Wednesday, June 19, 2013

If we had blogs in 1997: Arrival in Luxembourg

The latest installation in the series "If we had blogs in 1997," taken from my journal from my year abroad in 1997. I was 20 years old. Spelling, grammatical, and factual errors remain uncorrected. Today's comments are in red italics.

In this post, I arrive to Luxembourg after a week in Ireland, meet my host family and roommates for the first time, and marvel at the idea that I will be going to school in a castle.

3 Sept 1997

Arrived in Differdange last night by train/car/plane. Differdange is a small town in southwest Luxembourg where the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center is located. As I was sitting on the plane awaiting take-off at Dublin airport, I realized I was going to miss Dublin. I may never get to go back. Ended up going back a couple of times that year, spending two weeks there in the next summer, and doing my first internship near Dublin two and a half years later. I guess it's just like any other city, except older, and it's the home of the coolest guy on earth and his band. This is very groupie-like. Ugh. I never did find out where he lives. I think I'll miss walking down O'Connell street & taking the DART to Landsdowne Stadium & hearing U2 in every store & seeing Guinness keg trucks driving all over town. I think it'd be a fun place to hang out with Lynn. (A good friend from high school.) We could go to The Kitchen on weekends (Bono's techno club) or hang out in the Temple Bar District. You can tell that Dublin is the up and coming tourist hot spot of Europe. Good god, this is stupid. Too bad - it's great the way it is.

I flew to Brussells. The flight was bumpy and it hurt my ears. The "flight attendents" were unfriendly. I don't know why I put flight attendants in quotes, but this was Ryan Air, one of Europe's first low-cost airlines, so maybe they weren't attentive. Then I had to get to the train station. I missed the bus and the next one wasn't coming for an hour. So I had to ride in a taxi with a guy who spoke no English. He tried to rip me off by taking me to the Bruxelles station but I made him go to Charleroi. That's the airport where I landed. The taxi driver smelled of BO and swindle. I learned earlier on how to be tough with taxi drivers. I bought a train ticket to Lux. for only $21 (630BF). I couldn't figure out where to go because the lady at the ticket window spoke no English and I had to change trains at a city, but I didn't know which city. This was my first of many experiences with European train strikes. I had only taken two years of French at the time so I couldn't communicate very well, which made it worse. So finally this guy came up to me who spoke some English and asked if I needed help, probably because I was about ready to cry. Then this other guy told me which train to take and the other guy carried one of my suitcases. He was so nice. When I had to change trains I had to go up some stairs and another guy (who was sitting with his girlfriend) carried one for me. Then I had to change trains again in Arlon and some kids, probably 15-16, helped me find my train and carried my suitcases. They spoke English, too. I doubt many Americans would help European travelers in the US like that.

I finally got to Lux. city about 9:20 and had to buy a phone card which I couldn't figure out (but actually the whole time I was putting it in backwards.) Finally my family came to pick me up. They're so nice. I was so glad that they speak good English. When we got back I ate some good french cheese and bread. Today I got up at 9:30 even though I was still tired because I didn't want Olivier to tell his parents I was lazy. He doesn't start school again for two weeks. I played with Legos and played football with his little friends. Then we went to his grandmother's and she fixed us lunch. "Fixed." Yes, I was from Ohio. We watched cartoons, then I went to the chateau. (Olivier est 11). It's cool. Geesh, again with that word! I like the student lounge. I can tell I'll be there a lot. I have to do my laundry tomorrow. I live so close to the school - I'm lucky. It only takes two minutes. Two minutes to walk to the school, that is. I really was lucky. It was the best place to live. Other students were scattered across the country. There will be two other students staying here. The Dupays redid their upstairs to accommodate us. They could have a B&B in the summer. They even made a bathroom up there.

At the chateau today, I talked to three other students. Paul had travelled with his dad through Europe for the past two weeks. Julie and Emily went on a Greece trip. It was so nice to see Americans. After only a week away from the US? Really? And I have seen Paul around campus, so he was familiar. I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow. Maybe I'll go to Lux. city.

4 Sept 1997

I'm really picking up on French. This makes me laugh for so many reasons. I can understand a little of what the Dupays family says. April and Kristine arrived today. Our bedrooms are still not completely done, but that's ok, because we probably have the nicest place of all the students. And our family completes it. Today M. Dupays cooked us lunch and dinner. I normally don't like sausage, but for lunch we had a good sausage and mustard that she cooked, and rice. For dinner we had ham and other cold meat, a good salad, papas fritas, and a wonderful chocolate moose for desert. The Dupays made fun of us Americans for not eating with both fork & knife in hand. I now eat like this because of my European experiences. It's just practical. Robert is so funny. His birthday is Sept 28. We should bake him a cake. He'll be 49. I didn't think he was that old. Now THIS is funny to me, too. Forties are old? I had to do my laundry today. It's $6.00 a load, wash $ dry. I usually do my laundry every two weeks, but for $6.00 a load, I guess I'll be wearing a lot of dirty things.

I met some more students. The chateau was chaos today. I was trying to talk to Maga (the do everything housing coordinator) but I could only talk to her in 30 second intervals before her phone rang or someone came in. She was trying to get everyone to their families. Tomorrow we have orientation. It should be interesting. I hope they don't make us do any cheesy get-to-know-each-other things. Those are so stupid. We're old enough to know how to meet people. I mean, I went and saw a movie with two Italian guys I had known for a few hours. How hard can it be to meet American people?

April and I went for a walk after dinner around Differdange. Olivier went with us. He's as active as Patrick, (my young cousin) but he's Ryan's age (his older brother). The MTV video awards are on tonight, and I'm hoping to get to watch them. Really?!? Good lord, we're stupid when we're young! I can't wait to discover new European bands. I'm so sick of American pop music. I bought an Ash CD - they're the Irish band who warmed up for U2. There's an old OJ (Simpson, probably Roots) movie on tv that Olivier is watching, but he's speaking German. It's pretty funny. They have NBC here in English, so we can watch Friends, Seinfeld, & ER. That would be a fun time in the cave. (the student lounge, pronounced cAAHve) Friends is such a great show to watch with a bunch of people. Kristine goes to Ohio State. Hers is the room still not finished. I got to the house first, so I got to choose the first room. She had the spiral staircase of death to ascend every night. Not easy after imbibing certain European beverages. I got the biggest room. It's great. Everything up there is new. There is a sink in each room and a shower and toilet off the kitchenette which is also new and incomplete. There is a wicker couch and chair in my room. I have a double bed. It is so incredibly nice. Robert has worked so hard on it. All of them have.

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