Well, I finally have the attic room I always thought would be so romantic. I wasn’t wrong about it being romantic, but what I hadn’t realized was how intensely hot it would get in the summer. My travel alarm clock currently reads 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit, if that gives you an idea. Other than the heat, which will go away, it’s absolutely darling. There isn’t really any space to hang things, but I have plenty of shelf space, so that evens out okay, and I chose the room with all of the books in it, of course. The English ones are in my room, and the German/Luxembourgish/I’m not sure yet ones are just outside.
I guess I should backtrack a little bit. My journey here went smoothly, with the only hiccup being a delay in my Chicago-Boston leg of the trip, which worried me only because I was afraid I’d miss the Boston-London leg, but I made it! Ended up right behind a friendly old English man who commented, “I thought I was going to be the last one!” We juggled around a little bit due to a shortage of overhead luggage space, but I ended up in the same row as him on the plane, too. When I made that comment, the nice Indian man who was placed between us asked if we’d like to sit next to each other, but then I explained we had only just met. “Yes, it’s a bit early in our relationship for that” was the Englishman’s response.
Two books, twenty hours, three planes, and a long nap after arriving at O’Hare, I walked through what felt like the easiest customs ever at the Luxembourg airport. (He literally looked at my passport, stamped it, and waved me on. Not a word about anything, never mind asking what I was declaring, etc.) Megan and Kristina, my two housemates, and I had found each other at the airport in London, so then it was just waiting for our bags and heading out to meet Lee, the housing coordinator who was picking us up. Getting all three of us plus our luggage into his European-sized car was quite the feat, but we did it!
Lee took us on a quick driving tour of the city, even pointing out the building where drug users go to, well, use drugs. Apparently it’s a project sponsored by the government in order to keep the activity off of the streets. Everyone has to be registered, but there they have access to clean needles and a relatively safe environment. Lee also informed us that pretty much everyone in Luxembourg is rich (as evident by my host family’s three recreational ponies), and that a good indicator of this is how many recent models of cars you see on the road—that and the expensive bikes people ride just to show that they have expensive bikes. On the other side of things, traditional Luxembourgish food is, as Lee called it, “farm food.” The three dishes he described all included beans, so I’ll have to go ahead and call that their unofficial National Food.
After a quick tour and a few wrong turns, Lee took us to meet our host family, who had just returned from vacation earlier that day (we later learned “earlier that day” meant four o’clock in the morning, but their suitcases were—are—still lying around, mostly packed). Ten-year-old Jordan (also known as Jordie) and his mom, Marie-Therese, came out to greet us and help us lug everything up to our third floor rooms, which was really nice. Eventually we met the rest of the family, which includes Marie-Therese’s husband (I didn’t catch his name), Chris (full name Christian), and Sophie. There’s an older son that also still lives at home, but he hasn’t been around much and I don’t remember his name. Marie-Therese speaks English, so that’s really helpful, but everyone else speaks Luxembourgish. I pick up on probably every seventh word, so I usually get an idea of what the topic of conversation is, but can’t follow it (I’m not sure yet if that is more or less frustrating than not being able to understand any of it). Jordie and Sophie speak enough German for us to communicate about most things, though, so that’s really nice. Christian makes noise about 90% of the time, but I’m still not sure what percentage of that time he’s actually speaking. He’s only three, so understanding him is something that I haven’t even begun to accomplish—nor am I sure I ever will.
Sophie is six, though, and we’ve been doing a pretty good job of communicating. We sat at church together yesterday morning, and it was just the two of us because Jordie was the altar boy. Apparently the two of them usually go alone, but I went along today and was highly amused by Jordie’s neon orange and yellow sneakers peeking out underneath his altar boy robes.
Sophie and I also played Uno today with Kristina, and Kristina went to the bathroom real quick while Sophie was dealing the cards. Christian decided to sit down and join us, taking Kristina’s empty place, and it wasn’t long before I could have closed my eyes and smelled his presence. When Kristina returned, she confirmed that he did, indeed, need his diaper changed, as his poop had escaped his pants and was now smeared all over the (thankfully wood) floor. We moved our Uno game outside.
After Uno, we started getting ready to go to the pool. Megan and Kristina stayed home (to sleep and organize and such), but Sophie looked so expectant that I just couldn’t tell her no, so I went off to what turned out to be more of a water park with Sophie, Jordie, Chris, and their parents. We went down the slides, bobbed in the wave pool, and played around for awhile, but I got tired pretty quick. I tried teaching Sophie how to dive, but I didn’t have a dictionary on hand and my vocabulary for that context is pretty limited—as is hers. She ended up being able to start in dive position, but then she’d always tuck her legs underneath before she hit the water. The most difficult task this afternoon, though, was attempting to play what I know as “Tea Party” (two people go underwater and one person says something; the other repeats what he/she heard once they come up for air) in another language. I failed every time.
Today the plan is to buy phones (so we can communicate with our schools) and do as much as we can to organize things and do what we need to do in order to get our permanent visas, but we’ll definitely explore the city along the way!