Ok so, let’s say you’ve just got here, in Maastricht.
Let’s say that you’re half an hour late on your timetable because you forgot and sat in the wrong coach on the train from Amsterdam and so you had to get down at Eindhoven and wait for the next one (it happens to the best of us).
Let’s say that you’re standing in front of the station, tugging at your sweater’s sleeves because it’s much colder (or warmer, depending on where you are from) that you’ve anticipated.
Let’s say that you look around.
And let’s also say that you’re terrified.
It makes sense, nothing looks familiar. The voices, the signs, the people. Even the sky looks a tiny bit more Dutch than what you’re used to. But don’t worry: you’ll get used to it.
You’ll get used to the fact that you’re a kid from Stranger Things now and the only vehicle you will ever use is a bike. Just like you’ll get used to the fact that car drivers here are like unicorns, not only incredibly rare but also magically nice, stopping miles before you even approach the lines to let you cross the street.
You’ll get used to the fact that pushing a man’s buttons here doesn’t make him red angry, but actually turns him green. At least when it comes to traffic lights.
You’ll get used to Maastricht at 7 pm. The cobbled streets glowing under splashes of neon lights, like you were in some sorts of DC movie.
You’ll get used to the fact that waffles here are readily available, incredibly cheap and dangerously delicious. Just like beer.
You’ll get used to the sound of clinking glasses slowly turning into one of clinking heels at 4 am. Hold my arms ‘cause I’m stumbling. Boy talk knows no nationality.
You’ll get used to the ‘They speak Dutch here?’ jokes and no, you won’t learn Dutch. At all.
You’ll get used to looking into eyes that weren’t even in your same hemisphere a few of days ago.
You’ll fall in love with smiles and accents you’ve never known before.
You’ll get used to talking to kids that never felt the water of your sea with their toes, but that were playing Yugi-Oh with their brothers just like you, even if under different skies.
You’ll get so used to going to the gym in a church, and having drinks in a church, and taking notes in a church and getting coffee in a church that the one day you’ll actually walk into a proper church it’ll feel weird.
You’ll get used to looking into the warm windows, consciously lighten up, to show a glimpse of somebody’s life. Voyeuristic privacy.
The words ‘de Alla’ will have a meaning for you. Which meaning depends on the night and the number of drinks you had.
If you’re not already, you’ll get used to making Powerpoint presentations.
You’ll get used to the failed attempts at pronouncing street names that always start out so promising until nonsense sounds start rolling off your tongue like a tumbleweed in a western film.
You’ll get used to that random sock in the hall of your apartment that at first was stressing you out but now it’s like a weird pet and you’ll feel weird if it’d ever disappeared.
You’ll even get used to the nonsense that is the myPrint account.
You’ll get used to Maastricht. And, in the meantime, you’ll fall in love with it.