Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maastricht: Day 2

Another wonderful day in Maastricht today!

Woke up very sleepy.  I think the jet lag is actually just starting to hit me.  But obviously Ger's delicious assortment of breads and cheeses always brighten my mornings.  

We all met in the lobby of our dorm this morning and walked to the University of Maastricht for the second part of our orientation.  Here are some of the things I will be seeing as I walk to class each day.

I really like the classrooms and set-up of the University.  They don't actually have a campus, just different buildings around the city, which is kinda fun because then you get to see more of the city as you go from classroom to classroom.  Upon reaching the classroom, we had orientation with Maaike, our CES (Center for European Studies) coordinator. She was with us all day yesterday as well and is so incredibly sweet and was very helpful in explaining the city and the classes.  

After we received our syllabi and books (I will have a LOT of reading to do this summer, I can tell ya that much), we left to go eat lunch in the Student Union basically. After lunch, we hopped on our Mercedes-Benz bus, which is far too large for the little streets in Maastricht, but somehow our bus drive managed to drive us without hitting anyone... we may have bumped a few cars along the way though. Oops. 

The bus driver drove us to this little town called Margraten, just a few miles outside of Maastricht.  In this town is a cemetery and memorial for the men and women who were killed in the Netherlands during WWII.  My dad, the history buff, would've loved it.  A man from the United States gave us an abbreviated tour, due to our lack of time, but it was very interesting to hear about the memorial.  Apparently the Netherlands gifted the entire plot of land to the United States for the fallen soldiers. So, technically, I guess we were on American soil again.  Sort of. But not really.  It was a very gloomy day, which only reinforced the solemnity of the memorial. It was truly amazing to see thousands of crosses and names, representing people who had died for our country overseas.  It's always good to be reminded of courageous people who have given their lives for people like me.  

 By the end of the tour, it had already started to sprinkle and get very chilly, so we were happy to load up the bus and make our way back to Maastricht.  We were dropped off at the train station and got on this tiny little train for a 30 minute ride to Liege, Belgium.

All train reservations have to be made in Liege, Belgium. So I'm sure I'll be visiting there quite frequently.  Honestly, it's not really THAT great of a city. Not much too look at. And everyone there speaks French. The guy behind the counter didn't understand any of my English and I didn't understand any of his French. So that made it really interesting to book my train ticket. I tried to book my train from Venice, which I'll be taking during our individual travel time next week.  But due to the language barrier, I actually booked a ticket from Liege to Frankfurt.  But don't worry, we got it all figured out by the end.
After booking our ticket, we had 30 minutes to look around the city, which was plenty of time.  We all just wandered around outside the train station for a while, looking at the buildings and listening to all the people speak French to each other. But it was our first time to Belgium, so we obviously had to document it with a picture.

Well, nothing too exciting happened after we got back from Liege.  Ger made us 'chinese food' for dinner....nothing like P.F. Chang's or anything but it was still pretty good.  Chelsea and I just got back from Albert Heijn, which is the grocery store around the corner.  We bought some bread, cheese and salami so that we will have some food for lunches on our group trip to Germany and Switzerland. We leave for that in the morning! I am SO excited for that! Can't wait to tell you all about it!!! 

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