At 6:45 a.m. I woke up as I would for any ordinary school day, except my day wasn't going to lead there. Règine drove me to Liège-Guillemins (the train station in the city of Liège) and I met up with the other Rotary foreign exchange students. We talked and greeted everyone with the belgian bisous tradition, then loaded in the bus heading for Luxembourg. The road trip lasted for two hours before we walked off the bus. My legs never habituate to car rides, however, I was able to distract myself by socializing non-stop with my english-speaking buddies. Henry, Chris, Lydia, and Jessica came from the small island of New Zealand and Nicola from Australia. Josie was also with us and she came from South Africa. I talked to Henry, Lydia, and Josie for most of the time. I always want to be around Henry because he is a bundle of energy and positivity. He constantly moves his skinny, tall frame around and always mentions some subject on rock music. What attracts my attention when I look at him is usually his thick and frizzy strawberry blond hair or his sky blue eyes.
The Rotary leaders herded us to "la Braserie Bofferding" - a beer producing factory. The moment I walked through the door a wave of chemical oders filled my nose. I wanted to turn around and go back the way I came in, but it was too late: the guide lowered a screen in the middle of the room and turned on a short film. During our fifteen minute overview of how beer was process, the students stood together and watched attentively.
The group moved with the guide to the next room to drink some refreshments when the film finished. At first we were given water, then we were handed small doses of vodka and huge cups of beer. It's unfortunate to say that some exchange students abused the fact that they were given free beer and sneaked more than they could handle. It was not even noon and many teenagers were drunk. We were escorted through the building and lead back to the bus at the end of the tour.
The next stop on our mini-tour was at "le grand-duché de Luxembourg" - the central region of Luxembourg with many shopping sites and historical buildings. My Zew Zealand friends and I stayed together in a pack as we strolled down the streets for a few hours. One of the boys following us was really drunk. We didn't tell him to leave us alone, but we expressed our frustration with his behavior when he constantly asked bazar questions in his slurred voice.
Hunger drove the students together and we left for "le Luxembourgeois au Rehazenter" - a sports club building for handicapped civilians. The cafeteria was open for us to consume our lunch. I counted it strange that all these young exchange students were eating on the tables at one half of the room, gobbling our food down, while some elderly and disabled people were quietly eating and moving about across the room. What a strange idea for Rotary to decide that we stopped to eat at this type of recreation center for disabled and elderly people.
Another two hours of bus travel brought us back to Liège at 19:30 p.m. It was already an hour past our arrival when my friends and I got off the train bringing us home. I was sad as I watched my friends driven away by their host parents. It had been ages since I talked in english non-stop and my head hurt like it never had before. My New Zealand friends arrived only last month and it wasn't until this day that we had time to just talk and appreciate one another's company without distractions. We have french classes after school every Monday and Thursday, so we were not complete strangers before that day.
Christine picked me up from the local train station and brought me back to Franchimont to a home cooked meal waiting for me. I love my first host family because they are wonderful in ways I can't describe. That night, I slept until 7:00 a.m., then got ready for the day and was out the door by 10:00 a.m. My first host family was taking me to the Carnival parade.
Christines friend's house was on the street where the parade would pass and we waited for it to begin. Music rung in my hears, signaling the approaching spectacle. The adults and children lined the streets and watched the floats and people in costume march past. Hours passed before we considered re-entering the house. One of the parade participants followed us. She was wearing a Lady Gaga outfit and made conversation with us while we sat and drank. Her white wig was long and straight with a bow made of wig hair stationed on the side of her head. The Lada Gaga personage wore a black dress that was short enough to exposed her but and fish net tights. The woman gave me her phone number and was on her way within a half an hour. Later in the day I mentioned her to Christine and she told me she didn't know her; neither did any body. I talked to the stranger like everyone else as if she was an old friend because I thought she was a friend: I was wrong (it's astounding how situations like this one happens).
The parade in Tiege finished, yet our group was not. Christine drove us to the next neighborhood to watch another parade. The second round of dancing people, overdone floats, and free candy was more spectacular. The only issue was that the parading people would stuff confetti down my shirt every few hours. It was a joke when they threw confetti at people for entertainment, yet the effort of trying to get the little pieces of colored paper out of my bra, shirt, pants, and underwear was unpleasant.
We couldn't leave for another few hours because the first parade I saw in Tiege was coming to present itself on the street where we stood. The location and timing were fine with me since I was receiving free candy and a free show. We left eventually and came back home. My third host mom came over to the house to socialize while my first host sister and I danced crazily to a dance video game. With all wonderful dates, it had to end and Christine drove me back to my second host family's house.
My weekend in Luxembourg with Rotary and at the Carnival parades with my first host family was amusing. Rotary allowed us to tour the beer factory and taste some of their products as well. I also saw more of Luxembourg as my New Zealand friends and I explored the small shops and beautiful landscape. The next day was as entertaining as the first at the Carnival with my first and lovable host family. My host sister and I jammed to the dance video game and I didn't want to stop. I couldn't say that I would have imagined myself traveling between two countries and end my weekend dancing the night away.