Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Jungwon and Yasu visit Europe

After my semester at Emory University, I went back home. But I did not come home alone, I brought my roommate with me to Schiphol Airport! Jungwon was going to do another semester at Emory University in the fall, and a summer semester at Berkeley, but before all that she had a couple of weeks to kill and decided to come to the Netherlands with me! Or Belgium (southern neighbor of the Netherlands) actually because back in 2004, my family lived in Belgium. I am not so fond of Belgium, to say the least, and I will be more than happy to see my family move back home, to the Netherlands. But at least I have my own little apartment in the Dutch city Maastricht, where I'm trying to get my Masters in International Business.
Halfway through her stay we found Yasu on MSN, who was still in the States. He was supposed to travel around for a few weeks before returning to Japan in June. But after talking to us online and showing him some of the delicious food my mother cooked, he impulsively decided to change his plans and a week later we were picking him up at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam!! This was a day before Jungwon was departing for the States again, so we had a tiny SPICE House reunion for a day in Europe. Having my Emory roommate and Emory boyfriend here, made my homesickness to the States a lot easier to handle!
Of course I showed them both all around my country, visiting the capital Amsterdam twice (once with Jungwon, once with Yasu), visiting my Maastricht and my little apartment twice, and being with first-time tourists to the Netherlands, I also visited the coffeeshop twice to get some space cake. Yes, it was interesting, both times… but we won't be trying that again! And during the short time that both Yasu and Jungwon were in the country we went to Volendam, to dress ourselves up in traditional Dutch costumes and have our picture taken.

Living in Belgium, you kind of can’t escape taking your guests there, especially when they spend the nights at your house in Belgium… So we also did some sightseeing in Belgium. Jungwon didn’t need to see much of the country because she’d been there on her own once already, but we took Yasu on a trip to Brussels to meet “Manneken Pis”, the little pissing boy, who has its own chain of waffle stores in Japan.

With Jungwon we also did some sightseeing in Germany, the country neighboring us in the east. I absolutely love Germany, I can’t really explain why, but I never get bored of going there, it always feels like a vacation. We tried a lot of German goodies there including bratwurst, torte and of course delicious Mosel wine! It’s too bad we didn’t get to go there with Yasu, someday I’ll have to show him one around in Germany too.

More pictures in the Netherlands

More pictures in Belgium

More pictures in Germany

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Big Apple

At the end of the semester this month, Jungwon and I wanted to make one more big trip, and this time we choose the almighty New York City! I had been looking forward to seeing that city for many years and the desire became even greater after having landed in New York before the semester started. It was just a stopover, but it was my very first time in The States and in that city and I was quite dissapointed that I did not get to explore it in January. I unsuccesfully tried to convince Jungwon to go to New York City for our springbreak, but we compromised on California for springbreak and New York at a later date. And she kept her promise :).

A day after our last exams, we got on a plane to capital of the world, and we slept straight through the flight... We had been studying so much and sleeping so little during exam week, and out tiredness was catching up with us. I even slept through most of a Broadway show, just because I was still so tired and those damn seats were so comfortable! Luckily, we bought our tickets halfprice at the TKTS booth on Times Square, and Jungwon did manage to see the whole musical, and she loved it!

We were still recovering from our lack of sleep during the semester and had a very hard time waking up in the mornings, so the last night we decided to deprive oursleves of even more sleep, just to make sure we would be up early enough to do a little extra sightseeing and relaxing in Central Park before returning to Atlanta... Even though we were tired, we enjoyed ourselves enormously and the city was all and more than I had expected! It was the perfect way to end my time in The States!

More pictures

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Road tripping to New Orleans

After Jungwon and I had such a great time in California, I really craved some more roadtripping through the States! There were so many places in that country I still longed to see, and so little time to do it in! I wasn't just in Emory University to study, I also was there to experience the country and do some traveling, right?

The B-school never had classes on Friday... I guess four days of classes was way too tiring for those future managers and they really needed a 3-day-weekend to wind down. Anyway, I always had a long weekend which was nice to catch up on some reading and projects for class. But one weekend in March I decided to do something else: go on a roadtrip to New Orleans! Unfortunately, Jungwon could not make it because she was in Emory college and they still practised the old-fashioned 5-day-schoolweek! So this time I went with Eva from Austria, a fellow B-schooler.

We rented a huge SUV for the weekend, a Chevy Trailblazer a.k.a. Freedom Vehicle #2! And drove through two states to get to The Big Easy. What was striking in the States that all the cities are very American (from a European perspective) but at the same time they all have their own individual identity. This city definitely also possessed a European feel to it, especially in the French Quarter (hence the name). It was a very nice city, with some beautiful buildings and huge and impressive cemeteries.

And the things that go on in that city... Especially on notorious Bourbon Street! Drinking starts when people wake up, but there are always people awake, so basically drinking never stops there. When we ordered diet coke with lunch, we were actually frowned upon and asked why we weren't ordering alcohol! At night the huge-ass-beer-to-go-sellers turn up everywhere and there are bars selling every color and taste of daiquiri from big revolving containers making the place look like a colorful laundrette!

But the most interesting thing that goes on there is monkey watching, this is actually a term we use in the Dutch language and it means looking at passers-by as a form of entertainment. On Bourbon Street people don't just walk by while looking up at the people on the numerous balconies, and the people on the balconies don't just look down at the passers-by... no no... they have necklaces made of beads in every color and they are thrown up and down to each other, and when a girl catches the beads she bares her breasts! And all the girls are eager (and drunk) to catch those beads. And often people on the street are treated to a girl-on-girl french kiss and more by the people on the balconies... Sin City would be a more accurate nickname for this city than the Big Easy, in my opinion.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Bye bye America

Today I’m going back home after a whole semester as an exchange student at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. It was a busy and awesome time and it lasted way too short. I wish my whole academic experience could have been like these past 4 months. But I know all good things must come to an end and we decided to commemorate the event with one last American breakfast at Denny’s located next to our hotel. Breakfast is my favorite American meal and I went all out with pancakes, hash browns, eggs and more… I don’t think I’ll need to eat on the plane.
After stuffing ourselves we packed up our bags one final time, pretended to make phone calls from one of those typical phone booths you see in movies all the time. Most of my impressions about the States came from movies and TV shows, and I must say after my initial and unpleasant culture shock, this country turned out to be everything I expected it to be. I can’t wait to come back again, but first I’m coming home!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Saying goodbye to Yasu and Atlanta

After the graduation ceremony yesterday, Yasu and I went to CVS to get loads of Red Bull, as it was our last tonight together and we didn’t want to waste it by sleeping our time away. But of course, we fell asleep eventually and woke to a sad day, our last day together. Even though we’ve been dating for such a short time and my knowing it can’t possibly go anywhere because he lives in Japan and I live in Europe, I was still very sad about saying goodbye to him today. Jungwon, Yasu and I all moved out of SPICE House today, even though Jungwon is coming back for next semester. We all went to the airport together, but we were late and had to hurry so much that Yasu and I only had a few minutes to say goodbye at the airport before he took off for Chicago. I’m going to miss that sweet Japanese guy.
Jungwon and I aren’t leaving the States yet, we’re both flying to Amsterdam tomorrow on separate flights, because she’s going to vacation in Europe with me for 2 weeks. So after seeing Yasu off, we took an airport shuttle to our hotel near the airport to dump our luggage. This Days Inn wasn’t as nice as the one we stayed at in Los Angeles, but it was good enough, and they’ll take us back to the airport for free tomorrow, so that works out nicely.
My last day in Atlanta, I wanted to do a little more sightseeing and we decided on the CNN tour, which we didn’t have time for when my mom was here in February. We saw a lot of TV equipment, cameras and more, but the tour wasn’t all that fascinating, so I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone, not even to a CNN lover, like Yasu. Still, I’m sure he’ll visit it when he gets back to Atlanta before he goes back to Japan.
After that we took a another MARTA train all the way back to Lenox station to see Laws of Attraction at Phipps Plaza’s AMC, I’m sure there are many more movie theaters in Atlanta we could have gone too, but still we decided to go there. And we ended our evening with an all-American steak dinner at Houston’s on Lenox, almost next to Ruby Tuesday’s, where Yasu and I dined just two nights ago.
Way too soon it was time to accept that my last full day in the States was coming to an end, and we went back to our hotel. Time to sleep my last night on this side of the ocean away.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Baseball date

In two days, I have to say goodbye to Yasu because he’s leaving for Chicago then and the day after that I go back home…With so little time left, we’ve got to date big now, so today was one big date. We took a bus and a train downtown, where we got on a shuttle bus to Turner Field, to see the Atlanta Braves play baseball against the Houston Astros. The pre-game ‘fun’ already started on this shuttle bus with a little chorus singing: “Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd, etc”. Apparently, this is the song to sing when going to a baseball game. Once we got to Turner Field, we treated ourselves to some expensive seats and enjoyed the entertainment outside, around and inside the stadium. There were huge baseballs decorated with all kinds of different art, raffles, mini coopers disguised as airplanes, cages where you could throw a baseball and measure your throw’s speed, and of course loads of concession stands with oversized snacks and drinks.
Our seats were pretty good (and pretty expensive too) as they weren’t far from the baseball diamond. I have no clue about the game of baseball, but Yasu makes up for all the baseball knowledge I lack. He used to be a very serious baseball player (apparently baseball is very popular in Japan too), training to become a professional until a back injury put an end to that. He still enjoys playing baseball (he was very good in the ball throwing cage) and watching baseball, and knows exactly what’s going on. He tried to teach me something about baseball, but quickly gave up when he noticed I didn’t really care about the rules, I was just there to do something really American and have fun with my new guy. And that’s exactly what I got! The whole experience felt super American to me and we had a lot of fun.
The only thing that wasn’t so great was the weather. Our expensive seats were bathing in the hot Atlanta sun, and soon after the game started it became too much for us. We headed up into the stadium towards the cheap seats all the way up in the shadows. There were many empty seats and the temperature was very comfortable. The game suddenly ended, I have no idea why, and sadly the Braves lost. After the game we saw Godsend, a scary movie in Phipps Plaza and had dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s on Lenox Road. We got back to Emory very late in the evening, so nobody saw us come home together (the only one in Spice House that knows about us is Jungwon). We had an absolutely awesome date/day, I have no idea why we didn’t start dating earlier in the semester?!

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The day after

Of course nobody knows, not even Jungwon, that Yasu and I kissed each other yesterday… a lot. When I woke up today I got really nervous about seeing him again. I don’t know why I get so shy, it must be insecurity, but I would have preferred not to see him today. But I kind of had to, because tonight was Yasu’s big going away party arranged by the university. Yasu did a lot of volunteer work and he made a lot of friends in the meantime, and he turned out to be quite popular at the international student office, hence the farewell party in his honor. Jungwon and I had already agreed to go to the party, so I had to go there, besides I had already paid for it, and how was I going to explain my absence, no that was more embarrassing so I went. But I made Jungwon leave the house with me before Yasu did, even though we were supposed to walk to the meeting point together. Once we got to the parking next to the DUC, I totally ignored him and even tried to hide behind some tree, haha! Then we all got into different cars and we were driven to a Japanese restaurant somewhere in Atlanta.
Even though I wanted to be close to Yasu, because I really like him, I made sure to sit as far away as possible from him, because I didn’t need to remind him of the big mistake he made last night by kissing me. I checked him out the whole evening but never made eye contact with him and when Yasu took a group picture I hid behind Jungwon, yeah sometimes I do strange things. They passed around a scrapbook so we could write Yasu farewell messages, and I had no idea what to write, I think I ended up writing something really silly.
After dinner we said no to going out to some club or cafĂ©, because we were in the middle of finals, but me mostly because I was still trying to avoid Yasu. I got home and went to the dining room to study and maybe to run into Yasu. Who wasn’t due back for a couple of hours, so if I got nervous about it I could still escape before he showed up. But I hadn’t even opened my book yet and there he was, he startled me with his sudden appearance, and I didn’t know what to say, but that was ok because the first thing he did was kiss me! He didn’t think kissing me was a mistake at all, so he came back for more, and I was happy to oblige.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Kissing a Japanese guy

Remember that rather peculiar guy from Japan that lives on the first floor of SPICE House, that I’ve mentioned a few times? The guy that my mom got to meet when she was here in February? Well, these days I refer to him as Yasu, that cute Japanese guy that lives downstairs. A couple of weeks ago, I had to do a marketing project which meant observing customer behavior at the local Starbucks, which is where Yasu spends a couple of hours studying everyday. When I got there I sat down at his table and what should have a quick project turned out to be a long and enjoyable conversation with that Japanese guy, who wasn’t so weird after all.
Ever since that day we’ve been hanging out a lot around campus, sometimes we have lunch together at Cox Hall, sometimes we have dinner at Dooley’s and sometimes we have coffee at Starbucks. The air-conditioning in our room on the third floor doesn’t work, and we live in the hot Atlanta area so it’s very warm in there, so I usually study (and often do my laundry at the same time) in the dining room on the first floor where it’s nice and cool. Yasu lives on the first floor so we often hang out together, sometimes he plays the guitar, sometimes I help him with his homework, sometimes we talk on MSN, sometimes we watch some TV, sometimes we tease each other, sometimes we hold hands, and sometimes I think I really like this guy…
We’re in the middle of finals, so the university organizes study breaks with free food for us, but today’s study break at SPICE House was cancelled, so Yasu asked me to join him for dinner at Park Bench. I wasn’t hungry, but thankfully smart enough to say yes, because I wanted to be alone with him, as much as possible. We sat in a booth in the back and it was dark, it was the perfect atmosphere. We played with the straw papers and ended up holding hands over the table. It rained when we went home and he held me very close when we were waiting for the D shuttle. I really thought he might kiss me then, but he didn’t… At home, we sat at your desk looking at your computer screen at some crazy Japanese show, but we weren’t really  paying attention to it. There was a lot of tension in the air and suddenly he came closer and leaned his forehead against mine, he was really cute and then… he finally kissed me! And we kept it up for several hours, 6 to be exact…

Friday, March 26, 2004

Our non-adventure at the Westin Hotel

I’m terribly afraid of heights, still today after Jungwon’s classes (I never have classes on a Friday, apparently Business School students need a 3 day weekend) we set out on a new adventure. Climbing the Westin Hotel in an external glass encased elevator. This hotel is a 73-floor round skyscraper downtown, and we wanted to soar to the top floor in that scenic elevator providing us with Atlanta’s best view of Atlanta. But once we got to the elevator entrance (which wasn’t easy to find in the first place), we were told that non-guests had to pay a $5 fee to ride the elevator to the top. Due to my fear of heights, I was already extremely nervous and no longer looking forward to the elevator ride, and having to pay for something that made me this scared seemed ridiculous to me, so we didn’t go on the elevator.
Instead we just got some coffee at the in-house Starbucks and lounged around in the hotel taking pictures. It’s a really luxurious and big hotel and we still enjoyed ourselves with pretending to be rich enough to stay in a hotel like this and looking at lots of people who were actually rich enough to do that. As an added bonus for being that rich they got to ride the glass elevator for free, but I wasn’t that eager to have that privilege anymore.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Spring break

Jungwon and I are pretty serious students we do our homework everyday and spend many hours in the Woodruff Library and Cox Hall Computer Center to work on class projects. And back home the light is on in our room until the wee hours of the night, because we’re still studying. Language problems are the cause of Jungwon’s slow study-speed, and perfectionism is mine. It sucks because we’d rather sleep, but at least we’re not alone, it turns out misery does like company. Eventually, I go to bed for some much needed sleep (luckily classes don’t start until 10 AM), but Jungwon doesn’t and every morning I find her sleeping face down on her desk and homework. By now, we’re pretty exhausted and we’ve both pretty much had it! We’re not sure what has been bothering us most, those all-night study sessions, the culture shock or our homesickness (although mine is basically cured after my mom’s visit), in any case, we desperately need a break.
We’ve been dreaming about this week of freedom for a while and we’ve decided to go on a road-trip through California and Nevada. For now we just know we’re going to check out San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the details are up to us and Jungwon's Korean travel guide to discover! Airtrain (cheap Atlanta based airline) flew us to San Francisco this afternoon where we picked up our rental car. We were hoping for an all-American car, but they gave us a white (the worst of all colors) Toyota Camry. We loved it anyway. The important thing is that we have a car, and this Japanese car is actually very roomy, super-comfortable and a lot more fuel friendly than the typical American car. I was a bit nervous about driving here, because the traffic rules are different here and the fact that people are allowed to pass you on both sides (and not just on the left like in Europe) scared me a bit. After causing some car accident years ago, Jungwon has been too scared to drive in any country even her own. So after telling myself I could do it (I mean I had to, after all California wasn’t going to find us in that rental car garage, we had to go out and explore it ourselves) I ventured on the San Francisco highway and found out it wasn’t scary to drive here at all! 
Tonight we’re spending the night in a tiny house on the Berkeley Campus, where Jungwon’s cousin an his family live while he works on a degree at Berkeley. Before driving out to Berkeley we did a bit of preliminary sightseeing in San Francisco. First we checked out the Bay Bridge (officially named the “James ‘Sunny Jim’ Rolph Bridge”), which we had to cross later to get to Berkeley. It’s a multi-structure toll bridge complex which has one of the longest spans in the world and is one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world.
But the most important bridge we had to see in San Francisco was of course the Golden Gate Bridge, the internationally recognized symbol of the city. It was difficult to find a spot to take decent pictures of the red bridge, but eventually we found a rather deserted place. It was kind of creepy because it was already dark and there was nobody around, still we managed to take some pictures without getting killed or kidnapped.
We actually hung around a bit to take some pictures of ourselves in the dark car, because we wanted to remember how happy we were here in San Francisco, free from all the obligations back at Emory, free to enjoy ourselves driving around the West Coast of the States. We happily nicknamed the Camry ‘The Freedom Vehicle’ and found our way to Berkeley to get some sleep.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Sightseeing and saying goodbye

This morning and early afternoon we spent sightseeing around downtown Atlanta, mostly the CNN center, the Underground and of course Coca Cola World. We’d already did some shopping in the Atlanta Underground last night, so now we wanted to do some sightseeing. We didn’t have time to take both tours at CNN and Coca Cola and my mom decided she preferred Coca Cola over CNN, so we entered Coca Cola World, which was smaller than expected. They had loads of old promotional materials and old packaging which was interesting to see.
There was more to do than look at old stuff and buying souvenirs: like posing behind faceless wooden cutouts, shooting coke and tasting Coca Cola brand beverages from all over the world. Most of them were good, I think my favorite was a lychee-flavored drink from some Asian country, but there were also a few terribly disgusting drinks.
Normally Atlanta is Hotlanta, but today was another story altogether. It rained, and rained… and rained some more. On our walk from CNN to Coca Cola World, we got so soaked our underwear was literally wet too! At one point we just discarded our useless umbrellas because we just couldn’t get more wet then we already were. We decided to take a rest and dry up some in Johnny Rocket’s in the Atlanta Underground, where my mother consumed her last real American meal, a unimaginably huge burger and a cherry coke. She loved it.
Saying goodbye (way too early after just 2 days) was painful, we actually spent the evening at the gym (for the first time) instead of studying in our room, because we were too sad to concentrate. But having had my mom here even for just this short amount of time was the most surprising, surreal and wonderful experience ever. Now, my homesickness is finally cured and I can start to really enjoy life in the States. Thanks, Moem for coming all the way here, I had an awesome weekend! She didn’t get to see much here in this short amount of time, but someday I’m going to make it up to her and show her the States properly.
Moem in Atlanta

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Shopping, steak and cocktails

Today, when I woke up, my mom was still here! This morning we drove (in a rented car) to a Tanger Factory Outlet far outside of Atlanta. It took a couple of hours to get there from Emory. We’d never been to an outlet before and we heard so many great stories about cheap but quality stuff, that we were anxious to check it out. We spent a fair amount of time there checking out all the stores, but actually it was quite a letdown… The only things purchased were a stars & stripes umbrella (by me) and some small souvenirs for people at home (by my mom). A regular mall would have been a better place to take my mom shopping, but sadly we didn’t have time for that anymore. But we did have time for an American meal: steak. On our way back to Atlanta we stopped at an Outback restaurant, which is an American chain restaurant with Australia as its theme, but which serves huge steaks which taste very American. This is us with our huge salads before they serve us our steaks, by the time the steaks arrived we were so preoccupied by the presence of juicy meat, we totally forgot to take pictures of the steaks. But believe me they were good.
After our lunch-dinner meal we headed back to Atlanta to check out Coca Cola World downtown. Atlanta is the hometown of Coca Cola, and the brand is present everywhere (especially at Emory University), hence it’s nearly impossible to get a Pepsi at an Atlanta restaurant. Luckily, I’m one of those Coca Cola fans, so the lack of Pepsi hasn’t bothered me at all. When we arrived at the Coca Cola museum though, it was already closed, so we’re returning tomorrow. Instead we hung out in the Atlanta Underground a bit to find more souvenirs and to have some milkshakes at Johnny Rocket’s. A really nice burger place that seems to come right out of a sixties movie complete with waiters dancing on the counter to YMCA. And later we hung out in the hotel lobby to have some tasty cocktails before bed:
We just hung out in the lobby for a couple of hours, where we saw some cross dressers and a bride and groom (and all their wedding presents) about to enjoy their wedding night in some suite upstairs. But mostly we just enjoyed each other’s company. After a month of speaking hardly any Dutch (except for the phone calls home) and desperately and unsuccessfully seeking a fellow Dutchie among all the international students at Emory, I finally got to speak Dutch again. It was weird, but also really great.
Unfortunately, my mom’s leaving again tomorrow, she needs to go back home and take care of my brothers. So we don’t have much time left to let her experience some of American life, but we’ll make the most of it! Tonight, Jungwon is also keeping us company is my mom’s fancy double room in the Marriott, and tomorrow we’ll do some quick sightseeing before returning her to the airport.
Moem in Atlanta

Friday, February 13, 2004

Airport shocker!!!

This morning Jungwon and I were waiting at Atlanta airport for someone to arrive, and I was getting worried because that person still wasn’t there yet. We sat down on a bench with a view of the arriving passengers, when all of a sudden a hand holding a card appears from behind me. I look at the card, recognizing my mother’s handwriting and wonder who is delivering me mail at the airport even though nobody at SPICE House knows I’m here right now… Only a few seconds pass between the appearance of the carded hand in front of my face and the moment I turn around, but in that short time my mind did some serious back flips trying to figure out whose hand this was. The truth never occurred to me so I was immensely shocked when I saw my mom crouching behind me! Maybe I screamed, I know I yelled “What are you doing here?” and immediately started crying tears of joy. I ran around to the other side of the bench and hugged the air out of my mom!
I’ve been coping with a severe case of homesickness and culture shock since my arrival and had wished to see my mom about every waking second! And now here she was! It was the most surreal feeling I have ever experienced! My mind was boggling and my eyes were crying, but I am the happiest girl on earth. My mom is here, I still can’t believe it! Unfortunately, she’ll be leaving in two days again, but hey two days with my mom in Atlanta that’s more than I ever hoped for!
After the shocking surprise and some relaxing coffee at the airport, we had a delicious dinner of crabs at Joe’s Crab Shack before we took her to Emory University to quickly show her around. She saw where I live in SPICE House (she even met the peculiar Japanese guy living on the first floor), the DUC where I eat and get my mail, Cox Hall where I sometimes eat and study every night in the computer area, Woodruff Library where I sometimes study (open 24 hours) and from a distance in the shuttle bus Goizueta Business School where I go to classes. Then we quickly dropped off Jungwon at SPICE House before returning to her hotel as she was kind of passing out with jetlag. Tomorrow is another day!
Moem in Atlanta

Saturday, January 17, 2004


What attracted me about SPICE House was the possibility to get a single room, meaning not having to share your dorm room with someone else. But somehow this didn’t work out for me and I did get a roommate, Jungwon from South-Korea. I dreaded having to live in a small room with a stranger, but actually living with Jungwon is a lot of fun. It’s nice to have someone to share your all-night study sessions with and besides she’s just an awesome person to hang out with, so I’m glad I ended up with her as a roommate. Our next-door neighbors are great too: Marcello from Italy and Joaquin from Chili.
We live on the third floor of SPICE House in room 304. The building is kind of old, the rooms are small and not pretty at all, the furniture is old an ugly and the air conditioning doesn’t work either. Basically the housing is pretty crappy compared to all the wonderful apartments on Clairmont Campus, which is where they also house exchange students… At least SPICE House is right on campus within walking distance from all the important places. And I guess it’s home for a couple of months so I’d better get used to it!
When I arrived here the first thing I did was rearrange the furniture again and again and again. But with so much furniture and such little rooms the options are minimal. The bunk beds are detachable and I even took it apart to see if it would work with the two beds on the floor, it really didn’t. Problem was, I’m too scared to climb onto top bunk, I was happy to find out that Jungwon isn’t. Not that she really needs a bed, she usually falls asleep with her head on the desk anyway. In the end the best set-up was the two desks next to each other on one wall and the two beds on top of each other on the other wall.
On the first floor, we have a few common areas, like the kitchen where we have a huge fridge with two doors and loads of cooking equipment. But I don’t think I’ll ever cook anything here, because I have an already-paid-for-meal-plan and I’m a little bit too busy with homework. In the dining area we have another big fridge although this one only has one door, and a Coca Cola (what else in Atlanta?) vending machine, which is convenient. And behind some doors they’ve hidden a huge coin-operated washer and dryer, which is quite unfair because most campus housing has washers and dryers that can be used for free, but it’s all we’ve got here so we’ll just have to pay for it. Oh and there also some Japanese guy living on this floor of the house.
The living room is located on the second floor, it has a piano, two couches, two armchairs and a huge TV in a very ugly closet. SPICE House also has its own couch potato, Peter from the UK, you’ll always be able to find him channel surfing on the couch, yeah we don’t really get an opportunity to watch TV ourselves, not that we have the time. I heard that that Japanese guy on the first floor has his own TV, hmm, maybe I should befriend him…
Our house is located on Frat Row, so our street is bursting with beautiful and enormous mansions all inhabited by loud and rowdy frat boys. Our house is decorated with nice wooden decks on several levels at the back of the house, where we can enjoy a view of baseball and softball fields. Which can be quite entertaining at times, not because I like baseball, but because how the baseball team likes to pretend to have a huge audience, even when it’s just the usual 3 people on the bleachers. Still every player is enthusiastically announced from the speaker (e.g. “Therezzz Jooooohn Smiiiith, nuuuuumbaaahr 20! He is a yadaaa yadaaaa student and he is our pitchaaaaaaaaahr!”) when they enter the playing field running with their hands in the air to receive no applause at all. When everybody has entered the field in the same manner, they stand in line with their hands on their hearts to sing the national anthem while adoring the American flag. That part is very entertaining, the actual game doesn’t interest me.
There’s also a fourth floor, where the girl’s bathroom is located, of which I didn’t take pictures. There’s also a bathroom on the third floor but that is mixed, so Jungwon and I usually go upstairs to take showers to be safe from male encounters during cleansing. Well, this is SPICE House, it isn’t beautiful or luxurious like all the other houses on this road, but it’s home and it’s not bad.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Arrived in the States

3 days ago I set foot on American soil for the first time in my life, after my plane landed in New York City at John F. Kennedy Airport. My whole life I’ve been obsessed with this country and now I’m finally here! I’ve been very excited about coming here for a long time, still saying goodbye to my family was impossibly hard. And in the days before my departure we made sure to photograph some of our silliness so I have something to make me laugh when I feel lonely all the way in America:
The last few days I spent in Salt Lake City, visiting with some family friends and getting to know American life a bit. This morning, very early, I arrived at the huge airport in Atlanta, where an Emory student picked me up. Before taking me to Emory we stopped at IHOP (International House of Pancakes) for the worst breakfast I’ve ever had. My order included a fried egg (sunny side up) and the egg white was still see-through… yuk. Apparently this is pretty standard though, so from now on I’ll be ordering my eggs over easy.
I left Amsterdam on January 8th, and now 5 flights later I’m finally here at SPICE House on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, in the United States of America! This will be my home for the next 4 months, because this Spring Semester I will be an exchange students at Emory University's Goizueta Business School.
SPICE House is located on Frat Row and most of its residents are international exchange students. I already met a couple of the other residents from various countries, including a rather peculiar guy from Japan who thinks I am a rude bitch… well, he’s probably right. Anyway, I can’t wait to start my American adventure, and meet some American students!