Thursday, January 30, 2014

Report from the Lowlands, first 2 weeks




i had comfortable, uneventful flight with 80 strangers who would soon be familiar, and who were kind and helpful when i needed assistance with my carryon.  i became a hero briefly at schiphool airport when students were getting stopped after customs; apparently no one had been told to expect a group of 80 students, and the authorities insisted on getting confirmation from a 'leader.'  our 'leaders' were waiting for us outside the gate, and the students were getting concerned, til the RA remembered i was at the back of the line. 'wait,' he told the guy in the glass box, 'we have a professor!' and ran back to get me.  i had only a vague idea of what the problem was, but i guess i managed to look authoritative when i went to the head of the line and said, 'hello, i'm traveling with these students; how may i help you?' that seemed sufficient to the flustered offiicer, and all worked well.  i slept off and on through the weekend, while the kids went through the orientation drill, which should have been refreshing for me but wasn't; anyway i was able to prepare the first lit class, rereading for the 100th time the first 1/2 of the odyssey.  so far classes go well, and all the students seem like nice people, excited about their [mostly] first time in europe, and the thought of living in a castle.  and it's great to see my colleagues again.

last weekend the castle was closed down for the students' required trip to amsterdam, meaning i had to stay elsewhere, so i chose, very wisely, the B&B run by the lovely couple who do the castle's food service.  they were horrified that i'd never been to what the students call the Blue Lake [officially the Reindersmeer], and they promptly arranged to take me there saturday afternoon.  it was a lovely outing, and the lake really is blue--not the aqua of the Mediterranean or the Adriatic, but a kind of slate grey-blue, quite unusual and very pretty. we ate in the combined visitor's bureau/ restaurant overlooking the lake, and they had mustard soup with no bacon. this was a double treat; few enough restaurants have mustard soup, one of my favorite dutch foods, and those that do tend to have it with bacon bits.  on top of that, they had a lovely pannekoek [dutch pancakes; closer to crepes than to american pancakes, but heartier and larger] with brie and syrup.  hardly low-cal, but wonderful.

the only problem was that my insomnia kicked up badly both nights i was there and my first night back, making me so dizzy and weak i missed monday's class--only the 2nd class i've ever missed here. weak all week but got through. realized that the one thing that helps prevent a totally sleepless night is getting up and eating.  perfect for weight loss!  ah well, whatever gets me sleeping...

i love having only 2 classes; it will offset some of the sleep problems and keep me off the hectic schedule i've had in recent years.  yet one more thing to make me feel my age.  and the energy of these  kids does that too, in spades. they're like the bunny in the old battery commercial; they keep going and going....and they do that in class too. they seem anxious to learn, very cooperative--and some of them thank me when the class is done!

so, a decent start, if my body will only cooperate.  will start tarot readings next week...

2 comments:

Andrea Devine said...

Dear Karen, Sounds great. I'm so glad you have this wonderful, familiar, and challenging place/experience every year. Yes, everything changes with time (aka age) but truly, it's happy and I'm happy with you. I'm in no position to elaborate, at this very moment, but I'll bet you understand what I'm thinking. My love to you, and to the Netherlands and the Castle Community. <3 Andrea

Andrea Devine said...

Dear Karen, Sounds great. I'm so glad you have this wonderful, familiar, and challenging place/experience every year. Yes, everything changes with time (aka age) but truly, it's happy and I'm happy with you. I'm in no position to elaborate, at this very moment, but I'll bet you understand what I'm thinking. My love to you, and to the Netherlands and the Castle Community. <3 Andrea