Wednesday, July 28, 1999

I'm halfway through with my five-week language course. It already seems like I've been here for months because of the intensity of the program. I've made some really great friends and am staying busy studying Polish for hours everyday. I'm looking forward to visiting friends in Warsaw this weekend, and I hope that I can make the Madredeus concert at the castle ruins in Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisla on Sunday evening. I started loving that group when I saw Wim Wenders' Lisbon Story in Krakow already three and a half years ago. Their music had such a profound affect on me after my sorta nervous breakdown at Birkenau.

I didn't get the one job I applied for in Europe, so now I'm leaning toward returning to Texas after school ends around mid-August. I really don't want to give up being/living in Europe just yet, but I would love to just sit at *home for a while and kind of collect myself. And I need a job.

Saturday, July 17, 1999

Witaj! I've already been in Lublin, Poland, for a week now, where I'm taking intensive language classes at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL). I spend almost forty hours a week in class. Even though I'm in the most advanced class because I did really well on the entrance grammar exam, I feel like I really can't speak very well. But my reading skills are better than I first thought, since I haven't had much problem reading the newspaper.

It's so nice and strange to be back in Lublin after three years. When I was here before, it was winter and there was nothing but snow on the sidewalks and grey clouds in the sky. But now the sidewalks are lined with cafes and are crowded with people shopping, browsing and wandering around Old Town. I feel at home here, in a very weird sort of way. And I'm surrounded by other expats, lost souls and intellectuals who have found their way to Poland this summer to study the lingua franca of Central Europe.

Friday, July 2, 1999

Finally a Rainy Season worthy of its name! It has basically been flooding in Shimonoseki (if not all of the Chugoku Region of Japan) for several days now, with the occasional sunny and humid day thrown in to break the monotony of rain falling from the sky.

My week in China was incredible. I made some good friends and great contacts; saw some amazing sites (the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace); danced for hours at a great disco (very much like something in Western Europe or a really great club in America except with uniformed soldiers around the perimeter); ate the most delicious Chinese meals of my life; barely slept; was totally mentally as well as physically exhausted; and enjoyed almost every single minute I was there.

Last night I was a bit glum. I've been trying to get together with some friends before leaving, and still I have not been successful. After having my plans for last night cancelled, I decided to just sit at home and pack my boxes. I felt better after taping up a box and filling out the customs declaration form.

Tonight I leave for Hagi after teaching my final classes at the university. Since it's raining, the beach party will probably be moved to a karaoke bar. I've been in Japan for almost two years, and tonight will be my first karaoke bar! I've been practicing my songs all morning. Unfortunately I have to return to Shimonoseki first thing in the morning to attend my farewell lunch with my boss and a few other workers at the university. I'm hoping to have a good dose of "morning head" (Japanglish for "hangover") for my luncheon.