I suppose the class trip to Brussels at the beginning of the week didn’t help my sense of adjustment—three days in the capital of Europe (I learned that there) were followed by the last two class days of the first half of the semester. Boston University splits up theabroad semester a bit strangely—the first five weeks of the semester are devoted to two classes, followed by a five-day break and eight weeks spent interning and taking one class. Then you spend a week and a half traveling and studying for your last finals and then it’s back to the U.S. with you.
The class trip to Brussels was an interesting experience in that I rarely had any idea where I was. Everything in the city is in two languages—Flemish and French, so looking at a map was extra complicated. Plus, I have absolutely no knowledge of the Flemish language and the only things I know how to say in French are “hello,” “goodbye,” and “my little hat.” That last one is guaranteed to make people laugh, but definitely will not help you when you’re trying to figure out how to get to Delirium Café. Don’t worry, I found it anyway.
Though my complications with the language barriers in Brussels will only get more hilarious—I say hilarious because I laugh when I’m uncomfortable—during fall break as my friend Tyler and I travel to Budapest and Stockholm. I doubt I could identify the Hungarian language if a Hungarian person was shouting in my face, but I think I’ll be okay in Stockholm because I’ve been to Ikea so many times.
Nevertheless, this constant adjustment and readjustment to my changing surroundings is good. What good is your comfort zone if you don’t know its limits? And who knows, maybe I’ll pick up Hungarian in a snap and actually have a sense of direction in one of these foreign cities. But in the meantime, I’m just glad my phone has an international data plan. Thank God for Google Maps.
As published on the Daily Free Now abroad blog Oct. 6, 2013