QHS student ready for new experiences in Belgium
The fastest way from point A to point B is, in Briana Melburn’s case, through point C.
Heading to Belgium for the next school year, the Quincy High School junior will not enter that country through the cosmopolitan doors of Brussels, the capital of Belgium, but through the smaller gates of a tiny nation next door, Luxembourg.
Less than a mile from the Luxembourg border is Guerlange, the Belgian village of 450 or so people that will welcome Melburn through a Rotary Club exchange.
She was scheduled to fly from Sea-Tac on Monday, Aug. 20, to Philadelphia, then London and then to Luxembourg.
The trip to Europe has been a dream of Melburn’s since junior high school, she said, but it wasn’t until last year that the dream began to approach reality.
During the 2017-2018 school year, one of the exchange students at QHS, Lara DeKnop, hailed from Belgium, and she and Melburn became friends.
“She really convinced me to pursue this, as well as many other influences in my life,” Melburn said.
DeKnop pushed her friend to travel to Belgium, but Melburn didn’t think she would get to. Students applying for an exchange like Melburn’s have to list six destination choices.
“I playfully put it as one of my options, thinking I wasn’t gonna get it,” Melburn said. “Then I get a call and they say, ‘you’re going to Belgium.’”
The exchange will last almost a year, and Melburn has never been away from home for that long, she said.
“I’m a little nervous, but I’m also excited about all the new opportunities,” she said.
She knew little about Belgium when she applied but has tried to learn as much as possible from DeKnop.
“The food was the big one,” Melburn said, later adding, “I really like French fries, and that’s what they are known for.”
Belgium has three national languages, French, Flemish and German. Melburn will live in the French-speaking region and enroll in an intensive French class three days after arriving.
A member of the Quincy pep band, Melburn said she likes that her host family is into music and art, because those are things she would like to keep enjoying while she’s overseas.
She knows very little about her future hometown or its school, though.
“I’m basically going into this kind of blind,” she said.
That works in her favor in a way, because having no set expectations means no room for disappointments.
“You don’t want expectations,” she said. “You want to go in with an open mind and an open heart.”
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org