Tag Archives: America

Do what you love, love what you do

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted something, and I’ve been bubbling over with inspiration, so here we go!

Even though 2017 started almost three weeks ago, in my head 2017 didn’t really start until last week Monday, when I went back to work after a two-week vacation. Right off the bat it was incredibly busy at work and at home, and it still is, but it’s a good kind of busy. I’m finding the time to go to the gym, plan activities and preparing my lessons. And all because of one thing: I started cooking again.
There was a time when I cooked my lunch the night before, but when I started working downtown, there were just so many restaurants in the area where I could go grab lunch.
But now that I’m cooking again, I realize I’ve really missed it. Cooking is the perfect way to relax after a long day at work, and it also gives me energy to prepare my classes for the next day as well as research potential new activities for students. Plus, it saves me a ton of money!
Most people that know me see me as a baker, and it’s still something I love to do and am good at, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve been cooking more and trying out some new things and so far I haven’t made any cringeworthy mistakes. (Fingers crossed!) There’s something powerful to turning an idea in your head into a dish and have it taste exactly like you imagined. Carrot-ginger soup, anyone? These types of small successes have given me the life energy I didn’t know I was missing.

The past year was a year of change and finding my way in the world of work. I quit my job as a teacher at LaL and started working full-time at Stafford House. I went from helping out with Student Services, to becoming Housing Supervisor and then in November transitioned to Activities Coordinator/Teacher. On top of that, I moved from Dorchester to Allston to West-Roxbury and became single after 2+ years.
I feel like 2017 is going to be a year of stability. I’m not planning on moving away from West-Roxbury and even though the decision to become the activities coordinator at Stafford House Boston was a hard one, I’m incredibly happy I made it. I was looking at the activities calendar and not only am I going bowling, visiting the aquarium and seeing a Celtics game with our students next week, I’m getting paid to do all these things. At this point, I can’t believe I put up such resistance to becoming activities coordinator. Although it can be quite overwhelming because there is quite some administration that comes with it and I have to teach in the morning as well as work as an RA in the residence twice a week, it is mostly a lot of fun and I keep getting better at it every day. And the more fun I have, the more fun the students have!

Going back to Belgium for the holidays made me realize that at some point in the last year, Boston has become home for me. I love walking in Boston Common, wandering around the (gigantic!) Museum of Fine Arts and showing the students around “my” city. It also definitely helps that after a year and a half of being here, my friends (and family as well of course) have stopped asking me when I’m coming home and are instead planning on visiting me. I have a good set of friends here that are there for me when I need them and when I need to get away from the craziness for the weekend, I just drive down to Pennsylvania and visit my dad’s AFS family. AFS truly is for life. And as I sit here eating some chocolate from the TAZA chocolate factory from Sommerville that we visited this afternoon, I realize I don’t even need to go to Belgium to find some amazing chocolate.

 

I made it!

The past four weeks have flown by and crawled by at the same time, but I made it. I can’t remember the last time I worked that hard for four weeks non-stop, but now that’s officially over. Of course I’m happy I don’t have to get up at six am tomorrow, but the fact that I’m not attending input sessions every morning and teaching every afternoon also means I won’t see my course mates as often, and that makes me not so happy. Luckily a couple of us are staying in Boston for now and I won’t be all by myself. The next two weeks my plans are pretty limited: meeting friends, finding a job, and finding a new place to stay. Let’s hope I can find the last two fairly easily.
Bertrand is coming to visit from the 29th of October until the 11th of November and we’re going to do a road-trip through New England. We don’t have a detailed plan yet, but Bertrand bought the Lonely Planet and I’m checking the Internet for good advice. We have ten days to see how far we can get 🙂 I’m looking forward to our little vacation, I’ve never seen the American east coast and it’s the perfect time to discover the beautiful nature New England has to offer us.
I’m nervous for what comes after that, but also excited. The independence work will give me, living in the US of A, teaching, these are all things I’ve been dreaming of for a while. And even though it won’t be easy to miss Bertrand, I know we’re strong enough to be able to do this. And I’m not all alone here. I have made friends during the course (CELTA 8 for the win) that I won’t soon forget, dad’s American (AFS) family is here for me and now that I’m the proud owner of a smartphone, my sisters, parents, and friends back in Belgium are never far away.
Talking to everyone I have met here, I realize once again how privileged I was growing up. I never had to pay rent before now, or make sure I had food, clothes and transport. My parents paid for all of my education and I got pocket money every month over the years. But at the same time they taught me the value of money. Much more than before I think twice before buying something, try to look for sales and buy as much as possible in cheaper supermarket chains. I know I am lucky to have such great parents! They prepared me as well as they could’ve for my adventure and they’ve definitely deserved their own adventure. Thanks mom and dad!

Visiting friends and family

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my travels in the US of A, so here we go!

After my crazy busy weekend in New York I was ready to relax, so I took the Greyhound to Chicago, where my friend Hannah picked me up and we drove to her home in Burlington, Wisconsin. I was really tired so after Hannah introduced me to fried cheese curds we chilled with Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock on Netflix and Milo and Tazz.

Hannah had to work that night in the hospital, but I was in good company. 😀  Who can say no to cuddles with these fluffs?? On Tuesday we (Hannah, her mom Sue and me) went down to visit her grandfather who lives down by lake Geneva 45 minutes away and had lunch. Hannah was still really tired from work so she took a nap while Sue and I talked to her grandfather. Even though Hannah had warned me that he was a bit strange, I enjoyed his company very much and even got a free creamsicle and a Boston cap!

creamsicle

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Wednesday evening Hannah didn’t have to work so we went on a (I must say, very romantic) date and saw Shaun the Sheep: The Movie and had dinner afterwards. The movie was good, but when it comes to animation, I still prefer Despicable Me or How to Train your Dragon. (If you’re curious, here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQvwiOWpj7o)
Thursday and Friday were filled with more Sherlock (and some Dr Who) and on Saturday it was time for me to leave. 😦 But first Hannah and I visited the Art museum in Milwaukee. Unfortunately most of it is under construction and we only got to see a small exhibition but it feautured very nice works of art from painters such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

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We also took a walk by Lake Michigan and enjoyed the good weather!

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After that it was time for me to get on the Greyhound and head to my next destination: Pen Argyl, a small town in the east of  Pennsylvania. I am not going to bore you with details from my trip but skip right ahead to the fun part: seeing my dad’s AFS parents. It was Sunday evening when I arrived and after taking a shower I was exhausted and ready for bed. Monday was Labour day, so Dad (because that’s what I call him) and I went to the Labour day parade in downtown Pen Argyl. Basically it is a two hour parade of fire trucks and police cars letting their sirens wail all the while throwing candy. I’m still surprised my ears survived all the noise!

Opening act of the Parade
Opening act of the Parade

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Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders

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Candy I gathered (and ended up giving away)
Candy I gathered (and ended up giving away

The parade was close to my dad’s AFS niece Jesica so we had food before and after the parade and it was really nice seeing the whole family again and catching up!
On Tuesday and Thursday we went swimming and I got to meet Amanda’s puppy Lily, which is absolutely adorable!

Lily!
Lily!

On Wednesday it was pouring down rain so Jesica and I went shopping in an outlet before picking up her daughter Sariena.
On Friday evening everyone came over for dinner, Dad grilled chicken on the barbecue and in the oven, Amy brought her famous pierogi (if you want to know what that is and how to make it, click here: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/02/pierogi-casserole/ ), Terry made her much desired slaw salad (with noodles)  and it was a very merry night! There was lots of laughter, we talked about dad when he was there with AFS and reminisced about my visit in 2006. I had  a lof of fun and crawled happily into bed. Saturday morning Jesica, Sariena, Amanda (Jesica’s sister) and I went to a flea market. The things you find there… Then it was time for me to pack my bags yet again and in the pouring rain Dad, Amy and I drove to Allentown and I was on my way to Boston!

But more on Boston Sunday!

Potatoes and cheese curds

If you had told me a couple of weeks ago that cooking potatoes in the microwave was not only possible but common practice in the States, I wouldn’t have believed you. But this is actually the case in most American households. It still baffles me that a country with so many topchefs and cooking shows can have such strange culinary habits. Not only do they cook potatoes in the microwave, in Wisconsin I got to taste something called “cheese curds”. Wisconsin is the dairy state, so cheese curds are very popular over there. The first time I tried cheese curds it reminded me of fried mozzarella sticks, and that is basically what it is. For those who want to know more about cheese curds, check out this website: http://www.eatcurds.com/
I could probably write a lot more about strange American eating habits, but for now I’m gonna stick to these two.
America, what a strange country!