Friday, July 2, 2010

All I Ask For is a Transcript and a Parking Place

So today I visited my guidance counselor for a copy of my transcript to send to my new school. She didn't have it ready. I called her last week asking her to write it, and again this morning before I went, to ask if it was ready. She claimed not to know how to write up that type of transcript. I need it soon, though, because it needs to be translated to Dutch by an "official Belgian translator." The administration has been getting in the way of every one of my efforts to meet deadlines. How can I be taken seriously by AFS if I don't get things done? And it's not like I can write up this transcript myself. It needs to be signed, stamped, and legalized by the school. It's only frustrating because I can't do any of this on my own. I've done everything I can so far, and the rest is up to someone else. It should be relaxing, but it's so stressful.
I went to Potsdam today to get more information on the class that I have to take this summer to cover my English 12 credit. I obviously can't take an English class in Belgium, because it would be a foreign language class. I couldn't manage to get a Belgian literature class approved by the school either, because I didn't know the name of the school I would be attending, much less the name of the class itself. As if I could have pronounced it. I need to work on that. So my English teacher and principal approved an extended education class in Potsdam. It's three hours a day for three weeks. That's not so bad, considering the work I put into my junior year English class. So I have an Internet account with the school, but it doesn't work. I've had to email, call, and visit all sorts of people and offices to figure out if I'm missing any important information by not having a functional account. No answers yet, but I'm hoping that someone figures out what I'm talking about soon. I really don't want to show up on the first day of class without the right books. It's not for lack of trying. I mean, I'm close to criminally harassing my professor. I email her twice a day and call her office all the time in hopes that one day she'll get back to me. So the initial reason I went to Potsdam was to get my parking permit for the summer. A it turned out, I had to visit University Police. The campus is in heavy construction, so I had to ask all sorts of people how to get to the police station. They all gave me worried looks because, of the many reasons to visit a police station, parking is not the most obvious. So I ended up finding it after an hour of intense searching. Ironically, I ended up having to park about six blocks away from the parking office. The permit didn't cost anything. In fact, the university owes me $10.05. I have no idea why, but I won't complain. Now I have free parking right next to my class, ten bucks, and a thorough knowledge of the campus from all the time spent looking for the police station. If I have this much trouble with my American schooling, how will I ever figure it out in Belgium?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Hello, all. My name is Mathilde, and I will be your tour guide as we explore the life of an exchange student. I am embarking on my Belgian adventure armed only with a laptop and a Dutch dictionary. Well, that, and everything I need to live a comfortable life, including a giant support network in the form of a very generous host family and generations of exchange students. It's not the survivor mission everyone thinks it is. People ask me if I'm studying abroad to save the world. It's more my own selfish quest for waffles and chocolate. I'm sure I'll gain some cultural perspective, which was what I was after to begin with, but it's hard to ignore the promise of French food in German portions. Before I fall too far in love with Belgium, I should acknowledge my home and native land, Canada. Today, Canada turns 143 years old. So happy birthday. You know, I might head to Ottawa today. I hear the queen's in town and she brought 400,000 of her closest friends.