Epic Belgian Email #33

And they all heave a great big sigh of aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

As of today, I have officially completed all the work I am
expected to do in order to obtain a Master of Arts in Eastern
Mediterranean Archaeology. (Which is not to say I know
whether I’ve passed, but at least there’s no more work to be
done!)

It has been a respectably exciting sort of week, considering how
excitement levels have been running over the past month. As you
know, I began last week by turning in The Thesis, which is the
first source of relief. The last project to be completed was a
presentation for the two professors of Egyptology, dealing with
an Old Kingdom trail leading through the Sahara Desert. It was a
mildly interesting topic, but I discovered that my primary
source was a 540-page book written in French. I immediately lost
interest, and decided to do other things instead.

So I spent my week doing things like sleeping in, eating lunch
out, reading in the park, and playing Long Distance Solitaire
Showdown with Megan. 🙂 Very relaxing, most enjoyable.

On Friday night, I guess I probably had my first truly Belgian
night out. (How awful is that, said two weeks before I leave
Belgium??) The evening started with a late movie. Jeroen and I
went to see Batman Begins, which was far more entertaining than I
expected, in an explosive, bad-guy-beating-up kind of way. Then we went to Oude Markt and sat outside drinking iced tea and watching the vast throngs of people hop from pub to bar to pub. It was after midnight by the time we got there, but considering the number of people out and about, it might as well have been the middle of the day. Ah, Belgian nightlife! Eventually we were joined by Jeroen’s girlfriend. By the time we stopped yapping and decided to go home, it was (oops!) almost 4am.

I was putzing around my room, getting ready for bed and watching the sky turn blue, when my roommate Sara climbed in through my window. Well hello, Sara, nice to see you. Did you forget your key…?

No, she was just being friendly – in a breaking and entering
kind of way. Of course, I was there and my light was on, so I
don’t suppose that’s really the case. We had a very odd
conversation, then she went to bed. The little demon woke me up
a few hours later (okay, it was 10:00, but still…) to ask if
she could borrow one euro. That puts her on my hit list, even if
crawling in through my window didn’t.

Sunday afternoon I went to a “costume” party. The idea was to come dressed in a “traditional” outfit from your country of origin, and bring “traditional” food. They really wanted me to come dressed as a cowgirl, but to my deep chagrin, I’d left all my cow-wranglin’ gear at home. I tried to be creative, but ended up just going in jeans and a tshirt. Soooo unoriginal. But I wasn’t the only one. A few of the Belgians were also dressed in “traditional” Belgian jeans and tshirts. Actually, one of the Belgians was wearing an American Flag shirt that said “NORTH DAKOTA” in big letters across the front. I almost died laughing.

The food was unbelievable. I brought chili (that’s “American,”
right? About as close as it gets, anyway…) and it was declared
good. I got busy tasting other people’s food though. There was
Moroccan, Japanese, Chinese, Polynesian, Ghanan, South African,
Polish, Spanish, French, Indian, uh… and lots of others! I’m
definitely forgetting some. I took nickel-sized portions of
everything and went back for favorites. I think I ate for four
hours straight.

Control of the music was out of control. I think we managed to
cover stuff from all the above mentioned countries. At some
point, big band was playing, and it was time for dance lessons.
A few people there knew I used to teach, so we had a little
swing class in the living room. It was really funny and
completely chaotic. I think I got a new boyfriend out of the
deal. His name might be Manu, he might be French, and he’s maybe
six or seven years old, but boy did he want to dance! And not
with just anyone… Good grief. I kind of had to peel him off
after awhile.

Getting home from the party was also a bit tricky. The party was
in Brussels. The buses to Leuven only run once an hour, and only
leave from certain stops. I was happy to have Cynthia (a friend
whose family is from Ghana) along to help me figure it out,
because we had to take a bus to catch a metro to get to the
right bus stop, but then we found out that the bus in question
doesn’t actually go to that stop on Sunday, so we took another
bus to a different stop where we JUST missed the right bus.
(Lost? So were we.) Luckily, buses came to this stop every
half hour, so it wasn’t such a horrible wait, and we did
eventually get home.

On Monday, I finally broke down and decided to do some work on that project I’d been avoiding. I’d been taking stabs at reading the French book throughout the week, but I really wasn’t finding what I thought I needed, so in the end I did my research online and made a bunch of stuff up. (Ssh, don’t tell.) I had concluded that I only needed to score four (out of twenty) on the presentation to pass the class, so it was hard to be especially worried about it or motivated. For pete’s sake – with my thesis handed in, who can expect any real motivation?

In any case, the presentation was this morning and it went fine.
I made one dumb mistake (got the date on a pot wrong by a couple
thousand years…) and for the rest, it turns out I really
wasn’t missing anything out of that stupid French book after
all. Glad I didn’t bother reading all 540 pages…

Which leaves the chickens. I figure maybe if I leave the
chickens for last, you’ll be fooled into reading the less
interesting parts of the email in order to get find the chickeny
parts.

The chickens are fine, and I’m sad to say that’s really all the news. I asked Marianne where they would go for the summer, and she said “Chicken Summer Camp.” Well, that’s not exactly what she said, but definitely the right idea! I guess they’ll go live in a place with lots of other chickens until the students come back again next fall, at which time they will be retrieved.

Maybe they’ll learn some manners at camp. Like not pecking off
the ankles of the hand that feeds you, or something.

Tada! That’s my week! The rest of this week I should probably
devote to a bit of packing and cleaning. Next week, Marianne and
I are doing some traveling in Belgium, to see all the sites I’ve
missed while preoccupied with school and such. It should be a
nice break. After that, I’ll head to the Netherlands.

But you’ll hear from me again before then, so until next time, I
send love and hugs and thoughts of Belgian beer on a terrace at
midnight!

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