I survived my first day here! Well, actually, I did a lot more than just making it through the day. I got myself a bike, an american phone number and had a first look around Bloomington. Let’s get back to where I left off. It turned out that our plane needed maintenance, and they weren’t sure where the mechanic and the necessary parts were. In the end they just fixed another plane for us, so by the time the mechanic got there we were happily boarding the other plane. This was a good thing, since else we probably would have arrived in Indianapolis after the last shuttle bus to Bloomington had already left.
Once I got to Bloomington (about 23.30 local time, so 5.30 Nijmegen time) my roommate picked me up. I had entered in some kind of `I can stay awake forever mode’ and since the grocery store was still open and my roommate would be away the next morning we decided to do some midnight grocery shopping. Actually, it turns out that our nearby supermarket is open 24/7, which is really convenient. Or maybe really inconvenient, since you can keep putting of going to the store forever.
After some midnight pasta I went to sleep and, to my surprise, woke up well-rested at 8.20 local time. So no jet-lag for me this way, I guess it’ll come after the flight home. I spent the morning unpacking and finding my way around the house (which, to be honest, mainly boiled down to getting my laptop on the wifi). In the afternoon I walked downtown. There happened to be a phone shop quite near my house so within 15 minutes after leaving the house I was all set with an american phone number in my regular phone, I was really happy that it was all so easy.
It was nice to have a look around the town where I’ll be living these two months. The town looks really friendly and rather different from Dutch towns. Luckily, this is a really bike-friendly city. They made a special bike track that takes me from my home to the city centre and campus area, it’s where the old railroad used to be and it looks like a park. After a whole day of walking I was really happy to buy a bike at the end of the afternoon. I got it from craigslist, the american version of `marktplaats’, and it turned out to still be in the box. Which meant that it still needed to be assembled.
Across the street from where I bought the bike is the Bloomington Community Bike Project (I’ll explain some more about this later), they were closed but outside they also had some tools as a facility for bikers using the b-line (the special bike trail I mentioned). Unfortunately, halfway through assembling it I managed to slide the seat post (the cylinder that the seat rests on) into the frame, where it got stuck. At that point I thought I’d basically ruined my new bike so that it could never have a seat. I asked a passing cyclist for some help and he happened to have some tools in his backpack. People that ride a bike here usually have mountainbikes or racing bikes, so they often know something about bikes. This guy really knew what he was doing. He got the thing out within a minute and we finished setting up the bike together. Or, you know, he did while I watched. I really was grateful to be able to ride the bike home.
Another plan I have is to go to the Community Bike Project next weekend and volunteer. If you volunteer for 3 hours (during which you’ll learn a lot about bikes and how they work) you can then start assembling your own bike from scratch using used parts that they have available there. I’d love to learn more about bikes, and be able to put a mountain bike together and take care of it. The bike I have now is a cruiser with pedal-breaks and no gears, and this earn-your-bike programme seems like a nice way to get myself a bike for trips around the countryside while getting to know some people (and keeping me busy the first weekend).
The weather has been great so far, it’s really hot and sunny, although the locals say that it’s a mild summer this year. I’ll probably get back more bronzed than I’ve ever been in October before, since September weather here is like non-cloudy August weather at home. Anyway, I’m all set up for my first day at university tomorrow. My bags are unpacked and I have a list with some stuff that I need to arrange for my stay here. I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone from the lab and seeing the labs that I’ll be working at. Next wednesday there will be a welcome Elise dinner at my supervisor’s place, so that’s really nice.