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.