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Europe » Netherlands
September 6th 2006
Published: September 6th 2006
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my key protectorsmy key protectorsmy key protectors

oh claire's, who knew you'd be here for me?
I'm still sort of realizing where I'm at, I can barely believe it even now. Yesterday I went to the university and spoke again with Joris, who isn't the nicest of fellows. I came in at 10:10am and he said that I needed an appointment or to wait until walk-in hours. The lady who shares the office with him said office hours were from 10am-12 noon and he was like "oh, okay then." I dunno, maybe he's just not the smiling welcoming type.

To get a residence permit I have to get an actual (not a copy) current bank statement showing that I have enough money to support myself. There's a whole bunch of other hoops I have to get through, but Susanna from the communications dept is very friendly. I met with her yesterday and she offered me a cup of coffee and then the department head came in and gave me a messenger bag and two pens.

After doing all my school stuff I decided to explore the centrum where there are all the shops and such. I luckily had a map of Enschede and held it in my hand as I rode to the centrum -
water artwater artwater art

I quickly glanced at it the first time and thought it was a plastic float. It's actually stationary and made out of metal
of course missing the road by a lot the first time. I got to the centrum with it's complex system of little side streets and circles. Most of the centrum is for walking and biking with rings on the outside for cars. I think I figured out there are two main rings around the center but navigating is still like trying to find your way through a corn maze. blindfolded.

I needed a keychain for my house key, room key and bike lock keys but I didn't know what store I could find them at. Little did I know it was harder to find a keychain than I expected. Backing up a bit - While I was at the university, I stopped by the International office to ask some questions and then asked the lady if she had a keychain - I figured they might have ones for International students or whatever. UW always has free ones everywhere. She seriously spent 15 minutes digging through every drawer and cabinet trying to find one for me. I thought this was over the top nice and I tried to tell her it was okay and that I will go and buy
it's sinking!it's sinking!it's sinking!

This is the popular piece of water art on campus. The Dutch have a great sense of humor.
one. She was so kind and went that far to help me without even knowing who I was. But back to the centrum, I went into a store called Hema which is like a European fred meyer. No keychains. But I did buy an orange mug (or "mok" in Dutch) for the pens on my desk, some vitamin C dissolving tablets, and a package of stroupwafels: a Dutch treat that is delicious - two circles of waffle cookie (like what a waffle cone is made of) and sandwiched inbetween is a semi-soft layer of caramel. I can seriously only eat one a week because they are so rich. I'll remember to bring some back home. =)

Anyway, I left Hema and walked into a few shoe stores equivalent to Payless shoes. We'll see how I handle the winter with the shoes I have, but if I need warm boots, I saw some cute ones for 12 euros (about $16). I didn't know where to go from there but then, in the distance, I saw a familiar sign: Claire's. Who knew in a small town all the way across the globe there's a Claire's! I would have preferred a keychain
on a student dorm...on a student dorm...on a student dorm...

Mr. Smurf is smoking and drinking on a student dorm. I found out that censorship is almost non-existent here on tv, walls, and in printed material. free speech at it's finest baby
saying Enschede or Holland or something, but Enschede is not a tourist town at all, so I doubt they have the touristy nicknacks that Amsterdam has. I couldn't wait any longer because my keys were on a bent paperclip so I entered the familiar teeny-bopper store and bought three keychains for the price of one (you gotta love their sales).

I then decided to look at my map and see how to get home. no idea. no street signs. meh, I thought how hard could it be? I just got on my bike and started to ride in the direction I thought was right. I had forgotten that my sense of direction is completely off kilter. After riding on Oldenzaalse street for a bit too long, I stopped and looked where I was going. If I wanted to get as far away from my house in the fastest amount of time, then I was in good shape at that moment. I turned around and retraced my steps. I found the train tracks, which is always a good sign, and then two officials of some sort (they wore blue uniforms and funky shaped hats) walked up to me blubbered something in Dutch, saw my confused look (probably with my eyebrows) and asked me again in English, "Miss, do you need help?" They told me which way to go and I finally saw the central train station and could navigate back from there. Although I did get lost, it was a good lost as I was able to see more of the city. Though I have to say, I would have hated myself if I was walking all of that but on the bike, it was painless.

For dinner, all five of us ate together - I made spaghetti. I'm not sure about how the food situation is all going to work. They like eating dinner together and then at the end of the month we will pay whoever bought the groceries that day a portion. For dinner I kind of like to make my own creations with whatever ingredients I find in the fridge. But that's how I did it back in Seattle, I'm just going to go with the flow here. Plus it is kind of nice to eat together. That evening I rode with Arjan to the campus again because the international committee (SMIT) was having a gathering at the Vesting Bar (yes, a bar on campus). It was really nice to meet other people that also didn't know Dutch. I met a guy from Sweden, and some girls from Italy, Australia, and Bosnia. SMIT does this every Tuesday and you get a price discount on drinks. When I looked at the menu -- 51 beers! I was a bit overwhelmed but I ordered a beer called "de Koninck" from Antwerp, Belgium. It was good, but not life-changing. I doubt any beer will be life-changing for me though. =)

As for the title of this blog, our house is connected to a row of houses. My wall is shared with the house next to us. They have smaller kids and this morning at 7am I heard them screaming and fighting clear as a bell. It's quite annoying because they're incredibly loud. I can also hear Anouk typing on her computer when my door and her door are closed. I think the walls are made out of insulation coated with rice paper or something.

A few things I didn't know before I got here:
-The Dutch are the tallest people in Europe with the average height of a man at 6'
-The Dutch invented donuts, the VCR, the CD, and the clock pendulum
-Heineken Beer is not German. It's birthplace is Amsterdam (maybe you knew this, I didn't)

peace
xoxo

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14th November 2006

dutch
6' or a little bit taller?

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