Tomorrow we get up at 3AM to bike to the station to catch the train to go to the airport to fly us to Amsterdam, where we hop on another train to Leiden where we will visit our friends Eric & Elisabeth and kick off a week of living out of backpacks through Benelux. Wow, that was a long sentence.

It’s sobering to realize that three weeks later we’re heading to the station to catch a train to another airport: the one that takes us trans-Atlantic back to the US. In under a month, we’re back in our Madison apartment (we just mailed our rent check this week, now that the subletters are gone). Our tenure here is about 85% done, which is bittersweet. We’ve missed our stateside friends, but it has been good to be away from the distractions there. My research (while going perpetually slower that I’d like) has seen a lot of progress since I arrived. I think I’ve started some good work habits.

It’s been good to see different perspectives on things: food, for example. It’s generally more expensive here, but a lot of it is free-range and organic (be default) and when you read the “ingredients” list you recognize everything. Sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Soft drinks have up to 10% juice (which is more than some “juice drinks” in the US)! However, packaging is excessive and recycling programs here suck. The other day, I finally found the one place on the west side of Cambridge we can recycle plastics (and carried 3 months’ worth of buildup there myself). So it’s good not to take for granted what we do better back home, as well.

It’s been great to engage in conversation about culture and politics with people from the UK, Germany, Norway, Greece, India… repeatedly. Beyond the sort you get for one night in backpacker hostels. Keith and I watched the Democratic US presidential debate over the internet last night. In fact, we played a drinking game (every time someone mentions a family member or says “when I’ve president,” mentions WMD or nukes, etc.). That aside, it was interesting to hear talks of foreign (and domestic) policy filtered with thoughts I’ve had in the past few months. I can only imagine how more interesting those views would be if we’d been in Asia or Africa.

It has also been good to live more simply… all we have are what fit in our backpacks plus the few things we bought here, which we’ll probably leave behind with the friends we’ve made. When Natalie and I spent three months in DC four years ago, we sold off and gave away a lot of stuff. We did that, too, a bit, before we came here. I feel we can do some more purging when we return. I’m looking forward to getting back, but I’m also going to miss our time here. Of course, it’s not over yet…

1 Response to “Miscellany.”

  1. 1 Amy Curl Apr 30th, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    What a lovely treat to read all the fabulous entries; thank you so much for sharing these tales of your adventures with everyone!!

    Godspeed during this last 15% of your English/UK/European tenure. Peace and Light…

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