Monday, February 26, 2007

Dutch class on pause; We drown our sorrows in coffee

There was no Dutch class last Monday because Paul was ill. Wednesday, he emailed again to say that there would be no Dutch class on Thursday. And yesterday, we received an email saying that he will not be teaching ACC 099 "for the time being".

A moment ago we received an email from the Academic Affairs Council saying that the head of the Academic Core department is currently looking for a replacement; there should be one by Monday, but possibly by Friday.

Hopefully it will be a good teacher, and not an easy teacher, and hopefully he/she will at least be funny like Paul was - because sometimes, if it weren't for his humor, I would have died of boredom.

Two weeks without Dutch class is not an effective way to learn a language!

On Sunday, when I went out for coffee, I was disappointed in my linguistic abilities because the waiter forgot my order and I didn't understand when he came back to ask again. He responded by looking confused and almost offended. I also realized how much I would love to work in a cafe again. I know it would be hard to work and study at the same time. But I could work 6-8 hours on Saturday and Wednesday, easily. I love working like that. Mostly, though, I would like to talk to people who aren't in the 18-24 age range. I realize that at home, I only have 3 or 4 good friends who fall into that age group. Most of the people I talk to are my parents, my parents' friends, regulars at Costello's Travel Caffe, and, when I worked there, at Mio Gelato. The people I worked with were often older. In addition, there are so many children on Northeast 8th avenue! Here, there are none that I ever talk to.

RA is like its own little world. People I know here are people from RA; few people know Middelburgers who aren't RA students, and few RA students are actually from Middelburg (although I know of several from Goes, which is only 10 minutes away). RA is getting attention in the press right now as "kindergarden for rich kids", because it's trying to get it's accreditation. Nobody likes this new label, but I find it especially annoying as money seems to be going faster than ever for me and many of my foreign friends, and we feel anything but "rich".

Today, instead of Dutch, Dilyana (Bulgaria), Eva (Hong Kong), and I went to the St. John's Coffee Shop. We had tostis and apple cake and I had dark, unsweetened Arabian coffee with Mocha whipped cream on top. Laura ran into us there by chance with her student for a day, Roxanne, so we all sat and talked and gossipped and explained things to Roxanne, and speculated about what would happen with Dutch class.

And even though I have now received the email from the Academic Affairs Council, I am still irritated. I hate living somewhere and not being able to speak the language. I am perhaps too impatient... but I have already been in Middelburg for a total of 5 months. I know I am not submerged in the language, but it is still annoying to think that if I was, I would be relatively proficient by now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Way to Live

At the Valentine's party

Chinese New Year dinner, cooked by Eva, Sunday

Dinner with Anne last night

And today, Dutch class was canceled, so I spend most of the day reading Sense and Sensibility and the rest of it having coffee and buying groceries with Anne. Then at 4 I'll go to sociolinguistics, come home and cook dinner for the house, and at nine I'm going out for a drink with Dilyana, Eva, and possibly Anne. I am so much happier right now than I was when I was constantly worrying about grades. (It also helps that I have very little work right now, besides reading articles...)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Little things...

Life is a lot nicer since I decided not to freak out about maintaining - rather, obtaining - a 3.3 GPA. Instead I do fun things like read a lot, watch nice movies, decorate my room, and write short stories. It's also nicer since I'm no longer broke; today I went to the grocery store and have stocked my "pantry" with bread, honing drop (honey licorice), digestive cookies with chocolate, sugar (very important for hot chocolate), canned tomatoes, milk, caramel-honey cake, and individually wrapped crackers to eat during class breaks for a cheaper and healthier alternative to white Twix.

Yesterday in psycholinguistics we got out tests back. I got a C, which made me, of all things, extremely happy! I was going to be ecstatic if I had a D, so the C was a really nice surprise. My friend Eva did a presentation on sign language and revealed the fact that she speaks (signs?) Cantonese Sign Language. Now we are all very curious to know what other secrets she's hiding from us, and I'm wondering why I never thought to take sign language in high school. I know they offered it...

After class I went to the library and almost caught up on both psycholinguistics and human geography readings. I checked out "Northanger Abbey" and "The Jane Austen Book Club". We'll see if I manage to read both of them and "Sense and Sensibility" before they are due back at the library in three or four weeks. Shouldn't be too hard.

After dinner, and washing the dishes (Tuesday is my dish-washing night, with Maurits this week), I went to visit Jeanine on the 4th floor at Roggeveen. It's always very nice; she's one of those people who is so different from me and yet we have everything in common. For example, our love of linguistics, books, and Jane Austen. Kind of like Laura and I, I suppose, but in a very different way.

And after visiting with Jeanine, I went down to the 2nd floor to Anne's place, and we watched "Roman Holiday". I haven't seen that movie in years.

Life is also nice since I have been discovering all of the cafes and getting back into the habit of reading, writing and studying with a cup of coffee. Monday I went to St. John's for the first time and found they make delicious mocha whipped cream... and de Vriendschap is becoming friendlier and friendlier!

Today was also nice; I woke up at 830 on my own, no alarm. There is no school on Wednesday, so I spend the day going to the grocery store, reading for school, and reading for pleasure. Later, Laura came over and we went out to buy sticky stuff to hang posters on our walls. What started as a simple errand turned into a mass shopping trip, but I am proud to say I only spent a few euros: on a rubber ducky I couldn't resist for my window sill, a stapler (very useful and practical), and the sticky stuff to hang up the rest of my postcards, print-outs, and any posters that might come my way. (None of the books at de Drukkery were enough to persuade me to drop 10 euros on a book. Coming from Portland, it's hard to spend more than 5 bucks on a book, especially if it's paperback.)

And now I will read another chapter of Sense and Sensibility before I go have dinner with Anne: she's making apple compote for dessert as well as meatballs, I'm making polenta, and the two of us will make the tomato sauce together.

Monday, February 12, 2007

On "Universal Grammar" and Living With Guys (eye roll)

There's a pen in my toilet. Sitting there. Catching the TP and keeping it from going down.

Anne came over this afternoon, and she needed to use the toilet, so I was trying to figure out what to do. I got a stick and moved the toilet paper out of the way, but I couldn't get the pen out.

My housemate Yves walked by, asked what was going on. Poor, innocent guy. Anne and I began to giggle furiously.
"Okay... I'll just leave you, then..."
"No, Yves, help me?" I asked.
"Okay... What's up..."
"There's a pen in the toilet-" giggle Giggle giggle.
"Oh my God..." says Yves in disbelief. "Why'd you put a pen in the toilet?"
"IIII didn't put it in there!" more laughter.
"Look at our pants!" said Anne. "We can't fit a pen in our pocket!"
"Yes. And since there are only three girls in this house, and seven guys..." I continued.
"Okay, okay, okay... and look, you mutated a young tree!" he said, referring to the branch in my hand.
"Yeah, I had no choice! There's a pen in the toilet!"
Just then, Maurits came downstairs. Yves said something to him in Dutch, and Anne and I giggled some more. Then Maurits went back upstairs, slightly pink and amused.

"Well, you should talk to the house elder... who is that?" said Yves. "Oh yeah! Justin!" and he pulled out his cell phone.

They talked in Dutch, but Anne translated: "He asked if Justin lost a pen. Justin said no, why, and Yves said he'll find out at dinner!" We giggled some more.

Well, the subject wasn't exactly addressed at dinner. But it came up.
Daan said, "Our meeting went till TWO today!"
"" asked Justin.
"Nothing. Just that it went till 2."
"Oh," said Justin. Pause. "I went to the toilet today."
"Oh?" said Jesse. "And?"
"That's all," finished Justin.
"OooOOooh," said Jesse. "You should write a book."
"Yes," said Yves, who was sitting next to me. "With paper... and a pen..."
We glanced at each other and cracked up.

But there's still a friggin' pen in the toilet. And I'M not pulling it out. I won't disgust you with details, but... I'M not pulling it out!

Last night I went to see the annual theater production. This year, it's a play called "Universal Grammar", written by my my psycholinguistics professor, Sergey Avrutin:
Universal Grammar is a political satire which follows a day in the lives of a by origin Russian, by nationality New Zeelandian couple living in Maastricht. They are both academics, Masha, the wife, teaches drama theory while Ivan, the husband, teaches linguistics at the university. On this special day however, they do not only teach; the world is swirling around them. The live broadcast of the bombing campaign against Switzerland is at the same time as the badminton final [Liechtenstein vs. Uzbekistan]. Life is about choices, many may say, but it all becomes even more twisted when an old professor friend announces his or her visit. He or she is on her or his way to study a butcher house in Denmark to see how cows can be executed for the purpose of human consumption in a dignified manner, dragging his or her French wife with her or him. And yes, the French woman is on stage: champagne, little black dress and all the rest... America is bombing again (this time Switzerland), the badminton final in the air and in the evening there is another accession party... after Cameroon, China is joining the EU. Bienvenue and au revoir...
So there you have it. Oh, how funny it was! Not only because it starred people such as my English professor as "the representative from Germany", but for many other reasons! There was a Footnote Reader and a Translator who were always fighting. The Footnote Reader was American, and in the beginning, Ivan asks him where he's from. There is a long exchange about where is he from in the U.S. "Oh, Kentucky? You live next to McDonald's?!? So do I!! Oh, do you know Robert, from the U.S?" And it ended with Ivan saying to the Footnote Reader, "I live in Maastricht. Do you know Maastricht?" The Footnote Reader stares, apparently deep in confused thought, and slowly raises his gaze to the ceiling, until Ivan says, "Okay, never mind." The Ascension party was also hilarious, and of particular interest as my friend Eva played the Chinese representative. Professor van Werven was hilarious in his role as "Deutschland", complete with giant name tag hanging around his neck and pants tucked into military boots. In addition, there were several linguistic jokes, including the linguistic friend who insists that gender should not be indicated in language because eit is discriminatory, so you must always say "he or she, her or him," and alternate which gender comes first.

I was very happy, and very glad I went to the four-hour event, about which I had had my doubts. It would be very nice if I could get a DVD of it, as it was really enjoyable.

Also, on the first page of the program was the following email, enough to make my friend Jeanine (who is very jealous that I met George Lakoff over break) and I squeal:

----- Original Message -----
From: Noam Chomsky
To: Sergey Avrutin
Sent: Saturday, December 23, 2006 6:25 AM
Subject: Re: theatre play Universal Grammar -- opening night

"Very glad to hear that the play will soon be performed. Ton of mail still to answer tonight, so will have to put off the site. Interested to hear about Roosevelt Academy and Study Center. Right now, as usual, scheduled to the hilt far ahead, but perhaps one of these days."


Saturday, February 10, 2007


This morning I woke up at 9, without an alarm. Just in time, too; I had been lying awake for only two or three minutes when my intercom phone buzzed. Strange. I looked out the window to see the postman. (My window is right next to the door, which defeats the purpose of having a bell. People usually just knock on thewindow.) I buzzed the door open, more to let him know that I was coming then to let him in, and pulled on a robe, more for the possibility of running into a housemate in the hall than for the postman.

Hooray! A package! I put it in the middle of my floor to admire it for a while, and thought to leave it that way. I got back in bed and read a chapter or so of Wuthering Heights. No... too tempting. I opened the package before the shower.

Shirts, socks, belts, posters, Valentines! I put the Valentines things on a shelf, ran to the shower, got dressed.

Ahh, Saturday.

For breakfast, I sat at my table, with a pot of earl grey tea (drunk out of my "Smart women, thirst for knowledge" mug), and a plate with bread, peanut butter, and hagelslag, on a place mat. I felt so very civilized. I listened to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring while I ate, and sent Simon an email afterwards.

What a good day for me! Very productive, although so far I haven't done a lick of schoolwork. First, I watched several episodes of "Psych" and "The Office" and listened to pick-uppy pop music while I hung my new posters. (This really took a long time, it involved a lot of thought and consideration.)

When I had hung all the posters, I sat on the bed and finished Wuthering Heights. About time! (I started reading it in October, for my Great Literary Works class.) And what a sense of accomplishment.

By that time (it was getting on six o'clock) I was getting hungry, as I had skipped lunch, so I made myself a nice hash with the last of my potatoes, an onion, some mushrooms, and a bit of ground beef. It was missing the ketchup and the egg, but I threw in some paprika and lots of pepper, and that was pretty nice.

I ate dinner on my bed (naughty naughty, I know!) while I watched "Les Poupees Russes". This is a movie that I have had since October and never yet watched. It was one of those movies that makes you feel all smug and satisfied afterwards. It was also inspiring. Several nice story ideas now...

Then I washed the dishes, and Dilyana just stopped by - the only human contact I have had today, except for borrowing Laura's scissors through her window, two shy and awkwards hellos with Maurits in the kitchen, and an "Enjoy your dinner" from Lucian on his way out as I was chopping mushrooms.

I even sent out the email invitations for my Valentine's party.

Ah yes, very satisfactory indeed. And now I will devote some time to... my journal, or Sense and Sensibility, or Dutch, and perhaps later I will go out with some girls from Roggeveen. Or maybe I will just sit and feel cultured. Probably a better idea; even my horoscope in Dilyana's Bulgarian magazine (which Iliana translated) said that I should be careful about spending my money on drinks, and it is too true!

Thursday, February 8, 2007


Today started nicely, and then went downhill. Well, it ended down, because here I am at the bottom.

I woke up this morning to see snow, snow, snow, out my window. How nice! I love snow. So I got dressed and went out.

I walked to the library and took lots of pictures. Middelburg, always so picturesque, is even better in the snow! I checked out a copy of Harry Potter in Dutch. Harry Potter, for those of you who don't know, is my favorite way to learn a language, after actual immersion. And since the Dutch homework last night left me frustrated and annoyed, I thought it would be nice to spend the weekend learning Dutch in a more enjoyable way.

Dutch class itself was all right, but still rather slow. I am learning, now I can feel it, but I have to quiz myself on vocabulary, not try to communicate. The highlights of class were the snowball fights during the break.

The next three hours were spent studying and "studying" for sociolinguistics. There was a quiz at 4, worth 4% of our final grade. I didn't spend too much time studying for it, as it is only 4% and I still had no idea what kind of quiz it would be. What if it was easy and I spent hours studying?

Well, it was pretty easy, but with my luck I got a C. I experienced the "Tip of the brain" phenomenon and remembered reading two of the terms several times, and somehow I could not recall what exactly they were. Nice way to start the semester. To qualify for exchange, I need to get at least two B+'s and two A's this semester, and my current grades are zero, zero, B+ and C. Not too encouraging.

Also in sociolinguistics, we got the subject for the first essay. 2000 words, due April 2nd - the day after spring break. And not the most exciting topic - something with English-speaking in middle class schools taught by young women in the English-speaking country of your choice. Dun dun dunnn...

The dinner situation tonight was hilarious; Daan cooked some casserole thing, but didn't precook the potatoes, so they were rock-hard. So he stuck them in the oven for another half hour, and we sat and talked and waited for at least 15 minutes before we realized that he had not turned the oven back on. "That's it, let's go to Ali Baba for kebab". So I went along, mostly for the sake of being "in the house" and sort of present and involved than for the food.

Then I spent 4.50 on a kebab which I did not even really want, because I was a) not very hungry, and b) broke. Was it worth it? Meehhhh...

Then I come back to write a 750 word essay for human geography: "Are maps objective? Can they be?" I spent last Thursday night freaking out about/working on a presentation for that class, (the one that got me a B+) and this Thursday I have to spend on an essay. Thursday being a Roosevelt Academy barnight at Club Havana, which I really like and which is not usually host to RA barnights. Also, my friend Thomas was bartending.

I would like to point out that it is the second week of school, and this is a 100-level class. I am trying to talk myself out of the bad thoughts like, "why am I taking this class?" and "I should just check with my tutor and see if maybe it's not too late to switch into Fiction and non-fiction writing". (I can think of several good reasons besides "human geography is too much work for a subject I am only mildly interested in". As if that weren't good enough on its own.) Too late though. The second week of school and I have to deal with this class, and, besides that, I have to deal with everyone saying "I told you so" (even though they didn't tell me so until after classes started).

And now it's midnight, and my essay is more or less finished but I still have to read two very long articles for... Human geography! And write my "Reading Journal" entry for... Human geography! And all I want to do is the reading for Psycholinguistics.

Because next Thursday, which will finally not be spent on a human geography assignment, will be spent studying for the first test in Psycholinguistics. (80% of that class is tests.)

I am already not enjoying this semester too highly. Hopefully it will get better. I can still revel in the fact that I don't have class until 1:45 on Friday.

And the fact that tomorrow is Friday... !
"Dear All

"RTL nieuws have told us that the item they came to film yesterday at RA (including Daan's birthday do) will be shown tonight. The news starts at 19.30 and the story about RA is expected to be near the end of the 20 minute programme.
If you miss it, it will be available afterwards on"

This is where I live. As in, this is my house, and Daan is my housemate, and the people watching TV behind him are my other housemates, and the beer crates outside are not mine. I swear.

But it was Daan's birthday party so they had them there.

Tonight I skipped the yearbook meeting because cooking and talking with Maurits and Yves and the dinner which followed was much more entertaining. I really enjoy living with a bunch of guys. They asked me what is the biggest difference between living with guys and living with girls. Um... all of it?!? (Or should I just say, "the toilet seat"...)

After, I went to Charlotte's for dessert and then came home to struggle with my Dutch homework. I have a quiz in sociolinguistics tomorrow, so I guess I will be... studying tomorrow.

My primary source of motivation is any thoughts of a semester abroad, which I will hopefully spend in Prague if I can just get my GPA high enough. If I am reading and start to get distracted, I think "PRAGUE!" and get back to work.

Well, "PRAGUE" was hanging over me all day, because I didn't get any work done, and instead spent several hours and a good three euros and 40 cents on lame, Starbucks-style coffee at the HEMA (you don't want to know) and some star lights (hey. they were on sale for one-fifty, and rather irresistible). I'm broke, I should be saving that money for, say, eating.

But I had a fun day.

Last night there was a party in my living room (for Daan's birthday, hence the beer crates), and I "attended" for about an hour, then went to sleep at midnight. I'm not sure how I managed that because there was loud noise coming from the living room, which is right across the hall from my room. But I managed, and this morning I woke up at 8 and was out at 9. I went to the grocery store to buy ingredients for coleslaw to take to the international student potluck, and everything was beautiful... yesterday it snowed for several hours, huge flakes the size of the feathers that fill your pillow, so everything today was covered in a thin layer of white. And, of course, the sun was shining and the sky was clear.

I was wondering if I had ever seen Middelburg at 9 o'clock on a Wednesday morning. I usually sleep until at least ten on Wednesdays, because I am usually out dancing at Club Divine until about 3 AM on Tuesday night. I might change those habits this semester. (Prague... Prague... Prague...)

Monday, February 5, 2007

This one time, in Dutch class...

Well. Let me just post the quotes from class.

"You know in France, they kiss three times, EVERY TIME THEY MEET? What is that? And then they meet three times a day, and each time, kiss-kiss-kiss. ten times in one day, they are doing this! Come ooooooon! That's not good for the economy."

"A cow is kind of a prison... one word, and with that one word, you have to express your happiness and your sadness... it's not a good life, a cow's. Maybe there is a happy boe and a sad boe. What does a happy boe sound like? Boe-oe-oe-oOE...?"

The first quote is my teacher's response to the Dutch birthday traditions of keeping birthday calendars in the bathroom and kissing and congratulating everyone on a person's birthday (on Franny's birthday in November, people said, "Oh, it's your sister's birthday? Congratulations!"). The second was only part of the conversation that followed a poem about a cow:

De Koe
Een koe
is een merkwaardig beest
wat er ook in haar geest
moge zijn
haar laatste woord is altijd
boe ... boe ... boe ...

K. Schippers (1936)

Sociolinguistics was (also) very interesting today. We discussed dialects and accents and dialect vs. language and dialect boundaries and dialect continua. Ernestine (teacher) was surprised to hear that my grandfather pronounces "which" and "witch" differently. Next class will be even better (not counting the quiz!) as we will discuss creole languages. And creole fascinates me. One day, I would like to learn Haitian Creole. If only it were safer to live there.

After classes, Eva and I went to the HEMA cafe for coffee. We talked about languages; she's also doing the linguistic track but opted out of sociolinguistics this semester in favor of theater. So I tell her about everything that goes on. She's from Hong Kong, and speaks Cantonese, Hungarian, and English, to my English, French, and Spanish.

The problem with studying in the Netherlands is that, even if you're trilingual, your abilities are put "into rather harsh perspective" (to borrow from Emma Thompson in "Love Actually")!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Funny Things...

Tuesday night, there will be a poetry reading of Pablo Neruda's 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair, set up by the Language departments of RA. The poems will be read in Dutch, French, Spanish, English, Russian, and German, by students and teachers.

Unfortunately, it costs 15 euros to attend (plus the bus fare to get there).

I also spent 40 euros on readers for classes. This is in addition to books, not instead of them.

When I bought my Dutch book/workbook, the woman who rang me up said something to me in Dutch. Ironic, as I was buying two books: Language and the Brain and Help! 1: Kunt u mij helpen? I figure if I'm buying a beginner Dutch book, it should be relatively obvious that I don't speak Dutch.

I told her I didn't speak Dutch, and she said "Oh," and then proceeded to say that I don't get the RA discount on the Dutch book because it's in Dutch, not English.

I really love the Netherlands. I really do. However, there are a few little things which don't just don't seem logical to me.

I finally finished the sociolinguistics reading for Thursday which I didn't get to because I was assembling furniture. Then I look to see how much I have to read for tomorrow - eighty pages in one book! And there is more reading in the second book!

I'm taking a break from sociolinguistics and doing Dutch. Then I'll go back to sociolinguistics, and alternate breaks of jumping rope (excellent for stress relief, and really good when you're losing focus) and eating mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. (My stash is disappearing!)
What a week. It was only the first week of classes, but it felt like the sixth. And now the weekend is almost over and I have a pile of books to read.

But this is college. We're supposed to procrastinate. (Right?)

Monday I had sociolinguistics and beginner Dutch. Both will be fun, but I am reminded why I hate learning lanugages in school. I like studying languages, once I can speak them some, but starting at the beginning has always been boring when you sit in class and listen to people with varying abilities repeat after the teacher and struggle to answer uninteresting questions such as "In what year were you born?"

Tuesdays I have human geography and psycholinguistics. Human geography will be an interesting subject, but we'll see about the class... I already had to do a presentation in that course on Friday - the second class!

Psycholinguistics may be my favorite class. Also my biggest. (4 in sociolinguistics and 12 in human geo, 18 or 19 in Dutch and 22 or so in psycho.) All of the scientific images with cells and nuclei and such remind me of IB Biology, in an entertaining way. Too bad I didn't learn that subject better.

Yesterday I spend the morning cleaning and arranging my room. I went to buy some storage boxes and notebooks, a dustpan, placemats, etc. But while I was at the bookstore, Anand called and said to come join him and Ashlee and Casper across the Market Square for drinks.

So I joined the three of them, had a Leffe and split a Dame Blanche with Anand, and we sat there until after 6.

Which meant I didn't get to do any of the shopping I wanted to do.

Luckily, today is the first Sunday of the month, which means the shops are open from 1-5. I don't quite understand the hours; who wants to come in and work for just four hours?

Hard to get readjusted to store hours in a small European city when you've been in a large American city for the past 5 weeks.

The week was also nice for seeing all of the old friends. Coming back to Middelburg was strange for me, in a way; in my two previous experiences abroad, I dropped everything when I left. Returning to Middelburg means I pick up where I left off. It's a strange experience. There are my friends, my books (I always have to leave books behind. Hopefully someone is reading them, but I'm sure that in both Nice and the Dominican Republic, they're probably just gathering dust) and my shoes.

Seeing friends hasn't been quite so simple; very few of us have classes together anymore. Nikky and I had three classes together last semester, and now it's down to one. This is especially evident with friends who study in different departments - Sasha and I had statistics and English together last semester, courses which every student must take. But she studies life science and I study linguistics, so it is very unlikely that we will ever have a class together again.

Moreover, everyone is ill. Nikky has a serious tooth problem and has missed several classes; Anne was picked up by her mother on Friday and couldn't make it to the dinner we had planned together, and Laura and Ashlee have been in bed for a couple days out of the last week.

Still, it's very nice to see everyone - and the new students.

Everyone is curious about them, but no one knws who they are, really, except for an unpleasant fellow who likes to get drunk and introduce himself to girls as "Borat the rapist" (hopefully he won't last), and the three new Americans.

This is kind of sad to me. Last semester there were only the three of us, and though we are all friendly and have nice conversations and such, our country of origin is one of the few things that we really have in common. Pamela, Natasha, and I are all from the West, but very different and international. None of our fathers are American, but German, Haitian, and Czech. Natasha lived in Norway for several years, and I have traveled extensively. My main point here is that none of us are exactly your typical American girl.

While the trio from my semester comes from Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, these three come from Arizona, Florida, and Virginia. One seems very cultured, and has studied in different countries, while the others are the kind of people that you can tell are American simply by looking at them.

Until I know them better, however, I will refrain from passing more judgement, as they all seem nice and friendly. (Even if they pronounce "Oregon" incorrectly!)

This semester will definitely be different from the last. I live in a different room, now, in a different house. From all girls to (almost) all guys. All of the international students have moved to the Bagijnhof houses, and most of the Dutch students, including my friends Anne, Marieke, Thomas, Sasha, and Adiel, have moved to the private aparments at Roggeveen. It's not a long walk, but relatively, it's very inconvenient. The 200-level classes will change things too, I fear, and there is going to be a lot more reading and studying on my part.

I'm back.