I can see the bell tower from my three attic windows. It chimes on the hour, with the number of tolls denoting the time. This morning the first chime woke me up. The second chime jarred my consciousness a bit more; by the third, I was counting them with dread. The fourth, I could swore it HAD to be the last one; then the fifth — no way could it be past 5:00 a.m — at six, I flipped over and started cursing and on toll seven, I growled myself awake and kicked the covers off. With chunks of reading to do and a few hours to do it, I threw on some deceptively unsensible shoes (little did I know that later, one of the laces would get caught in my pedal while going full-speed, nearly turning me into a blonde-kamikaze) hopped on my bike (!) and rolled through the streets to Bagels & Beans, a canal-side café a few blocks from school. Amazingly, the sun finally came out in blinding fashion. I’m thankful for that, and the fact that the trams have outstanding brakes…
The past few days have been steady flow of getting settled, getting oriented, and getting fed (literally, carbocide. And I’ve never ingested so much cheese in my life). My host moeder, Yvonne, is a lovely lady who’s been whipping up curries and veggies for our nightly dinner dates and spinning tales with no definite middles or ends. We drank tea and watched the news together earlier, with her translating news on Egypt and criticizing the coifs of the featured political figures. School-wise, my group had a scavenger hunt day last weekend, with my two of my mystery addresses to locate ended up being a quaint Buddhist tea-house and a hardcore leather shop (the task came complete with directions to “bring something back for the group.” Alas, my lunch budget couldn’t cover 10 pairs of leather chaps). We’ve been roaming about, starting the first few classes, attending lectures, embracing the “gezellig” and struggling to differentiate my “v’s” from our “w’s” — I’m pretty sure that mine come out somewhere between a lisp and a spit. I do enjoy the Dutch language though. It’s kind of like a funny, bastardized form of English with a hearty, gutteral chutzpah deserving of a outfit complete with a top-hat and monacle. Basically.
I'll get better at updating this baby — I e-mailed my practicum contact, so hopefully good news will be coming on that front soon. :) For now, I need sleep so I can get up and do the dreaded bell-tolling ritual all over again. But tomorrow: I will properly tie my shoes. And wear sunglasses. And avoid trams, pedestrians, bikers, cars and all other non-padded obstacles.