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Friday, July 15, 2016

In Which I Leave Richmond

When this goes online, I'll be in a plane. It's only hours away, but it feels like it won't ever happen.

Okay so here we go, the part of the blog where I explain why I haven't updated in a while.
This time I was literally just putting it off. Writing about all that happened meant I had to face the fact that my year was ending, and I didn't want that. To be honest, I still don't want it to end. Which is kind of inconvenient, seeing as I'm leaving Richmond in literally 9 hours.

(Warning: prepare for Emotions. Yes, capital E, Emotions)

Even though I knew since the beginning I was going to leave, it still feels unreal. Goodbye's don't feel like goodbye's. It feels as if tomorrow I'll get a text from Claire or Ellie asking if I wanna go to the pool, or just play Mario Kart at their house.
There was going to be a whole paragraph here trying to explain how I feel, which took me about half an hour to write. When I was reading it back, I realized you can summarize it into just a few words: I want to leave, but I don't. That's probably the best explanation I can give.

Recently I realized that I kinda can't really think about leaving. Trying to imagine what the next two months are going to be like is like imagining what aliens look like. I can come up with something, but there are just too many unknown factors. Only, when imagining what aliens look like you're not overcome with emotions (that's just me of course, I don't know about anyone else). So, I've just decided to not think about it. I'm only going to think about it as in: I need to pack my things, I need to check-in, I need to weigh my bags, I need to leave Sam a bag of chocolate chips in the drawer of my closet; that kinda thing.

About the packing, I spent all day doing it. Again, I just had been putting it off because it meant leaving, and those feelings are too complicated. So, now I have 4 bags: 2 for the main cabin (1 of 50 pounds, 1 of 45 pounds), my carry-on (mostly filled with shoeboxes, which are filled with mugs and socks). and my 'personal item' aka backpack (filled with laptop, coloring book & markers, puzzling book, camera etc etc). It's a lot of stuff. Luckily I managed to get most of the stuff that was in my room.

This is probably the part where I write the paragraph about my year. I actually wrote this yesterday (at 2 am) because I couldn't sleep. I let my mind wander, and I just had to write so all the emotions could go somewhere. I don't think I'll get much sleep tonight either.

I’m going to miss Richmond the most I’ve ever missed anything. When I leave it will have been exactly eleven months since I landed in Richmond, with only a few hours’ difference. Those eleven months have gone by way too fast, but they’ve been filled with great opportunities and experiences, and through all of it I’ve been supported by great, beautiful, loving people. I got a new house, with 6 new pets, a little brother,  a dad and a mom: a new family. It might sound crazy to anyone who isn’t an exchange student, but I consider these people as much my family as my biological one. And I will miss them as such. Of course, I also have to mention my amazing friends. They are the funniest, craziest, most supportive,  gossipy and talented group of people I’ve ever met, and I feel honored to know them. It feels like I’ve known them since I was born. 
Of course the most precious things I have, are all the memories. I’ve tried to hold on to as many of them as possible, but my memory is horrible so that’s not working. Luckily there are plenty of pictures and stories, and I'm sure I'll never forget it.

- Marga

p.s: I might (no more promises, it's not working out for me so far XD) write blogs about being an ambassador at camp. From what I've heard, ambassadors get like 0 hours of sleep, so I don't know if I'll have time to write blogs about it
pp.s: collecting mugs is really fun, until you start travelling internationally and want to get a mug from everywhere. i have too many mugs. they're gonna need their own display case or something. so, if you wanna start collecting mugs, don't go crazy like i did. you will end up with a carry-on bag filled with 8 mugs (and like 6 pairs of socks) so if any break it's your own fault

Sunday, May 15, 2016

In Which I Go To Prom

Yay! Time for prom blog! Many pictures of pretty people!

So, yesterday we had our prom! Prom itself was only the dance, but there was so much more to it, so let's get right into it.
First my friend Claire came to my house to get ready. We took some pictures outside the house, and then headed over to the park to meet our other friends and take pictures with them too. That took about half an hour, and at that point no one could take any more fake smiling. Then we all went out to dinner, and to the dance! The dance was in the science museum, an old train station turned into a museum. The main hall, where we had prom, is a big, circular room with a pendulum in the middle. It was so beautiful. There was a live band playing songs, and we danced for about an hour and a half. Then we went to Mary Bess's house for a pajama/karaoke party!

Of course, that all sounds nice, but it's a story told better in pictures...




The best host family


My wonderful date Gray and I!

 


Me struggling to put on Gray's boutineer. So, it's traditional for a girl to get her date a boutineer, and the boy gets his date a corsage. Both are small but fancy flower arrangments. The corsage goes around the girl's wrist, and the girl has to pin the boutineer to the boy's suit. As you can see, this was a slight struggle for me. Eventually I got it though, and it stayed on all night!!



Close up of my gorgeous boutineer



The friends gathered in the park


The squad


Prom was honestly one of the best experiences of my life, and it completed my exchange year. I'll never forget this incredible night!!



- Marga

bonus pic:


For those of you who don't know, a few months ago I bought a cardboard cutout of Liam Payne at a thrift store. To this day one of the best things I've ever bought. He also makes for a very good prom picture.

p.s: this blog was written while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, which shows just how obsessed I am with this musical
#notthrowingawaymyshot

Saturday, May 7, 2016

In Which I Play Catch-Up

Right now it's like midnight, and  a few minutes ago I suddenly remembered I had a blog. And then I thought, gosh, I wonder what I would write if I was gonna write one now. So, naturally, I got really excited and now I'm writing this. Good thing: I actually have a plan this time, sort of. Bad thing: it's midnight, so I don't know how good this is going to be. We'll see.

Sh. I know, I know, it's literally been months since I wrote anything. I wish I could say it's because I've been busy, but to be honest at this point it's mostly just laziness. For some reason I still had 183 people look at my blog in the last month, and whoever you are, I applaud you. Sorry for the outdated content, but hey, whatcha gonna do.

So, the plan: this post will mostly be me catching you up on what's you can expect from me these next few weeks. More in-depth blogs will follow, hopefully on a more regular basis than three months. The goal is to be caught up before I leave Richmond, which should be possible, but you never know.

First and foremost: I've been accepted as an EF Camp Ambassador! Remember that camp thing I had at the beginning of the year? Well, I get to go back, this time to tell the new batch of exchange students about my experiences. It'll be pretty great.
Because camp doesn't start until late July, I get to stay in Richmond with the Kantors until July 15th. This means I get to stay here for 3 more weeks than planned, and I get to celebrate 4th of July (American Independence Day) and my birthday here! Camp will be around a month long, so I'll be landing in Holland on August 13th. Honestly, I can't believe it's only a few more months. The other day I told Karen about how I didn't have much time left, and she said: "No, it's not that bad! There's May, June, July...oh." Yeah. It's about to end now. 'This too shall pass', right?

So, now, what's going to happen in the next few weeks?
Well, this upcoming Saturday, May 14th, is prom! Yes, prom, the formal dance at the end of the year that is such a big deal. And it truly is! Next blog will hopefully be filled with many pictures of my friends and me at prom, I can't wait!

And what can we expect from the blog the next few weeks? Well, catch-up, mostly.
There's a BUNCH of things I really need to write blogs about. It's going to go backwards, which means starting at the most recent thing, and we'll end somewhere in January. So, we're gonna start with the chorus trip to New York, the school musical, then spring break when my dad came to visit, then the weekend that my aunt, uncle and two cousins came to visit, and then we'll be in January, with all the snow!

In other news, I'm completely American at this point. It's gotten to the point where my friends ask me what classes I'll be taking at Freeman next year. The pledge of allegiance is normal now, same goes for the schoolbus and the cafeteria food. Wait, that's a lie, the cafeteria food will always be disgusting. 
My friends here are wonderful, and I'm going to miss them so much. And of course, my host family is as much of a family as possible. Sometimes my friends just call them my 'parents' and 'brother' when referring to them, and I think that's a pretty good example of how I've become a part of this...entire thing.

*quick sidenote: one of the great things about this year is the whole presidential election thing. By far the best thing about it, is that I'm not actually here for the next president, so I get to laugh at everyone. They're all legitimately concerned. I'm not.*

Of course, I could write a whole sentimental paragraph now about how I'm going to miss this, and it'll get really sad and stuff, so maybe not. No, I'll throw all that at ya when I'm about to get on the plane.

For now, I'll sign off, and get some sleep! If you have any comments, please throw them at me in some way, shape or form! And I'll see you soon, with some pretty prom pics :)

Marga

P.s: yes, I say y'all. Frequently. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've mentioned it on the blog, but yes. It is now a thing that I say sometimes, and it's quite troubling.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

In Which I'm Blue and See Dinos

Ah! I'm back! Let me just quickly explain why it's been two months since I wrote anything.

So, I left off at homecoming. After that, we had Halloween, and then...the play. *Imperial March starts playing*
Yes, the play took over my entire life. You'll hear plenty about it of course! I recorded some footage for a video a few days before the premiere, but I haven't been able to edit it yet! It's coming though!
After the play we went to visit Andrew's (host dad) father in New York City for a few days (yes yes, I'll write about that too), and then my laptop screen broke, so I couldn't write anything at all! I only got it back a few days ago, and now my mind is set to rolling these blogs out as fast as possible. BEGIN!

Let's start at Halloween! 
Of course, Halloween had been a thing for about a month. All the stores were full of pumpkin-related items. The pumkin spice latte was back at Starbucks. Spooky Scary Skeletons was playing on repeat. Everyone was ready.
Karen got down the Halloween decorations, so the front of our house was decorated with fake spider webs, a skeleton and carved pumpkins! Yes, Sam and I got to carve a pumpkin! 






The day before Halloween was Senior Costume day at Freeman! All the seniors got to go to school in costume, and some of them took it very seriously.



(from top to bottom: Kellie as Anna and Ellie as Doc Brown)

And then Halloween was upon us! Of course, I had a costume: the TARDIS from the British TV show Doctor Who. For those of you who don't know, this is a time travel machine, disguised as a blue telephone box. Obviously. 
In the evening, Sam and I went out trick or treating around the neighborhood. Sam was dressed as a cyclist. This meant that he was wearing bright orange, and his bike helmet. We got a ton of candy.

After trick or treating, it was time for the Halloween party I was invited to! It was at my friend Mary Bess's house. Mary Bess has a karaoke machine in her basement, so all the parties held at her house always involve a ton of karaoke. Needless to say, it was a great party. 

So now we get to the part where the play takes over. The rehearsals had been going on for a while, but about 10 days before the play premiered, Hell Week started. Hell Week is exactly what it sounds like. Hell. 
Usually, rehearsals would be from 4 to 7. Which is kinda long, but it's still fine. During Hell Week, rehearsals are from 4 to 11. Which is very long. It was very weird, because on the one hand you're really tired and you're at school from 9am to 11pm so you're barely home, but on the other hand, you're surrounded by your friends.









(Some of the friends! From top to bottom: Zach Fox, Franklin, Angus, Claire. Please notice the beautiful fake moustaches on the boys)


After Hell Week though, we got to actually  perform the play! We performed it 3 times, Thursday through Saturday. It was so much fun!
The crew set up a board with all our headshots on it in the main hallway, which looked really awesome! 


Okay, this is going well, on to the next holiday: Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November, and it is the holiday of food. It means that you get the family together, and eat foods like a) turkey b) stuffing (which you eat seperate from the turkey for some reason) c) marshmellows and sweet potato (which is a sugar bomb if there ever was one) and d) cranberry sauce. 
Another key part of Thanksgiving is that you eat leftovers for at least another week, because there really is a lot of food. 
Unfortunatley, Andrew was up in New York with his father during Thanksgiving, so it was just Karen, Sam and me. It was still great, though we probably would have had less leftovers if Andrew was there. 

A few days after Thanksgiving, we followed Andrew to New York! We left on Monday around 11 am, and after driving for approximately 7-8 hours, we finally arrived. On Tuesday, Karen and I spent the morning walking around Bayside, Queens, which is where Andrew's dad lives. We walked past an NYPD station, and Karen asked me if I wanted to go in and take a picture with a New York police officer. I had to think about this for a while, but eventually I gave in. Eventually we found a police officer, and I pushed Karen forward so she could ask him for a picture. He was super excited, and went inside to get his hat, and came out with another police officer, who was also very excited for the picture.



After the picture, they offered to give us a tour of the station! We saw the cells, and the place where they do roll call, and where they map out all the crimes that take place in their area. The police officers said that 'there aren't a whole lot of crimes though, because it's mostly old people and Koreans, but yesterday we had a car robbery, so that was exciting'. 

The next day, we went to the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. We spent all day there. The Hayden Planetarium is part of the museum, which is where Neil DeGrasse Tyson works. We were hoping to meet him, and Andrew suggested I tweeted him, which I did, but he didn't respond. So no Neil DeGrasse Tyson for us. We saw some really cool exhibits though, but the museum is just so enormous! We had to see the dinosaurs though, and we did!




Okay, that's probably enough for noq! The next blog will be CHRISTMAS!!!!!!, because that starts right after Thanksgiving
Get ready for that. 

Marga

p.s: any blog/video topic suggestions?? Let me know! :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

In which I go to a children's shoes store

Homecoming!

Firstly, for those of you who don't know, let me explain homecoming. Homecoming is the 'coming home' of earlier graduates. Supposedly they come back to the school, but most students just go to the big football game and the dance!

The week before homecoming is spirit week. This means that every day there is a new theme people can dress up in. Some go crazy, some don't. My favorite day was outer space day, because everyone either wore their space-hoodies, went as an alien or did some Star Wars thing. You can probably guess which one I did. 


Princess Leia and the Doctor :)


Friday we had the big football game, we played Tucker High School. It was great! I was in the student section with some of the theatre kids, and we had lots of fun! Also, we won: 45-7. Go Freeman Rebels!!

And of course, Saturday we had the dance! Now, I had a little problem, because appearently Americans don't make a lot of fancy shoes my tiny little feet can handle. Eventually Karen and I were so done that we walked into a children's shoe store. Seriously. I was pretty embarrassed, but to be fair they did have a lot of shoes that fit me. Unfortunately they weren't fancy enough for homecoming, because they were targeted at 10 year olds. 

This year was 'Sadie Hawkins'. That means that instead of the boys asking the girls, the girls have to ask the boys. Just my luck. My date was Hayden, who is in the play with me. Luckily he agreed to go with me, because we had a great time! 


Of course, Hayden and I couldn't escape from Andrew and his camera. First, we went out to dinner with Marte, the other foreign exchange student at Freeman. Luckily, the restaurant was right next to Freeman, so we didn't have to walk that far.


And then we went to the dance! Yes, homecoming princes and princesses are a real thing! Every grade and club gets to elect a princess, and then there's a queen and a king. Another thing you always see in the movies that turns out to be real! 
The dance itself wasn't that good, but we still had a good time with all the theatre kids. Trust the theatre kids to dance weirdly. 



 After the dance we took some pictures at Freeman's...sign-thingy. This was mostly because Marte and I were like omg those are real!! And yes, yes they are.

So homecoming! It was great. I had an amazing time and a lovely date. :)

See you next time, when I hopefully talk about a nice Halloween!!

Marga

(p.s: a couple of days ago I forgot the Dutch word for peanut. I even had to use Google Translate to eventually find it out. Andrew and Karen started chanting "one of us, one of us, one of us....")

Sunday, September 27, 2015

In which I'm slowly becoming American...

Hiya!

I know, I know! I've been gone! But hey, I'm back, so quit complaining and enjoy the update.

Tomorrow I start my fourth week at Freeman High School. It's crazy to think I've already been walking around there for three weeks! Freeman is a great high school, with a lot nice and diverse people in it. It's also a lot bigger than what I'm used to, which is great!

Of course there are a lot of differences between my school in Holland and Freeman, so here's a little list:

- You have classes with people from lots of different grades! In Holland, you only have classes from people from your own grade, but here in America all the grades are mixed. To me it's still a little strange to be making friends with people from different grades, but so far I like it so I'll keep it up!

- Graded homework. In some classes in America, you get graded for completing your homework. This is entirely new to me! In Amrerica, if you don't do your homework, you get a bad grade instead of just an angry look from your teacher. Luckily, the homework isn't that hard (yet) so I'm good!

- We have the same schedule every day! There are parts of the school I've never been to, just because it's not on the route to my classes every day. In one way, it's kinda boring, but on the other hand you don't really have to think about where to go, which is nice.

- So many classes that I could never have in Holland! For example, I take chorus and theatre, and you can also do ceramics, band, stagecraft, child development and so many others. All of these are electives, so you can't do more than two of them each year, but hey, you can do them!

- School spirit! In Holland we barely have school spirit, so I was very excited when I could buy Freeman sweaters and shirts! They are surprisingly comfortable too, the sweater is the best sweater I've ever had.

- The FLAGS! Every single classroom has one (well, at least one) American flag in it. In the morning, as part of the morning announcments, we say the Pledge of Allegiance. Everyone in the classroom stands up and turns to the flag, puts their hand over their heart and pledges allegiance. Now, because I'm not American I don't have to say it. Sometimes I do say it, but most of the time I just stand up and listen. But the American flag is everywhere! At the football game last week, my friends asked me if we have Dutch flags everywhere. I just kinda laughed, because I honestly see our flag maybe three times a year? Four if I'm lucky? Americans have flag-everything. Now, it's kinda weird that I'm saying this, with my American-flag backpack and my American-flag travel cup, but shush. I'm buying American-flag everything while I still can.

Also, I got into the fall play! We started rehearsals last week, and so far I'm loving it. I'm really surprised by the fact that students do so many things. The people in stagecraft make the entire set, and I think it's gonna look really awesome!

So far, my favorite store is America is, by far, Target. Target is a store where you can get most things. Lots of things. Karen and I have been there a couple of times to flee the house while Andrew yells at his football games. It's fun.



video

                                              As you can see they have a lot of nice hats.

And, of course, the food. Yes, the food is good. Very good, in fact. I sent some of my Dutch friends some Oreos, and they told me that now they can't eat Dutch Oreos anymore. Because compared to American Oreos, they're terrible.

So I'm having loads and loads of fun here. The Kantors are still treating me nice, the pets still like me and I'm making friends at school! In 2 weeks we'll have homecoming (a fancy dance) and then soon after it's HALLOWEEN!
Here are a couple of pictures, to keep you entertained:

A giant unicorn Karen found in the supermarket (also me)

Marte (other EF exchange student, from Norway) and I on the skating ring!
Aaand I think that's it! Of course I'll write a new blog as soon as I have more (relatively interesting) news!

-Marga

The most American picture I've taken so far.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

In Which I Go To High School

After having slept for a mere 5 hours (because excitement, also Monty Python), downing my breakfast in 10 minutes, and practically bouncing off the wall, it was time to go to my first day of High School!

Andrew took me a little early, to change my choir class into 'select girls ensemble', possibly the fanciest course name ever. Once I had my new schedule, I was ready to go to homeroom. First though, the other exchange student (Marte from Norway) and I hung out in the library for a while.
We discussed our schedules and we were generally being very nervous about our first day of school!

Then we went our own ways to homeroom. We only go to homeroom for the first week, and it's where we get important information. Well, some of it is. We got about 100 forms, some of which have to filled out and others are just info about how to possibly get free lunch.

After homeroom, I went to English class. Our English teacher told us we're going to do a lot of reading this year, so yay! Reading!
She also had us answer questions about our goals, which seems reasonable, until you see the question: "what are your goals and dreams you want to achieve before you die?"

Next, there was Spanish I. Now, I've been very excited about Spanish! I can't take it as a class in Holland, so I'm looking forward to be able to learn a little Spanish. A girl quite close to me started talking to me, and after telling her I was an exchange student she said: "okay, this is gonna sound very stupid, but do you speak like a dialect of English in The Netherlands, like the British?", to which I responded: "Uhm, no, we speak Dutch, our own language. It's a lot like German." She also asked me if Sweden and The Netherlands were close, and I answered: hmm...yeah I guess? Partly because I am terrible at geography and can't remember how far away Sweden is exactly, and partly because an American's definition of 'close' is a lot different from mine.

-geek side-note here: okay so it turns out the south tip of Sweden is stuck to Denmark, so from The Netherlands you can get there in 9 hours (according to Google Maps), which isn't close no matter what you think close is, and then you're only in the deep deep south of Sweden-

After Spanish I had Virginia and US History. I was pretty scared, because even though I'm supposed to know more about US History, I don't know a lot. I know they gained independence in 1776, and they had a civil war like 100 years later? Anyways, I was pretty concerned that I'd have to ask every little thing. But the people sitting behind me convinced me that they didn't know much more either. So I was both happy and kinda confused that you can go 16 years without knowing much about your own Civil War.

And then there was lunch! My neighbor Anne is a sophomore at Freeman, so I could sit with her and her friends. They were really nice, and we only had 22 minutes to eat lunch, so you had to eat fast! I had a sandwhich and some grape tomatoes. Andrew told me the lunch in the cafeteria is terrible, and I think I'm going to believe him because that risk is just too big to take.

My next class was math. I half-expected it to be really easy, but boy was I wrong! Not that the things they learn are so hard, but the way they learned how to do it is just so different from what I learned! Luckily, after math class we have 20 minutes of study hall. Study hall is when you stay in your last classroom and get to do whatever you like, so lots of people just watch movies or something on their school laptops.

After math, I had Physics. My Physics teacher is pretty awesome. He explained a bit about himself using a powerpoint with a picture of a dog eating a bubble ('it doesn't really have anything to do with me, I just liked the picture') He also had us standing in a line in order of: how much we liked video games, how much we liked sports and how tall we were. I am proud to say I am taller than 3 people in my Physics class! He also promised lots of lab work, which will probably be amazing!

My 6th period is Girls Select Ensemble. This is basically a choir of girls, and this year there are 31 of us. They all seemed very nice! Marte and I have this class together, so we can chat about how terrible our host families are and how much we want to go back to our home countries, which will be nice.

Lastly, I have Theatre Arts II! Now, this is on the other side of the building from Chorus, and it is a big building. I came in a little late, and everyone was looking at me and the teacher said: "Ah, this will be her!" I probably looked very confused, because she added: "The foreign exchange student?" And I answered: "Oh, yeah! That's me!"
Theatre seems like a very nice class! I have my first actual homework for this class, since everyone was supposed to prepare two monologues over the summer. Whoops.

And like that, the day was over! The school busses back home were very late, so I didn't come home until about 5! Andrew signed all the forms, I covered my calculus book with a newspaper, translated a monologue I performed once into English, and now I'm going to go to sleep! Let's do it all again tomorrow!



-Marga



p.s I would like to comment on my cheese-paragraph of a blog gone by. Karen and Andrew insist that I tell you it is also possible to get an entire array of good cheeses at the supermarket. I didn't write about that because that didn't have enough comedic value. So here you go, it was an exaggeration. Now stop spamming facebook about it :)

p.p.s: Thanks so much for my High School in Holland for putting me on the front page! Honored!!!
Wanna see my face all huge on a webpage? (who doesn't want that!) Go to: http://www.maerlant-lyceum.nl/