Let’s face it; apart from the special curriculum and “unconventionality” of the liberal arts and sciences degree offered at AUC, many of us (including myself) came here to experience what Amsterdam has to offer.
You are in for a big surprise.
Practically, you are living in a place called Science Park. Technically, it is in Amsterdam, but it doesn’t feel like Amsterdam. With its own petite supermarket and “snackwagen” just across AUC, with a fairly decent pub nearby, Science Park has it all. Whether you need to work, sleep, eat or drink, you’ve got everything here in just 500 sq meters. On the other hand, if you feel “adventurous”, you can always check the Turkish shops on Molukkenstraat or explore the mysterious jungle of Flevopark.
Of course, but what exactly is keeping us stuck in Science Park?
In a word: work. Lots of it. If you would like to achieve some sort of performance as a student (and I’m sure you want to), you need to do all your assignments and all your readings. There’s absolutely no mystery in that. The problem is, all this work can barely leave you time to do something else.
Secondly, we are contractually obliged to live in the dorms build by DUWO in Science Park. I know I shouldn’t be touching upon this subject since the rooms are nice and the rent is incredibly small, but it severely impairs the “Amsterdam experience”. I’m pretty sure that beyond the huge financial gaps, actually living in Amsterdam would have a different impact on how a student (a foreigner) would perceive the city.
From what I’ve seen/read so far, Amsterdam has a whole lot more to offer (talking here, of course, beyond the commonly known attractions); crammed along the canals, there is always something else to be discovered just beyond the corner: a cool shop, a nice pub, an affordable restaurant, but as a “Science Park”-er I feel that Amsterdam is hidden from me.
Also, when you “force” different people from all over the world to live in 3 blocks of flats, the effect is not that of cultural interrelationships or exchange, but the exact opposite. What you get is very fragmented groups bound mostly by geography and/or cultural similarities.
That being said, how many times have I seen a person in one of my courses but never before on campus? Even more so: how many people haven’t seen or don’t know me? Even in a place like Science Park, where you inevitably bump into everyone, this proves to be quite a problem.
Returning back to the question of time, when you don’t have it, you simply make it. Sacrificing some coursework for a night out might be the right choice as long as it doesn’t turn against you later on.
Then again, this might be just bad time management.
Either way, I need a break from Science Park, Amsterdam.
To be honest, it is a bit difficult for me to write this post. It is almost as if I am writing my own obituary. Not because, seemingly decades ago, I founded this band; not because, as time went on, I became really close friends with its members; what is frustrating is the acknowledgement of the fact that there are some things or events one cannot control.
My pursuit of an academic degree in another country is one of them.
My teeth (Photo credit: LShave)
I should definitely apologize to my almost nonexistent number of readers for not posting anything in such a long time, but to be honest, I was quite busy these days. And for good reason!
For example, I’ve joined a metal band! Some old friends of mine got together and decided to have another gig back home. Their bass player has some issues, I’m having too much spare time, so… why not? Trash metal isn’t quite my style, but what the heck, I’m doing this for some friends. As the rehearsals were going on, I’ve actually come to appreciate their songs, their technique, and so on, and to be honest, it was quite the challenge to learn around 10 never-tried-before, picking-till-your-hand-drops-dead kind of songs in 3 weeks (this also gives me a nice excuse for not writing; I had to practice a lot). All in all, it was a great experience, both for me as a new member, as well as for them. I am glad they were patient with me as I was struggling to keep up, and I would like to use this opportunity to thank them for the lovely moments, both in and outside the rehearsal room.
… but not feeling quite like it?
Tomorrow will mark the end of the second week of me being back home. Although it was a bit too much for me to handle, these two weeks hardly gave me any time to meditate on the ordeal of being here (or there, as I’m writing this post from the seaside).
The thing that struck me the most was how the world changed around you; people that you once knew no longer say hi to you, or places you once went, are either gone or turned to something else entirely. On the other hand, lots of things come in your direction in a very short time: new people, new sensations, secret handshakes, cheap alcohol, and promiscuous women.
Coming home also marked a feeling of closeness that I thought forgotten; In general, I have come to notice that the young people from my home town are more lively, funny, and filled with some really nice positive vibes, even though the economic conditions are dire. This whole change and everything makes you aware of how unimportant your person is.
2 a.m. , thinking about you
standing at the window
staring at some… nothing, just looking down
(my sight could now easily get to China … or Australia, or something like that)
and I’m wondering
if the roses from my neighbours’ garden last ‘till you come home
(and if they do, will you still love them when I’ll bring them to you? or you’ve changed in the meantime, too?)
‘cause that’s the flower that you like, the rose
it makes me think that you’re so mainstream,
most of the time;
(and there’s nothing wrong about being mainstream…)
5 a.m. , after kind-of-an-argument with you over the phone
but the roses wither
so they won’t last
as long as we want them to last
and I can clearly see a petal detaching,
floating, surfing in the air,
touching the ground with a grave, but practically silent sound
when you say again
that I don’t know what I want
and that I’m acting like a girl…
(and what saddens me is that you actually may be right.)
Nothing to say here; introducing my little sister’s drawing skills. Oil on canvas 55×45 cm.
As I walked out of the room, handing in the final German exam, a great feeling of relief took over me. At the moment, I feel like Frodo after he destroyed the Ring of Power. Ich bin vertig. No more intellectual work for me starting as of now!
Since I do not have a pursuit to follow, at least for the moment, I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’m suddenly having this huge pocket of free time and lack of worries that it baffles me completely. Are there people out there? What remains to be seen? How does home look like? Truth be said, even though I am extremely tired after my first year at AUC, I have this feeling of accomplishment. I’ve grown a lot here, but I really deserve a break from everything, for just a brief moment.
I’m going home on Monday. I’ll hang around with some of my old classmates in Bucharest, and then, like Ulysses, I’ll be finally home-home with my family after 11 months (!) of living in Amsterdam. My biggest fear at this moment is that I would feel estranged from the others. While this is inevitable, I really hope that my accommodation will not take too long.
I’m going home. I have a really cool bunch of
stories to share with my friends. I have loads of beer to drink, and lots of fun to have. I’m going home.
If, by accident, you come across my post, please let me know how do you cope with the fact that you are away from home for a long time? Are the connections between the people here different from the ones at home? If so, how? Is it for good or for worse? All I can say is that I got lucky.
I’m going home.
I’ve been experimenting a little bit with Blogger these days, but I just don’t feel like it. Even though it’s much easier to use that platform, the community seems dead. And that’s pretty bad for a blog, I think. Also, the Blogger blogs look a bit amateurish, if you ask me. I mean, come on, you can sniff a Blogger blog from a thousand!
Dear sole reader of this blog,
First of all, thanks for stepping in. I really do! I mean, you took your time, clicked here, on the link and bam! You landed and I’ve seen you on my stats tab. Thanks.
Why so many thanks?Well, there are lots of