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My sophomore year in the fall semester of 2002, I and a gaggle of classmates spent 3 and a half months living out of a castle in the Netherlands. The Castle, owned by my school Emerson College, is located in a little village named Well. Monday through Friday we’d all go to class and then Friday through Sunday we’d travel Europe. It’s hard to describe that period of my life in just a few words.

Here is an entry two days in. I’ll preface this by saying that I was only 19 and had never been much of a party gal. 🙂 Copied here verbatim.

9/8/2002 – 11:50 AM

Color me pink, I went out last night. The local pub (the Vink) is about 2 sec. down the road. Ashley and a few people were going for fried and a beer so I went. Well, I did have fries (the second plate was a lot better because we got ketchup with them) and two – count them – two drinks! I had a medium dark beer (I like it a lot better a) towards the end and b) than American but it still wasn’t great) and an orange Bacardi Breezer (fantastic, I think I like it a little too much). Well, after the second drink I was feeling pretty damn good. But I had a good time. We sat outside with 20 other Emerson kids and talked and laughed.  I came home pretty early (11pm) with a guy named Ben who is from Connecticut. Nice, short film major. So, there was my night. It has made me feel a little better about everything but I would still like to be in class (starts tomorrow). I still feel wrong for being inside at noon on a pretty day but I’m here alone. Alone time is good. Truth is, I love sitting here (**inside bay window in bedroom**). I don’t need to be a social butterfly as long as I’m not a recluse either.

I think I may skedaddle and take a walk. It’s a very pretty day. Only if people are at church, everyone will be walking home now. I hear the way some people talk to the townspeople and no wonder everyone hates Americans. I try to be polite but I can’t say anything in Dutch but hello (Hallo) and thank you (Danku).

12:55 PM

I just did the best thing ever. I walked down by the river to a little chapel thingy with a beautiful statue of the Mother Mary. The cemetery was behind it. This is so beautiful. I can’t wait to explore more of it. I’ve found out the old people here really don’t want to bother with us Americans. Nodding works and so does smiling. “Hallo” worked a few times and some people just stared at me. I can’t possibly imagine how they can tell I’m not Dutch! 🙂

That little 45 min. trip gave me so much perspective. I feel good at the moment. Let’s see if that changes by tonight for the mandatory boat cruise. So farewell my fare weathered friend. Latereth.

11:00 PM

Okay, that boat cruise was not fun. And now I have no one to go to lunch with tomorrow. I guess I may either get something in town or rough it and find someone to sit with or I don’t know. Like always, I’m sure it’ll all work out. Ugh. I want a routine SO BAD it hurts. I really want to enjoy myself here. I want to scream!!!! Aaaaaahhhhh!! Okay, I need to just shut up and do what I wanna do. And socialize. Go to things. Crap like that. So, I think we are all going to bed which is really weird having roommates go to bed early. Hmph.

It’s really embarrassing that a) a beer and a Bacardi Breezer made me almost drunk at that time and b) I was in a beautiful foreign country and only went for a 45 minute walk when I had that entire day to do nothing. Ridiculous. I promise the travel stuff is coming. We didn’t go anywhere that first week. It’s not until we got to Amsterdam that things picked up. But to be fair, nobody told us that spending a semester abroad would be just as much about finding yourself as seeing incredible places. Next entry is your introduction to Pieter, art history extraordinaire and (unfortunately married) soul mate.

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As pretty much all of you know, my sophomore year in the fall semester of 2002, I and a gaggle of classmates spent 3 and a half months living out of a castle in the Netherlands. The Castle, owned by my school Emerson College, is located in a little village named Well. Monday through Friday we’d all go to class and then Friday through Sunday we’d travel Europe. It’s hard to describe that period of my life in just a few words.

This evening I came across one of two journals I had during my time abroad. In reading what my 19 year old self wrote, I couldn’t resist putting some of those entries on here, in what will I hope become an ongoing series. The following is the very first journal entry I did, written shortly after arriving at the Castle. What you’ll soon discover is that this journal is not just a record of my travels but a deeply personal and therapeutic outlet for a very soul-enlightening time. Hope you enjoy it. Copied here verbatim.

9/6/2002 – Friday

Well, I’m at the Castle in the Netherlands. It’s about, oh, 4:30pm but to tell the truth, I could go to bed right now. We left Boston yesterday at 6:45, flew for 7 hrs and ended up in Amsterdam at 7 this morning. Let me just say this one thing: it’s VERY, VERY hard to sleep in coach. I got one or two hrs, then another hour on the bus to Well which is where the Castle is and thank the Good Lord I woke up in time to see it. This castle, while not a typical movie Wuthering Heights castle, is absolutely great. It has 2 moats, which actually are like those you’d see in the movies. The ceilings are cracked and the floors squeak. But I’m telling you, it’s awesome. Our room is the best part. First, I’m in a triple with friend Jackie and soon-to-be (hopefully) friend Ashley —-. Ashley is from Maine, a writing major, and enjoys the Beatles. Anyway, our room is HUGE! The ceiling is really high and it’s on one of the ground floors in the main castle (instead of the servants’ quarters which also have good rooms). The neat thing is that our room looks out on part of the grounds and our view comes equipped with a fountain, trees, and lots of ducks and birds. Also, if you look straight down out of the two (if I had to guess, I’d say they were at least 8ft if not 10) bay windows into the moat. The sound of the fountain is so relaxing. On the other hand, everything about this place is pretty relaxing. Almost too much.

I’m really just doing this to myself. It’s okay to be a bit of a loner and not in big groups at the dining hall. I fell like I’m holding Jackie back from hanging out with people she knows. I’m like the annoying kid sister who won’t go away. I have to stop doing this to myself. It’s just that we like don’t have anything to talk about. We have to do that before we can have real fun, right? However much I like it here, adn I do (the people I’ve met so far have been great) I can’t help but want to go home sometimes. Actually, I can’t help but feel an outsider. I try to be friendly and it works for like 5 minutes and then they go away. I’d almost be willing to do the entire semester alone, going on the trips alone, which I know I can’t do. That’s why I’m looking forward to starting class on Monday (a phrase eerily reminiscent of last year at about this exact time) so that I can at least know some of these people and they can know me. I’m pretty confident that by the end of ths, I’ll say it was great and I met some cool people. I’m just impatient. God, we’ve only been here 6 hrs. I’ll wait, it’ll be good. It’ll be great.

So, where do I want to go? Wll, there’s London of course. Munich, Rome, Eze, Nice, Dublin (maybe), Prague (big maybe), Spain, Greece (biggest maybe), Krakow, Brussels, and anywhere else we can go. Really can’t wait to get started.

I know things seem worse because I’m tired as is everyone else. As for me, I can predict my fav. activity will be staring out my window to the fountain and the ducks. And if I don’t get close to anyone, fine. I know I have friends back in Boston. For right now, I miss Mom and I wish I could talk to her. I will soon enough I guess. I’m okay. It’s not like I’m gonna cry myself to sleep. I just feel that something is off. Hopefully it won’t last forever. Later. 🙂

For the record, I did meet cool people, I did go to some of those places and more, and it did get a lot better…but not for awhile. Stay tuned for more Castle Adventures, including my first class with hunky Art Professor Pieter and some truly dramatic and tragic happenings with my Castlemates. I’ll try to scan in some pictures when I feel motivated to do so.

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