The Day My Life Changed Forever

January 19, 2010
The experience was truly surreal. Ticket clutched tightly in my hand, I reluctantly offered the security guard my passport. This was no vacation. I was about to embark on a new journey. Belgium, here I come! Goodbye fast food and old friends, hello chocolate and waffles.

My family was living in Florida when my father received the promotion. We always spent summers in Evansville, Indiana, but this summer was not the same. As we packed up our old house and left with our many bags, we soon realized we were not in Kansas anymore. This journey was the first in a series that profoundly impacted my life.

Living in a small, local, Belgian hotel for the first month was quite an eye opener. Not knowing the language or how to live in this new place made it difficult, although some lighthearted experiences appeared at the same time. From having butter on every sandwich, having pillows as shapeless as paper, and having a farmers market take up downtown Overijse every Thursday, the traditions of my life changed completely. As my sister went off to my future school, I attended a small Belgian day school for the next year. The experience of learning alongside students ranging from eight to eighteen – in a large one-room class – was unusual. Since we did not have lessons as a class, the specialized topics people soon learned showed strengths. When I attended the International School along side my sister, my math skills were impeccable, thanks to my studies at the small Belgian school.

Attending an International school allowed me to develop a worldly and more sophisticated manner, along with a stronger education than people in their own home country could have attained; these experiences are what made me who I am today, and I will never forget that. Belgium won’t let me forget. The knowledge different cultures brought through week long trips taken every year at ISB granted me first class knowledge for a child my age. Living in a foreign country, attending school there for six years, and having friends that were going through the same process as me made Belgium my new home. As we saw ex-patriots come and go, I soon felt at home in my new country. The school truly granted me experiences and opportunities I wish I still had today.

If there was one place I was allowed to visit, it would be Belgium. After six years in Belgium we moved to Canada, and finally Tennessee – we felt more pitiable in North America than we had in Belgium. The people, the places, and the experiences I had in Belgium are immeasurable. If I could live every day of Belgium over again, even the forlorn ones, I would in a heartbeat.

I still remember the day my life changed forever; the day I became a third culture kid. Becoming a third culture kid was profound. There are no words explaining the viewpoint a third culture kid has after growing up with diverse culture. I will always allow the views I have acquired overseas to come forward. Giving teenagers and children the experience of travel allows for a better society.

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