Anyways, I left off way back at Sinterklaas, which means I still need to cover the vast majority of December, and the last few weeks as well. So here goes:
It is a possibly sad truth to admit that I have been busy every single weekend since I've gotten to my new host family, but at least you know I'm keeping busy. Sinterklaas you already know about, the week after that I had a six hour rehearsal for orchestra, which end up taking up 8 or 9 hours of my every fourth Sunday. They're pretty exhausting, but fun.
The third weekend of December I went to Paris for a day, since that's a normal and reasonable thing to do on the weekends (right?). I went with my school, and there was a very large amount of walking around and sitting on a bus, but was very fun as well. I ate a croissant, large quantities of hot chocolate, and of course saw all the general sights. It was enjoyable, and definitely not something I wouldn't have done seeing as going to Paris and back in one day (and two nights) is pretty much impossible if you're coming from the US, certainly for the pricey fee of 30 euros.
That said, I would really like to go back to Paris and France in general another time, because the two times I've been have been with school, and I'd rather tour the city off the beaten path than stare at the Eiffel Tour time after time. Yes, it's pretty, but everyone knows what it looks like and there's not much of a story to tell there, now is there? I'd much rather go off the beaten path and find some tiny boulangerie somewhere with handmade bread at the crack of dawn, and watch the sun come up. Et cetera.
The weekend I went to Paris was the first week of winter vacation for everyone in Eugene, but I still unfortunately had another week of school; we got out on the twenty-third. If my memory is accurate, I had a large history test which I hadn't studied for that week (well, I'd studied but only understood an eight of what I was reading). Amazingly I passed, so that's good.
Finally winter vacation began, and I had hardly a minute to ponder that before I was jumping on a train that was supposed to go to Luxembourg via Belgium. Supposed to is the key word, because the Belgian train workers had been on strike for the three days before, and so no trains had been running. This meant that not only were all the trains overcrowded by people who were supposed to be going through Belgium in the week, but the entire system was messed up. What should have been a simple ride, only changing trains once internationally, became absolutely chaotic, sitting on overfull trains moving at a snail pace, with not enough seats for everyone.
In my first train I had to sit in the hinge of a door, in my second I managed a seat next to a screaming baby. The third, or maybe fourth change involved running from the basement floor to the third of the train station in I-can't-remember-where, which I managed in three minutes with bagage. Including the times I changed trains inside the Netherlands, I probably changed trains six or seven times. Amazingly, I still got to Luxembourg on time though.
My week in Luxembourg with Georgia, who is my host sister from 2009-10 for those who don't know, was absolutely amazing. I got to see all of their Christmas traditions, Luxembourg city, and portions of Germany and France as well. I also got to eat cereal and bagels, which was also pretty incredible. I have photos on facebook, which you should check out because my deteriorating writing skills can simply not describe how much fun I had.
The train ride back was thankfully a lot less eventful, though I was sorry to say goodbye. I got out of school a week later than everyone back home, so had an extra week at the end, which was nice. We celebrated New Years by baking olliebolen and then everyone everywhere exploded the sort of fireworks that are illegal in the US. In the street. Where you were walking. So that a meter from your face all the sudden something would explode. It was kind of terrifying, to tell you the truth.
The weekend after New Years we went to my host mom's parent's house, because it was their "150th" birthday; their ages together this year add to 150. I was a little bit under the weather, which oddly seems to have happened every single time I've been there, but had a good time. Last week was the first week back at school, which felt like more than a month. I had a presentation with another girl in my class over Colony Collapse Disorder, so spent most of last week and the majority of Saturday working on that, Sunday I had another orchestra rehearsal which was totally exhausting especially the first hour, since I wasn't entirely awake. Normally I'm third chair left (of the seconds), but the girls who are normally first and second left were gone, so for the last half I had to sit first chair. Almost everyone in the orchestra is older than me, and I have not been so terrified in quite along time.
That's about it, really. I'm back to circus after not having gone during vacation, and am enjoying it. My host family is moderately insane which works out very well indeed as I an too (though possibly not moderately). I've undercovered loads of english books in the school library that aren't in circulation because not enough people checked them out, so instead of the "see jane run" books I had been reading out of desperation, I've been reading quite a bit of literaturey stuff. I read Catch-22 and The Color Purple over the vacation, finished The Cider House Rules yesterday, and read Slaughter House 5 today. Now I'm reading A Clockwork Orange, which is exceptionally weird and disturbing. I think the library staff might be a tad bit afraid of me because I go through books so quickly (Slaughter House 5 is short though, The Cider House Rules took me a good week to read). I'm also reading De Hobbit, which is The Hobbit in Dutch, and read my first ever Dutch chapter book over vacation, Het Bittere Kruid or The Bitter Herb.
I have almost an entire door filled with postcards now, I'm going to have to move on to the wall. Keep on sending them, they make my days awesome! It feels like the time I've been here is flying by, apparently I'm one week from half way which is kind of terrifying. I've got to enjoy the time I've got here, because it's slipping through my fingers exceptionally quickly. I'm busy, but happy. I miss hills occasionally, but I can't begin to explain how beautiful it was today. It frosted last night, and the sun was shining, so it was completely crisp out, and the canals were partially frozen. The sun went down over the field out my window, and though I felt bad for the sheep who were in it, the entire sky was almost glowing with light.
P.S. I'm really sorry if I have speling erorrs in this, my spell checker tells me everything in english is speld wrung.