What did you do for Christmas?
So. I had an extremely busy and interesting past two weeks. I know that the few weeks before Christmas are usually busy for EVERYONE. Exams, shopping, traveling, you name it. Except this year, the weeks leading up to Christmas were a bit different.
One of my main tasks of the past two weeks was saying goodbye to a lot of my dear friends here. Even though most of us exchange students will be returning back to Ghent for our exam period, a few of my very close friends have returned home for good. What? These past four months are over already, but I was just getting used to things. These past two weeks have not only been filled with heavy hearted goodbyes, but also a lot of “Last Supper” type get togethers with all the exchange students. A few Mondays ago, there was a “Good Luck with Exams” reception for all of the exchange students. This social gathering was a great opportunity for me to see/talk to all the other students on exchange that aren’t in my immediate friend group. Even though the party wasn’t the “party-est”, I still really enjoyed having the majority of us international all in one room again, that hasn’t happened since opening week!
It’s a bit crazy how social one becomes when one realizes the friendships made are super temporary.
Yeah, I know. Super sappy to think about. But I have realized that the next 4-6 years of my life are going to be filled with very temporary people. Sure, I’ll stay in contact with my really close friend group over here, and distance definitely makes the heart grow fonder. I’m not saying that the friends made here are temporary in the sense that they are flaky, not very dependable. Rather, I’m saying that I’ve made such amazing friendships over here with such amazing people from all of the world, but this can’t last forever. Wow, I’m definitely getting into something that I shouldn’t be posting about just yet. I still have a month left with my crazy friends in Belgium!
Something not so temporary is the love I have for my parents. I am super fortunate to be able to spend another Christmas with them on the newfound continent I call home. You read that right, the Jones fam crossed the ocean in order to spend Christmas with me. I’m beyond grateful for the loving and giving parents that I have, and I’m extremely proud of them for jumping a little too far out of their comfort zones and visiting me (mainly because I’m the stubborn girl that I am, and refused to come home). It was exciting to show my family my quasi-european lifestyle over here but it was extremely refreshing to be completely surround by Americans (meaning I could speak loudly again and finally maintain a comfortable distance apart from those surrounding me, which is something I don’t experience here in Belgium).
Our Christmas holiday consisted of three cities: Lille, Ghent, and Paris.
Lille – I chose Lille as the city we would be spend the most time in, its a very Belgian-French city so I felt comfortable, plus it’s about half way in between Ghent and Paris. The folks flew into Paris and then took a train to Lille. We finally reconciled in a train station in Lille on Friday and splurged on a taxi to our Airbnb towards the city center. My family 100% deserved that taxi ride. Us Americans are not so used to traveling such long distances while lugging around heavy luggage, I know it was a huge adjustment for me. We were able to relax for the rest of the night in a cosy flat. I made a quick dinner and we spent the rest of the night catching up, I mean, it had been four months.
One of my favorite memories from this past weekend was when both my dad and I had major jet-lag around 4 am local time (yes I STILL get jet-lagged). We sat up for hours catching up, drinking tea, and eating cereal. Four months had passed but he was the same knowledgable night-owl as ever. I really missed him.
The next morning was Christmas eve and we had a full day of exploring ahead of us. We checked out the local Christmas Market, which Lille had a pretty extravagant one bye the way, grabbed some AMAZING savory crepes for lunch, trekked across town to the Palace of Fine Arts, and per Christmas Eve tradition, grabbed a lovely meal out for dinner.
Christmas day was unlike an other Christmas I had experienced. This is coming from someone who is so used to attending 2-3 “christmases” during the holiday season, packed with tons of people, presents, and food. Our happy little Christmas celebration consisted of a nice breakfast, followed by exactly five minutes of gift-giving. Presents weren’t the main priority this year. Two reasons for this are: 1) I really only asked for money, for obvious reasons, 2) Having my family over here during the holiday season was such an amazing gift in itself. That being said, I was gifted with exactly five jars of JIF Peanut Butter. I suppose my blog posts are working! The rest of the day was spent exploring the misty and foggy city of Lille, sitting down for HUGE cups of coffee from Costa, and a vegan-friendly Christmas dinner (also proud of my parents for trying every type of food!).
Ghent – On the 27th the next stage of our adventure commenced. We hopped on a train from Lille to Ghent around 8 in the morning and arrived in my “home-town” around 10. Now, I was in full on “tour guide mode”, we had to see everything this amazing city offered. There are a few break-taking cathedrals in the city of Ghent and we were lucky enough to visit them on a not-so-busy day. We climbed the Belfry tower of Ghent, munched some artisan pizza from Otomat, strolled through the Ghent Christmas Market, visited the Ghent City Museum, and feasted on the typical Belgian dish, Mussels and Fries, for dinner. It was such a cool experience to show them “my city”. They couldn’t believe I walked this much in a days time, but welcome to Europe.
Paris – To end our trip, the Jones clan ventured to the city of lights. The trip to Paris was quite hectic mainly because it’s well, Paris, a bazillion people walk those streets, and everyone and their brother decided to go on holiday in Paris the same exact time we did. Rookie move on my part honestly. I think towards to end of our day in Paris, my family truly saw the value of that crazy city. We honestly pulled off seeing everything one should see while in Paris, along with relaxing due to our recent heavy travels. I was able to show my family, the Tour Eiffel, La Louvre, L’Arc de Triomphe, and a very good amount of the Metro system (way too cold to walk everywhere). We also passed some hidden treasures like a interesting park filled with dogs and a funky vegan place close to our hotel. Kudos to my fam for keeping up with me the entire time and being down to see anything and everything!
The next morning, I sent them off to the airport in a very well-deserved Uber only to find that their flight back to North America had been delayed three hours. Icing on the cake, am I right? However, I had the day to explore the city by myself. I spent a few hours trekking the 17th arrondissement where we were staying and slowly making my way to the bus station.
Normal things you’d find in Paris
Things for the future – Even though I pride myself in being decently well-traveled, I sometimes forget that not everyone travels the same way. One major mistake I kept making was that I was operating as if I were traveling with a bunch of students on a weekend excursion. Students don’t really mind 7 am bus rides to foreign cities, or crowded metros, or taking a massive city like Paris by foot. I expected my family to be the same way because of how adventurous and spontaneous they are. Weird, I’m the way I am because of my folks, what? What I didn’t take into account while planning this holiday was that everyone has different travel preferences. I’m not nervous weaving in and out of a crowded metro station during rush hour, so why should they be? I didn’t realize that this adventure as a whole was a huge step out of their comfort zone, and they absolutely killed it! But, ultimately I regret not planning this holiday as more of an actual relaxing vacation rather than TRAVEL TRAVEL TRAVEL! I was extremely impressed, however, how understanding, open, and adventurous my family was during our time together and I can’t wait for our next big adventure wherever it may be. I hope I didn’t scare them away from Europe entirely.
Here’s some news.
I’ve been preaching about this for literally months now, but it is officially official. I am now a temporary resident in the city of Ghent, and also a French Student Long Stay Visa candidate. I only say candidate because last week I filed for my Student Visa for my time in France and somehow, convinced another country to let me live in it for a long time. I’ll return back to the French Consulate in Brussels in around two weeks to actually receive my visa! That was a huge thing to check off my to-do list, it was so satisfactory to finally check it off.
In one week, I’ll begin the moving processes to Nantes. I plan on only taking three trips back and forth in order to move all my junk. Hey, I moved over here with only a carry-on, duffel, and backpack to my name, hopefully this won’t be too difficult.
Why do I suddenly care a lot about Firetrucks? Because, I am overly ecstatic to say that, as of today, I’ve officially accepted a Human Resources Internship position at Oshkosh Corporation for the summer of 2017. Is that the baby clothes brand? Omg, no. Here are some fun facts about the company I’ll be working for this summer:
- Oshkosh Corporation was named one of the 2016 World’s Most Ethical Companies (I’ll be in HR so yay ethics!).
- It’s a fortune 500 companies (omg big girl world now).
- In 2016 it was named one of America’s Best Large Employers (and I get to be an employee?! Sweet).
- They are the number one supplier and manufacturer for Firetrucks in North America.
So how cool is this company? Its official, upon my return back to the states I will most likely be spending a week or so at home in Ohio, then I get to move all of my stuff up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to experience the ins and outs of working HR in a global manufacturing company. I’m literally business-nerding out right now!
I could write an entire other blog post about the Pros/Cons of trying to find an internship while on exchange, but that’s boring. Here are a few though:
- Finding extremely flexible companies like Oshkosh is sometimes very easy. I was able to keep in contact with recruiters through email and only two phone screenings/interviews.
- I’m a huge nerd and one way I like to relax is by searching for different internship opportunities online.
- The world is getting smaller. LinkedIn, Worknet (for you BG students), and general Google searches were my main form of finding internships I may be interested in. That mean I can just connect with a recruiter on LinkedIn and begin a conversation just like that (I don’t advise just randomly adding recruiters though, like make your conversation worth their time).
- My travels and experiences over here are always the main topic of an interview and I like talking about myself/what I’ve been doing so that took the edge off.
- I don’t like networking, absolutely hate it. I think it’s obnoxious to reach out to people when you aren’t sure if they’ll even respond. That’s not the type of person I am, I’m such a bad business major, and I really had to step out of my comfort zone.
- I’m boring on paper. I like showing employers what I really have to offer, stuff that maybe isn’t on my resume. Every Bowling Green College of Business Administration student’s resume is pretty much the same. We all have had past internships, we all participate in “one club that has to do with your major and one that doesn’t”, we all have done that community service work. Even though I’m not a fan of networking, I would 100% prefer to speak with an actual individual in a nice, casual setting than just blindly send them my resume, cover letter, and application. My resume can’t explain all the fun I’ve had being a brother of Delta Sigma Pi or how much stuff I’ve learned from my past internship experiences. I have to write boring but coherent sentences that kind of describe my professional career. I’d much rather approach a recruiter than blindly apply.
- I should be spending my time doing “fun things”. I think I balanced everything out pretty well.
More pros than cons so by my rules, it is totally possible to find an internship simply using online tools. I would like to thank the Career Accelerator from the College of Business at Bowling Green, however. The Career Accelerator has been an amazing service always available for quick questions and tips for things ranging from resume critiquing to cover letters to interview prep. I’ve definitely gained a whole lot of confidence from being a CBA student in general as well.
Okay so that’s basically all that has been happening in my life recently. As I mentioned my first down trip to Nantes is next week. Until then I’ll be here in Ghent, celebrating NYE, studying for exams (ew), and spending time with my favorite Ghentians/exchange student friends.
Let’s hope this month goes by extremely slowly.