Mishaps & Misgivings on Arrival to Luxembourg

And I’m off to Europe again! This time, I will be spending 3 months in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, interning at the European Court of Justice in the General Court, under Judge Savvas Papasavvas from Cyprus. It’s been a little over 4 years since my last adventure in Europe and thus my last blog post: is this mic still on?

Given the wide audience that I enjoyed during my first go at this (and the audience that persisted after I stopped blogging), I’ve decided to somewhat “commercialize” my posts. Now, I will give slightly more detail, in the sense that I will tell readers where I bought, ate, and spent my time in more specificity than previously. That being said, I will preserve the privacy of some aspects of my time here, such as exactly where I live and some of the work that I will be doing at my internship.

My flight from JFK to Heathrow on February 7th was not incredibly notable, save for one thing. I flew British Airways; when the flight attendants came to offer drinks, they asked if anyone wanted alcohol, and almost every time, someone wanted wine, champagne, or whiskey. They didn’t pay for it! In fact, some people even asked for two soft drinks and two alcoholic beverages, and not once did they take out their credit cards. My flight attendant asked me twice if I wanted alcohol, once during the initial drink time and once during the meal, and I responded with, “Wow, you really want to get me drunk, don’t you?” He laughed, and didn’t give me any. I swear, half of that airplane was buzzed.

When I arrived in Heathrow, I only had less than 1 1/2 hours to change terminals, go through security and get in my gate safely (thankfully, there was no passport control). That said, I do think Heathrow was aware that many layovers were running low on time because our flight had “baggage issues,” so I think they were accommodating in ensuring everyone made it in time for their flights.

The plane from Heathrow to Luxembourg Airport was much smaller than the first plane, obviously because JFK to LHR is a much more popular flight. Which is why I needed to give the flight attendants my carry-on suitcase, since it didn’t fit on the second plane (it was free, though). We arrived in Luxembourg at 10:13 AM on February 8th. By 10:30 AM, I went through passport control AND got both of my suitcases! I’ve never encountered such efficiency. I do have one complaint though, and this is where my mishaps & misgivings begin: my big suitcase’s wheel was broken. By broken, I mean it was gone. :-/

There was Wi-Fi in this airport (which directed me to the proper bus schedule), and I found this:

0208171106_HDR.jpgHaving been here a little under 2 days, I have noticed the Luxembourgish like to display cars wherever they can. I had a snack at the Starbucks in the airport, bought a 2 € bus ticket, then I made it to my bus transfer. What happened afterwards, though, is I panicked about the actual stop I needed to get off at, and quickly realized I got off too early. (2nd mishap.) I started walking towards the house I would be staying at, and got so many looks from people who were clearly judging me for trudging two large suitcases with my massive backpack. I reserved to get back on a bus, but an actual 2 stops later.

So, I get to my place of residence. Here’s my quaint neighborhood:

0208171725.jpg

But an entire hour and 10 minutes too early for my key appointment. And I can’t call the woman I have an appointment with because I don’t have a European phone number! I waited an hour, pacing around the residence. (3rd mishap.) When the woman I waited for was running a little late, I finally agreed to $10 in overage charges for the day from Verizon, and called her. She said she would arrive in the next 10 to 15 minutes. At that point in time, one of the neighbors peeks her head out of the window and asks me what I was doing and why no one was greeting me to let me in the house; she then said she would have given me her phone to call the person I waited for. I responded that I didn’t want to disturb her, but thought to myself, Too little, too late.

When I was greeted by the–let’s call her manager–she discussed all of the amenities in the house to me (my own room, shared bathroom and shower, common kitchen and living area, washing machine and pseudo-dryer), then had me sign the contract. She told me I needed to register in the town, so I resolved to do that the following day. Funniest thing that happened with her is when she was showing me the washing machine, I probably had a look of surprise on my face when I saw the dials. She asks me, “You understand German, don’t you?” Um…not enough to be able to operate machinery, I explained. I also wanted to say, “I’m American, you’re lucky I know any language other than English, and you expect me to know German, too?”

My room is awesome. Here’s my view:

img_20170209_104954

I will post more pictures of my room in future posts! Now, my room has a desk, lamp, chair, dresser, standing bookshelf, hanging bookshelf, full-length mirror with three hooks, bed, under bed storage, and two pillows (that look more like boxes than pillows). It did not, however, come complete with bed things, like a sleeping pillow, bedsheet, and blanket. I decided to go to a shopping mall called Belle Etoile.

I got on the bus on the way to Belle Etoile, when the bus driver starts yelling at me that I should never stand behind the bus–or go to a rear door when I could the front door–because doing so is dangerous. (4th mishap.) I didn’t enjoy getting yelled at but I told him I understood the problem and sat down. Two-thirds of the way there, the drivers switched, and there was a new driver. I knew my stop was the last on the line so I wasn’t too worried. Then, I got confused about where I ended up and asked the driver when the last stop was. He looked surprised to see me, and said that we already passed the last stop and now he was circling around to begin the return route. He said had he seen me, he would have told me to get off. (5th mishap.) But he said he would take me to the next stop, so I was thankful.

At the mall, they had this interactive map which I found pretty awesome:

0208171636.jpg

Soon enough, I found all of my bed things! I also needed to find food to eat…that was a struggle. I forgot how much French-speaking people love to eat pastries, bread, cheese, and wine! Every other eatery was sugar-based, or a bar, or McDonald’s which only had burgers and a tiny tiny salad. I went to Cactus, which is a supermarket of sorts, barely found yogurt, but luckily found a Caesar salad, big oatmeal box, couscous, Arizona tea, chips, and 2 cartons of orange juice. I figured that would definitely hold me over for the day, and possibly the next, if I was desperate.

At home, I set up the bed, and found that I had unpacked everything already and was all ready for work time! Oh, yeah, except for the fact that my adapter did not have a grounded fork option, so I still needed to buy that to charge my laptop. I met some people that live in the same house as me and either on my floor or below. Not one of them is interning at the same court as me, but they have jobs in a hospital, private companies, and a different court. Let’s see how many others I will meet!

Overall, a pretty rocky but promising start to my life here.