This past summer 10 students took a life changing trip to Belgium, where they immersed themselves in Belgian culture for two weeks. The exchange started out with the American students hosting exchange students back in late April from the Damiaaninstituut in northern Belgium.
“The Belgians have the worse end of the deal.” said senior Bliss Boutin, “They don’t know anything about our lives here and they only first meet us when they get off the bus.”
The trip began June 26 when the group of Americans flew out of Sacramento International Airport and sat through a 14 hour flight to Belgium. They spent two weeks of Paris, went on museum tours, and experienced Belgian culture. They also got to cheer for their favorite teams during the World Cup.
“My favorite memory was the World Cup match between Belgium and America.” said senior Rosie Broderick. “We went to the main square and watched the match on these big screen they had set up and it was us Americans all in a little group cheering.”
Another group activity was the canoeing and barbecue trip in the Netherlands.
“We got three people in a canoe and we rowed across the lake. When we got to the other side they gave us each our own little BBQ and we all cooked food. On the way back Sydney, Brian, and I were singing campfire songs! We sung all of 100 bottles of beer on the wall!” said senior Monica Dorffler.
One of the biggest culture shocks going over there was the infamous mayonnaise. “They eat it with everything. I remember going to the welcome dinner and they had an actual bowl of it on the table. It was so odd,” said Broderick.
Individual families had odd quirks too.
“I loved my family,” said Boutin, “but they had this odd custom of wearing orange crocs in the house. They asked me to wear them too.”
There was also a large cultural aspect to the otherwise leisurely trip. The group toured a lot of museums such as the Louvre and Holocaust Museum. “The museums had very long lines but it was a once in a lifetime experience for me and my friends,” said Junior Noble Boutin. Many students plan to return because of how much fun the trip was. “Some advice I would give to people going on the exchange next year would be don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Everyone is very welcoming,” said senior Sydney Hammes. “Many students are very welcoming
“I’m definitely doing it next year. It was the best,” said Monica.