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Tatjana Van Rompay: Slinger’s Belgian Exchange Student

posted Dec 20, 2016, 4:45 AM by Jeffrey Wolf

By: Madeline Hoitink, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Posted December 20th, 2016

Tatjana Van Rompay has been living in Slinger since August 10th.  She is an 18-year-old foreign exchange student from Zemst, Belgium, a small town that is a little larger than Slinger.  “I really like it here,” comments Tatjana.  She has been having a great time living with her host family, the Ciriecks.  She also loves the Cirieck family dog, Eddie, because he’s very big and hyper.  Although the fall semester is coming to a close, Tatjana has a long time to enjoy her home in Wisconsin, as she does not leave for Belgium until June 27th.

One of Tatjana’s favorite memories so far was her trip to Texas with her host family.  She was able to visit the space center in Houston, the ocean in Galveston, and the JFK Museum in Dallas.  Last weekend, Tatjana went to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra perform a Christmas concert with a few of her friends.  Earlier in the semester, Tatjana attended her very first homecoming dance at Slinger High School.  “It was fun but the music wasn’t as loud as what I’m used to,” she said.  In Belgium, her school only has one dance in high school: Prom for seniors.  Tatjana has also enjoyed spending time with her many new friends.

Spanish I and AP Chemistry are Tatjana’s favorite classes.  She loves all the games in Spanish class and is grateful to be able to learn another language.  Belgium has three national languages: Dutch, French, and German.  Dutch is spoken in the north, French is spoken in the south, and German is spoken in a small corner of eastern Belgium.  Tatjana speaks Dutch and French very well and understands some concepts of German.  Therefore, learning Spanish would be her fifth language!  Mr. Gundrum teaches AP Chemistry.  Tatjana enjoys all of his jokes and fun way of teaching.

Back in Belgium, Tatjana participated in Irish dancing, gymnastics, and skiing.  Here in Slinger, Tatjana has joined the ski team this winter season and played volleyball in the fall.  She is also a part of Spanish Club and International Student Club.

Since Tatjana is 18, she has already graduated from high school in Belgium.  She attended STK for high school, which stands for Saint Therese College Kapelle-Op-Den-Bos.  She plans to attend Katholick Universiteit Leuven, the oldest university in Belgium, next year.  Schooling is very different in Belgium compared to the United States.  College is extremely cheap in Belgium; tuition is generally $1000 at most per year.  Also, schools do not have any clubs, sports, or other extracurricular activities in Belgium; school is strictly for education.  Students in Belgium cannot choose every single class they take like here in Slinger.  Belgium students choose a career path and receive a packet of all the classes they must take to achieve that career path.  Furthermore, there is no provided cafeteria food in her Belgian high school; everyone must supply their own lunches.  In Slinger, the students have much closer friendships with their teachers.  “Another thing is that I am not used to the chairs being connected to the tables,” comments Tatjana.  “I still sometimes walk to the wrong side of the tables.”