November rolled by faster than the trains do here in Belgium. It has been a fun month, and I had the opportunity to travel plenty. One thing that has got to me recently is the cold. It is bitingly ruthless and has no pity on a boy from Los Angeles. Biking to school has become quite the effort for me, as my hands seem to be nearly frozen by the time I arrive. The Belgians do not seem to mind this weather. My Belgian friends often make jokes where they open windows during class, however, I do not find these very funny. My down jackets can only withstand so many of this “humour.”
My French has continued to improve and I have nearly entirely stopped speaking English with my family. The exceptions being obscure vocabulary such as watermelon or trampoline. Constant compliments from strangers and my friends continue to give me the motivation to reach fluency. I recently embarked on a mission to learn every important verb in the French language. Each day Marie, my host sister, and I will learn around thirty verbs for each letter of the alphabet. We started at A and are currently on D. I’m getting to the point in my french where very few people try to switch to English during conversation. Not that I allow people who try switch to English, but less are trying now. Stubbornness is a great characteristic when learning a language.
On the traveling side of my adventure, things have also been good. This month I had the opportunity to visit my lovely biological sister, Sadie, and my good high school friend, Jared, in Paris. I wandered “the city of lights” for just five days, but made it feel like a month. Every day I would wake up, go to a cafe for a shot of espresso, then see as many attractions as possible. I feel I traveled extremely well being that Jared told me as I left, “You’ve seen more of Paris in five days than me and my roommates have all year.”
On another note, I was recently the subject of a very cruel prank by my family. My host mother gave me a letter one calm evening at dinner and said it arrived in the mail that morning. The letter, from AFS, stated I have to move to northern Belgium, live with a new family, and will be learning Dutch. Additionally, the letter stated that I will be living on a farm isolated from any town, city, or train station. In disbelief, sadness and anger, I immediately called my AFS local representative to ask if it was real. He told me that the letter was not a joke and that he’d dropped it off that morning. Nearing the verge of tears, I took a closer look at the pictures. In that moment I put together the mastermind of a prank that my family had just played on me. My host family had typed out a very official letter, printed out multiple pictures of redneck families, and even called my local AFS representative. Upon realization, I was immediately surrounded by hugs, apologies, laughter, and loving remarks by my host family. Being quite the prankster myself, I had no right to be mad. In a twisted way, the letter was sweet. The fact that my family had the audacity to do such a cruel prank, shows me how apart of the family I have become. As they say in French, “Qui s’aime, se taquin.”
- My sister, Sadie, and I overlooking Paris France at the Sacré-Cœur.
- A picture of Paris I took just after visiting the Cathéderal Notre Dame.
- My friend Jared and I in front of the famous Mona Lisa at the Musée du Louvre.
- Sadie and I, during her visit to Belgium, just before making Thanksgiving dinner for my host family.
- My friends Thomas, Colton and I at a gorgeous Belgian town named Dinant. We had just finished touring a castle.
- A letter and pictures given to me by my family as a prank.
Note: Hunter is on a year program from our Greater Los Angeles (GLA) Area Team (AT) to Belgium, 2018-2019. He is the recipient of an AFS-USA scholarship, the Helen Peggie Miller $5,000 merit- and needs-based scholarship. And,he is also the recipient of a GLA local merit-based scholarship.