So I had my pre-departure orientation this morning, which was so much fun! I got to meet all the other exchangers in the Carolinas, and most of them were pretty dang amazing, not too sure about the others because they didn't say a word the whole time! You must speak up, or I won't know what to think. Gosh.
I already knew a whole heck of a lot before I went there, so my world wasn't exactly rocked by the experience. I really enjoyed meeting everyone though--it was also the pre-return orientation for the exchangers that are in the Carolinas from elsewhere, and I got to know this French girl Gwen really well. She was so sweet, and a whole lot like me. Apparently back in France, she was really shy and she only knew a few words in English before coming here, but aside from the obviously adorable accent, her English was amazing! And she was so outgoing! Like, I was reading the AFS poster, waiting for my dad and all, and she just grabbed me and was like "Are you going somewhere next year?! :D" and I was like "WOOT, YEAH!" and we pow wowed. I had been under the impression that the current exchangers here had all been paired up with outbounds to their home country so that they could share all their information and what not, and I knew no one from Belgium was there, so I was letting everyone have their them time. I wasn't going to interrupt and snag a cool foreigner to chat with when they had information to share! 'Cause I know I woulda been irked if that had happened to me if a Belgian chickadee or duderino had actually been there. But Gwen was just like "LET'S TALK, YOU ME, GO NOW" so I just was like "YEAH LET'S GO, YOU'RE AWESOME" and she really was<3 I love you, Gwen, you gave me hope for myself next year.
The only thing that really sucked about today was that I really haven't officially been accepted by Belgium yet. (Yeah, did anyone get confused by the appearance of a pre-departure orientation before an acceptance post? Don't worry, I won't skip that, it really hasn't happened yet.) But so many people already knew their families, and where they would be in the country, and some had even communicated already, and I was just so jealous that they knew they were going. Monday makes officially two weeks since I've been accepted by AFS-USA and my application was sent abroad, so really, I shouldn't be complaining about waiting at all. I have another two weeks before I'm really supposed to hear anything at all. Gah. That is the hardest thing to get over, because I'm an American, and we do things NOW. Instant gratification. I have got to learn how to get over that, ja?
One thing that I did think was weird, just now, 'cause I just went back and reread my acceptance email from AFS-USA, was that the PDO was supposed to be 6-8 weeks before I left. Um...by rough calculations because I don't' have an actual departure date yet, only an estimate on the website that everyone else can see, today was like thirteen weeks. And some kids there leave a month from Monday. (There were a ton of summer exchangers. They just didn't want to do anything that would cut into their school years. o.o Weird.) So, like, none of us were in the 6-8 week range, and I know that that doesn't matter at all, they were just trying to get us all around the same center point, I just thought it was really kinda funny.
I hope the few other year kids are going to be at my Gateway Orientation <3 There was a girl there that's going to Spain, she's a freshman apparently so she's nowhere near me age-wise, but I'm just glad there was another Europe-bound exchanger there that was going to be there during the year. I mean, dang. I just don't understand why no one wants to go for a year or semester! Or to Europe! Almost everyone was going to Costa Rica for a summer. One girl is going to Argentina. But then again, there were like, three or four going to Italy, which felt kind of excessive to me. I get that Italy is cool, but really? That many? More people should go to less popular places. On the real. And I know that Belgium is pretty popular, but not really so much the Flemish side. In fact, that's part of the reason I'm allowed to go at all, because so few people go, they still had places when I applied late. So yay for choosing less popular locations!
Side note that has nothing to do with the PDO: My Canadian boss who somehow has been everywhere told me about the Manneken Pis. It's a statue of a little boy peeing in Brussels, and it's got this really cool story about it with the boy peeing in the enemy cannons so that they win the war and yadda yadda; it's a boy peeing! I have to take like fifty pictures with it when I get there, I swear.