A Belgian in the North Country: arrival

I have always had this crazy dream to move to the United States. On January 15 my dream came true. After a 10-hour trip, I arrived at the Boston’s Logan airport. I had absolutely no idea what to do with the customs declaration form they handed out during the flight. I was not even sure that I had correctly answered the questions. So after leaving the plane, I just followed the crowd, and stood in the first-time-in-the-country line for almost a half hour. I practiced all the answers, because I did not want to mess this up. My officer was friendly and he gave me the approval stamp. I was finally officially allowed to enter the country. I must say that entering was not as hard as people made me believe. I had a hard time realizing that I was really in the United States of America. A couple of months before leaving, this experience was an unborn concept somewhere in my head. I spent two days in Boston with my host sister Anna. The best way to start your adventure.

Sunday January 17, I checked in at the Cape Air desk. I flew the smallest plane, which was terrifying and exciting at the same time. I must confess that I was thankful to touch the ground again. When leaving the plane. I looked at the sky. The snow touched my skin softly. And I was excited as a little kid to see snow. Two wonderful people were waiting at the airport for me, my host mother and father. And I love them. I would certainly recommend living in a host family. You experience the culture of your host country even more. And I mean, who does not want to have two pair of parents?

I still have to squeeze my cheeks daily to believe that this is really happening. I am in a place that I would like to call Winter Wonderland, though many North Country residents told me that this is not even close to winter. This is what I call winter. I am used to rain and soft weather. I am amazed very easily. The landscape is just so different and beautiful. But there is a small chance that I say this about every strange place I visit.

I realized that the small city I call home does not have much to offer, at least not for newbies. Most young residents move away after their high school graduation. So I did not know where to meet people and I had no idea what to do. Luckily my wonderful host parents introduced me to new people, also to a young woman. She suddenly was my only, but good friend. And I must thank my wonderful parents anyway. They tried their best to get me out of the house. My host dad even took me on a small hike to the Indian Creek Nature Center.


But I must confess that during those two weeks I felt a little uncertain about my adventure. I became homesick. I started to miss my friends to hang out with. I asked myself the same question as other people asked me: “Why did you not go to a big city?” But There were no take-backs here. I had two choices. I could continue whining or I could become the pilot of my own adventure. I couldn’t just sit there and wait. So I took action. I emailed the St. Lawrence University in Canton for connections, and they recommended a group for young professionals. I posted a message and suddenly lots of people offered to meet up with me. And then the first of February, I started my internship and I met another young intern, who offered to take me as a passenger on his adventures. The fear of ending up with just one friend disappeared along with the snow. I am excited to meet people and I am no longer homesick. This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 Melissa Callaert is working as an intern at North Country Public Radio for the Spring 2016 semester.

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