Week Two

In which I ride buses, have proper English tea and make money without getting paid.

Growing up in Dallas did not prepare me for public transportation. If you wanted to ride the DART, you pretty much had to drive to a station and park first. That is not a closed loop for public transport. You shouldn’t have to drive your car so you can not drive your car, you know?

So I mastered the bus this week. Buses, really; the Brussels STIP bus and the Megabus. I had my first Belgian culture class at ULB – Université libre de Bruxelles – on Monday and since walking there would take an hour, I rode the bus. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much attention being paid to the fact that the ULB bus – my bus, bus 71 – stops going to ULB in the summer. So I along with one of my roommates, who, as it turns out, lives about 3 minutes away from me in Dallas, passed what should have been our stop thinking the bus would loop back around. It did not, and we were late. But we weren’t the only ones who struggled with public transportation that day, and while we were only 10 minutes late, people kept trickling in for the next half hour. The same thing happened again at our second class on Thursday, with the latest people showing up 25 minutes after class had started. We are immature college students, and we never learn.

In addition to the ULB classes, I have a class with my Mizzou program director every Friday morning. Those classes are focused on European Union and understanding its inner workings, an endeavor I am tempted to call “impossible.” The European Union has a faction called the Council of the EU and a faction called the European Council and they’re different. It only gets worse from there, and I won’t be getting into that.

But the buses; they’re not so complicated. And neither are side trips, though I was worried they might be. “Hannah masters public transpo” continued into the weekend with a rather last-minute trip to London via bus, via ferry. The plan was formulated on Monday, the tickets were bought by Tuesday, the Airbnb – a service for tourists to rent out locals’ extra rooms or flats or houses – was booked by Wednesday. Technology is amazing. The plan was as follows: take an overnight bus from Brussels to London, meet up with a Mizzou friend studying abroad in London over the summer at her flat, meet up with my best friend who’s been studying abroad at Oxford since October of 2014 and is 1 week away from the end of her stay, and see London in a day. The pressure to see everything wasn’t on for me, seeing as I’d spent a significant amount of time there in my youth (another thank you to mom and dad. This will be a recurring thing, I think), and of the four of us who went from Brussels only one had never been. So it ended up being a lovely, leisurely time. I got far more sleep on the overnight bus than I did on the international flight, and, of course, seeing my best friend after 5 months apart worked well as a pick-me-up, so exhaustion didn’t set in until I was well and truly ready for it.

Now, not to brag, but the workweek leading up to the London trip was almost as exciting for me. I mocked up Twitter advertisements for clients, attended another social media training at a big company where another Mizzou intern worked and wrote a serious blog post on a controversial topic for a huge client that got me some nice kudos from my very nice boss.

Logging my hours, though, that part is strange. I have to do it every week, and I have to log however many hours I spent working on certain projects for certain clients so they can be charged accordingly. If I was maybe anything but an intern, I would be drunk with power. All I have to do is enter “10” in the hours worked field and boom, the client owes us. Unfortunately, the Mizzou program does not allow its interns to be paid. And so now, instead of feeling the buzz of power in my fingertips, I just feel like a sellout, logging my hourly rate without ever seeing a single euro cent of the payment. Euros are cool, by the way, with different sizes and colors of bills. I, a staunch opponent of the American penny and its utter uselessness, especially appreciate the 1 and 2 euro coins. They are just really, really convenient. My Discover card? Not so much.

Things I saw:

  • The British Museum – the Gebelein Man and the Rosetta Stone
  • The Albert Memorial
  • Big Ben, the Parliament building, Westminster Abbey, South Bank (again)
  • The white cliffs of Dover (SO EXCITING)
  • The Chunnel (ALSO EXCITING)
  • Brendan’s pedometer reach 20,000 steps for the day in London (just under 10 miles)

Things I tried:

  • Kriek – cherry beer | ★★★★★
  • Crêpes | ★★★★
  • A Belgian waffle | ★★★★
  • Pimm’s Cup | ★★★★★
  • English tea | ★★★★★

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