The Hunger Games? YES, PLEASE!

REVIEW OF BOOK 1!!

I don’t have many friends who love to read, but Isis is my favorite partner in crime when we’re talking about books and movies. She told me I had to read The Hunger Games, but I really didn’t think it was anything good. WRONG! I’m in love. In love with the girl on fire!

First I’d like to say that the brilliant idea of The Hunger Games is probably based on the Korean movie: Battle Royale. Even though Collins gets all the credits for the story (and yes she did a great job), Batoru Rowaiaru (Battle Royale) came out in 2000. Eight years later Collins came up with a similar story. I’m already downloading Battle Royale (I’ve heard it’s freaking bloody) so I’ll write a review about it when I’ve seen it. Well, stolen or not… The Hunger Games books are a huge success, so the odds are definitely in Collins’ favor!

I was very skeptical about the trilogy. I don’t know why, but when books are very popular I often think they won’t be any good, but I still force myself to read them. Like Fifty Shades of Grey, everyone reads it but it’s just a bunch of crap. And yes I’ve read the books. All three of them. Boring as hell. I’ve been wrong about books often. I didn’t want to read Harry Potter, Twilight or The Hobbit (which I still haven’t finished). But to be honest; I loved them all so I should be less cocky and just read what the crowd tells me to read.

*Book 1: The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is a badass story about the protagonist Katniss Everdeen, who hunts in the woods together with her friend Gale to provide their families with food every day. She lives in the future in Panem, a country with 12 districts which all have their own specialties. Panem is ruled by the Capitol, where life’s so much better than in the other districts. Every year the Capitol hosts an event to remind the citizens not to rebel: The Hunger Games. Each district brings two teenage tributes – a boy and a girl – to an arena where they must fight each other to death. When Katniss little sister Prim is selected to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place and leaves District 12 together with the other tribute: Peeta Mellark. Katniss and Peeta have known each other for a long time, even though they never talked. They are competitors, but during the opening ceremonies they present themselves as a team: holding hands while dressed in flames. During an interview Peeta reveals his crush on Katniss: His strategy for her to make her look more ‘human’.

When the games begin both Peeta and Katniss go their own ways. They form teams with other players to win, but when a new rule to the game has been announced they know they must work together:  Two people from a single district can both win. After a lot of setbacks they finally make it to the finale when the Gamemakers withdraw the rule. Katniss and Peeta decide to commit suicide. Right before they swallow some poisoned berries, a voice announces both Katniss and Peeta are the winners of the 74th Hunger Games.

Happily ever after? NO WAY!  Peeta is heartbroken when he finds out that Katniss is not truely in love with him. For her, it was all part of the game. Katniss idea of committing a double suicide has provoked a lot of chaos in the districts and Haymitch – the mentor of Katniss and Peeta – warns her that she must prepare for the worst.

BOOK 1: AMAZING!! 10 out of 10!!! The idea of The Hunger Games is brilliant and not unlikely to happen. We should beware of the future and our leaders. It reminds me of the games of the ancient Greeks, Orwell’s 1984 and Romeo and Juliet. I loved reading every chapter, every letter… I fell in love with Gale and Katniss. This is fiction but so credible that it’s almost scary and yet very intriguing. GO READ IT! NOW!!!
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My Exchange to the USA, part V

Last time I wrote about my first day in the USA and now it’s time to continue the story!

I started my second day in our pool. It was amazing to have a pool in my back yard, because hardly anyone in Holland have it since it’s expensive and the weather sucks most of the time. I started this self-made workout program in my pool which I was gonna do every day for the rest of the year. I guess I did it like 6 times… After my workout session my host-aunt Cindy took her daughter Jessica, Sandy and me to the mall in Orlando. I honestly thought my new cousin was pregnant but she wasn’t. She was just a lil big (think; fair round belly). So first we went to this place called Sweet Tomatoes and I totally loved it. It’s a salad bar where you can also eat a lot of pizza and ice cream and soup etc. Unfortunately nobody else really liked it so I never returned.

The shopping session was great. I looooved the big mall. My second day was actually a good day. I started to like America.

The next day I spent in bed because I felt sick. It was burning hot outside but with all the air conditioning I caught a cold. I never realized I could be freezing cold while it’s like 86 degrees outside.

Some things that caught my attention those days:
– Most ppl drive big cars
–  Most ppl don’t let their dogs out more often than twice a day = poop and pie in las casas.
– When you buy smth the price on the tag doesn’t include tax. So when I got all excited and went to the counter to pay for my scarf I was so proud I’d counted the coins myself. I felt like a real American with my dollar money.  Until that awkward moment I had to pay more than I just took out of my wallet bc of the tax and decided to just use my debit card to make the situation less embarrassing. It wasn’t that bad, but at the time I felt so stupid ;p.

That’s it for now. Next time more. I really enjoy writing about my high school year. It’s been almost 3 years since I left! Time flies too fast.

My Exchange to the USA, part I
My Exchange to the USA, part II
My Exchange to the USA, part III
My Exchange to the USA, part IV

My Exchange to the USA, part IV

You know when you’re freaking excited for something. Like the beyond excited kinda excitement? That you actually wanna keep talking and bite people just to get your mind off things? Well, that’s what I was like when I finally jumped in that plane and flew from Amsterdam to Orlando for a once in a lifetime experience.

Like I said before, my arrival in Orlando wasn’t as I expected. Call me naïve, I know I am, but I believed every crap I saw in Mean Girls. American movies made me wanna go to the States, to be part of the perfect life I thought I was looking for. And then I was there. No ‘welcome home’ banner, no cupcakes. Only big people and a huge tv.

I like exaggerating. I don’t do it on purpose, it just feels natural. However, my amount of self-knowledge is sky high. But in this case you just gotta believe me; some things were actually bad. I woke up the next morning in my new town: Saint Cloud, a lil shitty place close to Orlando – Florida. The dog pie was still on the floor and the stains were still on the furniture, but the sun was shining and that just made me feel happy. The fact we went to Pizza Hut might’ve made my first day in the US a whole lot better too.

After I had breakfast (cornflakes, ugh) I got (over)dressed and we went to something that Americans call a yard sale. You gotta understand; in Holland we don’t do that kinda stuff. We may go to flee markets, which we like to call ‘trash markets’, but we’re not gonna sell a bunch of old dusty stuff in our yard. At the same moment I experienced my first yard sale, I met a cowboy for the first time too. I didn’t know there were still people alive that thought of themselves as cowboys, but evidently there are and a lot of them like being in Shitty Saint Cloud. The cowboy tried to hook me up with his cowboy grandson. Although he couldn’t sell us any junk nor get his boy a date, he remained smiling.

“Hiiii my name is Kelly and if you need anything just let me knooooooow 😀 😀 😀 :D” Pizza Hut and also the first ‘restaurant’ I went to. I was in shock when the waitress told me her name. Again, we don’t do that in Holland. I though this girl was on drugs or whatever because she almost danced around while giving us her fake white smile. Apparently Americans like that kinda stuff and give more tips. It’s either that or showing your ass and boobs as a waitress in Hooters or whatever tiny-dressed-waitress-place you like. I guess Kelly chose right.

Another big deal was the ice tea. I got so excited when Kelly told me they had it.(excited is my favorite English word since I called my host mom a week before my exchange and she asked me 12 times in 1 minute if I was excited. I assumed it was an important word). It was the first and last time I ordered ice tea in America. In Holland (gosh I sound like someone who thinks everything in Holland is better, don’t I?) we drink Lipton Ice Tea with and without carbonation, but it tastes good as hell. In fact, it’s my favorite kind of soda. In America people brew their own tea and may even add a shitload of sugar too. Ugh.

To end this exciting day we went to Wal-Mart. Wow, THE biggest supermarket I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe they even sold clothes and there were hair salons and other fancy shops inside the supermarket itself.

I went to bed after having 6 little meatballs for supper. Everything had been huge so far, except for my appetite in strange food.

Dirty furniture and a big-ass TV

Dirty furniture and a big-ass TV

p.s. Yes, I’ve allowed myself to write the way I like to write these kinda things. A lil inappropriate (:

Also:
My Exchange to the USA, part I
My Exchange to the USA, part II
My Exchange to the USA, part III

My Exchange to the USA, part III

Earlier I wrote about why I went to the USA and how I met my host mom Sandy. Today I’ll tell you about my first day in Saint Cloud – Florida!

After we’d dropped my ‘new’ aunt Cindy off and went home I stood in my driveway for the very first time. The house looked so huge to me (I’m living in an average terrace house in Holland) and I was surprised that the neighbourhood I was gonna live in had a stone fence around it. Ok. The outside of the house looked fine to me and the district seemed quiet and peaceful and all that crap.

My host mom Sandy had told me once on the phone she had 5 little dogs. 5. No, you’re not misreading it. FIVE! When I entered the house the little monsters started barking at me while running around like lil maniacs. I didn’t have much time to pay attention to the house nor to the dogs because Sandy’s lil neighbour, cousin Barbie and her two daughters were waiting for me. Barbie seemed like a lovely woman but the kids kept staring at me like they’d never seen a European.
When I had a drink I got this huge cup filled with ice from the huge fridge (not many people have a fridge like that where I’m from).

Maybe it was because I was so tired or maybe I wasn’t exaggerating (I probably was though) but after exploring the house and writing my diary I couldn’t handle it anymore and started to cry. Everything was so dirty.  I called my mom for a while and she told me to calm down, which obviously didn’t work.

The kids hadn’t said a word to me and I just wanted to go home to my clean room in my clean house with my normal mommy and daddy and my silent cat.

I wrote in my diary:
“I’m finally at Sandy’s. The flight was okay and everything went well. But I keep crying because the house is so dirty. The couch, my blankets… Everything! […] Sandy is nice but she eats so unhealthy and is addicted to potato chips. Her cousin is here too and the kids are simply terrible. […] Why the **** did I come here?!”

I probably just needed a good night rest, but I’ll write about that next time!

The House

The House

Sandy

Sandy

My exchange to the USA, part II

A couple of days ago I wrote why I decided to go to Florida for a year. Today I’ll write about the day I left Holland and met my hostmom Sandy.

Leaving Holland for a year was kinda a big deal for me and my friends and family. Of course I couldn’t leave without throwing a 18th bday / graduation / farewell party. I had so much fun and my friend Matthijs took pictures to capture the moments.

August 6th. It was finally the day. The day I would say goodbye to my parents, family, boyfriend and friends and leave Holland for America, the country of my dreams. I was totally ready to go. Together with two other students I went from Amsterdam to London. The goodbye part was so hard. The worst was seeing my mom and boyfriend crying. When I went through customs I thought “What the f… am I doing?” But I knew I was just having a moment and so we kept walking and went (almost late) on the plane.

In London we met a bunch of European students who were wearing the same t-shirt as we did with STS Highschool on the front. (Ok. I wasn’t actually wearing it but I carried it with me!) From London we would fly together to Chicago – Illinois. The flight wasn’t as bad as I expected and I started to get more excited by the minute. When I finally transferred to Orlando – Florida I immediately fell asleep because I had been up for hours.

Orlando – Florida. The moment was almost there. I was gonna meet my hostmother Sandy. I’d received one blurry picture of her and that was it. I’d spoken to her on the phone like 3 times and we’d e-mailed a couple of times but to be honest I had no clue where I was gonna meet her. I assumed she would be waiting for me in the arrival hall. I couldn’t have been more wrong…

First I couldn’t find my damn bags but since I had a huge pink suitcase it was no problem for the staff to find it. Bags? Check! Host family? Nope.  I walked around for like ten minutes without knowing what kind of woman I was looking for. I decided to go to the information desk and ask if they could broadcast my message (Where the hell is Sandy?). Fortunately they didn’t have to because a big woman came to me and said: “Hé, are you Bridget?” I assumed she was my hostmom and walked with her. I didn’t understand a sh*t of her story because she kept talking about my hostmom and her sister being always late and that they were waiting outside but when a woman who looked like the blurry picture jumped out of a car and introduced herself as Sandy Singh it all made sense. The big woman was Mary-Ellen, my area-representative who kinda had forgotten to introduce herself. Sandy and her sister Cindy didn’t find it necessary to come inside and get me so they’d waited outside. I felt so stupid, because I had expected a big American “Welcome Home Britt”  thingie.

I think I’d never been as quiet as while we headed to Saint Cloud, the city that was gonna be ‘home’ for the next months…

*Next time I’ll tell you about my first night and day at my new home.

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My exchange to the USA, part I

When I was 17 years old I was about to finish high school without having a clue what to do with the rest of my life. It was frustrating because I liked to study so many things and obviously I couldn’t do it all.
One day I had this French exam and one of the phrases I had to learn was “I’m really sorry you didn’t get excepted into the school in America.” From that moment I kept thinking how cool it would be to study in the USA; the country of my dreams. I came home and told my mom I wanted to do a high school year in the US. She got so excited and told me to find out about the possibilities. I didn’t put it high on my priority list since I had a boyfriend back then so I made this list with advantages and disadvantages. On the advantages list there were things like: Good for my English skills, great experience, becoming more independent, etc. On the other side I wrote: Missing my family. Missing my friends. Missing my boyfriend. Missing my boyfriend. Missing my boyfriend. Missing my boyfriend…

Mike (my ex-boyfriend) really didn’t like the idea of me going abroad for a year. I put my ideas on hold for a while, until one day he broke up with me. I felt really sad about it but I signed up for the program and decided to go!

When you’re signing up for a program like this you have to realize you’re going away for like 10 months and that it’s gonna cost a lot of money. My parents were really supportive because this was a chance they never had when they were young. I preferred to go to Florida and June 24th I received an e-mail that the agency had found a host family for me in Saint Cloud – Florida, close to Orlando.

At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to this family because it was just gonna be my host mother and me. Since I’m an only child I thought it would be good to live in a family with siblings for a year. Now I’m so glad I accepted this family because Sandy Singh, my host mom, gave me a lot of freedom and I had the time of my life!

*Next week I’ll write some more about this amazing year in the USA 🙂

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