Lot of students smoke and drink

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS: Rose Clearwater, right, with friends in Belgium.
INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS: Rose Clearwater, right, with friends in Belgium.

Former Geraldine High School student Rose Clearwater is on an AFS exchange in Liege, Belgium.

I've been living in Leige for around four months.

I have joined a volleyball team, and go to zumba with friends from school. I do Scouts and am a chief of the Baladins, which is the children from 5 to 7 years. All these activities have been an excellent way to meet good friends and we hang out together outside these activities too.

I really love my host family. The parents are both teachers of French, and I have two younger brothers and a sister. They lived in New Zealand for one year, so everyone speaks fluent English ... not so good for me, but I have a really good relationship with everyone because I can simply say what needs to be said.

School is very different. There are more than 1000 students, 70-plus classrooms and a lot of stairs. I find school rather boring because I understand nothing, but I still enjoy it because my classmates are always laughing (I don't know what about) and they make the class fun.

I study 13 subjects which I like because it stops my days from becoming too much of a routine.

If I go out of school for lunch, I am both frozen, and engulfed in a permanent haze of cigarette smoke.

A lot of students, and people in general, smoke here. Some people even smoke weed in front of the school too.

Most start at around 15 to 16 years old. Also the drinking age is 16 here, so everyone drinks beer.

When I first arrived, it was definitely a shock for me seeing 16-year-olds having a beer and smoking with friends casually outside a pub, or "cafe" as they call it here.

Everything is very close in Belgium, I have visited Brugges and Brussels twice, and went to Holland for an afternoon of shopping. Going to Holland is quicker than driving from Timaru to Geraldine.

A tantot!

The Timaru Herald