In case you haven’t noticed, life goes by so fast. One day you’re planning every tiny detail for your first trip home and the next you find yourself engaged in a discussion with a world-renowned environmentalist about how it felt to experience altitude after several months in the Netherlands.
It’s funny to think that these events are exactly a year apart. That I left the student life and Europe almost five months ago. That for the past three months I have made the distinction between a personal and a company email. That I have actually committed to getting healthier and happier for almost four months now. That a significant change has occurred a few days ago forcing me to look at the world differently.
2012 is ending, as you may have known. As it leaves, it takes away one of the most fundamental years I have yet to experience. New friends, new places, new experiences, new situations, a new me. In the spirit of that, and because I’ve always been fascinated by everyone who manages to put together recaps of their year, allow me to take a trip down memory lane to tell you about all those journeys that I never found the time to write about fully. Read more…
When I first began drafting this post, I had the sudden urge to bring my ideas to life by drawing comparisons.
The two things I had in mind? A stuffed Minnie Mouse doll and my country, Lebanon.
At this point, you’re probably going to ask, what on Earth has possessed me to find anything in common between a child’s toy and an entire country. You might wonder if I’m a lunatic or if I’m running out of blogging ideas.
Personally, the similarities couldn’t be any clearer.
I’ve had the doll for almost 19 years. Normal wear-and-tear, as well as the angst-filled teenage years, has left some visible marks. “She” has lost the bow and the trimming on her dress, the stuffing is always on the verge of falling out, the black felt material has faded, and God, how much dust does that thing collect!
Replace normal wear-and-tear with a 15 year long civil war and its repercussions, and you get Lebanon, a country that is always on the verge of falling apart, but thankfully still managing to hold it together, if ever so barely. Read more…
I didn’t take anyone’s advice when I went to Maastricht. If I did, I probably would’ve ended up somewhere much less interesting and the experience would’ve been much less fulfilling.
In addition, I’m absolutely terrible with these things, especially when my mind’s made up and I’m all set to go. Basically, I took care of everything on my own, from the moment that I decided this is what I wanted to do, probably in anticipation of what was to come.
This is why I don’t think anyone will take my advice into consideration, but hey, as the song says “ Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”
Here they are, in no particular order.
The Most Important One:
- No matter what you do, wherever you go, have fun! I can’t stress this enough. Finding little pleasures in everything you do isn’t that hard- all you have to do is have a positive outlook on things and remember that this is probably once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn’t be wasted. And okay, this was the only piece of advice I actually followed. Read more…
Exactly a year to the date that I moved to Maastricht to start this adventure I keep talking about, and get that highly coveted Masters degree, I got an email confirming that I had passed that pesky thing that kept me up for nights on end and had me learning complicated statistical methods- my thesis.
I passed my thesis.
I actually and officially now hold a Masters of Sciences degree in Healthcare Policy, Innovation, and Management. Don’t let the fancy name fool you though, I’m very much indefinitely on a job hunt.
It’s funny to think how I arrived to the Netherlands a year ago: completely overwhelmed.
Though I had traveled plenty of times before, it was the first time I was completely on my own, heading to Europe (apart from Greece which I had visited in 2009), to a place where I barely knew anyone and didn’t speak the language. Read more…
Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, tends to win over a lot of people, of whom I am not among. Because it is an utter and complete shame to be living in a country for several months and still not have visited its capital, and because we had those wonderful day passes, we stopped in Amsterdam for a few hours before returning home to Maastricht.
In retrospect though, it wouldn’t have killed us to have gone there a bit earlier and with much more planning done, including maybe map on our hands.
The initial impression you get once you get to Amsterdam Centraal is how busy the city is- and that’s only the historic inner center which everyone tends to visit that we’re talking about. Just to get off the train and into the main station hall, we were pushing and shoving all sorts of people, but mostly tourists with their gigantic suitcases. Read more…
You can’t possibly live in the Netherlands for a year and miss out on seeing the tulips. Along with clogs, canals, bikes, and windmills, the flowers are a key symbol of the country- even if you have to travel to the North to see them.
This is exactly what James and I did one day in May, when we lucked out on the weather- it was probably 13 degrees, but it wasn’t raining, so I call it lucking out- and decided to head to Keukenhof Gardens, one of the most photographed places on Earth.
Thanks to HEMA one-day train passes, our trip was considerably cheaper than it normally is. That’s because these tickets allow you to use all the trains across the Netherlands during a single day at a discounted price. Because of that, we also managed to combine the journey with a small trip to Amsterdam, but more on that later. Read more…
The thesis is handed in and the waiting has begun. The day trips are over, the painful goodbyes and see you laters have passed and they now remain part of my memory. Even my gorgeous sister has graduated from high school and the family vacation, this year to Istanbul, has passed.
It’s hot, it’s sticky, the power goes off more times than I can keep track, and I keep being asked when I’m going back to Europe. Ramadan is just a day or two away and the job hunt has begun. Read more…