Yesterday was my first day at the lab, and so far it’s been great. The people are all friendly and I have a nice desk tucked away in a corner somewhere. This is the first time that I actually have my own desk `at work’, and I love it! I can just… leave my stuff there when I go home at night. I had never realized how incredibly convenient that is. It still looks a bit boring at the moment, but I’m putting more things there and it’s starting to really feel like `my spot’. Also, the lab (the whole town, for that matter) is really safe, I can just leave my valuables on my desk and no one will look at them twice.
The lab has a nice mini-kitchen with a microwave, a fridge, a water boiler and a common tea stash. I guess labs all over the world are the same in that. By the way, in the USA a lab is what we in the Netherlands would probably call a research group. So I’m at the Smith lab, which in the Netherlands would probably have been called the Cognitive Development Group. My own research project is not actually with children, so I’ll be running my experiment at the Goldstone lab (one floor above us). I was a bit confused myself with the `lab’ thing because well…. there are no people walking around in white laboratory coats with fancy biochemical devices. This specific lab actually looks more like a playground, to make the kids feel really at home here (that helps with them behaving naturally). I’ll make some pictures and post them here at some point.
Anyway, yesterday I didn’t actually do much work for the research project yet. I spent part of the morning walking around campus to get checked in at the office of international services, get an IU ID card, email address, etc. Everything was arranged so fast and easy, it was amazing. Turns out was lucky: all of the students will arrive sometime in the following two weeks, so I was there just before the rush hour, which meant that they were fully prepared but not busy yet. I never had to wait anywhere, it was mainly walking around the (pretty) campus to fill out some forms at some places.
After work (feels weird calling it that… but that’s what it’s like) I went to the bike project once more, this time to get a basket and to fasten some of the screws that I hadn’t been able to fix properly with the outside-attached-to-wires equipment. Now I can properly do my groceries by bike, which everyone there thought was very Dutch of me. All the people there were very nice, I met (amongst others) a local who had served in Germany as a military who asked if I was German and an IU student with Polish roots who asked if I was Polish. Turns out you can actually study Polish at this university. I checked the university website out (I had honestly never done that before, I only ever visited the psychology page) and it turns out you can study Dutch here as well. Wow! I wonder how popular that is.
I also went to the local organic store (they call it a co-op), which is right around the corner of the bike project. I immediately felt at home there, all kinds of hippie foods and hippie customers. They also have a cafe on the inside, which is decorated with lovely posters. The food was a bit expensive though, so I didn’t get much. I did find weird blue/purple-ish corn-sesame chips that I just had to buy. Another thing I got was a foldable cotton bag to keep in my school bag for if I want to do groceries on my way home from work. It’s amazing how many plastic bags I accumulated at my first midnight-visit to the supermarket. They have people at the check out stations to pack your shoppings for you, and they double-bag everything.
By the time I got home I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed. So many new faces, new impressions, new places. Today was better, probably because I had a good night’s rest and (slightly) less new impressions to process. Right now I need to go to sleep, but there’s so much more I want to tell! A farmer’s market, American food, our awesome neighbours and the weird feeling that I could actually see myself happily living here.