Monday, August 30, 2010

With less than twenty-four hours separating me from my Belgian journey, the reality of the situation is definitely setting in. A year (well, ten months anyway) in Europe will be the longest time I have spent away from home by far. Away from friends and family, away from home and school, away from familiarities and comforts. However, the anxiety that a trip like this brings is accompanied by an equal if not more powerful surge of excitement.

Packed luggage sitting on the living room floor is as sure a sign of my approaching departure as any trip to the Belgian consulate, or visa application form, or roommate selection pamphlet—and a much more realistic one. Every t-shirt has been carefully rolled to guarantee minimal space consumption, socks and underwear have been jammed into sneakers, and toothpaste and shampoo have been safely stowed in zip lock bags to ensure a spill-free suitcase environment.

Now that all the running around and packing and last minute purchases are all coming to an end, I am really beginning to think about what a year in Belgium will bring. There will be trips to bordering countries such as France, Lichtenstein, Germany, Holland and Luxembourg. There will be trips to much farther borders like Italy and perhaps Spain and a trip across the English Channel. Belgium also offers amazing opportunities to travel within its borders to cities like Brussels, Antwerp, and Brugge. So far in my life I have had the opportunity to travel to four different countries. Now, in the span of ten months I will have the ability to more than double that number.

This time tomorrow I will be a world away. I will be beginning a new journey with new friends in new places. Although I will certainly miss the people and places that I’ll leave behind I look forward to the opportunity that has been placed before me. I hope to experience and learn new things during a time in my life that I am growing as an individual and getting to know the person I want to be.

See you in Belgium!!!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seven Days and Counting

Today is the 23rd of August, meaning that in seven short days I will be aboard a transatlantic flight headed for Brussels, Belgium for a year of studying and life-changing gallivanting. Cameras have been purchased, visas have been acquired, and roommates have been assigned, meaning that a mere 168 hours and 3,669 miles and a few tear-filled goodbyes are all that stand between me and my next great adventure.

Wow. Belgium sure seemed a much longer way off when I signed up for the program. Still deep in spring semester studies and a good way off from summer vacation, I never thought it would be here this soon. But, onward and upward! I'm sure I'll be back spending Christmas with family and friends here in America in an equally astounding flash. The craziest part of it all, is that upon my final return from Belgium in July 2011 I'll be just a couple months away from my senior year at Loyola University!

I think I need to take a step back on that one. I'll have to tackle a year in Belgium and the Low Countries before I get to the last twenty-five percent of my undergraduate career in good old Baltimore.

Anyway, the reason I've set up this blog is to keep you all informed about my life and experience while I'm away. I'll be in Belgium continuing to study for my degree in English while attempting to take on some courses in Theology and Philosophy to assess the ease of a double minor. Meanwhile trips to Italy, France, the Netherlands, England and plenty of other European hot spots will surely keep me busy outside of the classroom.

Well, until I see all of your bright and smiling faces again, I hope that you stay safe, work hard, and enjoy life. Keep me in your prayers because you will be in mine.

Justin R. Roem

Justin Roem
Loyola International Nachbahr Huis
Schapenstraat 80/18
B-3000 Leuven