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Published: September 23rd 2006
Chaos, good smells, lots of german, fried foods, mayonaise, cheese, socks, cheap plastic purses... I love it
I've realized the reality. As this is the first time I'm in a different country by myself, without my family, without anybody I know, and without the ability to speak the national language, I was initially gung-ho and didn't know what to expect. I'm still "gung-ho" (thats such a weird word...) but last night really put it all into perspective: I'm not a native, I will never be a native, and not everything here will be as easy as it is in Seattle. It's not something I mind, but now I'm prepared.
Last night there was this welcome party for the International students at some building in the centrum called Asterion. Nobody in my house had ever heard of it, but no worries, we looked it up. Should be easy to find. Janne, Anouk and Chiel were all going home and Arjan was the only guy to stay. He sits on his computer all day long unless he needs to eat, go to the bathroom, go grocery shopping, watch football (soccer) on tv, or go to school.
Wait, back up. That evening, my friend Nina came over. We were going to go to the lake, but by the time we went grocery shopping for dinner and chatted a bit, it was going to be too late. So we rescheduled the lake trip for Sunday. Instead, we talked for hours about everything. It was really interesting to hear what she had to say when we discussed what it's like to say you're from America or Germany. She told me that she's not proud to be German and from the people she knows, she said they are not either. I found this really interesting! We talked about it more and she said it was just because the pressure that the young German generation has because of WWII. She said it was fun with the World Cup this year to see German flags everywhere and that she participated in spirit rallys, but that she's not normally patriotic and doesn't like to admit that she's from Germany.
I told her the same thing with being American. It's hard to admit that I'm American here because you never know what people are going to think of. I just tell people that I can't wait until 2008 when we get rid of the monkey who's ruling the country. =) Anyway, we had a really nice chat about all kinds of things and then made spaghetti, watched some tv and then she went home. She still wants to go to Paris, which is great!
Back to the Asterion - around 11:30pm I set out on my bike and rode to the centrum. It's a really safe area, the bike paths are right next to the streets and everything is well lit. It's about a 10 minute bike ride. Once I got to the centrum, I rode to the very center where there's the old church. It's sort of like a starting point for wherever you want to go in the city. I remembered the direction I had to ride from the church (according to the map) and...no Asterion.
Hm...maybe I missed it. I slowly rode back and looked on both sides of the street. No Asterion. Okay, maybe I took the wrong street. I rode back to the church and took another street. Unsuccessful. Shit! Okay okay, let me look at the map (sort of embarrassing as I haven't seen another person squinting at a map since I've arrived in Enschede, but whatever). Okay, I located where I was - the junction of Langestraat and Langerstraat. My map wasn't detailed enough but I swear the Asterion was right under my nose. Another 25 minutes of riding around brought me right back to the church. There were people everywhere so I walked up to a woman, "Um, hi, do you know where to find the Asterion?" She told me that she's a local here, knows all the bars and pubs and has never heard of such a place. I asked three
other people and I all got the same reply. I was thinking that maybe it's a super secret place with a code world like "clogs" that you have to say and then you find out the location. I didn't test out my code word idea on anybody, but after 40 minutes of not finding the place, I decided to go home. I gave it a shot but come on, I wasn't finding it that night. One last solution was to call Maher, a guy from the student international office but he didn't pick up his phone.
The ride home was humbling and I was filled with frusteration. I was actually quite angry at myself. I knew it was nobody else's problem but mine, but it was a blow to my ego and spirit. I think I made it back home in 5 minutes because I rode home like a bat out of hell; putting my frusterated energy into pedaling really hard. I got home, put my pajamas on, and decided to calm down a bit with some tv. Maher did call me back and asked if I was okay. that was actually really cool to know that there's somebody who calls back to check up on me. I told him I couldn't find the place, etc etc but that I'm home now. He said he was leaving his place at that moment and could come and pick me up. It was a nice gesture, but I had already put the night behind me and felt no desire to socialize.
This morning, I thought about the night and laughed. I had forgotten that I was in a different town and never even thought of the chance that I wouldn't find the place. I am still out of my comfort zone here in Enschede and it's okay - now I'm aware of it, and I'll embrace it. The fun part of traveling and being in another country is how mysterious it is. You think the road runs straight, and it has a blind curve. The simple layout of Enschede still has it's confusing paths. I like it, it's not boring. I think now I have a better mindset and know that it's okay to expect something but not to be discouraged that the outcome was different.
Today I set out to the city to pay a visit to the bank - got a confusing letter that said my card has been cancelled...though I never even got my card. No worries, as there must have been a confusion with some code being 221 but somebody wrote 211. They're sorting it out. The normal saturday market was alive and so I poked into some shops along the way and strolled up and down the little stands. There's this bakery that I haven't visited, but I always walk past it. There is always a cloud lingering by the enterance of the shop that smells like sweet bread and pastries. On a windy days, the smell follows you all the way down the street. I'm tempted to go in, but I know that I'll never come back out. =)
peace xoxo, Myia
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