Border Crossings

ROLDUC, Netherlands—The bedside clock told it me it wasn’t even six in the morning, but it was no use. Jet lag seemed a stronger force than the alarm that had consistently failed to wake me up in time for my 9:00 a.m. lectures. So I got up, got dressed, and decided to walk to Germany. With help from the twilight filtering through my window I studied Rolduc on Google Maps, grabbed a sweater, and headed out the door.

Rolduc is the location of a monastery in the southernmost part of the Netherlands where I spent the first week of my summer course. Besides medieval architecture, spacious rooms, and a deer park, Rolduc’s attractions include its location on the Dutch-German border.

A walking trail led around the outer wall of the monastery, and I set off at a brisk pace. Besides a light rain, barely perceptible under the thick forest canopy, everything was eerily still in the early morning. The path led through a tunnel formed by trees; ducklings swam in ponds on either side. Rolduc loomed like a giant castle behind me, and I felt as though I had stepped into a Disney movie.

Ten minutes later, I began to think I had set down the wrong path. Germany was nowhere in sight. Or, for all I knew, I had already crossed the border—there wouldn’t be a big Willkommen! sign in the middle of the woods. Suddenly I stumbled out of the path onto a paved lane and, turning a corner, found the marker I was looking for.

The white block letters spelling Deutschland weren’t quite as welcoming as I’d imagined, but no matter. I snapped a few pictures and planted my feet firmly on German soil. Then, noticing the rain was really starting to pick up, I scrambled back to the land of legalized hash.

Jorge A. Araya ’14 is an editorial writer in Dunster House.

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