T minus 14 hours

You know what? Ram’s right. Having two blogs is a waste of time for you and me. My family doesn’t want to read a blog anyway- I don’t think my parents are quite sure what a blog even is. And forget the extended family. It’s postcards for them.

I’ll pearoast (that is, repost) bits of the only other post I made, so to get you up to speed:

What’s the story here? I’m studying at the Universiteit Maastricht, in Maastricht, the Netherlands this semester. It’s here:Here’s my schedule:
Jan 16-Jan 22- arrive in Zurich, Switzerland. Take a train to St. Anton and ski in the Austrian Alps!
Jan 22-Feb 4- arrive in Maastricht, orientation
Feb 5-Apr 6- classes (“Logic for AI” and “Intelligent Systems”)
Apr 6-Apr 16- break!
Apr 16-Jun 8- classes (“Comparative Philosophy of the Environment” and “Dutch Art History”)
Jun 8-Jun 15- travel a bit, then come home.

Why this school? It has classes that I’m interested in (namely, those first two) taught in English. I don’t know any other European languages well enough to take classes in them, besides maybe Spanish, and I didn’t particularly want to go to Spain. I know a little German and a little Dutch.

Why study abroad at all? Why not? I feel like, if I didn’t do it, I’d be missing out on one of the only opportunities I’d get to see another culture firsthand. I mean, not just spending a week touring through it, but actually living somewhere and getting to understand another world. Plus, the whole CMU thing was wearing thin. I need a break from the cement blocks of Wean Hall.

Okay. Now you know all the things you want to know, or at least the first few things you would have asked me. Now: where am I?

I’m mostly packed. I’m getting together the last final things, printing out forms, and where the flock are my sunglasses?! I swear, every time I get a pair that I like, I lose them immediately. Meanwhile, I’ve got a drawer full of old ones that I don’t like. Want any old sunglasses? I will send you a pair. In June when I get back.
See, sunglasses are a very picky thing for me. I’d like some good sunglasses (not $10 drugstore sunglasses) that are polarized, durable, won’t fall off my face, and look kind of neat (because, let’s face it, if you are wearing cool sunglasses, you are a badass. I mean, even Keanu Reeves looks like he might possibly belong in that super-hip Matrix world when he wears sunglasses.) but I am not willing to pay anything in the $100 range because come on, they’re just sunglasses. Look, some people can make these for $10, and you have the nerve to charge $100? What a scam. Anyway, I finally got a neat pair of Oakleys (remember when those were the biggest thing?) off misc.market for cheap (from Lux, no less) and now I go and lose them! This is the worst day of my life!

Anyway, sunglasses aside, I am almost ready to go. That is, of course, assuming I can get on the plane. Long story of red tape ahead, read at your own risk: I have a ticket to Zurich tomorrow, and leaving from Brussels in June. That’s 5 months. If you go to Switzerland and stay longer than 3 months without a visa (which is illegal) the Swiss government will, among other things, fine the airline you flew in on. United Airlines (with whom I’m not thrilled, but I’m relatively content, and I’m actually earning a non-trivial amount of frequent flier miles) doesn’t like fees, so they require you to have a visa if you’re flying into Switzerland for more than 3 months. I am getting a Dutch visa, for which you have to apply in person (in the Netherlands).
This is an actual real life example of a Catch-22! I’m so proud! I thought those were only, you know, in books. However, it’s also retarded, because I am leaving Switzerland within three hours. As soon as I arrive in Zurich, I am hopping on a train and going to St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria. I don’t have a train ticket to prove that I’m leaving so quickly because you can’t buy train tickets online unless it’s at least 5 days in advance. I mean, I could have a customs agent escort me to the train station and watch me get on the train, if they really wanted. But the problem’s not with Switzerland; it’s with United, so the study abroad coordinator from the University of Maastricht and I have compiled a bunch of information to try to convince some clerk tomorrow that I actually am leaving Switzerland and they don’t have to fear big Swiss fines.

Another dilemma: overseas flights always have the most perks. Movies, two aisles (I’m in a 767, the airplane with greatest chance of an aisle seat, and lo and behold, I have one), multiple meals, etc. However, this is the flight on which it is critical to sleep, because I’m leaving DC at something like 6PM, and then I will fly for 8 hours and it will be 8AM, and if I want to defeat Jet-lag Joe in a three-round staying-awake cage match, I darn well better sleep. Well. Life is full of dilemmas.

If you’d like another dilemma (or rather, interesting question, I guess), here’s one: if a magical spirit came to you and said “You must choose:
A. You get your dream job (you don’t even have to know what it is; I, the magical spirit, will find it for you) and you will love it. Every day, you will be thrilled to go to work, and when 5:00 (or 6:00 or whatever) hits, you will be sad to leave. Great co-workers, fulfilling challenges, a good chance to make a difference, the works. However, your salary will be $x, and you will only ever get raises to keep up with inflation.
B. You continue job searching as normal, but you will never find this particular dream job.”
How low could you stand $x to be?
I personally don’t know. First of all, I have no idea how much things cost. I’m hovering around $40,000. I think, if my future wife had a nice job, we could get a house in an area that isn’t crime-ridden (or a condo in the city…), and maybe if we scrimped and saved, I could still ski sometimes. Of course, if I marry someone with a really nice job, then heck, it could be $0. Let’s take future family out of the equation- assume that your spouse will make exactly enough that when you marry, your standard of living will not change. It’s tricky. For me, I guess it comes down to: would I give up three of my favorite things (skiing, travel, and nice food) for a perfect job? Or do I just say, screw it, I’ll find my second-best job eventually, and probably make a nice amount of money doing it?

Enough deep thinking for now; I should do some deep sleeping. Guten nacht, and I’ll see you in Europe!

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