from the top of the Mountain.DSCN6082.jpgDSCN6203.jpgSwimming with the fishes.

Sunday April 3rd

On the road again. We started heading towards the ruins of Pompei. Pompei was ancient city of Italy that got destroyed and preserved by a volcano that erupted not too far away from it. The city was buried in ash. We spent most of the day in Pompei until traveling farther by bus to our next destination.DSCN6224.jpgSome Pre-Pompei limbo to pass the time. Never a dull moment.DSCN6234.jpgPreserved bodies from the volcano’s ash.DSCN6245.jpgPreserved food like bread and even a cake!DSCN3495.jpgPeople of Pompei were smart when it came to roadways. Like this road here, they carved grooves in the roads for horse carriages to follow and if the road had only three stones that meant that was only a one way road. Only one buggy could pass. If it had 5 it would be a two way road. Also considering Pompei doesn’t have much for plumbing, when it rained the water that ran down the streets weren’t very pleasant. So you could take the road dividers across to the other side.DSCN3493.jpgThis was a fancy bar where they would eat wine and honey. Wine was stronger back then so they would often add honey to sweeten it up. (make it drinkable)DSCN3521.jpgIn richer families houses they would have family portraits. But made out of stone! Preserved also by the volcanic ash.

Monday April 4th

Florence! Pisa!
We walked the streets of florence. We spent almost the whole day walking the streets here and just visiting different buildings and churches. Every building has it’s own unique history and character. After florence we hit the bus once again to see the leaning tower or Pisa. Of course right? If you’re in Italy you gotta check the tower out! When you see it in person it really makes you go holy crap is it ever leaning. Because it is! It used to lean around 5-7 degrees but restoration was done to it and it now leans at about 4 degrees. That still makes the 60 metre tall building look pretty unbalanced! The centre at the top is 4 metres (12 feet) from the centre at the bottom.
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Tuesday April 5th

More Boat rides!!
We got on private boats to the islands of Burano and Murano. These little touristy islands were great and one even had a leaning church tower. Apparently Italians choose the wrong places to build things all the time. We walked around these two islands all day eating gelato and getting sun tanned. When we got back to our hotel we all sprinted to the beach right beside our hotel to go for a nice freezing swim! After the swimming Rotary threw a party for our last night in Italy.DSCN3594.jpgMurano.DSCN3573.jpg   Mean mugging.DSCN3660.jpgBurano’s Tower.DSCN3668.jpg
Clearly they are aware of this problem.DSCN3673.jpgItaly had me going upside down for adventure.DSCN3629.jpg12970713_10208840877520022_1031191178_o.jpgHow could we not take an awesome group picture?17.jpgCrazy Canadians have arrived.

Wednesday April 6th

Wednesday was the downer day. But at the same time it was awesome we got to finish off the trip with Venice! We got on a boat again and made every moment count by singing and dancing even more than we did before. We started off the the day being guided around by Rotary but then we got like 5-6 hours of free time before dinner. We got to go on those little tippy boats down the little rivers and got to explore the whole island. Who knows how many kilometres we walked. At the end of the day we got to eat at Hard Rock Cafe which really isn’t that Italian but hey they got good burgers so I’m not complaining. After supper we all had to gather back up at the boat to hear’er home. This was when the trip was over and we had to go back to Belgium. It was a full 24-26 hour bus ride back to Belgium. But let me tell you how happy we all were to get off that bus for good at the end of the trip though!

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I know I’m behind on my blogs but I still have a couple more to post in the upcoming week. I’ve changed host families and I’ve been actually busy with school and rotary! Yes I have presentations to do for school 😉 3 of them. Also I got distracted by my parents coming down for a week which I will blog about soon. Like in the next week or so. So those are my excuses. I wish I could’ve explained Italy in more detail but we truly did do so much that its hard for me to remember!

Pardon my broken english, slowly but surely it’s getting pretty bad!

Next Blog (soon)
-Changing Families
-Parents Visit in Belgium

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Switzerland? Yea It Was Mint!

Yes like I say every time, I’m a little late for an update. 😉
Not my fault I swear! I have lots of homework and chores to do around here!
Anyways!

I haven’t posted since shortly after New Years it looks like. Well not to too much had happened in the month of January but February? Thats a whole different story! There was a week long Holiday in February from the 6th to the 14th. A solid week off school! Not complaining at all thats for sure. My current host family decided so nicely to take me to Switzerland for a little skiing. No big deal right? WRONG. Totally big deal and I will remember skiing there the rest of my life.

It all started with our 8 hour car ride. Not a big deal but when you have siblings thats another story. I’m still not used to the whole sibling thing, but I’m adapting well now and yes I love all my brothers and sisters. Even if they get on my nerves sometimes. All 3 of my families has over 3 children so its actually a perfect experience for me. We got to Switzerland Late Saturday night. We stayed in a Swiss Mountain Chalet. Thing was totally awesome and super cozy. I had a room all to my self. Score!

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Siblings, yep!! 😛

The Chalet/Cabin was actually huge. It had 2 floors and a loft that could sleep like 8. so practically 3 floors. Front balcony faces outward to the mountains just across the valley. It has 4 rooms and 5 if you count the loft. 2 full washrooms and 2 1/2 washrooms. Huge entrance way with benches on both sides to accommodate all of us. Upstairs of course was a full kitchen attached to the dinning area and living room with a nice fireplace.
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View from the Balcony.

DSCN2458.jpgMe rocking up in my room. Go Jays.

GOPR0258.jpgThe view out side of my room!

The First day of skiing was beautiful. It was nice and sunny all morning but visibility dropped after noon because apparently when you ski in the mountains clouds become a problem. Yep, skiing in the clouds. How freaking awesome! And of course with the clouds there was always snow! All the hills were open and the avalanche warning was low. level 2 of 5. I found it crazy alone that they have to warn us of avalanches the hills are so steep. After the first day I didn’t know how I was gonna last the rest of the week. On Switzerland’s actual ski hills there are cabins where you can bring a picnic and start a fire inside. Totally awesome and I got to play with fire which I haven’t been able to since Canada. I was extremely sore but I pushed through!

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They said reach for the clouds, so I went higher.

GOPR0212.jpg2000m Ski snack break.

It decided to snow overnight, only 50cm. Only.. I though that was a lot of snow. It was nuts to ski in! Twice as hard to ski in powder than to ski on the groom hills. But why stay on groomed trails right? Why not go where theres avalanches and deep snow. Yea thats a lot more fun. Finally started to get confidence back in my skiing because I haven’t in forever.

GOPR0256.jpgJust casually drowning in snow.
GOPR0257.jpgCould say I was brrrrr-ly cold.

It snowed again that night, and again the next. Probably 30-50cm each night we were there it snowed real good. So considering theres waist deep snow, I of course got really confident. I think my family now sees the crazy side in me. My brother would suggest stupid ideas, like “hey the back of that cabin is covered in snow, jump off the front of it.” Then I would do it. So yes I got to do what they do in the movies and jump off of a cabin on the Swisse Alps. But when I landed there was so much snow that my skis blew off and I almost got lost in the snow. But I retried a few times and succeeded.GOPR0278.jpg
Yep theres a snack cabin with Canada and Belgium just hanging out.

I don’t know if any of you know of the Discovery Channel? Well they show crazy stuff like how they control avalanches. Well I can confirm that this is a real method on control avalanches. I was on the hill as they were doing it to hills just beside us. They take a helicopter and circle the mountains throwing sticks of dynamite out the window. Yep, thats how real frenchmen do it! I told my family thats what they were doing and they didn’t believe me. So they asked ski patrol and him being super chill about it was like yea man they throw dynamite out of the helicopter and after 2 minutes it blows up. I was satisfied to actually be right for once!

It was the second last day, if I remember correctly but at that point there was a level 4 of 5 avalanche warning. Yea you know what that means. More powder and jumps to be hit! I got to slalom in a small forest in fresh untouched snow. Some places there was so much snow that even if the hill was easily over 45 degree angle you would get stuck. Unbelievably fun to play in. Also I miss the snow so much and that was my perfect dose of winter! Kept dreaming about all those mountains I’d play on if I had a nice snowmobile with me! By the end of that day ski patrol started scooting us off the hills. Theres was extreme wind warnings. Only about 100km/h gusts of wind. The snow felt like rocks pelting you face it was unreal to feel the force of nature.

GOPR0198.jpgeh! Mountains! Didn’t see ya ther’ buddy. Was ripping around the Canadian flag skiing.

All in all skiing in Switzerland is the most amazing experience ever. By the end of it my everything was sore. I couldn’t really move anymore. Exchange student = what is exercise?
Swisse leaves me speechless. I would definitely recommend to anyone to go skiing in the mountains! Just do it, even if you can ski or snowboard well. Just give’er a try.

DSCN2506.jpgOh how I’ll miss this.

Then school….
Like any another other great vacation school always rolls up and is like “hey its time to be lame!” Thats okay though because I actually enjoy school. Maybe only because I have like 3 different courses! 😛 Machining, gym, and french. a couple others buy hey I got no math or history or even like english so I’m not complaining. (Low-key I should have english because its really starting to hurt to write english! Can’t even english and can’t fully french so I’m not sure how I’m gonna communicate when I get back!)

Also I just celebrated my birthday over here in Belgium. My first host family arranged a dinner with my second host family and we all ate together. It was actually one of the best things ever. They did this thing where after I blew out the candles they would all take turns saying their favourite “life souvenir” with me. So like best memories with me. I think I almost wanted to cry in happiness. Its all the little things that they said that just mean so much more coming from somebody else and straight form the heart. My first host mom had made a comment but laughed at it. she said “If Nathan asks to go out and you say no, he will go and ask the other parent. Don’t know where he learned that!?” as she turned to my brothers. Okay, okay I may have done it one time! But she laughed over it. So it’s all good! Also little memories like at the beginning of my exchange my little brother decided to lean on me and fall into my lap while eating dinner and I just raised my hands and said “C’est quoi ca?!” Which is like “What is this?!”. My host parents laughed and said “a brother aha”. Just little things I’ve done for them that brought a smile to their face. Definitely a birthday to remember and I’ll never forget!

As of today I didn’t do too much. No thats a lie. I made a shot glass in school. Yep a shot glass. But!! Before you start judging let me show you the process.

DSC_0008.JPGThis is a little cup that my teacher gave me from his lunch.. There was still stuff in it I have no idea man.

DSC_0009.JPGThen I went onto the computer and designed a fully detailed plan of the “mini cup” and did all my measurements. And no thats not my mark 😉

DSC_0016.JPGAfter doing all the measurements and observations that had to be done, I then had to create a program using different codes telling the machine where to carve and what tool to use. Using many codes like G00 G01 G02 G03 G96 G72 M01 M03 M05 etc. and X and Y axes with different speed associated with those codes, you end up with a cup program. Coding is quite easy but easier to mess up do to the similar codes. G00 is rapid movement, G01 is slow, mix that up and the 25,000 euro machine may go boom.

DSC_0011.JPGAfter many look overs and simulations done on the computer with fine tuning a cup starts to appear and before you know it, you have a finished product.

DSC_0017.JPGWith the planning and measuring and code breaking it was probably a good 3-4 hours of work for the Tournage machine to spit out a cup in 5 minutes! But theres some good accomplishment there! Whens theres no boom and you have a finished product. Thats best kind!

Also if you guys have any questions feel free to ask! Any questions at all just ask! May have to wait a little bit 😉

Talk again soon! (-ish)
Day 184 In Belgium

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Update!!!! (lots of stuff)

Welllllll….. I don’t even know where to start!
Yes I know I’ve been slacking alot! But I have over 2 weeks of christmas vacance and had a blast the whole way through it. Now that I’m back to my old school day grime, I guess I have no excuse but you update you guys.

I won’t be able to tell everything I did In practically the whole month because I could probably go on for ages. I’ll talk about my most important memories and adventures!
Lets go all the way back to Dec. 4th.

On December 4th I had went to one of my best friends birthday parties, Dani. This was the first time I stayed the night at someones house. The night was filled with fun and laughter. Also got to have my first fire outside in Belgium. Man I miss the whitewater bonfires chez moi. (at my house in Canada.. Its shorter to say chez moi 😉 but I had to explain sooo I don’t know anymore.) We got to have a feast of tacos all you can eat and the family spoke fluent english so it was so nice on the translation part of the brain.

Was an extremely great time.

DSCN1861The Party Crew!!!
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Now back to Dec. 12
One day I will definitely never forget. A few of my friends and I did some researching for free things to do and stumbled upon something crazy! Would’ve paid to explore this place. But hey it was free! Bring along a couple sandwiches from home and water for the way and we were good to go. Online we had found an abandoned fortress. Which says is now just a place for graffiti artists to go. Which I must say, some of these ‘artworks’ i don’t even know how to say it were super neat and cool! This Fortress was a base built by the Dutch, used by Belgians for both world wars, was a hospital for the United States, was and orphanage at one time, and also a prison during both wars as well. It was a little frightening of a place to think that all this has happened. But man it was so worth it.

Some of these buildings had 4 floors and we even found where the prison cells were and where they showered. We thought to have found where guards and higher ranks would shower too because it seemed to have been better piping rather then seeping from walls. There was probably well over 15 buildings. When I say buildings I don’t mean just houses. These buildings would probably have over 50 rooms on one floor and every floor varied in layout.

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This was infront of the main buildings. There were others behind those ones and to the right

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Inside one of the main buildings. I believe this was second or third floor is you consider the basement
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One of many rooms filled with neat graffiti.DSCN1974
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My two friends looking like they’re about to drop the next hot mix-tape.DSCN1937
If you look above the guy and the bird. Apprently, after you stand at attention, then walk into a wall, you get to eat. These Symbols varied from waking up to mid day activities.. I belive these symbols were here to keep some happiness in the dorms of the soldiers. These paintings on the wall was no graffiti and were hand panted. Some of them were missing because of they were close to the windows which have no actual windows in them.
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Football. Very very vey popular in Europe and of course BelgiumDSCN1961
My two friends in pure awe and loss of word. We spent the whole day here. Probably a good 6 hours just exploring and still want to go back.DSCN1967
More tunnelsDSCN2067Tall huge hallways.DSCN1971
We found a tunnel that had barbed wire in it that kept prDSCN1972DSCN1973
Tight Squeeze. We looked like hobos on the bus ride home all dirty. But hey it’s all in the name of adventure.DSCN1947
Barred gates in a hallway.DSCN2007
What seemed to be prison showers. You can see the circle tiles where to stand and this was just after the barred gates.DSCN1950
Many stairs going every where. Easy to get lost there but luckily we didn’t!DSCN2018
One of many awesome graffitis on the wallsDSCN1932
Many tunnels and caverns. We found a basement at one point that had no windows and multiple rooms. We had to walk across a door that looked to be kicked down just to cross the bit of water that was in the basement. Once you turned off all lights and were silent, it was true intensity. Never seen such darkness if that makes sense. There was no eye adjustment. Just pure darkness. You could see the glowing of my watch through my pants. You could hear your heart beat and any movement you or your friends made. Never until then have I heard such silence and been in such darkness. Was absolutely amazing.DSCN2034A view from the top of one of the main huge buildings. Kind of like the court yard of the place.DSCN2075One of many night photos I took. I wanted to see if I would see a ghost or not. But let me tell you once it got a little dark outside we were gone!

DSCN2048Evading through the woods passing creepy buildings on either side of us.

Dec 20th
First time visiting the town of Anvers (french name) Antwerpen (Dutch name) Yes towns have different names in french and dutch and I do not understand why. Like my town in french is Jodoigne but in dutch it is Geldenaken….. Like what? Not even close!! Antwerpen is the capital of diamonds and every street you walk down is covered in jewelry stores. Wayyyyyy too expensive for me to even walk into! Also its the only place that has 3 levels of train station. Yes each level has at least 6-10 train stops. Which is absolutely crazy!! It’s quite the long walk but is a crazy busy city. Easy to get lost in! Thank you for saving our lives google maps.

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This is the crazy huge gare they have in Antwerpen. Also I didn’t take that photo for the giant half naked lady. She just happened to be there.12375371_10208712001141687_2082812296_oDancing our way through Antwerp. Like always.DSCN2160
On the other side of the beautiful river they have in Antwerp. They also have a huge harbour which is very nice.DSCN2124
How do we get across the river you ask? Well obviously by a huge underwater tunnel.DSCN2177
Panorama building just beside the harbour. Unfortunately that building was closed.12369649_10208712001101686_998888031_oIt’s just me. Being artsy. So Artsy. Like always.

Dec. 24th
Twas’ the night before christmas….
Christmas with my host family was absolutely amazing and it was a ton of fun. Great dinner, great laughs, awesome memories that I’ll never forget. I thought I was gonna be a little more sad for Christmas but really it was not even half as bad as I expected. At one point we literally had a dance party and not one person wasn’t dancing. Yes I have videos but unfortunately I cannot upload them because this website wont let me and Its too large for Facebook. Also Christmas is mainly carried out the night before. The morning after we rested after being up until 4am.
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Pre-dinner snacks!DSCN2270
The lovely family! Gotta love turkey dinner!!DSCN2275
La pere noel was very gentil with moi this annee!

Dec. 31st
This year I spent the night at a friends house. Her host Family is probably the funniest most down to earth people in the world. Can’t even forget about the little son who just adored me. He didn’t want me to leave his house. We played card games all night which was really fun and we almost missed new years. Somebody had mention what time it was and it was literally 30 seconds to midnight! After midnight we stayed up even longer playing cards and joking the night away. Also I must say I kinda kicked ass at the game Ticket To Ride Europe. See mom, you can win when you dont kick Mike and I’s ass all the time!
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Here is a picture of one of my bestfriends Adrianna From Canada.

Also another super exciting thing that has happened in the last week is that I have changed host families. I live in the same town but now I have to walk a little farther to go anywhere but thats okay! I don’t have a photo of me and the family yet but I will soon! The family is super encouraging and is always asking about Canada. So far it’s going great here. Just have to make sure not to get lost in their house. Its quite large! I have 2 brothers and a little sister. I’ll have a photo soon I swear! Maybe aha 😛

Sadly though I am now an Oldie…. Which means the other exchange students who were here has now left and new students are coming in. All the Aussies are gone. My commonwealth friends!! I’m coming up to my half way point real soon! Also lots of those oldies who left were friends of a life time and was a rough time to say goodbye to people at the airport.
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Crazy New Years family!DSCN2418All the exchange student who came to say goodbye to everyone

Oldies I’m going to miss yous dearly and you guys have truly lead us newies in the right direction. I’m am more than proud to have met and befriended you guys. Friends and memories for life. It is truly crazy and a spectacle on its own the connection you have with some who you haven’t known for very long. I will see all of you guys again for sure don’t even worry. I wouldn’t mind going to Australia

I know I say this every time about updating more often but hey it was vacation give me a break!! Now that I’m back to the ol’ grime it should be good!

Merry Christmas
Joyeux Noël
Happy New Year
Bonne Année

See ya guys!

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103 Days In Belgium

Time flies when you’re speaking french!
I know I haven’t updated in a long long time but here will be a good update of what I’ve been up to!!

School has been going perfect with no issues. School is school. 😛 Tomorrow I will be actually taking an exam for electricity. Wish me luck! No idea how I am going to do. Electricity doesn’t like water I know that much.

Also an update about the status of the terrorism over here. Everything has cooled down a lot. For about 4-5 days or so, Brussels the capital of Belgium was on level 4 alert which meant stay off the streets and that everything is closed. I don’t live too close to Brussels but Belgium isn’t that big. All my family was worried about me of course. I woke up that morning with a phone call and text from my Mom in Canada! I was like ugh oh what happened?! I messaged her totally clueless to what happened. But thankfully I’m completely safe where I live. My little village in the middle of nowhere.

After my trip to Paris I went to a town of the name Dinant.
This town is where the inventor of the saxophone lived. Theres a bunch of saxophone statues everywhere and even his house is a mini museum. The First place I stopped in Dinant was the Citadel. It is located high on top of a valley with a beautiful view. To get to the top you either take the stairs of a gondola lift. I was going to just take the stairs but you had to pay to go to the top either way so the lift was part of the price automatically. So being the lazy exchange student I am, I took the lift.

Heres a photo of the Gondolas.DSCN1509.jpg

Here’s a photo of Brier, a Canadian who adventured with me for the day.

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Picture of me standing on the edge of the Citadel.DSCN1535

The view at the top of the CitadelDSCN1515

Closer photo of the town Dinant.DSCN1544

Inside the lift.

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Heres a photo of Adolphe Sax and I (The guy who invented the saxophone.) Us sitting on a bench just outside his house which is now a museum.DSCN1567

Three of many saxophone statues.DSCN1579

Another place I have visited was Ghent. Ghent is a beautiful little town with lots of historical buildings. We even found a castle that students got into for free. It was a museum inside and we got to walk where ever we wanted in and on the castle.IMG_0519

Looking over Ghent to see the many different cathedrals.IMG_0514

The dungeon where at one point and time people were tortured in! It was very creepy but pretty cool!IMG_0523

Lots of gothic architecture. Very awesome looking.

Also you can see the tram lines. Trams are probably more scary than cars or even bicycles. They don’t stop for anything and have a tendency to hit cars. I also found out trams can squish coins. Not as good as the freight trains in Canada though!IMG_0509IMG_0507

Thousands and thousands of bicycles everywhere!
Oh… Where did I park my bike?IMG_0527

I also have went to the Atomium. The giant atom building.DSCN1644

From the top.DSCN1649DSCN1651

Spent the day with My host sister, Charline and Kristin from New York.
And yes the escalators up were extremely steep and a little bit scary!DSCN1657

Brother Sister love!DSCN1664

With winter approaching I’m going to miss all the winter activities but just last week I went ice skating with some friends! I don’t know how they keep the ice cold but they do. Also it was hard to skate because apparently sharpening skates isn’t a thing! ahah It was a great time and will probably go again many time!

Gotta love my Canadians!DSCN1701

We even had lovely Rink side services! Bière de Noël! DSCN1703

Just yesterday I went to Germany. Just to Aachen which is just just beside Belgium. I had gone with Rotary to a market. I want to see more of Germany considering it was just a small town and we didn’t have too much time to do things. Rotary did give us permission for hot wine. Literally the name is what it is. Its boiling hot wine. I can’t figure out if I like it or not yet. Its very interesting!DSCN1761

Gotta love when Rotary gives you free ticket for hot wine! Free mug too!DSCN1774

I didn’t take as many photos as I would’ve liked to in Germany, but I know 100% I will be going there again. Germany Interests me quite a lot.

For the up coming weeks I don’t have too much planned but considering My exams start tomorrow (1 exam tomorrow and 1 on the 10th) which means I have almost a week and a half extra of Christmas break! Tomorrow I’m getting a haircut and Saturday I’m going to a birthday party. Not sure which one I’m more excited for. I have a mop on my head right now!

I know I saw this every time but I’m going to try to blog more!
So you guys may see more blogs but definitely not as long.

Belgium is great and I’m enjoying every minute of it! 🙂

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I’ll show you guys my haircut my next blog! Also for my buddies in Canada, the goatee and chinstraps are going strong! 😉

Bye for now!!

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Nate Takes Paris!

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Well Paris was freaking awesome and had alot more fun then I ever thought I would in a city full of romance and history. I dont even know where to start explaining my trip because I had so much fun and we did so much!

It obviously started with getting on the bus heading to Paris. Had to get up at 6 in the morning to finish packing. Last minute, like always. The bus ride was roughly 3-4 hours long until we got in paris. The first think we got to see was the Palace of Versailles. Was super neat and interesting. We got to walk in the garden in the back as well. Well we had to pay but it was well worth it!

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Flags in any historic place is forbidden in Paris! We tried taking a group photo of all the students and the police came and yelled at us. If you trying taking a flag to the Eiffel Tower you will get it taken away and you will not get it back.

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Also me and friends inside the Palace

The next thing we got to do was go for a boat tour. The boat tour was at night and we got to see most of the attractions around Paris.

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The next day the first thing we got to do was eat breakfast in the hotel. They had real Canadian maple syrup and pancakes! We then, all 70 of us took the subway to the Louvre museum. The largest art museum in the world with over 35,000 different art pieces. This is also where the Mona Lisa is. I have no passion for art but all I know is that there is a lot of naked ladies.

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This is the entrance to the Louvre. We had entered underground at a different entrance.DSCN1152

Underground entrance.

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Selfie with the Mona Lisa!

After the Louvre we went to the Museum D’Orsay. It was another art museum that is built out of the old train station of Paris. Very cool building but yes again I’m not to interested in. So instead a bunch of us went to the look out on the top of the Museums roof and decided to “turn up” and dance like idiots! I would post a video of it but this website doesn’t let me! Saves the embarrassment!

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This is the Museum D’Orsay. Old Train station look with modern art features.

After the museum D’Orsay we had some free time. My friends and I decided to go to the Arc de Triomphe. This is where 12 roads in paris all meet into a giant round about with no stop lights or lines on the road. Just drive and go! Pretty frightening place. 😛

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Not my photo because I do not own a helicopter but ya know heres a good example! 😉

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Here are the stairs to go up!

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And this is me at the top. Running up the stairs messed my hair up 😛

After going to the Arc de Triomphe we had dinner at a very fancy restaurant.

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For how fancy it was I don’t know why they gave us hats made out fancy cloth. We ate chicken, Mashed potatoes and salad. Then chocolate mousse for dessert where we then thought poking each other with spoons full of it would be fun. After supper we had the best part yet to come! We headed in the direction of the Eiffel Tower! We got to go up at night and it was the most beautiful thing ever. Had to take two elevators. The first one went diagonally which felt very awkward and the second just went straight up.

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Purely breathtaking in person.

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Underneath!

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Tried to get my head stuck so I could stay there!

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Paris makes me happy.

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My lovely date and I on the Eiffel Tower.

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The Eiffel Tower was everything I expected it to be and more! Was truely a dream come true. Also it was one of those moments that made me hit reality hard. Like “Holy FiretrUCK I’m in Paris on the Eiffel Tower!!!”

After the Eiffel Tower we went back to our hotel and the rotarians said we could have one drink at the bar in the hotel. So we only had one drink and got a good night sleep. Belgian beer is better but France wine is better. I only had one drink… Yes.

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Me in the Morning ready to take on more Paris! On the last day we got to see Cathédral Notre Dame de Paris. It was spectacular and its shear size is Crazy! The gothic era architecture is astonishing.DSCN1375

Cathédral Notre Dame de Paris

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After the Cathédral we took a bus to the highest land point in paris to do some shopping and adventuring!

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Also a good view of my new goofy toque! 4 euros, Love it.

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The shopping tourism area was super busy and full of those people who want to draw you for money. They follow you around saying how beautiful you are and that you need to be drawn. Unfortunately this was the last attraction point we would get to see. Our last stop was Hardrock cafe for a burger and fries. The bus ride home was super long and it was sad to leave. It literally felt like we just got there and then had to go. I will defiantly go back one day!

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Little Halloween Adventure

Here is a few photos from a Halloween party I went to!

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My costume. Yes Aunt Nancy, It’s lame. I didn’t have a costume so all I had was a suit so I improvised 😛 I was a Men in Black. Or James Bond either one worked! Yes I am holding a mind eraser so don’t question it.

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A Little Canadian love. My Men in Black partner Lewis. Firefighter Brier and Martin, Wolf of wall street, clearly holding some money that most exchange students don’t have.

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Lewis, Canadian homie. Courtney, Aussie friend dying in some way and me!

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This is the board that has a bunch of trains cancelled on it!
It had turned out a train had caught fire on one of the central rail lines right by or in Brussels area. Almost all trains eventually go to brussels or pass through or start in Brussels. Therefore cancelling all the trains. The trains that say late with like 20 mins. Well a minute was added every minute that went by. My host Father Gaspard had to drive to the town to pick me up. Its about a 70km drive one way which Isn’t too bad but still sucks. This happened yesterday night! Didn’t get home until around 12.

Also I’m super excited for my Paris trip that happens Saturday, 31st! Two sleeps! Should be freaking awesome! I will blog about that when I get back for sure! Other than that little adventure everything is going as normal and schools been pretty boring right now. But my schedule just changed so it should be good!

Blog soon! 🙂

-Nathan

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Rotary Events Are Pretty Good I’d Say

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Well I haven’t been up to too much, yes it’s exchange and yes I’m in another country but that doesn’t mean party hard and travel allllllll the time! I’ll do a little update about some more adventures I’ve have had!

Yesterday I went to Namur with a bunch of other rotary students! My day started off with waking up at 5:00am so I could catch the 6:00am bus to take the 7:30am train from Leuven to Ottignies and then transfer onto another train to make it to Namur by 8:30am-9:00am!

My bus that I took in the morning is about an hour long and i was the only person on it the whole way there! When I got to the station even Starbucks was still closed! Starbucks is crap but hey it takes pretty good when there’s no Timmies! When most the students got to Namur we all started heading towards the Parliament building. Exchange students are probably the craziest bunch you can put together in one room. We all got to sit in fancy desks with microphones that had speakers so if you made a saying everyone would hear. So of course we thought it’d be fun to turn them on and start yelling at each other. The government people got angry and did not like that. Also we got a run down about the rules of the BRESA trips. I will be going on the Prague and Paris trip. Some of the rules included “No sex of the opposite sex” So we questioned why same sex is allowed? “No hiding sex mates in hotel rooms” Like no hiding another exchange student in your room like the shower or the balcony. “No sex, if it happens SAFETY FIRST, will be sent home” So if we have sex we have to be safe but then we will be sent back to our home countries. No football or basketball games to be played in the rooms. No climbing balconies to other balconies for sex mates. No romance but you are allowed to have multiple boyfriends/girlfriends a day. Yes he said that. They also stated that we have to bring our own underwears because rotary does not supply them. And to also not play with the blowers (Fire extinguishers) because one time a kid started one and it would stop so he got it all over his room, down the hallway, in the elevator, in the lobby, in a different elevator and then down stairs. Also we are not allowed to drive the bus. We are only allowed to ask to take a picture in the seat to look like we are driving!

The guy who made the presentation spoke very little english so he at least had an excuse!

After all the rules and stuff we got to go for a boat ride down the river in Namur.

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All the exchange students danced and sang our hearts out. Made a boring freaking boat ride awesome! We also got to go in a cute little lock. Unlike the ones in Canada! Was still neat for sure!

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Also I am starting to get really excited for my trip to Paris! The trip starts in 13 days! October 31st! I will make sure to bring my memory card!

Ps, School and friends are still do great and I have no big worries! Only things I miss is Dirtbike and friends 😛

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Update!

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I havnt posted in a while yes I know but I’ve been busy!
Sorry family and friends 😛

So here are a few pictures of my past adventures! The first real exchange student adventure I’ve had to deal with was missing my bus! Yes i know it sounds simple but its not at all!

The day started off with me going to Namur for a little exploring around the city with my Australian friend Courtney. We had a great day just walking around the town and riding a golden turtle statue. I think you’re not supposed to but the only thing the fence was stopping was a mouse! We’re exchange students and have to have fun! 🙂 When it was time to catch my bus I had went to the wrong platform and saw my bus drive by! No big deal take the next bus? Nope… It was the last bus. But luckily Europe has a extremely complicated but yet simple at the same time metro system. So instead of taking my hour long bus home I had to take 2 trains and a different hour long bus home. This happened on the same day that I had a Rotary meeting too! I had to awkwardly text them saying I was going to be late! So when I missed my bus I figured out that my train I had to take was in 10 minutes. I didn’t even have a ticket! Some how Courtney managed to help me out to buy a ticket and just make the train! Before that day I had never transferred trains before. I had to learn pretty quickly. Also I had sat in first class and got kicked out. Kind of embarrassing! Luckily enough I still made it to my Rotary meeting but an hour late! All they did was laugh at me so it was all good!

Another good adventure I went on was going to a brewery. This trip to a brewery was with Rotary! Beer from a brewery is wayyyyyy different than beer from other places. The brewery does not put a heap load of sugar in their beer. In commercial beer there is a lot of sugar so people like the taste and drink more. The beer straight from the brewery is more acidic and strong. Almost like wine! But was still very good! I got to try a cherry beer and a blonde beer. Very delicious.

School is still going very well. I have lots of friends and I am starting to understand french more. I can’t say my speaking has improved that much but I can say I’m not afraid to speak it even if i know I’m wrong. Still going to try at least!

Tomorrow I am going to Bruxelles to see the grand place and to explore! I’ve been there before a couple times but the first time it was pouring rain and the other we weren’t there to fully visit. So I will take lots of photos tomorrow. The sun will be shining. Which is rare for Belgium!

Tomorrow a high of 19 degrees celsius and Sunny!
Will post soon possibly! 😛

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Blengy Mine

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Last Wednesday I got to go to a coal mine with Rotary. It was extremely interesting to see the differences of safety in the mines here compared to back in Canada. Ive been 5500 feet underground in Sudbury and I felt completely safe. Well at least it looks safe! In Sudbury the wall are either sprayed with some type of material that forms almost like a concrete or the wall of the tunnel will be meshed. Well in this mine, we only went 100-120 feet below the surface. I will admit i was scared. The picture above is the actual mine held up by those metal pillars and wood. Behind the supports is loose rock and no mesh. The big pipe on the right is for compressed air. You will be walking beside it and hear air leaking here and there. Not too bad yet..

So it started off with going to the mine in a train for the roads. That was fun! Also kind of scary because its half the width of a car and has zero suspension! But fun!
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Once we got there we went to watch a video. Thinking it was going to be a safety video or something we just waited and watched. Well the video was about the history of the mine and the workers. At one point it showed the whistle blowing for everyone to get to the cage to go underground and the narrator said. “oh, thats the signal for the miner to go underground. One last cigarette, a quid of tobacco (chewing tobacco) and they’re ready to go.” and as he said that it obviously showed the miners smoking and putting in chewing tobacco!

Anyways our tour guide spoke full english. That was awesome. He was an older guy, one of those guys that says a joke but doesn’t laugh so you don’t know if it was a joke or not. We took the shaft down, it was a quick ride but that as well was also sketchy!

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Here is the elevator, 2-3 people wide, and 6-7 people deep, but of course you just have to squish as many as you can into it. It has 2 levels. In this picture you can see people locked up on top and people walking into the bottom. Also how if you look beside the person in the yellow hat, just below his shoulder there is a tube. That tube is to communicate with the shaft operator and that tube goes all the way down the shaft as well. Did i mention this mine was old? But going up our guide just decided it would be easier to yell up the hole to the operator, which worked!

Also during our tour he was warning us about how the deeper you go the more methane and gas problems you can get with bad ventilation. He was going on and on about how if there was a spark when there was gas everything could blow up and kill everybody. Again he’s being serious and straight faced. So everyone was in a tense mood because we just all went down this sketchy elevator to a sketchy mine and now he’s talking about gases that could either knock us out or blow us up! So what does he do? Pull out a lighter and light it, then watch all of us jump in the shock he just did that, then he laughed.  Also he showed us how a pneumatic hammer works. Without ear protection for us or himself he just told us to plug our ears. He actually started using it on the ground beside him. Which was pretty crazy. Then we went to a lower level that had a small drill and a large drill side by side, told us to plug our ears again or it may hurt. started them and drilled into the wall! Yes it was effing loud and hit your chest hard with how loud it was.

Also at one point our guide handed a girl a stick of dynamite very quickly and the girl being startled it dropped out of her hands. The tour guide stared because he doesn’t laugh and said, “well its a good thing you need a blasting cap to set that off” So of course he pulls out a blasting cap and puts it in the dynamite, then gets a charge detonator that crates the blasting cap to go off and got someone to turn it. This trick was highly staged but she turned it and there was a boom from underneath us, but still we didn’t know what to think about our tour guide. But he made the tour that much better!

Im sure all in all that mine was pretty safe but I can almost guarantee that in Canada that tour would not meet standards. Like there was a part that I could’ve went down a 100 foot deposit of mined coal. like it was blocked off by like a string but thats all!

Also the only picture that is mine is the one of the train. This is the first event I remembered my camera. Being a mine and all with something I could relate to I got super excited and definitely brought my camera… Well I took 9 freaking pictures and my memory went full. Why? because I forgot my SD card. There was so much cool stuff to take pictures of and I couldn’t’! GRRRRRRR

All in all I’m loving my time here making friends is going awesome! School is also going awesome. I got a 10/15 on my first technical drawing after… Nobody explained to me what to do because everyone learned it the year before. But on my second technical drawing I got 15/15. Technical drawing is taking a 3D shape and putting the flat sides and dimension on paper like a blue print. Also I was in french class and the teacher gave every body a piece of paper but me so I was like ummm, moi aussi? and not knowing it was a test she gave me one too. Well i got 8.5/10, 85%! So that felt good!
A side note about school. During school time on Friday the machining teacher let my friend and I leave the school to go to the hardware store next door so that I could buy steel toe boots! Like it was 9:10am and he just let us leave school in our blue coveralls to buy some boots! Not complaining! 😛

Blog again soon! 🙂

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