There are quite a few things that I want to get out of my year in Belgium, so choosing three to talk about will allow me to focus on the ones that are the most important to me. I think the most obvious is that I want to be proficient in French by the time I leave this country. After being here for two weeks, I have realized how important language is as I can barely get by without someone translating for me or using Google Translate myself. I think that becoming at least comfortable with holding a conversation in French will help me in my future. It could give me another opportunity to study it in the next four years at school and maybe even take me back to Belgium for a job in the future.
I have already been working towards this goal since arriving in Belgium. I am constantly on DuoLingo and my host family have given me grammar books. I also take notes on vocabulary I learn during the day and have been practicing the conjugation of different verbs. The entire process has been frustrating as so many words sound exactly the same but have very different meanings, but my host family have told me that I have made big improvements since the day that I arrived. Moving forward, I will continue to try and practice daily on DuoLingo, take notes, and continue to use the grammar notes. In addition to this, I want to learn a minimum of 10 words a day. I also will make an effort to speak in French as often as possible no matter how bad I sound. This way I can make my mistakes early on and correct them as the days go by.
Additionally, I want this year to point me in the direction of what I want to major in. As of now, I think my major is computer science but I am pretty sure that I want to change majors when I come home and go to college. In order to figure out what I actually want to do in my life, I will try as many different things that I can. This will also give me more opportunities to volunteer here in Belgium. I can volunteer my time helping out at different organizations or help out at different workplaces near me and try out, or even watch, different jobs. Hopefully one of my experiences inspires me enough to give me an idea of what field I want to study and then later on work in.
Finally, my third goal is to make strong connections with the people here in Belgium. By this I mean with my host family, and any friends that I make while I am here. I want to be able to come back and visit this country and the people that I met during my stay here. To accomplish this, I will need to put myself out there so that I stick out in a positive way in my my host families’ and friends’ lives. To make this happen I will try and be a part of their lives by talking with them regularly, cooking for them, and even sharing some of the traditions and celebrations that I do at home. I will also take up every opportunity that they give me to do with them, even if it small like going to the grocery store or helping them out around the house. Overall, I want to become a person that they invite back after I leave in ten months.
After two weeks of being here, I can already start to see my progress towards my goals and hope that by the end, I can look back at this journal and check all three off as accomplished. But for now, I need to just continue to study and work on my goals every day.