Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The End of a Great Semester

I'm just writing this blog to reflect on my first semester abroad, seeing as it's about to end ( 3 more days!) This semester has gone by so quickly. I can't believe that I have lived in another country for four months already. It seems like a month or two at most. I have seen 6 countries and about 19 0r 20 cities since I have come, and I have not even done half of what I plan to do while over here. It is amazing to think that I have done this, because I was so nervous to come here all spring and summer; actually, I was a total wreck about it. I think that packing up and moving to another country for a year is daunting to anyone, and usually I'm pretty adventurous, but when it came to this, I had no clue what to expect, naturally. After four months, I am happy that I came, and feel that this is the best decision that I have ever made. Of course there are times when I am completely homesick for Pittsburgh and all I want to do is spend time with my family, but in the grand scheme of things, 10 months is not that long, and this year is worth every minute of homesickness that I experience.

Culturally, Belgium is quite different, and is not what I expected, but I think that I am used to how it feels to be an American here. Sometimes I'll go out and somebody will ask me where I'm from, and when I say America, I usually get negative answers, which upsets me, but I always brush it off. If anything, it makes me more proud to be from the U.S. However, I have also gained a different perspective on the negative aspects of my country. I realize that it is super competitive and that everybody is obsessed with body image, etc, but I guess that i am used to these things. It probably will be wierd to go back to the suburbs and see all the crazy Oxford Athletic Club desperate housewives, but I've learned that any experience is knowledge gained. If one thing has struck me while I have been here, it is the fact that Americans don't live simply, and that capitalism, as great as it is, can run out of control sometimes. People over here live with what they need. They don't live in excess. That is the one flaw of my country, but overall, America's got a lot going for it...especially optimistic, outgoing, friendly people. Belgians are introverts and certainly seem glum most of the time, but on the other hand, if you make an attempt to get to know them, some will accept you with open arms. I have made a few friends in my English class and also in the house.

It will be sad to see some kids go from this house that I had a lot of fun with. However, some are staying for the year, especially those I am closest to, which is great. I have already become very close to some people in the house from Loyola and abroad, and I don't want this year to end, as much as I know I will miss home at certain times. I just can;t see myself back at Loyola after this year, but I think that will jsut be another challenge for me to overcome. In the meantime, I look forward to next semester ( 6 months!) and all of the new adventures that it holds. I can only imagine the laughs and good times that will take place, seeing as there has already been so many. I'm sick now, so I should probably try to get better before my 9 hour flight home on sat.

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