Home away from home

Unfortunately for all you nice readers out there, today's post will be a healthy dose of text, and it might not be the most interesting. It's going to be one of those daily-life-adventure kind of things. Except there won't be cool adventures where I do dumb things like put my laundry into the dryer... it's all pretty average.

Well, normally stories have a beginning, so I will start with the first day I met one of my flatmates.

Okay actually I will back up. Did I ever blog about the process of getting this room in the first place? *goes to check* I didn't! Well, let me tell you...

Once upon a grey day in Holland (it might have been sunny, but 6 out of 7 times it's grey, so I will guess that this was one of those majority-like days), I was searching for a place to live. Lo and behold, I found an advertisement on the student union website of the university here (this is where I found my first place, by the way -- it's like a gold mine for finding accommodation, at least for me.) I sent a quick email asking about how long the room would be available and got a response saying that it was available until the end of April. The response also invited me to come meet the current people living at the flat.

Actually, prior to coming here, I knew that I would only be at my first apartment until the end of December, and that living with other people might be a possibility and I wanted to be able to meet them first, so I'm glad that I was invited to meet them. But it was a little bit intimidating... I'm not good with first impressions and first encounters. (Or second or third or... well... let's say I'm not good with people, in general. Not that I don't like people, just that I'm not very extroverted.)

The fated appointment was at 20:30 on a nice Thursday evening. I wandered around the city centre and did some pseudo-shopping before going to the apartment, which was close to the city centre. Actually, I think this was the day I fell off my bike, cause I remember I had to detour back to my apartment first, but that's another story for never time because people seem to get paranoid when I do silly things like that. But don't worry, nobody got hurt. Except for my boots. And my jeans, a little bit.

I knew where the apartment complex was because I pass by it every time I go to and from the train station from my old apartment. Shopping alone gets boring pretty quick, especially when you're not buying anything, so I ended up being early. This gave me an opportunity to wander around the front of the complex, which was not interesting. It was also kind of sketchy because there is a coffee shop across the street, and here in the lowlands, coffee shops don't sell coffee.

Well maybe they do, I don't know. I've never been into one.

Anyway, what happened next was a combination of ridiculousness and stupidity on my part. I wish I could re-tell it properly, but I honestly don't remember everything that happened. I just knew that I wasn't sure how to get to the apartment (on the 3rd floor), so I walked to an adjacent building, thinking that it might be a sort of "reception" area (not a real reception, but the area of the apartment where you can access the stairs and elevators). Once I walked in, I realized that it was definitely not the right place. There were some older, kind of... dirtier... for lack of a better word... looking men, who looked like they might be homeless. One of them said something to me, but it was in Dutch and I really couldn't understand. I wanted to try and ask how to get to the apartment building, but all of my Dutch left me at that moment, and thankfully a guy working there came to talk to me. I am pretty sure he said something along the lines of "you must be in the wrong place". He told me that I could get to the apartment by using the stairs, which were just outside and to the right. I thanked him. He also told me where I was, which (if I remember and understood correctly) some kind of institution where they help people with addictions. It wasn't as sketchy as it sounds, and I had a good laugh... with myself... later.

Since the door to the stairway was locked, I figured that I should probably ring their doorbell, so I did just that and they buzzed me in. I made it up to the third floor, walked in and joined them in their living room, where we had an "interview" of sorts. They asked me about myself, I asked them a bit about who they are (but it's harder when there's 3 of them and 1 of you) and then they showed me the room. The whole meeting took about 40 minutes, I think. Then they told me that they were meeting with two others who were interested in the room later that night, and I think they had already met with one earlier as well. I asked when I would hear back, and they said probably the next day. So I went off on my merry way.

I got an email later that day (like, past 11pm) asking if I would like to stay in the room. It was pretty exciting. I felt like I had gotten picked for something really important. Which is kind of true, having a place to live is very important... but yes. The whole ordeal was like a job application process, only for housing. I hope I never have to do it again.

Oh wait, I do. Because I still need 2 more months. Well, we'll see what happens.

In related news, I am very happy with the place I am at now. I remember asking the Lord about my housing situation and for Him to give me a place where He wanted me to be (this was after my 'interview'), and then I got the email of 'acceptance' later that night.

My flatmates are very friendly, generally studious, more social than I am, and cook interesting food. One of the perks of living with other people is that we take turns cooking, so I get to try both eating and making new recipes. So far, I have embraced some of my classics from home (adobo, cucumber and corn, scalloped potatoes, baked salmon, fried rice) as well as trying some new things (spinach tomato pasta, avocado pasta) and making random snacks along the way (frozen bananas with dark chocolate.... best ice cream substitute ever).

I have a tendency to ramble once I get going, so let's end this here.

Oh, random post script - there was SUN on my way home from work. HAPPY DAYS! I love it when the days get longer.

Blitz... the Dutch way.

There's this game that I used to play at home called Dutch Blitz. It's one of those "speed"-type card games where you try to get rid of your cards as fast as you can.

This beautiful picture that I stole from this fine website thanks to Google...

Well, the other day, my flatmate asked me if I wanted to play a game with her. With all of the free time I have (no sarcasm here, no school = quite a bit of freedom, aside from work hours) I happily agreed.

So we decided to play Ligretto.

Taken from these nice folks here, again courtesy of Google image search...

As she described it to me briefly, I told her that it sounded like another game I had played before. And sure enough, after I read the instructions, I played a few games of the original Dutch Blitz which is actually a German game called Ligretto. To pile on the awesomeness, I was playing with a Dutch girl who got it as a present from our German flatmate. 

And the word Blitz is originally German anyway.

( There was also a confusing but interesting variation that we tried... Maybe it will be confusing enough to stop all those crazy Belizeans who are too good at the game... XD )

Quatre! Or cuatro...?

I can't spell in different languages, forgive me. It was supposed to be French, then Spanish... and I refuse to look it up. Haha.

The final installment :)

Spent less than a day in Valencia (arrived around noon and left around midnight on a night bus) and just visited the Ciudad l'Arts .. and.. sciences... haha I forgot the Spanish again, but it's basically the City of Arts and Sciences and I absolutely loved the architecture. I think I like modern stuff more than old stuff, personally.

So you'll see a lot of shots of the buildings. I think it's made up of.. 5 different buildings? And it spans like... 7 blocks. There are multiple bus stops for the same place.

Looks like a whale!

So there are three main components to the Ciudad... one of them is Europe's (supposed) largest aquarium. I wasn't actually SUPER impressed with the aquarium itself, although it was still nice... but my favourite part was the dolphin show :).

Power ranger headquarters! I think this was actually the planetarium. Didn't have time to go in...

Too busy frolicking here, in the Science museum :)

View of the grounds at night

Then after the short stop in Valencia.... it was off to Barcelona!

Nice architecture... but is this Gaudi's? ... I actually can't remember...

But I know this one definitely is! And look at that line-up.... Didn't go inside =P haha. 

More Gaudi!

The famous Gaudi Sagrada Familia which is never finished. This side looks better than the other side.

Why hello there, beach in December...

And Olympic stadium...

I feel like Michael Jordan's footprint was not as big as I thought it would be. I wonder if it was for real...

View of Barcelona... looking down at a fountain (it's hiding behind those four pillars).

A different Plaza de Espana, taken from the top of a bull-fighting-ring-turned-shopping-mall.

Said bull-fighting-ring-turned-shopping-mall from the outside at night.

Previously mentioned fountain but from the other side. It lights up at night!

Fake Arc de Triomphe in Barcelona...

 And that's all, folks! Tune in next time for... maybe randomness about living with other students, which I had never experienced until now. :)

Deel drie (Part 3)

I think this was in Seville (or Sevilla... I'm not sure which is the English name and which is the Spanish name). I know Spain is all about the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona (you'll get that coming in part quatre) but there was some pretty cool modern architecture all over the place.

This one is for Zoe. XD

This is the Alcazar in Seville. I believe it is a UNESCO site, and it has very interesting architecture.

Also in the Alcazar. I think this is called the Mercury Pool?

Plaza de Espana in Seville... beautiful day, beautiful plaza.

There was a mini Atomium in Seville!! 
I saw the real deal in Brussels in August.

This one is for Erika -- in Granada, I went on a segway tour. And yes, I enjoyed it. Segways are pretty sick :)

One of my favourite places on the whole journey was this viewpoint in Granada. Beautiful day, mountains in the background, a UNESCO world heritage site on the hill (the Alhambra), forests and what looked like a castle on the left...
Too bad it was over run with tourists...

Black paella.
Looks delicious right? ;)

I must admit, I'm not a huge seafood fan. This was good for the first half... and then I stopped eating.

Thank you to those who are still reading this =)
One more post will come later for the rest of Spain (Valencia and Barcelona).

Part deux (or dos, rather)

In Espana!

Yay Spanish tapas!

Spanish ham from a market!

Obligatory sangria, not the best drink when you're not feeling 100% though 

The symbol of Madrid -- they even have it on their survey monuments.

FREE tapas (which was remarkably scarce, considering I had heard that there is free tapas everywhere.. then again, I don't go for JUST drinks.... almost ever. And if I do, it's usually (read, basically never) for alcoholic ones.)

A Spanish-style castle that I did not enter because I have seen too many castles.

This is for my sister. I saw Pocoyo in a store window! 

Cute stack of pigs :)

You probably can't tell, but the lights on the street were blinking.

In Cordoba at sunrise :)

Famous mosque in Cordoba that I was not overly impressed with. But entrance before 9:30 was free, so hurray!

There was froyo EVERYWHERE in Spain so I couldn't resist.

Tune in next time for part... drie.

Post script:
This may sound a little bit selfish, but one of my main motivations to post was the comment left by my grandmother (thanks Ama!!) so... if you keep up with this, then leave me a comment! Otherwise... it feels like there's no point in posting. Even just once in a while is nice =P doesn't have to be every post.
(end selfish note).

ttfn =)

Adventures! - Part 1: Morocco

Hi everyone :) I apologize for the extreme delay in updating, it is mostly due to laziness.

And now, some long-awaited pictures! I will just caption (at the bottom) as needed :)

This was my first-ever Ryanair flight, I believe. Mostly been easyJet-ting around, with some Eurolines-ing in between.

Legit couscous in MOROCCO!

The market in Marrakesh was insane. Insanely busy, bright, noisy.... and cheap!


This is... something famous. It's a UNESCO site, and lots of movies and such have been filmed here (e.g. Prince of Persia, Indiana Jones, part of Game of Thrones, etc....)
According to Google, I think it's a "Ksar". But during the tour, I think the dude called it a Kasbah...

Tour guide taught me how to tie a scarf for the desert!

Obligatory camel ride picture. (I didn't get a good shot of the shadows though, sadly).

Nothing like riding a camel in the desert during sunset right?

And staying in a "Berber" tent for a night.... I am such a first-world kid, I could only take the lack of running water for one night.

The Marrakesh airport is really pretty.


Tune in next time for... Spain!
And yes, I will try to make next time not a month later. =P Sorry.

on faith, food and flying
The thoughts and experiences of a college kid on faith, love and life in pursuit of Christ, the loveliest One, while enjoying misadventures and quests for food, which so happen to take her around the world.
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