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We have been here two weeks now. Time is really scooting by! Peter has well and truly started work and has his first classes tomorrow. I thought I would share with you some of my initial impressions of life here at West Lafayette.

The town:

Lafayette (West Lafayette is really just the part of town across the river and consists mainly of the university) is much bigger than I had expected. It is bigger than Toowoomba, and is plenty big enough for me to get lost in. I have been lost many times and still cannot safely venture out without my map. The main downtown area is even deader than downtown Toowoomba, with all the action happening in the MANY malls and shopping centres.

On one of our journeys downtown, we found a sign indicating that they even sell their mothers here. What sort of place is this!!

The main thing we noticed about the surrounding countryside as we flew down from Chicago was how very flat it was. Hills are a scarce commodity, but the university is actually situated on a bit of a rise, so the town is not as completely flat as Dalby. There are quite a few big manufacturing plants in greater Lafayette, so the university is not the only industry. As with most places, some parts of the town are quite grotty, while other parts have a more affluent look. I would say West Lafayette appears to have many of the nicer parts.

The university:

Again, this is much bigger than I expected, and I have managed to get lost there a few times as well. I have found the psych department and am attempting to make contact with some people there. I will wander down that way again this week. As I said, classes start this week, so I may not get such a good reception, but I will try to get appointments. Peter’s building is several floors high and luckily the lifts operate better than the W-block lifts at USQ. He is well set up with an office and computer, but it looks very bare as he has no books! The university has a large number of sporting facilities. The stadium dominates the landscape, and we have already been warned to stay home on football home-game days, as our street is one of the main roads used by spectators. There is also a beautiful golf course. Mum and dad, you would love it. It is just down the road from our place and appears to be very well frequented. I have found one of the libraries and have been using the computer in there to do bits of email. I plan to extend my explorations there.

Our apartment:

This is very nice, and much as I had anticipated from the picture we had seen on the web. I am so pleased we had organised that before we arrived. It would have been so much more difficult getting settled if we had to try to chase down a place to live as well as all the other things we have had to do. Our apartment complex is mainly inhabited by students. In fact I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else over 30. Despite this, it has been very quiet so far. Our apartment is across the road from the main complex so has that bit more privacy. We have two floors with living, kitchen, laundry, and a second toilet on the ground floor, and two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. It is well equipped with oven, microwave, dishwasher, fridge, washer and dryer, and is fully screened and airconditioned (heated in winter). The windows are all double-glazed so it is well insulated, a feature I think we will definitely appreciate when the temperature falls. We have bought some bits of furniture and are pretty well set up for the two of us. I will have to make extra plans when we have visitors though. The complex has a clubhouse with gym facilities, pool, and tennis court. Peter and I have been getting up and walking across to the gym each morning for a workout before breakfast. So far none of the other younger residents have joined us for our 6am sessions there. We have only had one swim in the pool. Peter has had a bit of a head cold so I have been waiting for him to recover. It has been more than hot enough to swim though! Too hot, in fact to play tennis. We haven’t even thought about that, and since we don’t have racquets, it might be a while before we do. We look out onto a field of soya beans, and the idyllic setting is marred only by the huge power lines striding across the field.

The weather:

When we first arrived, it was very hot and humid with temperatures in the 90s and staying that way even at night. Last week was much more moderate however. Yesterday we drove right up to Shipshewana (thanks for that advice, Robert. I was in heaven with all the quilts and Amish craft!!!), and on the way back we encountered a tornado warning. As you can imagine, I was stressing, but we managed to skirt the worst of the storm area. At one stage though we had to pull over as the driving rain made continuing impossible. There was also some hail, but fortunately they were only about the size of rice so were not dangerous at all.

Some of the things that I love are our apartment; our little car – especially if it lasts the next few months; the people – everyone has been very friendly; the shops – many are open 24 hours and sell anything you could imagine (so long as you have plenty of dollars); the gym; the uni.

Some of the things that I hate are the way the date is written here (MM-DD-YY) – makes no sense at all!!!; the bread – far too sweet and soft; the fact that there are no lights in our bedrooms – the managers assure me that there are never overhead lights in bedrooms or living rooms because everyone buys lamps. Well they’d have to wouldn’t they!!! I also hate the fact that so far I have been unable to get myself into any sort of regular occupation. I have to wait for an additional application to be approved before I can get paid work and I have still not heard back from some people about various voluntary work and group activities. However, I will persist and hope by the end of this week to be more organised. My gripes are only minor ones and at this stage I am enjoying the process of transporting my life into a different culture. It is quite a challenge, but an experience worth having.

I also love getting emails, so please keep me informed.

I hope you are all well and enjoying your life. Our next major social event is the Parish Fish Fry this Thusrday night. I was speaking to someone at Mass this morning about it and they assured me it would be a great event. I’ll let you know. The uni also has some social events coming up too – department and faculty picnics. It’s all go!