Tag Archives: Belgium

Not that long ago I had long hair…

Not that long ago I had long hair. Actually, I had processed long hair. Every 6 months I would relax my hair and make sure I killed my curls, what at the time I considered “bad hair.”

“Everything has changed and yet, I am more me than I’ve ever been.”– Ian Thomas

Curls3

Let me start from the beginning. I am Latina; born of parents from the Dominican Republic. My mom has very curly hair and my dad does as well so naturally, I was also born with very curly hair. However, my hair wasn’t only curly it was thick! I remember I wore my hair curly a lot and that straightening it was a process my mom struggled with. One day I went to the hair salon and was told I was getting a “deep conditioning treatment” and next thing I know I had beautiful straight long hair. It was like that for the next 14 years, but don’t get me wrong, I still “curled” my hair…so I thought.

Fall 2012 I went to study abroad in Europe. My biggest concern was my hair. I have no idea how to straighten my own hair  (I still don’t.) I was so nervous because I didn’t know if I was going to find someone who knew how to manage my “processed” hair correctly. For the most part, every week abroad was a different hair stylist until, I gave up the last few weeks, and washed and go everywhere I went.

I learned a lot about my hair abroad. I realized that my hair wasn’t curly anymore. They weren’t coils, they were loose waves…kind of looked like spaghetti. Every time I relaxed my hair I killed my curls and damaged my edges. Throughout the years, every hair stylist I went to would tell my mom and I that I didn’t need a relaxer but, I was too obsessed with my straight hair to care. Abroad, I finally understood why I didn’t need to continue relaxing my hair…

My curls are beautiful!!

Curls2

It was time to become obsessed with my curls. It took me a few years to make the actual move but last year, I chopped a reasonable amount of my processed hair, and started my transition from processed to natural hair. With all the internal changes I was going through, I thought it would be the perfect time to get rid of everything that hid who I was. It was finally time to be ME! It definitely hasn’t been easy. There are days where I miss my long hair and wish my hair would just grow already. Then there are days were I am so happy I don’t have to straighten my hair every single week! However, I don’t regret my decision. My hair is healthier and stronger than it has ever been in the past!

Curls1

My transition still has some time before it is fully complete but I am changing with my hair. I’m cutting the bad out of my life, conditioning the good so it can get stronger and better and slowly growing into the woman that I am…because there isn’t anything else that I wish to be than Simply great!

Advertisements

Throwing The Dice: Living With A Host Family

It has been awhile but I finally wrote again!

Read my blog post on the Rutgers Center for Global Education blog!

Throwing The Dice: Living With A Host Family.

For those of you studying abroad and need help deciding if living with a host family is the right choice definitely take a look! There are also other great posts available with lots of study abroad tips!

Mega Played!

Today, me and my roommate Courtney had a nice trip planned to Amsterdam. It’s our last weekend here in Europe so we figured we would end with a bang! We woke up at 4:30am to catch the first tram before 5am to go downtown and catch the MegaBus. We made it out the apartment in 25 min. Halfway to the tram stop I ask Courtney if she has her passport…we run back to the apartment. As I wait outside for her in the distance I see a tram pass by. She comes back down and when I told her what I just saw we run back to the tram stop (that’s the most I’ve worked out this entire trip.) We get there and look at the times… indeed that was our tram and we just missed it. We were freaking out trying to find our best alternative to get downtown on time. The MegaBus was suppose to leave Brussels at 6:10am. We call the 2 taxi cab numbers that I have stored on my phone and none of them work. The likelihood of finding a taxi where we live is so slimFortunately, Courtney was able to stop one that was driving by. We end up getting downtown extra early and we lounge around the train station until it’s time to head to the bus stop. I kid you not we waited 1hr and 20min for this bus and it DID NOT arrive. It was ridiculously cold and we couldn’t take it anymore. After conversing with the Spaniards that were also waiting we decided to head back home. As soon as we get back home Courtney calls MegaBus to get our money refunded and turns out the bus was stuck in London and hadn’t even made it to Paris yet! Thank goodness we left and didn’t wait around any longer. All of this happened before 8am without the sun being out. What a start to our day… Can’t do much but laugh about it. Everything happens for a reason. 

Christmas Spirit in Liège

Welcome to the "Christmas Village"

Welcome to the “Christmas Village”

This past Saturday I went to Liège, Belgium with my host family. We went to go enjoy the Christmas Market. This was my first time going to a Christmas Market and it was the cutest thing! I had such a great time.

One of the many stands

One of the many stands

The market was filled with different stands that had all sorts of things. You could explore stands for hours. I even ended up buying a souvenir to take back home. The sweetest thing was when my host sister ended up getting me and my roommate a gift!! She’s so cute!

Sliding Down

Sliding Down

While there me and my roommate went sledding with our host sister. I was a tad scared… I’m not going to lie. I’ve never done something like it before. We had a small plastic shovel that we had to sit on and then slide down this small ramp. The first time going down I grabbed my roommate’s hand without meaning too. Then the second time I kept stopping myself mid-way through the sliding process that I ended up losing my shovel x_x I laughed so hard when I got to the bottom.

Friendly Skating

Friendly Skating

We also went ice skating. That made it my second time on the ice. I’m actually pretty good at it! It’s probably because I know how to rollerblade. That was horrible ice to skate on though! It was pretty dangerous because it was easy to fall. There were so many kids and a lot of teens were careless while skating trying to do all these fancy tricks .__. It really annoyed me! I met the cutest little girl and we skated together. She kept wanting me to hold her hand it was too adorable to handle!! ^_^ She had beautiful curly hair! She reminded me of myself at her age!

Tartiflette in the making

Tartiflette in the making

While there I learned that waffles come from Liège and all this time I thought they came from Brussels. I also tried Tartiflette! It’s absolutely delicious! It’s a mix of potatoes, cheese, onions, and wine! I will definitely try to make it back in the states!

It was a long but great day! So happy I got to visit the Christmas Market! 

Le Père Fouettard

Le Père Fouettard

Interesting Fact: Earlier in the day we bumped into St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was accompanied by this really creepy guy! I was so disturbed because this guy painted himself dark and he had the creepiest facial expression! After some research I figured out that in some French regions St. Nicholas is accompanied by a guy called Père Fouettard who gives coal or spanks to the naughty kids. If you were to tell me a guy like that was going to give me coal or spank me for being naughty I would definitely try my hardest to be on that nice list!!!! Poor kids!

Time to be Grateful

Happy Birthday to me!

It was really hard being away from home on my 21st Birthday and Thanksgiving. I decided to look on the bright side and take it as an opportunity to just appreciate the many things I have. As I start the 21st first year of my life I have many blessings: my family,  friends, another year of life, and the opportunity to study in Europe. It’s important to be positive during the hard times.

Birthday Cake

It was remembering all the things I have to be grateful for that  really helped me have a good Birthday. I had to write a paper but I did it with a smile on my face. The sun shined bright on a city that’s usually gloomy, wet, and cold. My host sister baked me a delicious marble cake and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me in French! We toasted to my 21st year and I took my first ‘legal’ drink (according to USA law.) Afterwards my roommate and I went out with some friends to have a couple of drinks at Delirium. I had a light Busch beer. I couldn’t believe the alcohol percentage in that beer. o_O It did its job though. It was the perfect way to end a “beginning of the week birthday.”

Thanksgiving Dinner

There is no Thanksgiving in Europe because it’s an American holiday. So my roommate and I decided to bring Thanksgiving to Europe. We cooked a small dinner for our host family. We cooked things that would be traditional for our Thanksgiving meals. Thank goodness I had some saźon left over. It was all a success! Thanksgiving is about being grateful and sharing that with others and that’s exactly what I did.   

 

Books and Movies

I really enjoyed today because it was such a simple yet productive day. The day started out cold and wet, the usual Brussels weather, but in the afternoon the sun came out and was shining bright!

I spent the afternoon with my host mom. She took me to a bookstore called filiber very similar to Barnes & Nobles. I was very pleased because I love Barnes & Nobles so exploring the store was fun. There were so many people and French books everywhere. There was even a small section in the middle to eat and drink coffee/tea while reading books. We had quiches for lunch at the store. After my host mom showed me around the store and we ate lunch, I ended up spending most of my time in the history section. I browsed through the Mythology and Cleopatra books. It was interesting browsing through books in French about subjects that interest me.

Dans La Maison

Afterwards we went to go see a French movie. This time I experienced a new theater called UGC. This theater felt more old school than Kinepolis. The seats were ridiculously comfy though. We went to see the movie Dans La Maison “In The House.” The movie is directed by François Ozon and it is based off the Spanish play by Juan Mayorga, “El chico de la última fila.” The movie is about a 16 year old boy, Claude Garcia, and his passion for writing. Claude uses his classmate’s, Rapha Artole, family as the main characters in a series of essays he writes for his French teacher, M.Germain. The teacher becomes very intrigued by the boy and his essays and persuades him to continue to write. This leads to a series of events that makes it impossible for the audience and the teacher to decipher what is fiction and what is reality. It is truly a movie that plays with your head and leads to an ending no one expects. You are left with a series of questions and left to write your own ending.

The movie only had subtitles in Dutch. I had to depend on my French listening skills and surprisingly I understood a lot of the dialogue! I was extremely proud of myself! French movies never cease to amaze me though. They always take a step further. The intense sex scenes, the sensitive subjects they cover, they just aren’t scared to cross the line. The movie was very good and it was hard to not pay attention.

À le movies: 007

Skyfall Posters

Saturday, I decided to treat myself to the movies. I also really wanted to experience a Belgian movie theater. Since I’ve never seen a James Bond movie I thought why not see 007: SKYFALL. It’s apparently the 23rd installment of James Bond on screen. The movie starts British actor Daniel Craig and was directed by Sam Mendes. The movie also featured an amazing song by Adele, Skyfall, written strictly for the movie. It created a great opening for the movie! Definitely a good set up for the ambience the movie was trying to create (which doesn’t really show until the final scenes.) Overall, the movie had good action scenes and some really good quotable lines from various characters. However, I didn’t find the plot interesting and I felt like nothing really stuck out until the end. I didn’t really get where the movie was trying to go because there was just too much going on. In my opinion, the movie had a lot of potential to have a really good storyline but wanted to say too much so it ended up just making a mess. It had too many stories going on at once. I felt like some points didn’t even finish developing by the end of the movie. (This is as good of a review I can give without ruining the movie.) Either way, I would still go see the movie because I was entertained by the action scenes, characters, beautiful settings, and all the good lines from the characters.

Brussels Atomium

Side view of the Atomium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went to Kinepolis movie theater and of course getting there was an adventure. It was ugly out rainy, windy, and cold.  I had to take the tram a direction I’ve never taken before. As I rode the tram I passed through 2 to 3 stops where the walls were filled with the most awkward graffiti art I’ve ever seen. I was actually pretty disturbed by it. When I get off at my stop, which was the last stop on the tram, I instantly became amused by this building made of circles! Turns out to be the the Brussels Atomium build for the world fair in Brussels in 1958. It has 8 levels spread over 5 spheres! It’s apparently a very big tourist attraction! I am definitely returning to visit it! Right next to it it’s a small amusement park called Mini Europe. I fell in love! It was the cutest thing! I’m definitely returning to that too. I shall attend BOTH attractions!

Back of theater

Front of theater

So I ended up walking around the back of the theater before I found the front and the entrance. >_< Once I finally found the front I was in shock! It looked so fancy! Inside the theater has all the posters of movies that are currently  in theaters and some posters of movies that are about to be released. I found it funny that “Ted” JUST came out Oct.10th. The theater also has a lot of self-buy ticket machines! I’ve never seen so many in a movie theater! It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t arrive ridiculously early! I had 3 hours to kill and they had no waiting seats ._. Every employee was practically on lunch break. They weren’t even selling the popcorn yet, and I was craving some popcorn bad! I ended up sneaking into the bathroom so I wouldn’t pay the 35cents (since everyone was on lunch break,) listening to my iPod, and watching previews to this movie “Hobbit” and “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt.2” on this huge flat screen about 3 times.

Movie posters

Eventually I got my popcorn and got myself a twix bar to sweeten my life up. When I walked into the room I literally said “wow.” It was HUGE! That had to be the biggest screen in a theater I’ve ever seen. The movie was in English and there were French and Dutch subtitles. I thought that was pretty interesting. What caught me off guard was the 10min break to use the bathroom in the middle of the movie. I thought to myself, “they must really want those 35cents!” Whelp! they definitely got mine because I needed to pee! I still can’t believe they charge for bathrooms in Europe! I went back to my movie and left the theater pretty content. It was a good adventure for such a crappy day.