The Home Stretch

As of this writing right now, I can say that I am 18 days our from leaving Europe and heading back home to Kansas City, Missouri. For me, this is the home stretch, with only a couple weeks left and only two class days to attend.

finish line

An accurate representation of me at the moment. (Image from 2.bp.blogspot.com)

Currently, I have finished my second week of Semantic Web. My early review of it is to say that it was not what I was expecting from the start. My initial interpretation of the course was that Semantic Web would be concerned with responsive web design, which is to say designing a website that is both flexible and usable to the end-user across multiple devices – think tablets, smartphones, and desktop machines. But after my first day of class, I learned that Semantic Web is really more about taking raw data and formulating a workable method of presenting that data that is both usable and readable. Essentially, it’s all about making sense of data.

semantic web

Surprisingly, Googling “not understanding” brought up this image. (Image from informationaccess.files.wordpress.com)

Aside from attending two more days of class, a possible day-trip to Brussels, Belgium is in the works. It’s unfortunate to say that I have done next to no traveling while living in Europe, but I honestly feel no regrets in saying that. But with that, a do wish to visit Brussels, primarily to say that I have been to Belgium and to see it’s largest city. I have next to no clue what I would like to do while in Brussels, but I will do the most that I can in a day! And a return to Aachen, Germany may also be in the books, if only because it’s dirt cheap to go back (and they have Christmas decorations galore up and ready for the season, according to word-of-mouth).

With my time running down, these blog posts will, too, be coming to an end. I’m not quite sure how I will wrap things up at the conclusion of my study abroad, though I am sure I want to, at the least, include a post entirely devoted to pictures. Granted, I do have a limit on the megabytes of data I can upload here to WordPress, so I will be ensuring that I choose only the best that gives a good breadth of view to what it was like living in Maastricht.

For now, that is all I have to report for the day. More to come later!

Star Wars rock band

So I leave you with this crazy awesome image of familiar faces rocking out. (Image from cdn.ebaumsworld.com)

Over the Hills and Far Away

This trip would mark my first time ever leaving the United States. And boy, was it a long journey out.

Flying High

Somewhere out over Northern Missouri or Illinois

My first leg of the journey, from KCI to Chicago O’Hare, was primarily good, until reaching the fringe of Chicago, 20 minutes out from landing.

Bed of Clouds

Looks comfy enough to take a nap upon

In the vicinity of the airport was a decent thunderstorm, which definitely caused a hefty amount of turbulence going in for the landing. The bouncing and rocking was exacerbated further due to the tin can of an airplane I was in.

The Tin Can

A 6 foot man would have to duck down to avoid hitting the top of the tin can, I mean airplane.

Normally, I am totally fine with turbulence in an aircraft. But the fact that my desire to keep reading a book, as well as the intense heat from being so close to everyone inside the plane, had caused much agony for my being as I came down with some tough motion sickness. “Get this plane on the ground,” was all I could keep thinking. “Okay, there’s no barf bags in here and I have two individuals in my immediate vicinity that I cannot avoid should something come up. Yeah, we need to land.”

Fortunately, the plane landed before I had any chance of seeing my lunch again. Descending through a thunderstorm is a very intriguing experience – clouds and darkness veil the exterior of the plane, as though you’re suspended in a place that has no up nor down. The occasional brilliant flash and streak of lightning would illuminate the world outside, which was certainly wicked cool.

One event that I must share from my arrival into Chicago was the happenstance of running into another fellow Northwest Bearcat. As I was walking the gangway out into the terminal at O’Hare, a man (faculty I can only presume) wearing a very apparent Northwest T-shirt walked by me. It took me a moment to register what was happening, but when it clicked I yelled at him, “Are you a Bearcat too?” “Yes I am, I’m in Chicago for an event here,” he said, or something along those lines. I was too stoked to believe that I ran into another Bearcat in Chi-town. Small world.

I left Chicago on a Boeing 777, which I believe is the largest twin-engine jet in operation (Wikipedia fact check: it is). I was unfortunately stuck in the dead middle of the plane, away from all window seats, with two interesting foreigners at my side. I never spoke to the lad to my left, and I only gave a few words to the dude to my right, who remarked from hailing in the United Kingdom ( the accent being very apparent). Not much occurred during the long flight across the Pond (Atlantic Ocean). I spent part of the evening watching Battleship* on the fancy monitors placed at the back of each headrest. About the time the aliens in the film started going all Michael Bay on Taylor Kitsch, I realized that I had flown out over into Canada, en route to London: I had finally left the United States.

*Rhianna was a lot like a cardboard Kristen Stewart: cold, stale, probably reading her lines from a cue card just off screen.