There’s nothing like jet lag to find yourself googling “where to buy keuken spatel in Wageningen” at 4am in a foreign country.
So I have successfully arrived in Wageningen and had a “productive” couple of first days in my new home. By “productive” I mean that the stuff I have managed to accomplish in the last 48 hours would have taken me 4 hours tops to cross off a to-do list in Edmonton, but progress is progress man. Let’s recap.
The Journey – I had a lovely farewell dinner on Friday night with my chère maman, cher papa, soeur and frère-in-law at Canteen on 124th Street. If you have not been, go there. And then ORDER THE BACON WRAPPED DATES. You’re welcome. On Saturday morning the journey officially began. Part one being comprised of the three hour drive to Calgary (I know, I know – stop the Calgary habit and all, but my new status as unemployed student can’t say no to $1000 in savings. Literally one thousand dollars). Since I arrived three hours early for my flight as per Air Transat’s directions, I’m going to call the three hour wait at the airport part two of my journey. I know this is standard for an international flight but my emotions were all over the map and these were some of the longest hours of my life. Part three was, of course, the nine hour flight to Amsterdam. It was an uneventful flight, although I was underwhelmed by Air Transat’s customer service. But again, for $1000 cheaper than any other commercial airline, what the hell do I care? They failed to serve me a gluten-free meal, although with all the chaos leading up to my departure I really can’t remember if I booked one in advance or not. Still, their solution was to offer me an apple. Well isn’t that just going the extra mile? A whole apple! Actually what I really could have used was a giant bar of chocolate. See: emotional turmoil above.
Upon arriving in Amsterdam, I took an hour train ride to Ede. This is where I met the first of two Dutch angels of mercy. My luggage consisted of a large wheeled suitcase, my hosteling backpack, and my small carry-on backpack. My travel game plan was to wear the hosteling backpack on my back, the small backpack on my front, and drag the wheeled suitcase behind me. I even put all this on at home and strutted around my apartment announcing loudly to my parents, “Haha piece of cake! I can go anywhere with this!” Oh Ibis, so stupid. See, I had envisioned that the floor of the train would be level with the platform and I would easily just roll my suitcase onto the train and take my seat. False. First you must lift your heavy-as suitcase up a couple steps, and then the options are to go further up several steps to the upper level, go down 3 steps to the lower level, or stand awkwardly by the door for an hour with your luggage, like a chump. Mama Ibis didn’t raise no chump, so I chose to drag my suitcase down the 3 steps. An hour later when we were nearing the Ede platform, a Dutch lady sitting next to me asked if I was going to be able to get my suitcase back up the stairs and off the train. I said yes but to be honest I was getting a little antsy about managing before the train left the platform again. My fears were probably unfounded but Dutch Angel of Mercy #1 took pity on me and took the whole suitcase off the train for me while I sheepishly followed behind with my double backpacks.
At the Ede train/bus station, I spent some time trying to figure out how the hell to buy my bus fare. The machines for the transit cards didn’t take my Visa and I could only find a slot for coins, not bills. Having no coins, I asked a women and her daughter at the machine next to me if they knew whether the bus driver would give me change for my 20 euros. They confessed to not knowing, because of course they just use their transit cards. And then the women revealed herself to be Dutch Angel of Mercy #2, and explained that since she was headed back to Wageningen, she would be happy to drop me at my new place. Just like that. I can’t tell you how often during my undergrad I stood at a cold, miserable bus stop in Edmonton in mid-February and watched all the cars drive by in the direction of campus, wishing one of them would just stop all of a sudden and say, “Hey we’re probably both on our way to class, can I give you a lift?” But alas, it never happened. And now, not even 24 hours after arriving in the Netherlands, this dream was finally coming true. And then not only did she drive me to my new house, she gave me a quick impromptu driving-tour of campus and the town. First impression of the Dutch: kindest people in the world.
I arrived at my new place at 2pm Dutch-time. Aka 6am Edmonton-time. Total journey time = 19 hours. Not bad.
What I have accomplished since arriving: buying groceries, unpacking, getting a Dutch SIM card for my phone, getting a bike, getting a bike lock, registering with the municipality.
My sleeping schedule: go to bed at 10pm, wake up at 2am, fall back asleep around 6am, wake up again at noon. I hate jet-lag. But at least I’m getting a solid 10 hours every day. Ha!
Things I meant to pack but forgot in Edmonton: my red travel spork that toured Europe with me two years ago, my blue polka dot shower cap. Is it crazy if I ask my mother to mail these to me? I already know the answer to this…
Things I want to buy ASAP: a new pillow (my head has been spoiled by a luxurious $100 pillow from Sleep Country for the past two years…there is no going back to the $5 special after that – unemployed student or no), a lemon squeezer (or citroenpers in Dutch. My morning ritual is half a lemon squeezed in water before breakfast), and finally a kitchen spatula (or keuken spatel in Dutch. I don’t understand how anyone can possibly prefer their eggs to be anything but over-easy). Hence my googling “where to buy a keuken spatel in Wageningen” in the middle of the night. I figure if I’m going to be jet-lagged, I might as well make the best of it.
It’s now 8am. Two hours past my go-back-to-sleep time. The responsible side of me says, “Get up and seize the day!” But another, much louder, side of me says, “Classes don’t start til Sept 2. At this point you’re not even an unemployed student, Ibis. You’re just unemployed.”