Day Eleven

Blast from the Past, what more is there to say?

other than me cursing that the first version of this entry is gone for some fluke…grrrr I hate it when that happens….

mmmkay, I am a tad put off as the huge entry I typed up went belly up and all the contents were lost…let’s see if I still get together what I was writing initially…ok. again:

This morning, I felt moderately good actually, so I had two waffles and maple syrup while Melanie, who still was/is feeling under the weather but better from yesterday went for cornflakes and a banana. Milk as well, obviously. After breakfast, we decided to walk to and around campus as we’re kinda staying just across the road of the south-west corner of the old campus. Have I said ‘old’ here? What the HECK’s been going on in Harrisonburg for the last eight years? Seriously, in Germany, with all the regulations and what not, building is taking time. Over here, it basically looks like H’burg got seriously pumped up and went baseball-pro. Steroids, I tell ya. On campus, we constantly had the ‘that been always there or is it new???’ feeling. Basically we felt like someone rearranged our apartment while we were gone for a vacation, coming home to some basic familiarity but WHO PUT THE COUCH TABLE HERE OUCH DAMMIT! Serious steel-toed slippers time. Well, no kidding, 20k students, I am used to 16, Mel started out at 12k students, plus they start an engineering degree next fall. Wow. Bulging seams, seriously.

We called ahead to the office of International Student Services to give Gina fair warning. She did sound a tad reserved on the phone though. Hahummmm. We took our time getting there though, as it was once across campus and Mel started to get cramps again during our walk there. Not good. At times she really didn’t feel good at all, but she didn’t want to return to the hotel room and honestly, I didn’t want to argue about that, after all, she knows best, at least most of the times. So, with a few breaks of just sitting on benches and watching campus (yup, I definitely am no longer one of the students there, they looked all so young and…I dunno…different?), we finally arrived. There was a big whoop from Gina who ushered us into her office straight away, instant recognition upon sight, which is good after eight years and tons of students I guess…apparently she didn’t quite understand who was on the phone…and didn’t know at all that we were coming to the US nor to JMU in the first place. Talk about a surprise.

We then handed over our traditional ‘bribe’ to the powers that be at ISS, gummibears and chocolates (note: always a good idea to have tons of them with you when you’re an international student from Germany. People always remember you for them, you bring a smile to their faces and just show appreciation without being over-the-top. Definitely your money’s worth and then some). After a long and fun stroll down memory lane, Gina took us to the kitchen where Donna had her lunch break at (did we really spend that long chatting???) which brought another suprised squeal about. Unfortunately we didn’t expect to meet anyone other than Gina on campus today, so, naturally, we didn’t bring the rest of the sweets for JMU people with us…we have to deliver on monday morning.

Next, we headed to Uncle Bijan, the ever energetic, charismatic former head of International Student Services. I swear, the room vibrated when he was inside. A short man, just up to my shoulders and light enough to be easily lifted by me, he’s by no means small. He’s bigger than he measures up to and just is so *there*. It’s unbelievable he retired…although he still can’t stop teaching, which I’d not have expected him to anyway. Human Intimacy and Lifespan Development, his two classes he urges, well, urged all his international students to attend. Which, expecting an easy ride, I did. And boy was I mistaken. He certainly didn’t cut any slack for his internationals, no favorism whatsoever. Boy oh boy. TOUGH. But worthwhile, I got a lot out of these two classes and might even have declared Psych….well, I didn’t go THAT far, but still, I had a great time and a great learning experience ….even without the easy As. And honestly? Long term? What you take from classes is often more important than the grades.

It was good to meet Uncle Bijan again, I hope it won’t take another eight years before we do that again. Uncle Bijan (and yes, EVERYONE calls him Uncle Bijan, even the President of JMU does. Presidents, he had more than one actually during his 31 years) took us to the library where our former roomie, Andreas, has his office. A quick visit and a dinner arrangement for sunday. It was nice seeing him again. He seems to be contend with his life. He never got away from JMU, got his Master’s and just stayed as a computer engineer. He could have gone into the industry and excelled, he’s always been that good…but apparently, he’s happy here doing what he does. Besides, I doubt he’d have been the type of guy to be in the industry and be happy, money and what not. I kinda envy him for that. He still seems like a happy, contend person, he’s got everything he wanted and found his place early in life. He’ll have his greencard soon as well after going through his H1Bs in order to obtain it, all courtesy of JMU. Good for him, he deserves it. He did what Mel and I never did, at least not until now, fulfill our dreams in the US of A. He’s got his own house, last count two horses, goes fox hunting…and I honestly wonder what kinda car he’s driving now. He used to have this ancient fully equipped Buick Peacock Town Car something or other. Huge, leather upholstery and all the whistles…12 years old or so. Back in 98. The car was awesome and typically ‘merican…but it definitely had its turns around the block….looking forward to dinner with him actually.

Other than that, we went grocery shopping…and found out that the changes of Harrisonburg aren’t just at JMU. What the heck happened to this town. I mean…traffic jams??? And…everything’s moved. There’s a new mall next to the cinema (sorry, they just built the cinema when we were here…and now there’s a huge shopping mall where there used to be rolling fields…what the…? All the big stores are no longer where we remember them to be, there are other stores in them now and where the heck are the grocery stores we used to shop at??? At least the Boston Beanery’s still there…even though the Food Lion next to it we were looking for as replacement for our Farmer Jack…now is a Petco…not quite what we had in mind for dinner.

SHEESH. Who asked us if we would approve? What did they do to our small, cozy, laid-back Harrisonburg???? Oh my, this kinda is like looking at your kids when they move out to go to College and you wonder what happened to the time they looked up to you and asked you to play catch with them….who would have thought a town would grow up around you….something definitely not happening in Germany that fast courtesy to our TONS OF REGULATIONS AND RED TAPE.

Now, how we should feel about this, we’re still contemplating. More news tomorrow.

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