Plenty of time to sleep on the plane

GOOD SHOW: Out celebrating after the drama performance with the girls from my drama class.
GOOD SHOW: Out celebrating after the drama performance with the girls from my drama class.

Geraldine High School student Nadia van der Sanden, who is in Belgium, having won a six-month language immersion award, updates South Canterbury readers on her time overseas.

I am no longer Nadia van der Sanden, my name from here on in is "Mustang". Last night was the night. I was finally and officially given my scout name.

The totemisation ceremony usually happens at the age of 12 and takes about three days. Due to my circumstances of exchange student my totemisation ceremony was held over roughly four hours.

To receive my totem, I had to spend an hour by myself in the deep dark forest (usually it is the whole night), I had to write a scout song, think of an animal that represented me the most, pass several challenges, including riddles in French and making a fire with nothing but two matches and a pile of wet wood, and then walk blindfolded guided by string through an obstacle course.

Then I had to sing my song and imitate the animal I had chosen at the same time (I had chosen a horse, thus I was neighing and prancing my way through the song lyrics). Then, to top it all off, I had to eat a disgusting mixture of pasta, beans and mandarins. Then, once I had sufficiently proved I was capable of being a real scout, they announced that they had chosen Mustang as my totem, because like a Mustang I am a grand voyager, sociable, can adapt quickly, and have the ability to survive in tough conditions (namely the weather in Belgium).

To say I was happy was a slight understatement; I was bursting with joy. Ever since I started scouts my goal was to get totemised, and now here I am, Mustang and proud of it.

For me my last two weeks in Belgium have consisted of the three "F" words: friendship, family and fun. I have non-stop been spending time with all the amazing friends I have made in Belgium.

Friendship has been such an important chapter of my life here in Belgium. When you're far away from home and family you need friends more than ever. The friendships I have made here will last forever.

Leaving Belgium is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done. For me, right from the very start my family has been perfect. This week really underlined the fact that they are a real family for me and that I have two families now. The other day my host mum found me crying in the kitchen. She asked me what was wrong, and when I managed to sob out "I don't want to leave!" she just told me not to be silly because I will always be part of the family, and that I can come back whenever I want.

In other news, the much dreaded drama performance has been and gone. I didn't forget my lines, and I got some really really encouraging feedback from my teachers, family and friends. I felt elated afterwards, but also relieved it was over and that I could finally relax and no longer have to worry about lines, props and what scene came after the next.

Speaking of acting, my best friend Madeleine and I discovered that Belgians absolutely love sock- puppet shows. We performed one for an AFS talent show and it was a hit. All the jokes that we hoped were slightly funny were hilarious, and we were the talent show winners by a mile.

With just a measly two weeks to go, I will be living the "carpe diem" and "yolo" mottos. I have this other motto that I like to live by as well: I will have plenty of time to sleep on the plane.

The Timaru Herald