A cool housewive to be

Let me tell you something: the smell of mint tea can be one of the best things ever. Whatever the hour is, or wherever you are – mint tea never gets old. It smells like peace and quiet. We used to have our own mint in the garden, and then we would have real fresh mint tea. That was great.

Good, so far the philosophical rant on tea. You know, time really flies when you are trying to make your life work out. I’ve been here for two weeks now, which is not all that long. The past week I finally bought myself a desk lamp, for when I will actually start to do homework. So far I haven’t had too many classes yet, so not so much homework. So far, that is. I also bought coat hangers. These details, as it seems, can make your life be more like your life, and not like some kind of temporarily state. Because it is for four months. Everything here should feel like it belongs to me when I leave. The city as well. But for someone with my sense of orientation I’m doing a good job, I think! Maybe this is just an easy city or something.

Living here is not bad at all. It already feels quite comfortable. I don’t mind doing things on my own, I don’t even mind not becoming friends with all of my classmates immediately. Maybe that’s because I think it’s very cool that I do this, living abroad like this. It gives me some sort of strong feeling. I’m really doing this! I’m really cooking for myself everyday, I’m doing the dishes, the laundry, I even sewed the broken pocket of my winter coat. All of this sounds like I’m turning into a housewive, but somehow I find myself really cool for just doing it. And for talking Polish and Russian! However slowly it happens to be, I can talk to the people here, I can order food and drinks and I can aks for information. I even follow courses in Polish. Which is very hard and sometimes overwhelming, but still, I’m really doing it. Which is cool.

I start to take great pride in the fact that I speak six languages. Well, that’s exaggerated, because I’m not fluent in six language, but if I have to, I can talk in six languages. And however stupid and discouraging it can be, it proves itself worth it completely.

So me is doing well here :) How are you guys?

People

This might just be the most boring but straightforward title I’ve ever used. But the thing is, if I give this ‘you know what I mean look’ and then say ‘people’, you should normally nod with a very serious expression, and say ‘yep, ooh yes’.

People are the weirdest creatures out there. It’s not that I didn’t know in advance, but the past two days only made me more sure about it. We had introduction days here, which basically served to meet other foreign students. You would think they are cool and open-minded and very happy if they can talk to you. I was ready to make a bunch of friends and to talk to everyone.

Enter real life, and you get an entirely different image. I was quite convinced that everything was okay, because mostly, wherever I go, I seem to leave a good impression. I have made friends for life on many occasions. So I trusted that it wouldn’t be all too difficult now either. But then my friend and I entered the classroom where we had a presentation, and that was kind of not what we expected. Everyone seemed to group up within seconds. The Spanish people, the French people. After that we had lunch, and the Spanish people who sat across from us didn’t say a word to us.

When we returned home during the break, I felt like it was terrible. I really thought everyone would want to meet the other students, but they didn’t. And the best part was this: I had tried to talk to the French trio, but it didn’t last. At a certain point we were waiting, and one of the girls, who sat close to me, said ‘Belgium’. And then something about pretty girls. But it didn’t sound like she fully meant to say we were pretty. I just sat there wondering how French people can’t realize that Belgian people understand French… And seriously, if you can talk about us, then talk to us as well. But no.

It was strange. Very, very strange. We had tried to talk with many people, we did our best, but the response was meager.

In the afternoon there was an organised trip though, and then things changed. We figured out who the good guys were, as in, the ones who wanted to talk to us, and we managed to get them together and talk with them. Then some other people, who have been in Poland for the first semester already, joined the activity as well. There was this thing that we call ‘table football’  (do you know it?), and though I thought I sucked at it, I actually wasn’t bad at all. Give me such games, and I am happy. Even when I’m not good at it, I just like to play.

It ended up being a good night with nice people after all.

Then today we did a tour around the city, and it seemed to give more opportunities to talk with other people. So I made up the theory that a group of people who don’t know each other should have movement. As long as you can move around, you have the opportunity to talk with new people and also to end the conversation if you no longer know what to say. If you sit around a table, you just sit and you are stuck with the same people. For such a group as ours, that’s not very good.

Needless to say, the French people left the tour after a while. I don’t think we’ll ever see them again.

You know, my friend and I are both from Belgium, and of course you kind of stick together, but during the evening we spent a lot of time apart. We are not impossible to separate. We ended up having a good night with new people. Maybe not friends for life, maybe not friends for months even, but at least we didn’t lock ourselves in our own little Dutch speaking world.

Maybe the language was a barrier. As a Belgian person, who studies Polish, I can understand and speak English, French and Polish, so we managed. But the fact that so many people don’t speak English fluently makes it hard to communicate. It’s a sad thing, and not something I expected, but it can really become a problem when you want to have a conversation.

So yeah, people. Strange creatures, but interesting for sure.

Worry not…

… I haven’t decided to go living under a rock! However appealing that may be sometimes, I still prefer a duvet. My absence here is actually not because I’ve been hiding from life, but because I’ve been living very much. The past week I went on a skiing holiday, which was so awesome. We were part of a group, though we didn’t know a lot of people of this very group. But it’s entertaining to have all these new and kind people around you. It gives some variety, you know. Next to that, the snow was brilliant. Amazing. Perfect! I can’t remember ever having had suchgood conditions. Temperatures slightly below zero, ‘fresh’ snow, sunlight – it was almost too good to be true.

Well, actually, some people had bad luck, but overall I think for me this holiday was very, very good. It made all my worries about going to Poland and about my grades disappear like snow in the sun, as we say it here. (See what I did there?) As soon as I got home, it started again though.

snow

SNOOOOW source

 

On Monday I traveled to Poland, on my own. I’ve never traveled alone before. And it wasn’t just taking a plane, it was also taking a taxi and a train, with two heavy cases, and all in Polish. Huzzah! But with the help of the very kind and helpful Polish man, and people in general, all went well. Also, on the plane I had a very kind neighbour girl. We talked in Polish for the full two hours. She was so very kind, a lot of good karma must come her way!

So all went well, and now I’m not scared of anything anymore. (In theory, at least. But still. I feel a little badass.)

I got my grades on that very same Monday, but needless to say I thought all the travel stress was enough for one day. The next day though I couldn’t escape anymore. There are some reasons as to why I couldn’t postpone anymore, and there are some reasons why a failed class would be a giant problem. You see, I don’t have a room in the city of my university anymore, because I rented one of another girl who was gone for the semester. So technically the room was always hers. But when you fail a class, you have to retake the exam, so you have to be in the city of the university.
Which only adds to the joy of looking at yout grades, am I right?

But no stress was need, ’cause I passed them all! And some with flying colours. Especially my languages, which are very important to me, were very good. Oh the happiness, the relief! My friend and now flatmate and I opened a bottle of ‘something’ to celebrate. She got the bottle from another friend and didn’t know what it was. It turned out to be a sort of sweet bubbly wine thing. Lemonade with alcohol basically. But hey, it was good to celebrate!

So that’s what I have been doing for the last week(s). Also, I started a new blog, in my own native language this time, to keep my family and friends updated on what’s going on in my life. (For privacy reasons I’m not sharing the link.) This means though that all my wild adventures (that are hopefully yet to come!) will be posted there and not here. You will get to hear some things about Poland, but mainly this blog is going to be the same as it was. I don’t know if that’s good or bad news to you, but hey, I hope you’re at least happy that I’m still gonna be here ;)

Living with Strangers

Last Saturday I had my last exam, and that same day we emptied my now ex-room. Which felt somewhat weird. First, I should explain the system of living here: most people don’t live very close to the university of their choice, so the common thing to do is to rent a room in a house together with other students. You often have your own wash basin, but the kitchen, toilet and shower are shared. Of course you can go for the more expensive room with your own kitchen and stuff, but the normal rooms already costs enough for what they are. In the weekends though, everyone returns home. So these houses are full of life during the weeks, and dead during the weekends.
Last year I found someone to take over my room for a year, since I planned on being gone for an entire year. Things didn’t work out, you know that, and I had to find myself a room very last-minute. My brother helped me out, and I ended up in a room I got to adore, in the end. It was close to every place I had to be, it was cosy, I could watch the people on the streets and I got the sunlight. Next to that I lived together with some very kind people.

You see, we don’t often live together with friends. Instead, you end up living with strangers. Which can be weird, but is sometimes really cool. I’ve made very good friends, often people I would have never met otherwise. The advantage is that you have this ‘living together bond’, which means you agree upon being friendly to each other without feeling you should become best friends and cook together every day.

Next to that, you can learn from it. A lot. Let me present you some of the things I learned during these years of living together with strangers:

* People can shower an any moment of the day.

* There are those who cook and those who don’t. Ever.

* There are those who live by day and those who live by night.

* There are those who like hygiene extremely much and there are those who honestly don’t seem to care.

* The fastest way of knowing who’s home, is to have the electricity shut down. Instant get together at the fuse box!

To be honest, leaving this room felt unexpectedly weird. Last year I was ready to go, but these past months I’ve fallen back into some kind of routine that worked its way into my system enough to make me comfortable with it. Now I’ve spent the week home, running around to make sure I’m fully prepared for Poland, and I feel I’m looking forward to it more and more. While I loved on my own in that room, I was more afraid than excited. Now I’m equally afraid and excited! Improvement.

I like this way of living together though. It’s got its charms for sure. You’re never really alone, but you also don’t have the obligation to go talk with everyone. You’re not the only one responsible for everything, so if there’s a problem, you can discuss it with others. And though you are living together, you do have your own little space that’s just for you. Which I truly like.

Have you ever lived together with strangers? Would you mind sharing the kitchen and bathroom with strangers?

The Thing and I : The Struggle is Real

Previously on The Thing and I: our somewhat messed up beginning, our struggle to get used to each other, and the slow improvement in our relationship. Today’s episode: how I realise that some things just aren’t meant to be.

Shouldn’t I have known all along that this was a bad idea? How could I even make myself believe for a second that this was actually a good plan? And could I have escaped anyways? Because these days, when you want a new phone, you either buy such an ‘old school’ type with the 9 key keyboard and a small screen, or a smartphone. While I liked my last phone, I still bought a new one because the alarm clock didn’t work anymore. Thinking I’d be abroad since August, I needed a phone with a functioning alarm clock. And a smartphone seemed like a good choice.

Yes, I should have known better. Next to the troubles in the beginning, even with the case I bought for it, it’s also just a slow phone. Sometimes it takes ages to just load the start screen. But now the fun’s only getting bigger! My charger doesn’t work anymore. It won’t fully charge my phone. Either he discharges while still being connected, or he doesn’t go higher than 90 %. Which is asolutely bullshit for a thing that’s not even 6 months old. Next to carrying the charger with me, in a separate pocket, I have done nothing to it.

So today I returned to the store and explained the problem. They said they would return it to the company. When I asked how long it would take for the new, good one to arrive, they said it would take three to four weeks.

*Alarm bells ringing loudly*

In two weeks, I’m leaving for Poland. I told them I would be leaving in two weeks. They said someone else could pick it up for me. Okay, but how is that thing getting to me, darling? Do you think someone will travel to Poland just to bring me my charger? Do you think I will return almost immediately after leaving to pick up a stupid charger? And how am I supposed to charge my phone during those weeks? Oh, we don’t fucking care how you charge your phone, do we?

This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if I hadn’t been leaving for Poland soon. But of course that stupid thing has to die now, at this moment. Thank you very much, dear smartphone thing. I hope you can meet all your friends again in charger heaven, but seriously, aren’t you too young to die?

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do now. The only option left is probably to buy a new one that fits every phone. Which means I will have to pay because something that shouldn’t break, broke. Which pushes my ‘this is unfair!’ button. It’s not like I couldn’t use that money for something else, especially now I’m almost leaving.

Some things aren’t meant to be. I should have known that you and I were doomed from the very beginning. I hope we will find a way to get along after all still, but honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever be real friends…

What I think of during exams #2

I want to sleep. Oh, how I want to sleep.

If I wear that shirt for my exam, will I still be able to wear it the next day?

Coconut yoghurt is really good.

I just want to go to a cafe and have a drink with friends.

I actually know this answer!

What if there are no buses in Poland I can take?

It’s hot in here, jeeze.

I like wearing earrings.

Oh how I miss him! And her! And them!

Will my pasta sauce still be good tonight?


I never even pretended to be good at concentration, really. This could very well have been my stream of consciousness at some point, though mostly it includes way more thoughts that are not to the point. I’ve had three exams now, and I think I passed them all so far. Though today’s one was tough, but even if I haven’t passed, I think I still did well enough to ‘tolerate’ the grade, in which case I wouldn’t have to retake it. But I still hope I passed it all.

It’s true though that I really want to sleep. I have very little time in between my exams, most of them are at 9 in the morning, and I am better at studying in the evening. Plus the fact that I have trouble falling asleep quite often. So it comes as no surprise that I’m slowly turning into a zombie. But two more exams to go and then it’s over, thank god, and I will sleep again!

At least, if the Poland adventure that will happen in less than a month won’t cause more sleepless nights.

After having done an exam, I always feel like I deserve a little time off. And now I’ve got this secret addiction that is somewhat wrong (what’s the term for that again?) : Hotter than my daughter. It’s this very typical British tv program in which they give an often overly displaying mother and overly covered/sloppy daughter a makeover. If you wonder why on earth you’d watch it, well: 1. the accents! The accents! Really!  2. Cringing at the mothers who barely wear clothes, so you can be extra happy with your own mum. 3. Seeing the confidenceless daughter and be happy with your own sense of style. 4. You can be braindead while watching it. And that’s good.

Of course they alway find a deeper reason for the mothers to dress too young and for the daughters to dress so carelessly. And in the end, they mostly mess up. Really, they turn them into something they want to be either… Often it’s a little better, but not good. ‘Inspiring’ at most. Isn’t it sad that they are supposed to make them prettier and they end up not as pretty as they could be? Sometimes though, you can clearly see improvement. Some of them seem to realise how pretty they can actually look. And that is good, because I fully believe in the idea that if you take a little care of your looks, it can do wonders for your confidence. At times you can see them kind of realise that they should be more confident and not hide away. Awww!

But mostly I watch it to be braindead for a little while. And it makes me realise that my wardrobe is really okay, and my mother is a very classy lady. We’d never get into that program. How good is that!

What do you do when you need to take a break?

What I think of during exams

Today I did the first exam of this exam period. It went quite well, I’m pretty sure I didn’t fail, so that is good. But there is something I really have to get off my chest… Dear university, do you know anything about proportions at all? Do you know what a human body looks like, or the average paper? Apparently, you don’t. Let me tell you. The average male in Belgium is said to be 1.80 m, and the average woman 1.68 m. And, as I can tell you from experience, this doesn’t mean that men have 160 cm legs, and women don’t have 140 cm legs. So please leave enough space in height between the seat and the table. Thank you. Next to that we are often told to hold a straight back when writing. But when you leave space in width between the seat and the table, this means you can sit comfortable but are not able to write, or sit ‘curved’ and be able to write. This is also caused by the fact that the tables are terribly low. To finish the list, the average paper is A4, which means its height is 29,7 cm. It would be much appreciated if you would make the tables at least that big, or even slightly bigger. But honestly, 15 cm doesn’t really work out. Especially not when there’s someone sitting in front of you (who’s also doing an attempt to lean back in order to avoid back pain).

And then I haven’t even told you about the stairs. As soon as you have this big room, the stairs are a big challenge. There is but one way to come down: by walking in morse. Also, thanks to the accoustic qualisties, everyone can hear you coming down in the most clumsy way.

Gotta love university, right?

Fortunately we often get normal tables and chairs these days, because we’re such a small group. That’s an advantage. The bigger your group, the worse it gets, often. So there are positive things about obscure studies!

Since I had an exam today, I decided to take a little time off. Tonight more studying will follow, since my following exam is Thursday, and it will be hard, but as for now I’m having a tiny little break. That’s already lasting 1,5 hour. Okay. I stumbled upon a very funny video though, that actually made me laugh – which might have something to do with sleep deprivation and exam humour – in which they ask hipsters about made up bands. I’m not sure if it’s real, because if it is, those people are pretty lame… But at the same time, it’s really funny. So if you want to take a break too, here ya go:

Freedom of Speech

It gives me chills to see what’s happened in Paris today. It’s hard to believe that this keeps on happening and that it starts to be more and more well-organised. terrorists are getting better at organising each day. This isn’t just an act of sudden anger, this is a well thought out act of violence towards freedom of speech. In a part of the world where you would expect that to be safe.
You know what the thing is, freedom of speech gives a bit of power to the people. It means you don’t have to agree all the time. It means that there’s room for improvement. If you have to shut your mouth, there can be no change. But what remains when there is no change? Something you don’t want. Without change we’ll be trapped endlessly in a world that shuts its eyes to everything. That’s not what you want. At all.
Next to that, don’t even hope for it to last. In the end people will always feel the need for freedom. You can only try to supress that for so long. But it’s something so typical for mankind then however hard you want it, in the end people will always fight you off again. For sure.

These acts are becoming a real threat because the world gets scared. Barely anyone still has the guts to react. But if everyone is too scared, well, then we’re ready for a complete disaster, aren’t we. There should be a big international response, action towards the violence coming from these people. One big united response. Because they are so well-organised that we should be even better organised to overpower them.

I’m not sure if we’ll ever be able to do that, because one big united voice is not easy, especially not if everyone is convinced of their own power and think they are the ones who are right. But something should be done to keep our freedom of speech, to keep our freedom, to stop this ridiculous movement. Something has to be done. Not just for us, but also for everyone in Syria and around Syria and everyone suffering from extremists. Let’s not wait until it’s too late…

Diving into another year

However much I don’t like to look back on the past year, just because the events aren’t the result of it being 2014, I still end up kind of liking the fact that it’s over. And with that I kind of believe that things can go better because it’s a different year. Which is weird, but I’m surely not the only one!
This year hasn’t been my favourite, by far. First someone made my self-esteem shrink away to the max, and then my dream to go to Russia got shattered in front of my eyes. And yet there were many moments I cherish. Bad things seem to affect a way longer time, but good things come in moments. The moment of sitting in the sun with friends and having a beer, the moment of being on stage and dancing in a choreography that fits you so much, the moment of being on a trip with friends, the moment of making new friends, and so on.

Years are never just good or bad. There was sadness in 2014 (enough sadness for sure), and there was happiness. As always. For this year it won’t be different, but this time I hope that the happiness will surpass the sadness by far. I hope that studying in Poland will be a whole lot of fun, that my Polish will improve a lot, and that I will be able to overcome all the difficulties that inevitably show up. I hope that I will finally get to Russia, that it will be worth all the waiting and whining, that my Russian will improve as well. I hope to make friends for life in Poland and Russia. I hope I will find a way to get everything go right. That’s an eternal wish of mine. I hope I will have the feeling that I’m doing things the right way. That I’m not messing up.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that 2015 will go smoother than the past year has gone, that we will all find or keep a good partner, that our family and we may have good health and so on. We all silently know this won’t be the case, not all of it at least, but we’ll make the best of it. We’ll get more moments we want to remember forever, we’ll enjoy ourselves sometimes, and that’s something to look forward to.

I’m also looking forward to have your company this year, to read your posts and comments, and to share the blog-thing with you. So let’s go and try to make these 365 days ahead into wonderful memories together!

It’s beginning to look like Christmas only now…

I haven’t posted in quite a while here, but hey, I’m still alive and kicking. First of all, I would like to wish you all happy holidays, I hope you are enjoying it. I’ve been so absent because holidays here are actually days we use to study. I’ve got exams in January, so ever day I lock myself away and study… Which is hard for brains like mine. Concentration remains an issue, but hey, I’m not doing that bad at all! I think. We’ll see how the grades turn out.
A side effect of this, is that I’m OCD’ing real hard these days. Ever since I returned to university at the end of September I have been OCD’ing more than before. I figured that maybe it was caused by the lack of control I had over the situation with Russia. It completely exploded once I stayed home to study. I can check it the doors are closed ten times and still something in me isn’t convinced that yes, the door is closed. The same with shutting out the lights. I return almost every time just to see if I really did that. It’s quite annoying, but I try to stop it.

Further on we’ve got snow here – which was unexpected! To me, at least. I heard that it would snow here, but something in me didn’t believe it. The day before it wasn’t even so cold… But one morning I woke up and saw that everything was covered in snow, and I just stood there staring at it because I was so surprised. But you know, it looks good, and I don’t mind it at all. Also the cold doesn’t disturb me. I don’t go outside that often, because studying, but when I do, I tell myself that it still feels okay.
Which is actually just an attempt to train myself for Poland.

Well, there isn’t anything exciting these days, so I will leave you with this sign of life. I hope to write some intersting posts soon, but currently I’m lacking inspiration – this atmosphere doesn’t create the best ideas, believe me. I’ll leave the talking to you for now!

Do you like snow? Do you mind cold? And do you perhaps know how to stop yourself from OCD’ing?

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