Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like christmas!!

Last weekend I went to Lille, just across the boarder in France for a christmas market with my roommates. When we arrived it was blizzarding and the market was not open yet. So we hid from the snow in a warm cafe until it opened up. The market was nice, got some good gifts for the family. It is always fun to just walk around and drink the hot wine looking at all the christmas things. It really gets you in the christmas spirit!
That night we returned home to quickly get ready and go out for our friend's bachelorette party! Erin was a new hire with us so we got to know her as soon as we got here. Her and her fiance moved here together and are getting married over break. So we did it up Beligan style! It was a great night. We started with dinner at a nice italian restaurant (her fiance is italian) and i have the best goat cheese filled pasta ever!! Then after a very long dinner we followed the belgian tradition we had heard of and had her burn a pair of panties in the street. After that we continued to dance clubs and danced until the first metro at 6am! It was lots of fun and a night she will not forget I'm sure.
School has been very busy lately in the holiday season but lots of fun! I love working i a place where so many cultures are celebrated. Just in the past few weeks I have had more sweets than in my life. We celebrated St.Nicholas day (which the dutch celebrate), Hanukkah and this coming week we will celebrate Santa Lucia and Christmas!So much fun. Teachers are also turning in there contracts for next year so there has been buzz about who will be staying and what will be open for next year. I change my mind daily but we will see where I will be next year. Who knows.
This weekend Heidi from Lesley came to visit! It was so nice to have her visit and we had a great time. Friday night we went to the christmas market in Brussels and walked to the christmas light show after getting a pita! We saw the magical light show and then went home to bed because we are all tired and getting sick. The next day I had tickets to Koln, germany so she tried to get tickets but it was too expensive the day of. Knowing this might happen she stayed and explored Brussels while I went to Germany. This market was so big since Germany is where they started. There were 6 markets throughout the city and they had lots of good stuff. We ate our way through the market with things like a half meter of meat on a stick and gingerbread cookies. We spent the entire day there and were exhausted when we returned! Sunday morning we got up early to head to my favorite market. Heidi , Andrea and I walked around buying some fruit and warm leggings! After the market we went to go get noodles at a new place andra had discovered. It was so amazing! They made the noodles right there while we watched and the noodles and chicken I had was so delicious! When e got home we were pretty tired so we just hung out and read cosmo. We made some tea and turned on the TV to discover how amazing rugby is!! What a fabulous sport! I am watching right now so there may be some errors in this blog. It is just so crazy intense and a wonderful combination of all sports. There are fights like hockey, lifts like cheerleading a little soccer and lots of football. I love it! Needless to say it was a well spent sunday and a great weekend.
I leave to go home in less than a week and am getting very excited! If I don't see those reading this blog (Donna) I will talk to you on the phone when I get back to the states and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday season!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mom and dad visit!

Last Saturday morning I met my parents at the aiport and a week of adventures began! Right after we dropped their things off at the hotel we headed to the trainstation to visit a town nearby called Waterloo. This is where the battle of Waterloo happened so we climbed (I tried to run) up a very high monument for the battle. This town also had a christmas bazzar going on so we went to that. It was nice to see another town and begin to get into the christmas spirit!

The next day we went on another adventure to Amsterdam. This was a packed but fun day! As soon as we got off the train we saw signs for Boots (or boats heh) and knew we had to take one! We got tickets for the next boat tour through the canals. This was a great way to start our tour and see the sites. After the tour we were on a mission to find the I Amsterdam sign! We found it and saw much of the city on foot on the way. After many pictures and more walking we went to the Anne Frank museum. It was so amazing! I had complained earlier that day about not seeing the sun in Brussels because of the clouds but after seeing where she lived I cannot complain about that again. She lived in such a tiny space and had to have black coverings on the wall. Not only could she not see the sun she could never go outside in the fresh air. It was absolutely incredible to see where she lived and even the things that were left of hers on the wall! My parents and I were actually able to compose oursleves through most of the museum but towards the end we heard a mother explaining in the most amazing way the story of Anne Frank and answering their questions. When the children were asking what a prisoner was along with other questions we all started to get a little teary eyed. The mother was starting to choke up as she talked with them, but still made sure to help them understand. It was so sad but what a wonderful mother! After the museum we realized we had not had much of a real meal so we stopped for pancakes on the way to the train station. :)

Monday I met my parents after school and we went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving! Thursday I had French class so we moved Thanksgiving to monday. We had a delicious dinner with my roommates including sweet potatoes and homemade apple pie! Yum!

Tuesday I met my parents at MiniEurope. It is a very touristy park at the outskirts of the city, but still fun. All of the major monuments of Europe are there in mini version with stories about them. So we travelled all around Europe in just over an hour! Then we went to the Atomium. This is a giant atom that you can go up in that was built for the world fair in '58. It was fun to go up to the top ball and see the atomium lit up at night.
That night we went to a nice french restaurant near my house for a delicious meal and amazing creme brule!! After dinner we walked back to my house for some Christmas belgian beers and cards. 
Wednesday was my dad's birthday! They met me at school to see where I work and then we went to the market together. At the market we got the best waffle I have ever had, followed by crepes. We walked around in the chilly weather eating food and trying hot wine. Since it was so cold we ducked into a bar to warm up. I got my dad a birthday beer and my mom had some hot cocoa. After the bar we were not really hungry for dinner so we headed back to my house for some cards with wine, bread and cheese.
Thursday I walked around the city with my parents and we saw the grand place being set up for it's christmas market and light show! We had a short day because I had to go to French class. The next day after school we headed back to the grand place for the first night of the music and light show. The grand place was so beautiful and christmasy! I loved it and it really got me in the christmas spirit! We even got to see the show in during one of the first snow falls which was a nice treat.

Saturday morning my parents left, it was sad to see them go but we sure did have a great week! It was so nice to have my parents over to my place and to be able to pay for things! It was a very different experience but a wonderful one. I felt like a real big kid :). It was so wonderful to have them here for a visit!!
Things have kept busy since they left. Saturday I went to my friend Jess' for another thanksgiving dinner with friends from work. We had a great dinner then played lots of games! We started with the ovenmit game, which was lots of fun and will be at my next family get together. Then we played a series of games from minute to win it. That was also lots of fun. The girls and guys played each other racing to do tasks like move and orea from your forhead to your mouth. We all had a great time and laughed a lot!

This week has been good at school, not too tired after the long week and lack of sleep. It has been very cold and there has been a lot of snow this week! I am currently in my inside-out pajamas and hoping for a snow day!! :)

ps- Sorry for any typos the spell check is in Dutch...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekend in Switzerland

My roommate Ashlee and I knew nothing about Geneva but found a good deal on flights and a hostel a little while ago and booked a fight. We went into the weekend with little expectations but were excited for a relaxing weekend out of wet and cold Brussels. The weekend was so wonderful! The two of us are great travel buddies and were both incredibly laid back and flexible. The first night we got there late so we just checked in and grabbed a pita near the hostel. The hostel was so so great, free internet and a lounge room with movies every night. Great find, even though I got some spider bites at night.

Saturday we went out and walked around all day long. For breakfast we got the most amazing crepes right by our place. Mine was filled with egg and goat cheese! Then we started walking. We intended to go back after a bit and go out for a run but we just kept walking.It was so beautiful outside that day we were so excited! We had not felt sunshine in a while so at one point we just sat and enjoyed the weather by the water. It wa very nice and relaxing. On our walk we saw the big cathedral from afar and saw that there were people in the tower. So we made our way over and climbed up what felt like a million windy scary stairs until the top to the best view of the city! It was so beautiful and we could see forever out over the lake. The city’s big attraction is the jet d’eau which translates to the jet of water…exactly what it is. It is only on for certain hours of the day so we were lucky to be up in the tower while it was running. Ashlee kept calling it the jet blue by accident because it sounds similar which I thought was hysterical. This jet is the world’s largest fountain and rather impressive. We walked and ate chocolate all throughout the day. Then we stopped for cheese fondu for dinner. We were so beat after walking all day we headed home early and caught some of the movie showing at the hostel.

The next day we had to leave at 1 so we got up early and went for a run to explore. This was great because we got to farther things that we could not get to the day before. We saw the botanical garden, which I am guessing is more impressive in the warmer months, but it was still a good run. Then we ran past a sign for a boat tour on the lake. We looked at the times and prices and decided to get breakfast and do that instead of showring. It was such a fun and spontaneous decision. So about an hour before we should have been on our way to the airport we were on a boat. We left ourselves plenty of time and made the flight but it was just a quick day. The boat tour was a ltitle chilly but very nice. We saw casles and mansions of the man that invented colgate toothpaste and other important things :). All in all it was a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

There's no place like home

For my fall break I had to return to the states to get my visa. I am so glad I had to make that trip because I had such a great time seeing family and friends! Being home it was hard to remember why I ever left. I am sure once I get busy and back into the swing of things that feeling will fade. It was great to see everyone though!
First I went to Springfield for the weekend. I landed at 6 on Saturday and when I arrived at my Uncle's house there were lots of wonderful people ready to say hi and play games! Even Mike, Christina, Maddy and Jackson came up as a surprise! Maddy and I had quite the reunion hug(s) hehe. It felt so good to be back at a family party! Nick even got to come up for the weekend which of course I was looking forward to. It felt like no time had passed and I had never even left.
Early Monday morning my parents and I got up, got lots of Dunkins and headed to NYC! I had to drop off my visa paperwork but that only took a few minutes. So we stayed for a while and enjoyed the city! We went up in the Empire State building, which I had never done. Quite the view! Then we walked to times square and had a delicious lunch at Planet Hollywood.

After lunch I went on my way to Maryland! I had dinner in Maryland with Mike, Christina, Maddy and Jackson then Maddy and I went on an adventure to Virginia! We spent Tuesday with the Virginia Arnolds! After breakfast Maddy, Ty and I went to Chuck E. Chesse's for some games and rides. We had lunch with Jeff at his school and then played at home with Kim an baby Ryan! After dinner Maddy and I headed back to Maryland so she could get back to school for Wednesday. 

Wednesday I went  to Boston to see Nick! We got Indian food with his parents. It was lots of fun and great to catch up. I got to talk with Lauren about her visit and get excited for her to come here in February! Thursday when Nick got out of class we went and got a delicious American breakfast! We went to a cute little diner near him called The Breakfast Club. It was so good, I had an amazing blended coffee and we laughed a lot like always. Thursday night I got dinner with the girls from school. We went to Cambridge Commons for old time sake! It was a blast and again felt like no time had passed. We caught up over some beer punch and mac n cheese bites. After dinner some of us went to watch the Lesley girls win their soccer game. Then celebrated with Berry Line! Yum!

Friday I ran to NYC to get my visa and returned back to Boston because I could not had to see Nick again. I ended up staying to see his game that night as well. The result was not great but I was glad to be there to see him play because he did well.
Saturday morning I returned to Springfield to say goodbye to my mom and head back to reality. We got to spend some time together in the morning before I left which was nice. Then I had to say goodbye. It was sad to leave but I am already looking forward to my next visit home! Thanks everyone for making my trip so great I love and miss you all!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Life is beautiful

Well this week has been pretty uneventful, which was nice.  It was a very relaxing week that was not too busy. During the week I was able to spend some night just skyping with people I don't talk with often and reading some of my book. I am trying to read Eat, Pray, Love before I go home so I can see it soon in theaters. It is a great book and really makes me think a lot. Just the other day the book inspired my sister, my mother and me to make a list of ways to indulge. I am realizing the importance of me time taking time to do things like read, take a walk, take a bath and just enjoying little things. My favorite quote from the book so far that I really love is "You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight." Now that I have settled into life here I am really trying to work on this. I think I already know life is beautiful and am able to find joy in the little things, but I can still work on finding everyday simple beauties and pleasures. One things she is working on is alone time in the book. There could not be a better time in my life for me to work on this and to learn to enjoy being alone.
This is our cone sushi we started with
On Friday night my roommates and I were too tired to do much so we decided to stay in and make sushi while we watched some Sex in the City! It was the perfect girls night in. Making sushi was super easy and very yummy! We all needed to just relax and catch up on some sleep.

my master piece, and wonderful photograph taken by Ashley

Today I went to one of my favorite places, the market at Midi station! It is such a large market full of all different kinds of things and so chaotic, I love it! I got all my fruits and veggies for the week and prepared some meals when I got home. After the market I went to a restaurant with my roommate Ashlee to study French. We are trying to make this a habit so we will study and see new restaurants. During the week we went out for a glass of wine and some amazing gelato around the corner. Today we just got coffee and probably the best hot cocoa (chocolate chaud) I have ever had! It is so nice we can just go sit for hours in a restaurant and they won't rush us out, we can just sit and drink and study. It was a wonderful day. Now I am going to read a little more. This coming week should be pretty busy, we have our Halloween party for all of ISB faculty at our apartment on Saturday! I will be sure to post about then next weekend :).  
Have a good week love and miss you all at home, but see you soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I have so much to be thankful for...

All of the happy people with our feast
Well this Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving and since my roommate is Canadian we hosted Thanksgiving on Sunday! It was so wonderful, everyone brought a dish or two and we had the place all clean and rearrnaged. We had ten people, six Canadians and four Americans. The food was delicious and the company was great. It really felt like Thanksgiving, however we could not get any football on t.v. but it was a great day. Then after everyone left my roommates and I cleaned up. I went to bed with a full belly, a lunch for Monday, a clean house and a big smile on my face.

My decorations of leave from the ground and a candle :)
Again photo by our personal photographer Ash

My contribution was this amazing salad with goat cheese,
apples, dried cranberries and walnuts. yum!

I have also been trying to explore Brussels more and walk around as a tourist. I discovered the EU the other day, the European Parliment and some great parks. I love just getting out and walking around here, there is always something new and amazing. The weather is already starting to get cold though so that will be difficult. I already bought a new winter coat to prepare.

As for school things are great. I am technically supposed to be co-teaching in my room so I have been trying to work my way to that with my teacher. I am making progress and started doing some of the morning meetings during the week! They have been going very well and I have lots of ideas for us. I also plan to do activities in the hall with small groups to do more activities. While I love my little two year olds I am enjoying the older grades that I work with in the afternoons as well. They are so much fun! The other day I went in during a math lesson and the kids weren't quite getting it. I was able to explain it a new way and they began to understand. I felt so helpful and really think I see myself with a little older kids in the future.

I also have been able to talk to Maddy, my neice, a lot lately which has been amazing. We talked about letters the other day becuase she is really into writing. When we were naming things that started with C she said "come to me". It was so cute but broke my heart because I cannot go to her. We had some good converstaions though and the other day she wrote me an e-mail! It was too cute, she was naming all of the things she wants to do when I visit and told me I was still her best friend. I am really starting to look forward to my next visit home. Things are great here but it will be nice to see everyone.

I will add pictures of Thanksgiving and adventures soon!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wow it has been a while since I have posted, things have been getting very busy! First I must say thank you for the comments! I am a little slow and just realized I had comments, it made me so happy! I am glad people are reading and enjoying :).

I also have to share very exciting news that I am now an auntie x4!!!! Little Ryan Daniel Arnold was born on the 16th and I can't wait to meet him!

As for life here, things are going well. The first weekend in September was Beer Fest in Brussels. There were a bunch of tents set up in the grand place where the flower carpet was. We tried many beers I think my favorite was the mango beer. Very different but very good!

Mango beer!

My french classes have started and they are going tres bien! hehe. I am taking them with my roommate Ashlee and while it is making our schedule crazy, we really like it. We have a small class with a great teacher. Our first homework assignment was to go to a bakery and order a croissant, pretty great class to me!The teacher makes it fun and I am not worried if I make a fool of myself. Hopefully I will learn a lot so I can start talking to people here! Many people do speak English so I could get by but I would like to be able to not be the dumb American. We actually already had to miss a class for our open house at school. Our teacher was very understanding and Ashlee and I studied in the park Saturday to catch up.

Open house was really great! I was nervous because I presented half of a power point my co-teacher uses every year. I have never had to do anything like this in front of parents so I was scared. It was great though! Many parents have students in other grades too, so we had a small crowd which helped. The presentation went very well and I am happy to have my first open house over with! I feel like I will be much better prepared when I have my own room now.

In addition to French classes and open house our after school activities started this past week. I do two activities a week to earn a little extra money. They were fun and very simple. I do after school supervision for the children who have staff parents one day. Then Wednesday I am working with the drama teacher to have a rhythm and dance class with little kids. That one will be a lot of fun! I even have some of the kids in my classroom in this program. Busy but fun schedule!

Last weekend my roommates and I went to Amsterdam for the day. It was a beautiful city with lots of canals. We did a tour of the Heineken brewery while we were there too. It was quite the experience! This is my third brewery now and it was quite different. They had a simulation ride where you were turned into beer and brewed. It was very interesting, but good. At the end they gave us two free beers too! We didn't stay in Amsterdam because it was too expensive so we hopped a train at night to Rotterdam about 30 minutes away and stayed in a hostel there. We spent most of Sunday in Rotterdam and it was nice to see yet another city.

I think that is all that is new with me. I am really enjoying exploring Brussels more everyday and getting lost on runs regularly. I don't know when I will have this place figured is just so big. I am really enjoying it though and looking forward to showing it to all my visitors! :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blood, sweat and tears

Oh yes the children have started at my school! The blood has been minimal, but very traumatic none the less. The sweat has also been minimal since it is Belgium where the sun hates to shine. There have been lots of tears however!

I am fully oriented and it is time to start working now. The way that the school brings the children into
 the school at the young age is very helpful. They started last Wednesday with 15 minute individual meet the teacher blocks for parents and kids. Then Thursday and Friday were two small sessions for one hour. This week is all of the children but only for a half a day. It has been an interesting week, but lots of fun! Many of the children do not speak a word of English and some of them have been having trouble leaving mom and dad. The other day I had a conversation with a little boy without understanding a word he was saying. We carried on as if we understood though, I presume we were both talking about how the ball was rolling. It is great to see the children interact with just gestures and usually just staring at each other. They are too cute for words!

Last weekend I went with a group of friends to Ostend, which is on the coast. The weather was great for Belgium standards! No rain and even some sun. Not quite beach weather but it was great to go see the water. The water was actually pretty warm so I enjoyed playing in it with my pants rolled up. It was a great wonderful day trip and pretty cheap!

This past week I got my first big kid pay check! It was very exciting and I made a great trip to the Sunday market with my earnings. I bought lots of fruits and veggies! The market is near school on Sunday's so after shopping we stopped at school for the welcome back BBQ! They really go all out for this thing it was very impressive. They had a DJ and a bunch of bounce house things. The playground was barely used because of the other fun things.

The other day I also signed up for french class! I am starting next Thursday. :) I get reimbursed by school so I figured why not try it. My days will be very busy though. Monday and Wednesday I will not get home til around 6 or 7. Tuesday and Thursday I will be getting out of school doing my after school activities, working out at school then going to french. I will not get home until after 9! It will be worth it though. I sure am keeping busy. More people keep making plans to come visit as well which is very exciting and will keep me busy! :)

Miss you all back home. Talk soon!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Exploring Belgium!

This past weekend was very busy but lots of fun. Friday ISB took us to Brugge for the day! We had a guided walking tour of the city followed by lunch and then a boat tour on the canals. The city was very beautiful with small streets, lots of churches and cute buildings. The lunch that work got us was very impressive. We had the whole top floor to ourselves with a three course meal. We ate at a brewery and tried the beer they made there. It was delicious! After the tours we all stayed and walked around the city some more enjoying more beers and french fries. I tried my first true Belgian fries...they are served with Mayo! It was actually quite good. I also tested my British accent out on co-workers of mine from England. They said that it was good and believable! :) That may have been the highlight of my day hehe. Then we headed back and had an early night because we were all pretty beat after that long day!

The next day I got up early and explored the city on a run with Ashlee. It was great to get up and be productive early! After that my roommates and I met up with people from work to see more of the city. The flower carpet festival was happening in the city so we went to see that. In last weeks post I had a picture of Grand Place marked off, this week that area was all full of flowers! They lay flowers and grass to look like a carpet it was beautiful. They even had a fountain in the middle.

Next we walked over to the park to sit for a bit since it was the first warm day in a while. It was nice to sit and enjoy the sun. We were sitting next to the palace so we decided to go take a tour inside. This is no longer where the king lives but where he works. The line outside was very long but there were free Ben&Jerry's samples while we waited! This is not standard at the king's work it was because of the festival, but what a great day to wait in line! Also that day they were setting up for the Brussels summer festival and doing band sounds checks. The band we heard while waiting in line was so good we decided to buy tickets. We now are attending a concert every night for this ten day music festival.

We went to our first concert last night. The bands were really good. My roommate and I listened to the bands online all day today. Tonight we went again and stood through the cold rain. It was not quite as enjoyable because of the weather but it was still good.

It was a very busy and fun weekend here. There has been a lot going on at home too, babies being born and kids growing up! Thank goodness for Skype :). Jackson started to crawl and said no the other day! I sure do miss the kiddos. I am very excited to start and meet my little ones here! This is our last full week of orientation before school starts. This week we have workshops with all of the teachers so I get to meet the teacher I will be working with. It should be an interesting week. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This is starting to feel real...

Last Saturday ISB took us on a tour of the city. The first part was bus then we walked and ended at Grand Place. It was great to figure out where things were and know what we were looking at. In the Grand Place we had a beer tasting! Work bought us six drinks. I think I have tasted them all now. :) The rest of the weekend we spent resting and getting to know the city. My roommate and I went for a 2 hour run/walk. We went all over the city and discovered what we were near! It was really exciting.
We are still having meetings for orientation and the most exciting one was yesterday morning with the head of ISB. It was a professional development and for the first time I was officially on the staff! It was so exciting, I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be. Thanks Lesley!! I was able to contribute and be right on the same page as everyone. The school's philosophy and way of doing things seems so amazing and ideal! I am so excited to be a part of this school and I am not sure how I will ever work for another school. :)
Today school took us to IKEA for some things we needed for our place. It was a fabulous trip and now I feel like this is a cozy home. I have a blanket, real pillows, slippers and a rug. :)
Despite the rainy days and distance from all of those I love I am really enjoying it here! I miss you all and hope to talk with you soon. :) Bye for now!
Le Grand Place
The middle is blocked off because of a festival next weekend.
My new and improved bedroom!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Getting settled :)

Well sorry for the delay but I am back and still very happy here! Today the interns and I went to meet with our department head. She showed us important things in the school and on our new computers. She also gave us our first tasks. We have to start with some typical intern jobs like taking photos and making boards. After our meeting she took the four of us out to lunch near school! We went to a place I had actually wanted to go to because it looks so cute. They had a delicious, and expensive, buffet then I got creme brulee! I was sooo good...

After such a great day and a great nap I felt very motivated to clean and make the place look nice. I finished unpacking the little stuff that was still in bags then vacuumed and mopped my room, bathroom and living room! The places looks so great I love it.

Here are a few pictures of the place that I call work...
This is the chateau, which means castle. This is where all the offices are
Rock climbing wall!
Well I should really get to bed now, but just wanted to show some photos. More to come later!  :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Day!

Hello Friends and Family!
My friend Donna inspired me to do this so that you can all know what I am doing while I am away. I don't know why I chose to start at 1:30am here, so it will be brief with no pictures. I will add more later..

Today was my first day on the job! It was just orientation so no one has really called me Miss Arnold yet. It was a great day though! The school is so amazing. We had a campus tour and saw the classrooms, huge libraries, tennis bubble, fitness center, rock climbing gym and much more! The people that I work with are fabulous and most of us went out for drinks right after orientation and then met up again for dinner. We all mesh very well so far and like to travel. It should be a very fun year.

I live with three other girls, all of us are interns in the Early Childhood Center. We all get along well, but it is still early :). I think things will be great though. We have a very nice place with a lot of space. It is three floors and it is almost as if I have my own apartment because I have my own floor pretty much. I love my little balcony it has a view out to the back of other apartments but there are gardens and it looks so European.

Brussels itself is also so beautiful. The weather is funny one minute it will be hot, the next cold and then it will rain so that will take some getting used to. The buildings and streets are so gorgeous here. The people have also been very friendly and helpful to us poor English speakers.

That is all for not as I must try to sleep. I will blog again soon with pictures :)