With a heavy suitcase bearing clothes and shoes and necessities for two seasons, a bulging satchel, and a super heavy backpack, I headed my way to the DFW airport Sunday, August 22 in the morning. With the overbearing question floating over my head on whether I packed the right amount of clothing and whether my passport was with me, I checked in and headed to security after giving my family a heart-wrenching farewell. Watching their faces disappear behind the foggy screen was so hard. It was weird. I wouldn’t be able to see them face to face until November. I can’t help but try and place myself in their shoes. It’s indescribable.
Twenty-five of the fifty or so amount of people on the Maastricht Pre-Med Study Abroad flew from DFW to Houston. It was extremely funny to see a few of us stumbling into check-in at the exact same time. The man who helped me check-in asked if I was part of a group with the large backpacks and stared at me as though I was in a cult.
The plane was the smallest plane I have ever been on. As it took off and landed, I couldn’t help but think of silent prayers that we would land safely. It’s a good habit, I suppose. Landing in Houston and then immediately boarding the Continental plane to Amsterdam, I barely had time to think! Everything was done in a rush and the whole process, now looking back, was a blur.
Next thing I knew, I had landed in the Amsterdam airport in rainy weather, ushered onto a bus, and sent on my way across The Netherland country side to Maastricht. I have to say that homesickness, bewilderment, anxiety, and excitement ran through me all at once on the bus ride. I was thousands of miles away from home. It was so hard to grasp the idea that I would be pursuing my education here.
Arriving at Teikyo Building, the building we would be staying at and taking classes in, we went up to our rooms to find it incredibly spacious. Probably triple the size of the room I had in North Russell. Unpacking also went rather easy as well since it was all about putting up clothes and books. No decoration needed.
I had barely any culture shock the first day besides giggling at the grocery carts that wheeled lowly on the floor like a mini wagon and the fact that many super markets do not take any form of credit cards. Instead, I just took the time to appreciate the different style of buildings all over the place and the uneven, cobblestone roads. On the plus side, the whole jetlag feeling didn’t really hit me until after dinner and lap top internet chaos.
My cousins told me before I came that getting lost in Europe was part of the fun. Well. First day. We already got lost trying to find the pizza place that everyone said was really good. Taking a wrong turn before backtracking, we finally ended up with amazing pizza. First dinner in Europe. It was delicious.
Later that night, my room mate looked at the map of Maastricht and laughed. Because the city we were staying in was near the western-southern border, the city was quite close to Belgium. If we had walked any further in that wrong direction we were heading while trying to find dinner, we would’ve walked to Belgium after -what feels like- 40 hours of no sleep.
But my favorite part of Maastricht so far? The weather. The fact that we can open our windows in our rooms and not have burning rays of sunshine beam through and heat waves cascade in. Only cool breezes and barely a hint of a bug flowing through our Maastricht window. You just want to be outside in this place. It’s August, and living in Texas all my life, it is usually the month where I try and stay in AC as much as possible besides the obligatory classes and tennis practice, but here in Maastricht, it feels like October in Texas. Seventy degrees. Warm, not intense, stretches of sun. Clear blue skies and grey skies alternating. Vibrant breezes.
-This is an out of the ordinary blog just of what happened on the first day. From now on, there will be one post per European country I visit going back to my ordinary ‘I think too much’ style but also including more details of what I did. [Did that make any sense at all? Ha.] The actual post of Maastricht will be my last post of the series of European posts. My delayed China ‘Highlights’ post will also be posted in December.
-I have been chosen as the Maastricht Featured Blogger for Baylor University. Once my blogs are up on the website, I will post a link here. The blogs here will be on the Baylor University Travel Blog website.