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January 3, 2013

Local Voices from Around the Globe: I've got a lot of catching up to do

(Continued)

One sure fact about Belgians is that they love to celebrate. They find almost any opportunity they can to throw a huge party with tons of food, chocolate, music and laughs. For Thanksgiving I decided to cook a huge dinner for all three of my host families. I was a bit intimidated because I’d never taken on such a large task before, but I was eager to try it out. Luckily, everything turned out delicious.

I cooked a turkey, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cranberry sauce, applesauce, zucchini and a whole lot of pumpkin and apple pies. Everyone had a great time and it was great seeing all of my family together.

We’ve also recently celebrated my host father’s 50th birthday with a huge party (around 50 or 60 people), which was crazy but so much fun. We’ll be doing the same thing again on Dec. 29 with the family. I spent all Christmas Eve day with my second host family to help cook and prepare for the party later that night. We started eating around 8 and the final course didn’t make an appearance until 2 a.m. For fun, everyone at the dinner decided to dress up. The characters included a Christmas tree (me), a fairy, a reindeer, a pirate, Santa Claus, a Viking, a hippie, a gangster and more. When the clock struck midnight it was a huge round of bisous (kisses), hugs, confetti and dancing. I spent actual Christmas with my first host family at my host grandmother’s home with all of the extended family. There we ate cougnolle (a typical Christmas bread with chocolate, sugar, or raisins). It was so much fun celebrating Christmas with two families, quite the experience! Everyone was so friendly, welcoming, and entertaining I didn’t have time to get homesick.

Since my last update I’ve done quite a bit of traveling. At the end of October I took a three-day trip to Paris with the Rotary. We visited the Château de Versailles, Musée d’Orsay, Musée du Louvre, Sacre Cœur, Notre Dame, and l’Arc de Triomphe. We also took an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower (the stairs weren’t open at the time) and a nighttime boat tour on La Seine. It was unbelievably breathtaking and am already planning my trip back (Paris is less than an hour and a half away from me).

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