I made it!

Welcome to Russia, the country where the roads are dusty, the women dress up for everyday life as if they’re going to a party, where no one smiles at you, where those you know will feed you endlessly.

I made it, darlings. This year, I made it. I could barely believe it when I got out of the plane. It was already really dark, I had been traveling all day, so when I got out of that thing, I was just smiling weirdly. Isn’t this one of the weirdest thing I’ve ever done? Going to Russia all alone? But I can tell you: I’m doing very well. I managed to slice my feet by wearing new shoes, but next to that it’s going well. People tell me I talk well in Russian, that I barely have any accent, and so far I’m not impressed by their lack of smiling or effort to be nice to strangers.

The amount of strange things here is quite great. Everything is in Russian style, but that makes it so interesting. Also, strange things can be very cool. Since last night I can add drinking apple juice at 3 am while eating a good salad after having danced like crazy in a pub to my list of Weird Stuff That Just Seems To Happen. Now that’s the kind of thing I like – random, absurd, but absolutely good.

In Poland it took me about a month before I seemed to do something, for real. But here I dived into it and now it feels like I’m making the most of it already. I’ve been drinking beer with friends, I’ve gone dancing, I’ve gone to my classes, everything seems to go faster.

And that is good.

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People (part 2)

Remember how I told you to nod with a very serious expression when I say ‘people’ and give this ‘you know what I mean look’? Well, you could also start smiling and say ‘yeah, people!’, because actually, there are plenty of reasons to do so.

I know I have been whining about the people, but it seems that the tide has turned and things have gotten better already. I’ve been visiting a friend in Poland this weekend, we had a great time, and then someone else texted me out of the blue, and I realised once more that I cannot live without them. I cannot live without you, people. You are the weirdest, most annoying things I know, but at the same time you can brighten my day and make me all happy.

The truth is that I need people around me. I need to talk to them, go have coffee of beer with them, have their company. I’m way more fun when I’m around people, because they are my audience. Give me an audience and I become a performer. It helps when I have good company. I’ve had the luck to run into some good people with whom I can really have fun. Also, I even made Polish friends, so I’m actually talking Polish for hours sometimes. (Needless to say it feels very badass.)

Whatever doubts I may have had, I’m not a loner. I can appreciate my moments without anyone around, but at the end of the day I need to talk to someone to not feel cut off of the world. So, dear people, whatever I have said about you, you know that I can’t survive without you…!

Somewhat Irrational Fears

Some fears are right, some fears are completely irrational. The third category consists of fears that have a good reason to exist, but still aren’t completely rational. I have discovered I have a few of those, so I decided to share them.

1. The fear that people won’t like me anymore if I haven’t spoken to them for a while

Most friends are still your friends, even when you haven’t spoken to them in a few weeks. That’s what I have discovered so far. You don’t need to talk to everyone daily in order to assure yourself that yes, he or she still likes you. But something deep inside wants to hear that every day, just to be sure.
Maybe it’s because of the saying ‘out of sight, out of heart’. Sometimes this is very true, and it’s completely understandable. Though your real friends remain your real friends, even when you didn’t see them so often. I’m well aware of this, and yet I still feel a sort of excitement when I start talking to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. Will they answer? Will they still like me? Or will they have realized that actually, I’m not at all that great?

2. The fear of ripping trousers

For those who know me, this has to sound quite amusing. I’m not what you call fat, at all. So why am I afraid of ripping my trousers?
Simply because it’s happened before. I managed to rip two pairs of trousers in quite a short time. You see, Belgium has this bike culture. For six years, five days each week, I drove my bike to school. This is of course not very good for trousers. They get rubbed against the saddle for 40 minutes every day. Eventually, the wear and tear will make them rip open.

But now I get to live with the fear of having that happen again. Even though I don’t have to drive my bike 40 minutes every day anymore. Here in Poland I don’t even have a bike. (Though I miss that already!) And yet, when I wear a pair of skinny trousers, I will avoid ‘dangerous’ movements.

3. The fear of burning everything down because of a plugged in charger

This is something I didn’t realize I have it, until I moved to Poland. It turned out that my friend/flatmate has no problems with letting her computer charge during the night, or with leaving adapters plugged in without the object that has to be charged. It freaks me out a little. Though someone assured us it’s no problem, I’m still not fond of seeing this. It makes me nervous. I don’t actually think it will burn the place down, but better safe than sorry, no? Also, I once saw a warning on tv about chargers. If they get broken due to being carried around, it can cause some trouble. Then my very own charger decided to freak out. So since that moment I want to be close when something is charging, and I never leave stuff charging during the night, and barely ever when I’m not at home. You just never know. It’s better to not trust things too much, in my opinion.

So, that’s the confession for today. What are your irrational fears?

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.

But there was good stuff too

Things never really go like you expect them to go. And yet it’s hard to tell yourself this when you don’t know what is about to come. As I told you, I was really scared of staying in Belgium this semester, because most of my friends would be gone, and I was afraid of having no one around to talk to, no one to go have a drink with, no one to just have around. In my mind I made up the worst scenarios, of course.

But things never really go as you expect them to go. In the end, it turned out to be above all a semester full of work, so much work, but not so much loneliness at all.
We were actually with five people of my year left in Belgium, of which four girls. Since we were kind of pushed into spending all this time together, we actually became good friends. In the past two years we could always have a chat, but now there was no chance of forming a group and sticking to it. So suddenly we got to know each other a lot better, and that was great. We went to dinner together sometimes, went to the movies, we made the best of our little group.
With one of them I went for a drink every now and then.  She’s the kind of person you can talk and talk with, and you know she will never tell anyone what you told her. Those evenings we spent in cafes were so much fun. And perhaps the best thing is that normally, we will go to Russia together next year. Having had this semester together made our friendship grow, so going to Russia next year is something to look forward to even more now!
So being part of this little group suddenly gave the opportunity of getting to know the other better, and it turned out very well.

Next to that I ended up renting a room which I very much liked (and like, still). Not only because of the location, but also because of the people living there as well. I got along very well with the girl living in the room under mine. She would sometimes just knock on my door to chat, or we would go eat in the kitchen together. I had two boy sliving next to me, both very kind boys, but one of them in particular became a good friend. I got the habit of knocking on his door every evening (if he was there, of course), so we could talk a little, or watch something on YouTube, and that would clear my mind so I could go to sleep without thinking of my assignments or how to translate a certain phrase, or when to translate part 10 – 20 of a book.

It’s incredibly nice to have people around so close, with who you can always go have a chat, or who will accompany you if you’re going to eat in the kitchen (there’s a common kitchen for all of us). Having all these people around made these months so much better. Of course there were still some other friends and my brother around, but these people were unexpected, and much closer since I had class with them or lived in the same house as them.

This was not the hell I expected it to be, thank god. It still sucks that I had to stay, I missed my friends, and we had so much work to do, but in the end I’ve made some great memories this semester as well. There was a dark side, but also a big bright side that I enjoyed a whole lot. This might just be a good reminder that wherever I go, I’m likely to meet new friends, and that things aren’t always as terrifying as they may seem. Huzzah 🙂

Taking the award, ignoring the rules

It doesn’t happen everyday, getting an award. I remember that when I first started blogging, I so enjoyed those. They showed you you were doing a good job. These days I’m less focused on more readers, more views and more awards, but I still like to be awarded, of course.
Now I’m not the best one at taking them. Something I just thank you and don’t post about it – it’s nothing personal, I just kind of forget about it, and I believe I’ve awarded almost all of my blog friends six times already at least – so the need to pass on the awards is not so big anymore. Still, I appreciate each and every compliment you give me, because I’m an attention whore, truth be told.

When I have run out of inspiration and I see someone is giving me interesting questions to answer though, I can give in to the award-craziness, which will happen now. I would like to thank Osyth once more for nominating me this time! If you are interested in more Russia, certainly check out her blog. It’s what got me into hers, and it’s definitely worth a read.

Of course, I’m still a rebel, so I’m not playing this by the rules. I nominate every reader of mine, but no one specifically. You know I like you! I’m not making up any questions either. I know, I know, how dare I?
But what I will do, is answer Osyth’s very interesting ones. So here we go!

  1. Why should people read what you write?
    Because I like to have feedback and response actually. And because sometimes I write interesting stuff – but above all because I tend to write better if I know people are reading.
  2. Fruit or cake?
    A cake with fruit? I like both… (Does this remind anyone else of Cake or death?)
  3. What is success?
    Success is getting what you want, whether it’s a grade or buying a house. It’s being happy – after all, that’s what we all strive for in the end.
  4. Advice to your 14 year old self
    Other people don’t always care about what you do, so do what you want. Don’t be afraid to be a little different, to have your own opinion, your own taste in things. In the end it will only make you feel better if you embrace these odd things about yourself.
  5. Favourite place on earth
    There are many places I can feel good – but I do want to return to Prague very, very much, because I remember it as a very nice place. Though I can also thoroughly enjoy a good bar for example, or a bed.
  6. Pictures or words?
    I’m better at words, and words for me can often do a little more than pictures. I like good photography as well, but give me a good book and I’ll be gone for longer than just a few minutes. I can express myself way better by words than by pictures too.
  7. If you could spend an afternoon with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
    This is a very hard question. In my current situation, I would like to spend my afternoon with my friends who are abroad at the moment. Sometimes I really, really miss them, and it would be nice to go for a drink with them.
  8. First love
    I’m not sure if I’m supposed to name a person, but I’m not going to do that. My first love is dance. I started dancing before I could properly read or write. I adore reading and writing, but dancing is something so necessary, something that lives in me, something that will never fully leave my body.
  9. Town or country?
    Town. I like nature and calm, but in the end I always need to see people, to feel like I’m surrounded by them. It takes away loneliness, even when I don’t talk to them. Just to know they are around is enough sometimes.
  10. The greatest invention of the last 100 years
    Maybe the Internet, if that counts? For making it possible to write this to you. For making music and information so close. Of course it’s also a curse, but it has very good sides.
  11. What is content?
    Content as in satisfaction – that would be this moment for example: looking forward to a nice evening. Doing what you want to do. Feeling loved. Feeling like you did exactly what you wanted to do. Finding the perfect shoes. A nice cup of coffee. A good song.
    There seems to a lot to be happy about, maybe it’s just because I’m in a cheerful mood 🙂

 

This was written yesterday, while looking forward to spending the night with a friend at a bar. It was a great night indeed, which helps a whole lot to be cheerful and positive in general. Maybe I should add to ‘what is content’ that going for a midnight snack (french fries) at 2 am is very satisfying.

So, that is as far as I will take this award. Thank you, Osyth, for the interesting questions! And feel free to answer these questions yourself in the comments – I’m curious as to what you guys would respond.

In a Safe Distance

I have come curiously close to the end, down
Beneath my self-indulgent pitiful hole,
Defeated, I concede and
Move closer
I may find comfort here
I may find peace within the emptiness
How pitiful

(Reflection, Tool)

I feel like this is going to be a sort of confession, starting with this somewhat weird quote from Tool. Why Tool? Because Tool is the kind of band that doesn’t only sing about love. Being the weird person I am, I need slightly weird lyrics to express the things I can’t find the right words for.

So.

The thing I’d like to say, is that I do find peace in emptiness. You know, the kind of emptiness when you’re not all too close to people. When there’s distance. I like distance, even with friends. I need to get away from them every now and then, just to become myself again, just so I don’t lose my mind. Let me give you an example. When you have this really close friend, and you’re watching a movie together or whatever, and suddenly the friend says: “You know, I fell in love with you as soon as I met you.”

Silence.

That’s the kind of moment when I just want to walk away, slowly, backwards. Let’s just pretend nothing’s happened, okay? Let everything just become normal again, like I want it to be. Great. Nothing’s happened. Nothing’s happened, goddammit.

Now, this didn’t happen to me, but perhaps it makes it easier to understand what I’m trying to make clear. The friend in this ‘story’ suddenly behaved different from what I expected and wanted. Even when people are annoying, I much prefer them to be annoying all the time, just because they are what they are supposed to be then. They are behaving normal. Normal is good.

And what about friends? It’s actually the same for them. Of course you know more about your friends and they know more about you, but it’s more fun when you both pretend like you don’t know all that. Which is a natural reaction, you can’t always think of everything the other person has told you once. But overall, they can’t come too close either. They should also be what you want them to be – their normal selves.

People say I’m introvert, but that’s just because of this all – I don’t want anybody to come so close. The less they know about me, the better. Of course you can’t hide everything, and friends are supposed to be there for you when there are problems and stuff. But they shouldn’t know everything. You are supposed to trust friends, I know, but it’s hard. Somehow I don’t trust people in general. They can smile at you one day and stab you in the back the next one. However much they say you can tell them everything, they might just laugh at you the next day. I don’t know. I have a hard time really trusting anyone. With some people it’s easier than with others, but still. Mostly I regret it when I open up my heart and say what is going on, what I really think.

Internet is different. I can say whatever I want here, because I won’t see anyone of you. There’s always the distance I need. We don’t run into each other every day. You can’t look at me and then think of what I said last night, last year, once. You only see the screen with my words. I only see the screen with your words. No real life dealing with each other. It makes it easier to speak my mind.

There’s a line no one should pass. I’m here in my own world and that’s fine. I don’t want company in here. I can deal with this myself. You can look through the windows and have a glimpse of what it’s like – but no more than that. You will have to leave me alone at times, you will have to accept that there will be moments I will talk less to you because you got to close. Deal with it. That’s how my mind works…

Slightly too late, but still: pie time!

I just got to realise today that I’ve been blogging for over a year now! Which I find a joyful thing actually. One year of sharing my thoughts and passions and overwhelming you with it. Endless posts on music and dance, a handful short stories, a thousand comments. But what has blogging really given me?

* Friends. I consider you to be friends – not the kind you go have a drink with, because of the lack of means, but still, you’re all a part of my life. And some of you are people I’d love to meet in real life, to have a drink with in real life. Really.

* Smiles. It happens quite often that my day’s nothing special, or even annoying, but then I see a nice comment or great post and then you make my day.

* A third place in a competition, a giant book, a nice bag, a great weekend, an amount of friends on Facebook. I won that third place with a story I wrote for this blog, and all the rest was a nice result of winning. I need people to read what I write, that’s the trigger for me to write, and you are the audience that make me type and eventually somehow become what I always wanted to become – a writer.

* The possibility to use my knowledge of English. I still make many, many mistakes, but I believe you all forgive me. I’m but a Dutch speaking girl after all…

* Knowledge about stuff. I can’t give an example right now, but I’m sure at least someone must have written something that made me smarter.

* Self confidence. Nothing boosts your narcissistic side as much as all the positive feedback you get. I loved your comments when I wrote my short stories, or when I was a bit down. You cheered me up. That is always nice.

On the other side, what has blogging taken from me?

*Lots and lots, by which I mean lots of time. Hours and hours, days even, and by now perhaps a month or so.

But that doesn’t really matter. If I couldn’t blog, I would be terribly bored sometimes. You keep me sane! That’s awesome! Maybe I thank you too often, I’m getting so cheesy lately… But here it is, for all of you sweet people (even the tough guys are sweet after all):

*THANK YOU AND A BIG HUG*

I’m heading for another year.

PS: I was just a witness to a fly at its last minutes. Now it’s lying dead next to me. A rather disturbing thought really.