Wednesday, July 24, 2013

If we had blogs in 1998: A new semester begins, a new chapter

The student returns to Luxembourg on her 21st birthday after a two week vacation to the US. A fresh crop of students has arrived from Oxford, Ohio, full of the naivety that she had experienced a mere four months earlier. She was one of only a handful of students left from the first semester; her's was a unique situation, however, as she had decided to stay an additional semester a couple of months into the first. She just couldn't go home.

As it was in 1997, spelling, grammatical, and factual errors have been preserved.

11 Jan 1998

I'm back. My luggage isn't though. I hope it comes today. I can see why it happened. We weren't off the ground in Cincinnati until 3pm and had two circling patterns until we landed. One was over New York City - the lights went for as far as I could see. I saw the Brooklyn Bridge. We landed and they were already boarding my next plane. So I'm assuming there just wasn't enough time to get my luggage off the first plane onto the next. I sure hope it gets here soon.

I hadn't wanted to come back while I was at home. But as soon as I got into Zurich I was excited again. I saw the Alps for the first time by plane. They're incredible. I can't wait to go visit. Even despite my luggage problem, I was glad to be back in Luxembourg.

Last night was a lot of fun. It sure didn't feel like my birthday. But everyone sang to me at Pub 13. And I didn't buy myself a single drink. I met some cool people. Dana - Julia's friend is really cool. He reminds me of Bill. I met Zach and his friends on the train to the city. I told him the bars were open till whenever on weekends. He stayed until the 4am train. I hope they were ok staying out that late. I hope Pub 13 stayed open past 1am for their sake. I hope they aren't mad at me for telling them bars were open till whenever. Anyway, I have a better feeling about this group than I did the other one.

14 Janvier 1998

What a horrible day I had yesterday. It was all because of Monday. Sunday was not a wonderful day either, though my suitcase came. Delta is awesome. The Dupays drove April & I to the airport and then we had to meet Julia's sister at the business she owned. I was really tired when we got home, so I went to bed, even though it was only 7pm, but then I woke up at 2am and couldn't' go back to sleep. So I drank 2 cups of French Vanilla Cafe and went to school. I was so nervous all day, for some reason. We had EDP in the Salle de fetes, and also, much to my dismay, Putz's class was there. The class is much too large. Which pisses me off that they limited 310 and not 308. It's not fair. I had wanted to take a different French class but was shut out by the smaller class size. Well, Monday seemed to go real slow, but then we went to Match & I got some OJ and smirnoff and was gone for Haag's class. It was stupid. Then we went to Gerlache but things are foggy after that. I talked to an Italian guy who spoke english & played guitar. I tried to play, but my fingers were not cooperating. After that is blank, though I've heard stories since. But yesterday I felt embarrassed all day & basically dinner. I really wish I had my guitar. I'll probably buy one soon. I had really been afraid I had said something to offend someone, but it seems not likely now. Idiot.

17 Janvier 1998

Sitting in a hostel in Bruges right now waiting for breakfast. Actually I'm just waiting for the sink to put my contacts in.

Firetruck in front of our hotel
Later that day...I guess the sink freed up at that moment. What a day it's been so far. This hostel is great. Yesterday when we got here it at 8:30 we went straight here. We ate wonderful food at the restaurant downstairs. The guy who works here is so friendly. It's the passage hotel, for future reference. It still exists! Then we went out and walked around the town. Some people wanted to go to a dance club. I, for one, hate dancing and opted for the retire early choice. Matt, Erika, and Andrea chose the same option. I went to bed right away. I awoke at 7am the next morning, hopped in the hold-the-button shower, and was ready by 8am, but breakfast of bread and oj didn't begin until 9am. Mike & Erika snuck up to the top of a church. We were all ready to go by 10am. When we walked out the door, there was smoke everywhere. We thought our hotel was on fire.

22 Janvier 1998

A peaceful morning in Bruges
To continue with the weekend in Brugges, we watched as firetrucks pulled up outside. I guess it turned out to be the hotel next door. That was our first tension of the group, because some people wanted to go site see, but some of us wanted to watch the excitement. It wasn't more than 10 minutes.

We first went to a church with Michelangelo's Madonna and Child. The cathedral was magnificent, very moving. I felt every good emotion raise from the depths they usually are hiding in, and the sun shone on me, as if God Himself was aiming it at me to warm my chilly soul. I have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, it is terrible writing, but it sure as hell is better than the "it was cool" descriptions I wrote during the first semester. Rarely have I felt so uplifted, so wonderful, and I began to cry. Andrea said she cried too.I think that's when I decided that I'd really like to become good friends. I don't know why it was that moment. It just was.

Next we walked to the Church of the Holy Blood where some of Christ's blood is protected in an alter. Or an altar. Also, supposedly should be in that sentence. The church was one of the oldest churches I've ever been in. It really did something to me. My insecurities came flooding out, like blood from a gunshot wound. Again, better than "it was cool." I withdrew back into myself more than I had in a very long time. I hate when that happens. I don't know what this means. It's probably as stupid as it sounds. Anyway, I don't know what happened after that. It's all foggy. I was alone, on purpose. This is my 21 year old attempt to be "deep." I didn't know how to say what I felt at the time. Today I'd be more apt to describe it as the universe being in line or something like that. I do vaguely remember the spiritual occurrence that happened on that day. When finally I saw Erika, with Mike & Becky, I made a fool of myself but then followed them around. Actually, I can't remember, but I think that was after lunch. For lunch, we had whole chickens. Then we went window shopping & Ryan & I bought jelly beans. Andrea & Erika were in their own world. And Matt was with them. I felt really left out because I really like all of them and just wished I could be closer to them. Maybe it's my damn fear again of people getting too close, I don't know. That's when we went to the church to see the blood.

After the whole craziness episode, I settled down. Now I'm starting to be scared of what this means. We had great hot chocolate at a coffee shop, then went to a CD shop, where I bought Surfacing Sarah McLaughlin's album - I had had a tape of it but Kristine had stolen it. Then we met up with the others and went back to the hostel to regroup. We were going to hang Doggie from the light string, but didn't. I still think it would have been funny. Doggie was a stuffed animal of Andrea's she carried around everywhere. If she had been someone else, I'd comment about being 20 years old and carrying a stuffed animal around. But somehow, it was ok when she did it. 

We went to an awesome Flemish restaurant. There were 9 of us, but there was room. I sat with Matt, Andrea, and Emily, who hated me at first, but I think that's no longer the case. I had a ham roll with the one vegetable I don't like here - chickara or something like that (I don't know what this is. A Google search turns up "chicharo," which is just snow peas, so I don't know why I wouldn't like it.), and mashed potatoes, and Palm beer. It was a big deal for Steph, who's last name is Palm. It was a good time. Andrea forced me to speak of my experience at the church, and we talked about the Catholic Church and organized religion in general. It was a good time.

Afterwards, Erika & Becky & Emily went home and the rest of us played Shithead at a jazz club over beer. I supposedly had learned how to play that awful Monday, but I don't remember. When we got back, they were all still up. Erika wouldn't shut up for the longest time. I was getting pissed.

The group in front of the North Sea in Oostende at dawn
In the morning we got up real early to go to Oostende to see the North Sea. It was awesome. We walked out on some rocks to take pictures. Erika & Andrea took their shoes off and waded in the water. They said it was freezing. We ate fresh seafood from a small stand, except Andrea & Becky's shrimp wasn't fresh. Me and Erika got off at Bruxelles-Midi, which is actually Brussels south, in search of Belgian Waffles, but ended up getting Sbaro pizza instead. Like what's in Union Station next to my office now. Ugh. Then we went home. I wrote a fictionalized story that everyone seemed to love about the weekend. I think it was a good thing.

Anyway, yesterday Steph & Andrea asked me to go with them to Amsterdam. I wasn't going to go anywhere, but they're so cool, and I think it would be a lot of fun. I had fun last night. We went to the red light Italian place. I had an awesome garlic & olive oil spaghetti and a sprite for only 200 flux. Andrea actually wanted me to tell my life story. I guessed her major even before she told me. No one ever wants to listen to me, but I would like to talk with her sometime. I'm wondering if beneath all her upbeat happiness there lurks problematic feelings. I hope not. She seems like such a great person. After the restaurant we went to Pub 13 and played Euchere & darts. It was a lot of fun. I can't wait till the weekend.

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