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October 8th 2008
Published: October 8th 2008
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Beste familie en vrienden/Dear family and friends:

One of the nice bonuses to this exchange is having the opportunity to do things like catch up on my reading and exercise for fun--things I didn´t have the time or motivation to do last year. I have read Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, the 2nd and 3rd Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books by Ann Brasheres, Adrian Mole: The Lost Years by Sue Townsend, Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (I don´t know if that´s been published in America) and I´m in the middle of The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Our school library has an extensive English section, for which I am very grateful.

As for the exercising, well, I have been taking very fun group figure skating lessons once a week at a rink nearby. We have a wide variety of ages but I´m pretty certain I am the oldest. We progress very quickly and are already doing basic spins and spirals (my favorite)! Because we get out early every Wednesday afternoon, the lessons are at 3:30 on those Wednesdays and they are a nice break in between school and homework.

I have been to three swimming pools thus far and all of them have been beautiful. The first was Océade in Brupark in Brussels with Lien, a YFU alumna, and her family. Océade is really more of a water park, it´s so big! It has a LOT of fun slides, a wave pool, a drift-around-in-the-current section, and lots of space to splash around. Then the day before school started, we went to a similar but smaller and outdoor pool with our church choir. I don´t know what it was called but it was an official Vlaams-Brabant pool. Then yesterday night I went to the big, shiny, clean indoor pool in the park just outside of Leuven with Annemie. (Note to Metuchen cynics: The fact that I marvel at its cleanlieness is not a dig at our dear Metuchen pool. It is merely that, being a weeknight in autumn, I never expected a pool I didn´t even know was there to be so polished.) Again, it had a few slides along with a HUGE lap pool that I think local swim teams use to practice. The lap pool goes very deep at one end which I wasn´t expecting, but the water was so blue and pretty that I wasn´t scared. (Okay, Laura, bring on the jokes.)

One Wednesday a few weeks ago in school we had a Sportdag which meant that we got to choose a set pair of activities and participate in those for the day. I chose squash and salsa-dancing, and was happy to learn that my friends Astrid, Tine, Jolien, and Liz from the other Humane class were participating in those too! OKAY, I admit it, I had never played squash before and mostly chose it because of Sukhyun and Jongnam on The Bizarre Bunch K-drama. But I really wanted to do salsa dancing and squash was the only activity paired with that, plus I figured squash is a good and classy sport to play, and one that´s not TOO streneous. Both activities were a lot of fun, although I didn´t realize that the squash ball really doesn´t bounce as much as you think it might so it was a learning experience!

I have a bit of a headache now (I wonder if that is because I actually, by the grace of God, sat down and COMPLETED my homework today with minimal procrastination?) so I will sign off, but please subscribe to this blog so you can get automatic updates via email! And email me for my address here if you would like to write a snail-mail letter or would like me to write you one!

A note on my photos: I really, REALLY do want to post them ASAP. But I am having problems with posting pictures on facebook, so that will have to wait until another time (this weekend, perhaps?) when I can sit down and sort that out.

Yours from Heverlee,


9th October 2008

Ooh! Figure skating sounds so cool. Of course I guess you could probably do that here in the USA but it's much cooler in Europe lol. Hope you're enjoying yourself =) -Mariah-Lynn Black

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