Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bisous Mistake

     My second host dad or mom usually trops me off at school in the morning around 8 o'clock. I am more of a morning person, so I do not have any problems getting ready for the day and being attentative. This morning was the contrary to my normal school ritual. The night before hand, my host family ate at 10:00 p.m., preventing me from sleeping. I lazily climbed the school stairs to the area were I meet my Belgian friends. Pauline and I were talking to one another when I saw someone in my previsial vision say, "bonjour Kate." Automatically I turned, said hello, and posed for a bisous. This would have been an acceptable reaction if it was actually my friend greeting me. Instead, I gave a bisous on the cheek of the principle of St. Rock. Stunned with shock, my hands went to my gapping mouth and my face turned red. An appology stumbled out of my mouth as I wore a horror struck face. The principle kept cool and said she did not mind and that, in fact, she enjoys students who give her bisous. I still felt stunned as she walked away to perform her duties. Only my friend Pauline, Michelle, and I saw the incident and hopefully my other classmates will not find out about my little mistake because they might be surprised since it's not everyday that a person bisous their principle!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Surprising Message

     Everyday I have made it a ritual to check my e-mails to see if my Rotarians, family, or friends message me. Today, I received a most shocking e-mail concerning the "Carré"- a sub-district in Liège. The english translation of the "Carré" is "the square." Its nickname originated from the maze of alleys formed together in a square neighborhood. The Carré consists of cafes, restaurants, theaters, and bars open 24 hours for 365 days in a year. Its roots go back to 1468 and is known as one of the oldest districts in Liège.
     My Rotary leader announced that the rule prohibiting foreign exchange students from the bars was terminated; not because of its interesting history, but for a more prudent matter. In my opinion, the rule was most likely set in place to protect the young exchange students from danger, yet every single Rotarian exchange student has entered the Carré at least once. Before, if anyone was caught in this area without their parents, then he or she would be sent home. The ironic part about the situation is that everyone ignored the rule and now the rule is gone. Even though he legal drinking age in Belgium is 18 the Rotarians still try to discourage the use of alcohol. The Rotary leaders are not encouraging people to go into the Carré since the purpose of the Rotary foreign exchange is to integrate into the family, school, club, and social environment of the community. In my point of view, the Rotary leaders showed their "goodwill" in order to avoid to expose their failure to contain the revolting attitude of the exchange students in regards to this one rule. This e-mail has not changed my life in any way because I am not the type of person to drink alcohol. On the other hand, many of my fellow exchange students have profited a lot from the surprising message.

A Mouse!

     Many countries in the world cycle the four seasons which change between hot and cold provoking animals to either seek shelter or to run wild outside. During this Belgian winter season it has been mildly cold, but bitter nevertheless. The other day while re-arranging my clothes, I noticed something moving in my peripheral vision. Curious, I moved toward the source of movement and jumped back in horror: a mouse wandered into my room. The mouse disappeared from my sight as it crawled underneath my bed and I ran down the stairs to alert every inhabitant in the house of my discovery. It is never good news to learn that rodents are roaming around in your house. My host dad searched my room for the wild animals, but it was already too late; the mouse was long gone. The only proof of the roadent's existence was imprinted on my shirts that had holes chewed through them. I suppose the mouse did not mean any harm; perhaps it decided my warm and cosy room was an exception to the cold exterior where winter was still lingering on. The only easy solution to suppress the multiplication of mice in a house is to set mouce traps. In my opinion, these contraptions are cruel and inhumaine, yet it is humanity's way of leisurely ridding themselves of  their animal counterparts. Even though it's not the mices' intention of causing harm, my clothes and my nerves still rest victim to their abuse. Like the rest of humanity, my host dad and I set the barbarous inventions of mice traps around the house. None of the utensils of murder have caught its prey yet, on the other hand, only time can tell.

Voyage in London: February 12th, 2012

     Every morning since I came to London, all the girls (including me) got up around 8 o'clock in the morning. My female classmates usually took a while to get ready for the day, where as the boys would wake up 15 minutes beforehand and be ready and out the door on time. We checked out of our hostel and left our luggage behind to allow us to travel around London for one last day. For breakfast, during the other mornings, we went to a grocery store nearby, however, the store would not open until later that Sunday. I translated the sign from englsih to french for the Belgians and the teachers decided to contiue our journey without breakfast.
     We went through the metro system and ended up at Buckingham Palace. By chance we came in time to watch the guards change. A calvary of men road in front of the palace and proceeded to perform a traditional ritual. A chinese woman standing next to me asked if I could take her photo. From that moment on we struck up a conversation about her work with master card and her country. I explained to her my position as an exchange student from Belgium traveling on a voyage with my Belgian class in London. When I turned to present my Belgian classmates to her, they were no were to be seen. Off in the distance, my group was walking away without me - again. I said a quick farewell and ran in the direction of my classmates.
    My group made their way toward the British museum. All the girls were driven to Starbuck: they could not stop thinking about their hunger caused by their breakfastless morning. The boys, teachers, and I were left to explore the museum. The group of boys and I rushed through the exhibits as our hour of free time passed quickly.
     Even though the girls ate and were full, we all went to Burger King for those of us who did not have the chance to eat that morning. It was satisfing to take a chunk out of a traditional American hamburger. The size of the hamburger must have been the same capacity of my two fists placed together.
     We finished our hamburgers then searched for an Abercrombie and Finch clothing store. No one knew the area so I asked a random pedestrian for directions. It turned out he was a traffic controller and he told me the layout of the whole of London. We had a long conversation in english until a toy store came into our view. The Belgians wanted to check it out, so I said goodbye to my fellow Englishman and entered the complex. This toy store must have had at least six levels of stuffed animals, action figures, games, and the sort. The workers had cheerful smiles and warm welcomes for all the customers passing by.
     After wandering around in this extravagant toy store we went to the Ambercombie store. I adjusted to the dark enviromnent and I couldn't believe my eye as I looked around. Half naked men were standing about talking, dancing, and taking pictures with customers. It was a dream come true for the Belgians. Our group took free pictures with the muscular guys for a souvenir. The Belgians did not want to leave, but we had to return to the hostel to collect our baggage.
     We were running late on schedule and everyone ran through the metro system to the main train station. Due to our rushing, we got in line for customs on time. I remembered that I needed to buy my host parents a gift and I proceeded to ask the teachers if I could buy some key chains in the store in front of us. Unexpectedly, all the students and teachers yelled, "No!" My simple question was not provocative in any way to the cause of their outburst......I asked a second time and explained my situation, nevertheless, the teachers refused. Anger, frustration, and gloominess overcame me and I turned my back on the group. I was full of so many emotions from their unjust bitterness toward me that I could not even look at them without breaking down. As I was calming myself down, the Belgians yelled my name to gain my attention. They wanted me to go to the front of the line because they believed it would take longer for me to get through customs (Europeans can travel between their countries with fewer precautions than non-Europeans like me). They made me feel embarrassed and I walked to the front in shame. I still helped them get through customs since the guards spoke english and the signs were not in french. Once on the train, I mended my relationship with the teachers as we talked for the duration of the train trip.
      When I got into my first host parents car I could breath easily. I felt relieved to go home with my family because I never feel unwanted, hated, or belittled. That night I slept soundly knowing that I was not a foreigner in my home, even if I was a foreigner in Belgium, England, or in any country.
     The finally of the London trip lead to Buckingham palace, burger king, and the british museum. It was also my first time seeing real half naked guys in an Abercombie store (instead of manicans). My group was able to experience the British culture and people as we roamed the streets and made new acquaintances. I was disappointed that I had to leave the english speaking country, on the other hand, I was overjoyed to rejoin my first host family. At times the journey was difficult when my Belgian classmates bullied me. It does not go without saying that this trip was an amazing experience and I would not exchange it for anything.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Voyage in London: February 11th, 2012

     Day two of the London trip lead to another museum. This time, when we took the metro, I got stuck in between the door. It was not comfortable and I was worried the metro train would pull away with my arm still caught in it. Humanity is smart because they thought about precautions against people loosing body parts and the doors opened to release me. 
     The museum was interesting and had many trivial games and scientific trinkets. I learned an average brain weights around three pounds and skin weights around twice as much. I finished my brain trivia for the day and met up with the group outside the building to go and find lunch. Two girls in our group got lost in the museum and we waited at least a half an hour before they emerged; for someone to get lost in a small museum is hard to imagine.
     It was already around lunch time and the group of students and I headed in the direction of the food venders. All the chinese booths were giving out free samples and we profited for the time being. My class mate behind me asked the woman for a free sample as well and then she said, "no, I do not give free samples to everyone." The food vender had the freedom to give her food to whomever she wanted, on the other hand, her hostility seemed like an act of racism. My classmate brushed off the women's comment and bought her food at the booth next door. 
     The teachers turned us loose in the streets to do as we wished for the limited time they allowed us. Before I could walk off, the teachers turned to me and told me I had to stay with the group of girls (in my opinion they did not want to loose me a second time). It was not interesting being stuck in their group again, so I went off on my own. I talked to many people at the booths and met many strangers from all over the world. I found a store that gave out free samples of space food. The strawberries did not taste as wonderful as I expected since it was frozen in dry ice to preserve it for when the spacemen fly into space. 
     When we regrouped we went to a luxurious store called Harrod's. Anything and everything imaginable was in this store. The building was divided into various sections including shops selling chocolate, perfume, clothing, grocery food, hair products, make-up, shoes, and more. While in the chocolate section I ate a free sample of champagne chocolate and almost died of pleasure. Even though everything was three times out of my price range, the quality of the products were superb.
     We continued to shop and walk around. An H&M store came into our vision and we rushed inside. While we were checking out some jeans, a women fell down and started having an epileptic seizure in front of us. At first no one reacted and stared blankly at the women then some pedestrians and H&M cashiers came to her aid. I wanted to help as well because I was trained for these types of situations from the time when I studied to be a nurse assistant. My classmates and the grown-ups told me to get out of the way and stand aside. No one knew what they were doing and I was the only qualified person to deal with the issue. I felt ashamed that I backed down instead of doing the right thing. The instant everyone denied me I realized that they judged I was incapable due to either my age or position as an american foreigner (my Belgian classmates do not hold me in high esteem since I am not Belgian and don't speak fluent french). A shopper called the ambulance and the professionals took over. I felt disappointed in my behavior and I promised myself not succumb to the prejudices of others the next time.
     Back on the street, one of my classmates was walking near me when she suddenly turned to me and made a comment. I did not hear the first time and did not understand when she repeated herself. My classmate told me I sucked at french and that I was stupid since I did not know what she said. Her hostility did not surprise me because many Belgians behave aggressively toward me since the day I came to Belgium. In reply to her nasty commentary, I talked to her in really fast english. She did not understand, so she continued to talk about how incapable I was. Like any normal person I walked away before the argument esculated.
     The teachers told us to meet by the entrance to the metro after the shopping period was done. The group of girls and I did what we were told and stood by the entrance. We soon discovered that the entrance to the metro was not the only one on the 4 way street. Three other entrances stood at each corner in this huge intersection. Not knowing which one was the correct one, we stood together vigilantly. The teachers eventually rounded everyone up and then we headed for china town.
     In almost every country a foreigner can find decent chinese food: England was no exception. We came through the gateway into the small area of china town and looked at the various strange foods and merchandise. For example, in one window of a chinese restaurant, a display of grotesque chicken hung. I would have been convinced that I was in China if it was not for the british english everyone was speaking. Even the chinese people did not speak chinese. It was extremely late, yet my group wanted to eat since they did not buy supper beforehand. I followed the group into a random restaurant and ate at the buffet. My favorite aspect about chinese food venders is that a person can eat loads of food at the buffet and it wont count against you when you pay.
     We finished our chinese buffet pig out then returned to the hostel. The Belgians bought beer and wine and started to drink when they got into their room. I did not want to participate; instead I went to bed. I have never been drunk before and I sure was not going to start a drinking habit in London.
     My second day in London was spent on going to more museums, witnessing a woman having a seizure, and eating at china town during a festive night. The only time I did not have fun was when I was stuck with the group of girls. They were not nice to me, but I made the best of the situation. Being in a country that spoke my language was great.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Voyage in London: February 10th, 2012

     I consider any morning that starts at 4:25 a.m. as an extremely early day. My second host mom, Règine, woke up at this time with me because she had to drive me to the Verviers train station: all the social and communication students and teachers who were heading to London for the weekend. The rendez-vous time was at 5:36 a.m., however, my host mom dropped me off at 5 a.m. to avoid any possibility of arriving late. My train passed through Liège and stopped at Bruxelles. My classmates and I went through customs, then boarded the train. I felt nervous while security was checked my passport and information; I did not want to cause any problems. Since I am was not from Europe, I had to fill out forms and answer certain questions that my other classmates were not required to perform. Overall, I came out without any issues: I still  felt on edge afterwards. The train passed under the channel between the North Sea and Celtic Sea. During this time frame, I tried to perceive any form outside my window in vain; the tunnel was pitch back and mysterious.
     Within a few hours, our group disbanded the train and regrouped in the central station. Time was trickling by as a few of my classmates waited in line to exchange their euros to livre sterlings. We managed to waste more time while the teachers searched for subway tickets for everyone for the duration of our stay in England. Eventually, my group asked me for help since I was obviously the only fluent english speaker. When all the necessary tasks were completed, we resurfaced from the underground station. My eyes widened as I turned in a 360° circle and looked about me. The Piccadilly Circus fountain stood in front of me with various flashy signs surrounding us. It took a few minutes for the setting to register in our minds as we gaped in awe at the London structures. The teachers caught our attention and lead us to our hostel where we were going to sleep in until the next Sunday.
     Our first destination in Londen, after settling our baggage in the hostel, was in St. James Park. Various birds and squirrels surrounded us and shifted with our group as we strolled along. The Belgians were fascinated by these creatures and took pleasure in their company. Apparently, not many squirrels are as overpopulated in Belgium as they were in this park. The wild animals were extremely domesticated and would eat from people's hands if given the chance. I was eating my sandwich when a squirrel decided to climb up my pant leg to retrieve my lunch. I shrieked and threw bits of my sandwich in the opposite direction to distract the creatures. It was my fault because I provoked them with my sandwich. When I habituated myself to their friendliness, I held a piece of bread in the air and waited, stock still. One of the million birds flying above swooped down and snatched the crumb of bread from my outstretched hand.
     The road lead us to Big Ben - the largest four-faced clock in the world. This magnificent clock has been standing near the Palace of Westminster for over 150 years since its completion in 1858. Everyone took photos as we passed over the Westminster Bride overlooking Big Ben, the London eye (a ferris wheel near the Thames River), and other structures.
     Some of my classmates were hungry, so they ran into a nearby shopping center with a McDonald's. Instead of standing around twirling my thumbs like my other classmates, I entered and looked around at the objects in the shop across from the fast food restaurant. When I exited the building it came to my realization that everyone in my group had disappeared. 5 minutes passed, 10 minutes, then 20 minutes without any sign of my group... Fear gripped me and my stomach churned. My heart beat faster as I continued to pace back and forth in front of the entrance to the building. The thought crossed my mind that within a certain period of time I would have to independently rediscover the hostel, which I did not know the name or location of. To my greatest relief, the two teachers reappeared. They asked me if I was upset and I was so chocked up with emotions that at my first attempt I could not reply. In the course of time I told them I was upset, but unscathed. In reality I wanted to tell them that they were irresponsible guides because they did not pay attention to all the students. A group of girls in my group kept wandering ahead of the group and so the teachers would follow, stop when they stopped, and let them take control of the pace (it was unfair for everyone else who wanted to enjoy the scenes and shops more). The teachers were not the leaders due to their submission of control to the group of teenage girls. The teachers gave out their phone numbers after the incident to try to avoid repeating their mistake - they learned a lesson. We rejoined the group and moved toward the museum. The girls in my group cracked jokes about me being abandoned and made offensive comments that suggested it was my fault for getting lost.
     While we were strolling along we came across a free museum. I enjoyed looking at the abstract drawings, disfigured sculptures, and the surrealism paintings. We must have been in the building for hours because my legs were ready to fall off. The teachers wanted to go shopping, so we went down to the metro station nearby to travel to a mall. Almost all the metros in London are underground and our group walked up and down the stairs and escalators throughout the day. During of the moments when I was walking down the starts, I missed a step and almost went tumbling down. To avoid colliding my face with the floor, I used the momentum of my fall to run down the rest of the stairs - it was a close call! As we walked through the entryway the metro was pulling away. When the next one came the teachers told us not to get on because it was over packed. More time passed as two other over packed metro trains came and went. At the fourth train we all decided to nudge our way into the train because it was obvious none of the trains would be less void. The teachers allowed the students to wander among the streets independently in groups; in other words, I was free to be stuck with the group of girls. Even though I was being dragged around I was able to listen to a pack of street musicians who were entertaining. In fact, near almost every famous building or monument, one could find musicians blasting their music in the London streets.
     Around nine o'clock the group came to the McDonald's to eat supper. The time changed when I crossed the english border, so in Beligum, it was already ten o'clock. I was starving, but I had to wait fifteen minutes behind the enormous line before I got to the register. When the cashier handed me my order, I sat down to eat my meal. Before I took a bite I noticed my order was wrong, so I walked back in line to avoid any protests. When it was my turn I tried to explain the situation to the cashier, nevertheless, she was averse to fixing the problem. Sometimes situations like this one happens and it's better to just walk away with what you got instead of causing more issues - hunger was also a motivator.
     That night, after eating and returning to the hostel, I decided to take a shower. Within a decent amount of time I finished and reached for my towel. As I tried to put it on myself I looked down and saw that the towel was not long enough to wrap around me; I grabbed the wrong towel from home. As quick as I could, I picked up my bag of clothes and ran to the stall. If it was not for the confined space in the shower I would have changed there. By chance no other person was in the bathroom to see my naked self running around. Tired from the long journey, I climbed to the top of the bunk bed and fell asleep as the other seven students talked the night away.
     My first day in London was well spent on visiting various well-known buildings and places like Big Ben and the Westminster Palace, free museums, and the sort. It was hard to believe that it was only that morning when I was sleeping in my bed in Belgium and, at the moment, went to slept in a bed in London. The only real issue I faced was the shower situation with the miniscule towel. I had to keep in mind that this was only the beginning of an adventerous weekend.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When My Host Dad Speaks English

     Thinking back on my first week with Règine and Pierre I remember my surprise when my second host dad talked to me in english. Pierre is an intelligent man in many different ways. One of his talents is his vast knowledge of the french, german, and english languages. Everyday since I arrived, he says little phrases or expressions to me in english. It does not frustrate me if he does not speak in french with me because I love when he talks to me in english. Sometimes his grammer is off or he pronounces the words wrong, but it's really cute. French and Belgian people have a lot of difficulty saying the "th," "w." His english speaking attempts also reflect his understanding of my position and the difficulty of communication when culutres and languages collide. In at least one way I have a reason to smile each and every day.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What A Shocker

     Ana, a foreign exchange student from Equadore, and I were sitting in math class when my teacher made a surprising announcement. All the students took a test the day before and the math teacher read the scores out loud in front of the class. I was astounded because confidentiality did not exist among my peers and many students were ridiculed and humiliated. It's important for teachers to be describe about student's test and homework scores to avoid discrimination. Students may decided that their peers are incapable or idiotic based on scores that only count for one small section of anyones life. Luckily, the math teacher did not find Ana's and my scores to be worthy enough to be exposed to my classmate's ears. My heart goes out to the sorry souls who have to sit in class and suffer under the cruelty of the teachers wimbs

Birthday Weekend

     I packed myself a lunch, then my host dad drove me to the Franchimont train station a half an hour before it was due to arrive. He needed to pick up my youngest host sister, Clemence, and he decided to drop me off at the same time. The time passed quickly and I was on my way to Liège to meet my foreign exchange friend Doreen. The moment she got off the train I ushered her back on because the shops I knew were at the next train station at Liège-Palais. We made small talk and discussed what has happened in our lives since the last time we saw one another. It was a merry reunion and we covered a lot of ground while we shopped among the mini-malls and stores. At one point Doreen mentioned she did not previously eat lunch and it was already past 2 o'clock! If circumstances were different, I would have eaten with her, but i devoured my lunch beforehand in ignorance. Doreen easily spotted a small waffle joint along the street. The restaurant was deserted except for Doreen and I. We sat in solitude next to a window on the second floor of the building with a spacious view of the cobble stone street below. We stumbled across the subject of Doreen's Zumba classes - a dance workout class that is sequenced to hip and up-to-date music. Doreen wanted to demonstrate her routine when she attentively heard a Zumba song playing on the speakers. People on the street stopped dead in their tracks and looked up at the window to watch Doreen and I dance.
     With all the eating and dancing, we needed to find a bathroom, but the owner exclaimed that it was out of order. Our scavenger hunt for the bathroom began. A Quick (which is the european form of McDonald's)was next door and Doreen bought ice cream. Usually, when a customer buys a product, him or her can use the bathroom: not in this case. Two women guarded the entrance to the bathroom and would not let me pass without payment. In frustration I left with my bladder still full. As I sat back down across from Doreen I noticed the women sitting at the table beside Doreen. The women engaged me in a conversation and asked a million personal questions. Beforehand, while I was attempting to get into the bathroom, the women asked Doreen for money. The woman claimed she lost her wallet and needed money for the train. After another few minutes her child came along and said she was hungry. The women proceeded to ask Doreen for more money for food. Being the generous person Doreen is, she gave this stranger almost 7 euros. I was appalled and the women left with her pockets full of Doreens money. Obviously the theatrical scene with the woman was a scam and I gave Doreen my money because I felt she was used unjustly, besides, Doreen is only 16 years old!
     Our quest for the bathrooms continued and our path lead to an ally with many dreary shops and bars. I selected one by chance and, voilà, the bathrooms were free for use. The reason it was for free was evident while I stood inside the stall and survayed how dirty and smelly the interior was. The area was not the safest of places, so we got out as soon as our mission was accomplished.
     The time slipped out of my attention and I discovered that we missed our train. On top of that, all the trains were late because the weather was so cold that it prevented them to properly function.
     From our stop at the Franchimont train station, we walked to my high school to watch Clemence perform a play with her classmates. My family, as well as every other spectator and performer, already ate their supper: Doreen and I had the cafeteria to ourselves. The play began and we rushed into the St. Rock gymnasium. Heat radiated from all the bodies packed together in the dark gym. From the other side of the room I watched the lightened stage with all the kids in their fancy costumes. Eventually, the play ended and my host family took us home. Doreen and I talked until we couldn't keep our eyes open.
     The next morning, we ate breakfast, then lunch soon after - we slept in late. Règine, my second host mom, made a Gallette De Roi (a delicious, traditional, and european cake) and we all were served a piece. Doreen's train already passed Franchimont because my host mom kept us at the house later than expected. Règine drove us to another station just in time for Doreen to run into the train before the doors closed.
     I was already missing my friend as I sat in the car going home. My host siblings and I wend sledding at my arrival, although I stopped due to the dangerous conduct of my host brother. If my host sister or I sled down the hill while he rested at the bottom, then he would jump in front of our sled or throw his sled at us to cause us to fall. With the combination of the sled's high speed velocity and the inability to control the direction in which the sled moves, the situation became extremely dangerous. Not wanting to put myself a risk, I walked away in a huff.
     The moment I walked in the door from sledding the doorbell rang. Règines blood children arrived to celebrate my birthday. Everyone introduced themselves and Règine placed the three cakes on the table. I was passed a slice of the Gallotte de Roi and I began to eat. Something hard hit my fork when I placed it in the interior of my slice of pie. I pulled it out to discover a little figure. It's a tradition to place a figure in the Gallotte de Roi and whoever finds it becomes the king or queen for the day. My host sister placed a plastic crown on my head and Règine passed me a slice of the coconut cake. Règine wanted to give me another slice but 3 pieces were satisfactory for me.
     During our conversations, Règine's blood children mentioned their ski trip in the French Alps with their mother. They invited me, but Règine interrupted that it would probably be too expensive for me and I did not have the supplies. Even though Règine already invitatedme beforehand, I think she regrets asking me to come along. In any case, if I do not go I will just have to party in Belgium. On top of that, Règine kept talking about how wonderful and talented my friend Doreen is and how I am not. Her words were harsh and it hurt my feelings deeply.
     Even after hanging out with my friend, sledding with my host sisters, and eating cake with my host parents, I still felt sad. My first host family was on my mind. A moment during each day I think about how much I miss them. Christine invited me to eat lunch with them to celebrate my birthday and her sister's birthday, but my second host mom told her no. I did not find out about the invitation until it was already too late. Règine often excludes me from activites with my friends and host family. Some aspects about my host family I enjoy, then again, some situations with my second host family get under my skin.
     The weekend of my birthday started out wonderful with Doreen and slowly swirled into a disaster. Doreen and I were able to have a lot of time to ourselves, but when I was back with my second host family I did not feel at home. No cake can distract me from what I really missed and wanted: my first host family.