Bonjour mes amis! Notice how each time I write, more and more french slips in?... I'm doing that on purpose. To make you think that I'm becoming fluent. French is tough. Let me tell you. I smile and nod a lot here. Hopefully I'll get better. I think I can convey to people what I'm saying better, without even thinking about it. So, that's nice. But in no way am I constructing complete, correct sentences. It's more like uh... you... go to... the store with me? Oh well, my host family is very nice about it. I try not to be a burden and if they're annoyed with me, they do a great job of covering it up. Today, Damienne went with me on the metro and bus to get to the ISA office, where we were meeting at 10am. With her of course, it was less stressful and we got there. But, at the end of the day, after we had orientation, a short tour of the Grand Place, and a welcome drink, Sabine (our director) said Au revoir! A demain! (Bye, see you tomorrow). And we were free to do what we wanted. Since I knew that my host family was making dinner for me, I ventured home. You'll be pleased to know that I maneuvered the metro by myself! And I got home! I only got a little lost from the metro stop to my apartment. But, I figured it out!!
It's funny, everything you read about Brussels is that it's a welcoming, accepting place because there are so many cultures and languages. What I'm finding (and what Damienne tells me), there's quite a bit of hostility between the Dutch and French speaking Belgians. Like, the university across the street from mine is a Dutch school and it is not the place to practice your french because they will respond badly. Plus, I'm told that there are a lot of Middle Eastern immigrants with their head coverings and there are a lot of negative feelings about them too because they don't try to acculturate. Also, in Europe, no one smiles at you or makes eye contact. And if you do that, it's BAD. So, on the metro this morning and afternoon, I had to work to look down and frown. Apparently, I would be sending the wrong message if I did anything else. Whew. I'm overwhelmed with how much I'm learning and I haven't even started classes or my internship yet.