My time left in Canada is only comprised of a handful of hours now. After 223 days of planning, I will board a plane for a year in Belgium. I’ve been able to avoid thinking the immediate nature of it up until today. Now my stomach is turning as I think about what to do with my last hours. Continue reading
Posts Tagged With: Belgium
I’ve been putting a lot of time into reading lately and one of the books I’ve picked up has been earth shattering for me. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman has been inspiring and comforting, and I’m only on chapter four. Why is it so impressive?
This is the first book I’ve found that admits to the hardships of traveling that I experienced on my trip to Europe. Most travel writers talk of success and boldness while minimizing the idea of stress and complete dependence on the understanding of strangers. The author of this book talks about being terrified of her situation, about being overwhelmed and full of doubt. Admitting to her humanity and the doubts in her heart makes her a bold and refreshing voice. Continue reading
My long distance relationship has a way of changing my thought process.
These days I have trouble deciding to go to sleep. It’s 1 a.m. for me and 6 a.m. for him. Our webcams are on. I’m comforted by the way he turns and sighs in his sleep, as if the distance had fallen away and I could roll over to find him there next to me. If I could only stay up a couple more hours, I would be awake when he gets up. But 4 a.m. is so very late and there is always something to do tomorrow. Instead I will turn my speakers up and wake whenever he makes a noise. Each time I look, the screen will be lighter, parts of the room appearing slowly in the faint sunlight. The shadows will fall back little by little, casting the light of day into my night covered world. I will hear him when he rustles his way out of bed. It will still be dark in the small hours before daylight and I will stumble to the computer to say goedemorgen as he apologizes for waking me, as if it hadn’t been my plan from the start. I will stumble back into bed as he goes for breakfast. I will sleep while he goes to class. If I sleep too late his classes will be nearly finished. By noon he will be home. He will eat his supper while I eat a late lunch. His day will end before it’s dark in my world. I will stay up for hours while he sleeps, accomplishing the things I never seem to get done while he’s awake. I will make a hard decision to sleep again.
Every morning your world shines into mine, the same way you bring light into my life.
I was talking to a friend today, who confirmed something I knew but didn’t want to admit. I have a travel blog where I go to Belgium, talked about grocery shopping and then don’t post again until the trip was basically over. For those of you just joining me here, that was three whole fucking months.
I feel justified in saying that I stopped blogging so that I could better enjoy my trip. I was overwhelmed in a land where I didn’t know the language. Ask my boyfriend, I spent a fair portion of my trip in tears because I didn’t know how to order my own food or ask the cashier a question in Dutch. (I could have asked in English, but I felt SUPER guilty about being THAT foreigner.) In retrospect I should have spent time writing, but I didn’t know how to balance moderately wildly exploring the big bad world with settling down to write. But I tell you what, here’s where I make it up to you.
Starting from where I left off, we’re going to talk about my trip! First stop: ANTWERP!
I should absolutely be sleeping, but no matter what time of night it is or how tired I am; late night is when I’m most productive.
Last week I wrote a post about why not learning Dutch was the one regret I had during my summer away. It only seems right that I talk a bit more about the steps I’m taking to right that wrong.
I was in Europe for 90 days. Before I left home, I knew that the mother language of my home base in Belgium was Dutch, specifically the Flemish dialect. I poured over books, websites and Rosetta Stone with great ambition, sure that I would know enough Flemish to get by for a summer in Belgium. This lasted a few weeks. Native Belgians and friends who had traveled the area told me that almost everyone could speak English. I stopped studying, comfortable in the fact that I would be just fine and learn as I went.
I’ve been in Belgium now for just under a week. Some days have been spent at home watching tv in bed and others have been spend adventuring. I’ve been trying to acclimate myself little by little, so this is a perfect pace for me.
First things first. It turns out that I’ve been living under a bit of a rock. I’ve never needed more knowledge than I already possessed to get by in Canada. I felt cultured for having lived in more than one province and knowing bits and pieces about other cultures around the world. I never took learning a second language seriously because unless I was moving to Quebec there wasn’t really a need for it. These are all great examples of things that didn’t help me at all once I left the country. Maybe that’s why the first few days hit me so hard.
Every once in a while a movie or a book will show up in my life about a town that gets trapped inside a giant dome. Seems a little farfetched. Well it turns out there are places that actually do exist under a dome. I’m pretty sure it was built, not just dropped from the sky, but they do exist. Also turns out that I get to spend five days in one of these domes. Friends, welcome to Center Parcs.
I took the time today to repack and make a list of all the things I’ve got shoved (delicately) into my suitcase. The only things not listed are the items in my carry-on, the clothes I’ll be wearing on the plane and the gifts that are a giant secret surprise. These things could all fit into a shoebox, so they’re not a big use of space.
Last week I announced officially that I would be going to Belgium for three months. For those of you who are just joining me on the blog, welcome! As you can see, I’ve been planning this for quite a while.
As exciting as it was to know I was going to be traveling the world, it was very important to me that I keep it a secret. I don’t come from a wealth of money and I was afraid that if my employer found out ahead of time, I would lose the hours I was getting. The last thing I needed was to announce I was going only to find out in the end that I couldn’t afford it.