observations of a visitor

While I was in Maastricht, I was lucky enough to be able to write as an expatriate for a few different publications on campus, and I wanted to share with you some of the tiny pieces I wrote for them. These are four of the twelve pieces that were published in the campus newspaper under the series title “An American in Maastricht.” Apparently the Dutch are interested in seeing their culture through the eyes of a Texan, and I was happy to show them what I saw.

“As a child in Texas, it was normal to spend a weeknight watching bull-riders and barrel-racers ride on the dirt-floored rodeo arena. I even joined in on the kiddy activities of chasing geese or calves for cash prizes when I was old enough. I never realized that all this wasn’t a globally typical family outing until coming to Europe, where many times when I mention to Europeans that I’m from Texas, they excitedly question me about cowboys, horses, or shotguns. “Yes, they really do exist,” I always smile, wondering what the European replacement for bull riding and sheep chasing could possibly be.”

“Coming from a place where the automobile is king of the road, it’s refreshing to bike around Maastricht and not fear for my life. When I tried biking to class in Texas, I was nearly clipped by cars or cut off by oblivious students who texted while walking. After a week of riding my little blue bike here in Europe, I was excited to see that bikers rule these roads instead of drivers. Even though old ladies on mopeds still honk at me occasionally, I’m learning more road rules every day, and I no longer flinch and cross my fingers every time a car zooms past.”

“I grew up playing basketball, baseball, and American football with my three siblings and neighborhood friends in the front yard; we broke a few windows and wore our previously grassy yard into a dirt pit, but we had the time of our lives out there. I was shocked to discover that these sports are extremely rare in Europe and are replaced with sports like soccer and tennis or ones I’d never seen before, like rugby and cricket. I tried once to fit into European culture by choosing to watch rugby on television, but my American habit of watching the game with a big bowl of buttery popcorn is impossible to break.”

“The first time I saw a European mini car from a distance, I mistook it as one of those American battery-operated toy cars; I use this funny memory as a reminder of the vast cultural and environmental differences between the U.S. and Europe. Although it’s gotten better over the last decade, like a coddling grandparent, America usually enjoys spoiling its residents like rotten grandchildren. As one of those spoiled grandchildren, the first time I forgot to bring bags to the grocery store here, I stuffed all my food into a purse because I thought buying a grocery bag was just odd. But after living in this environmentally friendly atmosphere, it seems Europeans are spoiling their children with a cleaner earth instead of merely a convenient one.”

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