Monday, January 31, 2011

dear belgium, i like your waffles but not your bald customs man.

Before you read this post please be understanding, as it is written under the influence of severe jet-lag.

After saying our goodbyes and going through security at the Detroit airport we finally took off for our big European adventure. After a quick flight to Philadelphia and an hour and half layover we were finally on our way to Brussels, Belgium! The flight felt really long but it was cool taking off at sunset and landing during sunrise. We were so relieved and I was beyond ecstatic to finally be walking on European soil!

Our next step was getting through customs. For some reason I was really nervous. As soon as I handed my passport to the balding customs agent and he saw that it was American, his whole entire attitude changed. He had a dirty look on his face the whole time and was very crabby and spoke sharply towards me. I told him where I was going and he replied with "Out of all Europe you're going to Maastricht? What's so great about the Netherlands?" I then told him that was our home base and we would be traveling all over. He was not happy with this because I didn't have our whole itinerary put together yet. He then continued to ask "So you're just going to smoke marijuana and pot the whole time?" I said no, of course. This man was making me mad. He then said that if I was in Europe for too long and got caught that I would never be allowed back. He also said something about America, but I was to frustrated and nervous to really be paying attention. For a good two minutes I was convinced that he wasn't going to let me into Europe and I couldn't breathe. I think it was a pretty legit reason to be freaking out a little. He was upset with me and giving me a ridiculously hard time, all the while Fran had gotten through no problem with her Dutch passport. She saw what was going on and came over. When the customs agent saw that she had a Dutch passport he started speaking Dutch to her and she had to explain to him that she didn't speak Dutch, but her dad was from the Netherlands. This did not make him very happy and he continued to give me a hard time but finally said stamped and handed my passport over. What a lovely welcome to Belgium.

After collecting our luggage, which included probably close to 200 lbs spread out through four bags, we got train tickets and made it to the Brussels - Noord (North) station. We were just getting ready to hop on  our next train when we realized that they decided to switch platforms at the last minute. We hauled all 200 lbs of our luggage down and up a set of stairs rushing through the crowds of people to arrive just in time to see the train depart. We were pretty upset. Although our arms were getting a great workout, we were not impressed with Belgium so far. A girl, that we recognized from our flight over came up to us and asked if we were going to Maastricht too and we all expressed our frustration with the unannounced changes. But we finally got on the right train with a little help from our new friends, who are studying abroad in Maastricht from Penn State, and were on our way to the apartment.

When we finally got to Maastricht we had to haul all of our luggage through cobblestone to the apartment about 10 minutes away. We probably looked pretty funny. But we finally made it and are working on settling in and adjusting to the time :)

Missing everyone from home and school!


  1. Oh Jess! This is sounding a lot like what happened to Sophie and me when we went through customs at Iceland, and tried to take a train in Germany! I'm so glad you made it eventually!

  2. Glad it is over Jess and you got through it. The getting here part, yeah . . . that is never the fun part.