On Thursday night we were invited to the inaugural lecture of Professor Luc Van Loon, Nick's advisor. As is part of custom here in the Netherlands the Professor is then responsible for hosting a reception after the lecture and throwing their own celebration party. The party was a real formal event in a beautiful venue with an open bar, food, dj and dancing. Like a wedding reception. I find it very strange that it is a requirement to throw and pay for your own party but it's the Dutch way. They throw their own birthday parties too! I met lots of the spouses and partners of Nick's lab mates as well as his colleagues from the department. I met a girl named Laura from Toronto Canada and her boyfriend Richard. She has been here for 6-years studying and is heading back in the summer. She is planning to start school at the Naturopathic College. She has cats too so we exchanged stories. We plan to get together for a cat date soon :) We have a lot in common.
We had a wonderful time and Luc's friends, colleagues and students gave wonderful presentations and prepared some great movies. They bought him a piece of art that he has had his eye on for some time. You could tell he really appreciated everyone's efforts. People partied into the wee hours; dancing, laughing and cutting loose. Slayer came on at 12am and things just got crazy from that point on. Professors were head banging and slam dancing :) We left at 1am because I had to teach the next morning. I gotta say, I'm getting old! I was tired all day. Not because of the lack of sleep but because of the disturbance in my routine. I guess you could say I'm just a shadow of the party animal I once was ;)
The next morning came early and it was 11/11/11. On Nov 11th in Canada we recognize Remembrance Day and at 11:11am I took my two minutes of silence. We recognize the sacrifice that soldiers made in the great wars and we take the time to recognize current service people and their families. When I was walking across the Vijhof Square on my way home from teaching a class I looked down and noticed that there was a marker set into the stones that marked the liberation of Maastricht in September of 1944. It really hit home! This is where the war took place. My grandpa was here during that time and he was liberated by the Canadian troops. I would really love to see some of the war memorials before we leave. I think as a Canadian it's an important part of our heritage.
Here in the Netherlands (especially the south) Nov 11th marks the start of Carnival, the festive season. Yesterday, there were over 12,000 people in the Vijhof Square celebrating Carnival. There was music, dancing and good old fashioned partying. The young and old were dressed in yellow, red and green and partied all day and night. They wore circus inspired costumes but anything seemed to go. Nick and I got a real kick out of some of the older people's costumes. They are so elaborate and colorful. They really get into it! There was a live feed on tv from the Vijhof so I watched the festivities from home. It was packed. Nick and I had planned to walk down to people watch but after Thursday nights festivities I wasn't feeling up for another party. I hadn't realized what a big event it is. People come from far and wide to attend. We will partake in February when they have the week long party :) Some of my participants let me know that they would not be present for classes Friday morning because of Carnival. In the end it was my class of 45+ women from Zenden that missed class and not the students. Those party animals!