my first outing!

Wencke hiding from the sun :)

a team Nederland fan decked out in orange, the national color. the flag is red white and blue, but the royal family's name is van Oranje, or 'of orange'. 

a street leading to the square in Borne

On Sunday, my family and i drove to Essen, Germany to see the European Kanopolo Championships. it was a beautiful morning, sunny and warm but breezy enough. we drove for about two hours, maybe a little less, over the border - i was surprised that we could just drive through, but apparently most of Europe has open borders now so it's just like driving from one state to another. 
i've never seen anything quite like kanopolo  - 'the best way to describe it', said Wencke (my host sister), 'is like rugby in kayaks'. and it is. there are nine players on each side, and they basically beat each other up to try and get the ball into a square goalpost on either side of a large pool. the games took place on a large lake just outside of Essen, with courts (pools?) set up one next to another, roped off and sided by floating docks. there were probably eight or so, plus some areas for practice. the nations competing (as far as i know) were Germany, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Poland, Russia, and France. it was very fun to see all of the different nationalities roaming around, chatting in the sun in about fifteen different languages. i also had my first taste of pommes frites with mayo, or french fries. i liked the mayo well enough, but they had a bottle of ketchup there and i stuck with that :) we had a discussion later on about how all exchange students gain weight during the year, so i'm going to try to keep that to a minimum! plus... ketchup is amazing. we'll leave it at that. 
Today Paula, Wencke and I went to my school to meet with the dean and figure out my schedule. it turns out that the level i was going to be in, havo 4, is too full, so i'm going to be in VWO 5 instead. vwo is the level for more ambitious kids who want to go to university for careers. i'll still be with people my age but the classes will be a little harder, and more oriented towards college-prep. possibly. this is all from what i've been able to make out of my english briefings. it's funny having conversations here, because paula and this or that person will have a long exchange and then paula will turn to me and say, he thinks you should take biology. haha well i can follow conversations here a bit, as in i can tell what they're talking about. tomorrow i'll bike there again and pick up my schedule, and be shown around school a bit, perhaps meet some classmates. then i'll start school officially maybe wednsday? we're not quite sure yet, as this school week is a bit all over the place. hopefully all will go well there, i'm excited to start school and talk to people my age again! i haven't met anyone since i arrived here so making friends will be nice.


here at last

writing this, i'm sitting in the living room of my family's home in Borne. i arrived yesterday in the early afternoon, after flying from New York through Zurich, Switzerland. Paula, Gjalt, and Henri met me at Schipol airport in Amsterdam with a bouquet of wooden tulips and a balloon :) we drove about two hours from there to Borne - all the way across the country! luckily there were no major traffic jams. today Paula took me on a little tour of the town, we went shopping and ran errands: to the grocery store, the butcher, the library, the bicycle shop (to get the brakes fixed on my bike). Borne itself is smaller in size than Homer but has more people and far more shops and the like. everything is very close together, the streets are narrow and paved with cobblestone. there's a church built in 1480, it's huge to me but they tell me it's quite small for a chapel. 
i'm definitely suffering a little jet lag, paula teased me for nearly falling alseep in the market! it's about a ten hour difference i think, so it's taking a bit to adjust. i'm learining new dutch words everytime i do something. one wonderful discovery is that they still have cosmogirl (the magazine) here! although it's in dutch, so i can barely read it, it's nice to look at the pictures :) i got a prepaid cell phone today for 25 euros, and we're spray painting my bike shiny blue to prevent it from being stolen. tomorrow i hope to see Borne a bit more, or maybe even Hengelo, where i'll be going to school. i'll post some pictures of Borne tomorrow but right now i'm unbelievably tired.. even though i've already taken a two hour nap today! haha well i'm going to go to sleep now.


zes dagen

...and so the countdown begins! i officially have less than a week, making everything that i still have to do all that more daunting. i have a world history course that i still have to finish (i'm on the very last lesson but i just can't seem to sit down and do it), books to read, Dutch to study, bags to pack, a room to clean... the list goes on. and on. i'll find the time somewhere, though. 
i've been doing shifts at the bakery for the past couple days because one of the baristas left, it's nice to make a little last minute money :) well i hope that everyone reading this is doing well, and thank you!


I have two weeks left in Homer! The summer has almost slipped away, but I think I've accomplished what I wanted. I got my driver's license (I can't drive on exchange, but this way I'm off my provisional when I come back), went fishing, danced and got tan at Concert on The Lawn, and had many amazing adventures with my friends before we all go off into our great blue yonders. I'm obviously not the only one wanting to get out of Homer for a year, and great minds think alike - the other exchange students leaving for the year all happen to be my besties! Kayla is off to Spain here soon, also with AFS; as well as Kelsey, who is going to South Africa. Then there is Ruby, who will grace Pune, India with her presence in the very near future. 
Of all of the people who could change the world with what they're going to discover on their respective journeys, Ruby and Kayla are the people who will do it while laughing and leading everyone with them. They are the flames that everyone will follow, and I'm so lucky to have them along with me. We'll each find things in this world that are different and new, but most of all we will find parts of ourselves we didn't know existed. So goodbye for now to my gypsy girls, and hello to the Great Unknown...