PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2007, 12:00am

Connecting with teens around the world

Name Gertjan Van Speybroeck

Age 17

City Leopoldsburg

Star sign Libra

The weather in Belgium is very unpredictable. In the summer we usually have good weather but you never know when it's going to rain. During the winter, there's always a little bit of snow.

I live in a rural area with a population of about 14,000 people. The nearest city centre is not too far away. My friends and I usually hang out there as it has a bit of everything, including shops, pubs and restaurants.

At present, I am living with my host family in Kowloon City as an AFS exchange student.

One of the most important festivals in Belgium is the National Day on July 21. We celebrate the country's independence by having lively and colourful parades in Brussels, the capital city. The king and his family are always there to witness the festivities.

In school, I study a wide range of subjects, including science, French, history, geography and mathematics. We are taught in Dutch, but French is compulsory as it is one of Belgium's official languages.

I also take English because it is an important international language. I don't think that my school pushes its students too much. I spend just the right amount of time (about two hours) on my homework every day.

My school does not offer many extra-curricular activities. However, I practise fencing outside of school. I took up the sport when I was a child.

I love fencing because it develops posture, discipline and control, which are all very important.

During my free time, I like to be with my friends at our youth club. We usually play football and volleyball and go cycling several times a week.

Sometimes, we'll go to the cinema or the pub. I spend a lot of time with my friends as they are all great fun to be with.

I am a member of the Belgian Scouts. To me, the Scout movement is very important. In addition to developing a sense of belonging and independence, it allows you to form bonds with great people.

Later on, I would like to train at the Royal Military Academy in Belgium. That's where many of the Belgian army officers are trained and educated after high school.

As an open-minded and adventurous person, I love travelling to many different places. I have travelled around Europe, but it is always great to discover exotic countries, such as Morocco and Kenya, where the cultures are so rich and different to the traditions in Belgium.

A typical meal in Belgium consists of vegetables, meat and potatoes. Belgians love potatoes - in fact, contrary to popular belief, it was the Belgians who invented French fries, not the French. My parents usually cook, but I enjoy preparing dinner as well. I also regularly help with chores at home.

I do not receive pocket money from my parents - I ask them for money when I need it. Sometimes, I like to go shopping for clothes on my own or with my friends, but I don't have to save up my own money for them.

By Marie Neirynck, Young Post intern