Celebrating the day we first met

Yasu and I met on January 11th, 2004 in SPICE House (our dorm) on the campus of Emory University. The first impression we had of each other was not particularly great. To me he was some Japanese guy that did not make any sense and to him I was a rude Dutch girl. We had no idea that we just met someone very special. The first half of the semester we both did our own separate things, but halfway through the semester things changed…

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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

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

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.

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!

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.

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?!