The truth is that at the end of Peru I really fell off the wagon about being able to write. The house got excessively crowded again and somehow I was back to square one with having to remake friends and not be the girl hiding in her room writing. I have a bunch of notes about the end of my time there that are amusing, and at some point I’ll summarize them into something decent. But for the moment I might as well talk about the present before it too ends up just being a set of scribbled notes that I no longer understand.
So I’m currently living in what will hitherto be referred to as Huaycan, Netherlands. I am starting my masters program in Maastricht a town just over the German border. Very cute and quaint.
My living situation is what prompts the continuation of my “adventure” blog. It’s a different kind of adventure filled not with dangerous ghettos, death defying mountain climbing activities or rabid dogs, but with loads of college kids who blink at me without really seeing when they find out how old I am. :::Blink blink ::: You don’t seem 31 :: Blink blink….Um, thanks?
I arrive to my apartment on day 1. My room is a four floor walk-up, which is fairly painful considering the bathroom and the kitchen are 2 floors and 4 floors away, respectively.
I’ve been drinking a lot less water both because it’s hard to motivate to the first floor to get it, and because the resulting bathroom trips are daunting.
In any event, on day 1, I meet my first roommate – Nigel, the British 19 year old freshman whose parents are here helping him assemble the furniture he bought. “I’m so happy you’re here,” his mother tells me, “you can be the house mother.”
On floor three a boy comes out of his room in just his underwear, mumbles something incoherently and proceeds on by me. Later, I meet him again cooking (still in just underwear) in the kitchen. He informs me that he is NOT a freshman, he’s a second year, and that the rest of four rooms in this apartment will be filled by his other (teenage?) friends shortly. “So, what are YOU doing here?” he asks me. “I’m in grad school. This apartment doesn’t require a year lease so I hopped on it, and now I guess we’re roomates” :::Blink Blink. “You’re in school?” :::Blink.
Dennis is Flemish. But it’s complicated and he stutters over the answer to the simple question, “Where are you from?” and launches into an explanation of his heritage. I stop him. What’s the deal with the kitchen? Do you guys have your own shelves for your food? Is there a cleaning schedule? What about the fridge? I go to open the fridge door
– DON’T!! There was rotting food in there and now it’s full of flies.
– Have you called the landlord? Did you try and clean it?
-Okay I’ll call her.
I walk back out to the car to get a suitcase and when I come back inside, the fire alarm is blaring, as it seems Dennis the Flemish Menace has burned his noodles. He looks at me, the girl who’s lived in the Netherlands for 5 minutes. “Do you know the number for the fire department?” It’s going to be a long year.
Day One: Arrive at orientation group. Group mentor asks my name, checks it off on the list, and then to his friend “She’s the one from ’82.” – like 1982 is a weird place you can be from and not a perfectly reasonable time period in which to have been born, thank you very much.
– Yep. Guilty. ’82. That’s me.
– Where are you from?
– The States.
– But where?
– Jersey Shore!!!
It used to be that I’d say NJ and no one had ever heard of it, and I’d have to say it’s by NY to get them to have even a glimmer of recognition. And now, thanks to Euro-MTV, I no longer have to explain where I’m from.
– Have you ever met Paulie D?
This is the first week of a two week orientation, but it’s not an orientation at all, it’s a giant party. One week of pub crawls, foam parties (ala every travel show you’ve ever watched about “Ibi-tha” during the 90s on E) concerts, boat rides, dinners, club nights, drinking. My liver hurts thinking about it. The school takes over the central square for a concert packed to the brim with people that lasts all night. They shoot t-shirt cannons at people, there are laser light shows, body paint parties, girls dance around on stage, beer is poured over white tank tops, everyone sings along to trashy Euro pop music, and then there is the strange performance by the Dutch version of Weird Al, and the crowd goes wild.
“What about my class schedule? I don’t even know where the library is yet. Are we just going to drink all week? When does the orienting start?” My group just stares at me. Right.
Later I meet someone’s boyfriend and after I say two words he says “You’re the one from NJ!” I look down at myself for signs of Jersey-ness – Is it that obvious?
Everyone exchanges phone numbers. A girl in my group shows me the text message she received from our mentor: “I am your orientation Daddy.”
I am worried.