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?

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:

First timers

I drove a car alone for the first time.

I slept at home (big home) alone for the first time.

I took a tram for the first time.

I have had a year at university without having to retake an exam for the first time. (It’s been my second year and last year I had to retake only one, but still.)

This feels like growing up!

Things I Learned When Going To University

Yesterday I hopefully had my last Bachelor exam in Belgium. Our system here works like this: three years of Bachelor, and then one or two years Master. Since I want to go studying abroad next year, I would do my third Bach year there.
It feels good of course to have finished all my finals. I’ve been working so hard since February to come to this point: no more exams! No more work for school! Freedom! Now I sit in my garden, typing this post, and I can, because there is nothing more I really have to do.

Yesterday we also emptied my room. Belgium is small enough for everyone to go home during the weekends, so so far I have lived in two places the whole time. From Monday to Friday I lived close to my university, and the weekends I spent at home. It is incredible though what you can put in a room so small… Students all live in small places, I had the luck of finding a big one, but I filled it for sure! I made it my mission to get as much stuff in boxes and bags before my dad would pick me up. I spent almost two hours cleaning my room… I didn’t realize how much I had there, and how much should have been thrown away ages ago. I found information about how the university works again… Only two years ago I started something so new and exciting, and there was still proof in my room. Proof of the time when I still needed maps and information. Next to that I found pages filled with words and their translation, words which I now often use.

Has university been what I expected? For the biggest part, yes. It meant freedom, it meant going out as long as you want, it meant exciting nights, booze and guys. This came at a moment when I really needed such a thing. I’ve told you more than once how I had enough of the rules at high school, and I found my life boring back then. That definitely changed when I started going out at university… It didn’t turn out that well all the time, but it gave me stories to tell. I like to have stories to tell. I’m still convinced that going to university came at the exact good moment and is the best thing I could be doing now.

Next to all the knowledge I gained in my classes, I did also learn a lot of other things. So, here’s a little list of Things I Learned When Going To University:

* Freedom! Freedom! I like freedom! And I don’t abuse it!
* Having an opinion of exactly one page.
* Cooking is way more about heating things up than about following the rules so the food won’t kill you. (Luckily I don’t eat chicken though.)
* Every day can be a good day to go for a drink.
* Guys can be assholes and/or cowards.
* I take the wrong decisions, but in the end I always make a good, important decision and all is well.
* When it’s fun, you should stay.
* Not everyone likes hygiene like I do. Unfortunately.
* Though water can sometimes be enough to clean things…
* You can always do more than you think – like reading ten giant books in 13 weeks.
* However hard you try to avoid it, bullshit will always be somewhere.
* But at university it’s less than in high school.
* I like water. Like, a lot. In high school we couldn’t drink during the classes. Then I went to university and now I carry a bottle of 1,5l with me almost all the time.
* I need food the entire time.Preferably every 30 minutes. Or else my stomach can revolt…
* Whatever I do, I need my breaks and relaxing. I can never keep on studying from 8 am until 11 pm without some distraction. I accept that.
* Mornings are just not my time. I mostly wake up for real in the evening, and then I feel like my day can finally start… I also accept this.
* Dancing and writing are real passions, like things I need, physically, mentally. I need to dance, I need to write. It keeps me sane and happy. It’s not just a hobby in some way…
* Make sure you always have some food at home.
* Food expires fast.
* I like freedom. I like the freedom to say that twice 😉

Now I feel like a new exciting part is coming up. I’m looking forward to going abroad. It’s terrifying and it freaks me out, but that’s exactly why I want to do it. Moving all my stuff out of that room felt calming in a way. Finally clean. And ready for a new episode. These two years have been fun, I cherish the memories, but I’m not longing to it. There will be something else.

And that feels awesome.

FAQ to the Slavic studies student

So, what are you studying?

Slavic studies. (Note: in Dutch it sounds more like ‘Slavistics’.)

Statistics? Really?

No, Slavic studies.

What is that? (with a confused voice)

Russian, Polish, the history, literature and so on.

Why have you chosen that? (with a ‘I don’t get it’ voice)

Because I thought it would be boring and nothing for me at all, that’s why.

What will you then, as a job? (with a ‘I don’t understand’ voice)

You guys always make it sound as if these are the most worthless studies one could do. There are many options, they told us, but they never really gave examples. But there is a future for us. Don’t look like you don’t believe it.

Say something in Russian!

Вы всегда хотите что мы говорим ‘что-то’ по русски…


A few weeks ago, I had a little crisis about my studies. I had been doing so many exercices I didn’t feel capable of, it was exhausting. And then it seemed as if something snapped. Last year I was so convinced that this was perfect for me, but now I wouldn’t understand that feeling anymore. It was tiring, boring, hard. Why was I doing this again? The point is that there is no real ultimate reason for me to do this. I don’t have a Polish granny nor am I born in Russia. It just sounded good. But is that enough? Plus: this year I’ve got some courses that aren’t really my cup of tea. IT for example. Drama. Just drama.
But by now I start to be proud of this again. It starts to be an important side of me again. Somehow, the snapped thing got together again. I’m not as convinced as I used to be, but at least I don’t tend to feel something closer to hate anymore. Which is good, I wouldn’t know what to do if not this… But it will be a hard, hard year. I seriously need to work a lot harder.
I’m too tired now though, because luckily I can still go out as well every now and then…

Here we are again

My second year of university just started and things are busy. It’s just the first week, so there’s not yet a routine I can count on. Next to that I’m stil figuring out some stuff (what courses will I take? how on earth can I write ‘š’ on the computer?) and so on.
O, and I’ve already made bad mistakes. Couldn’t have been different I guess… Here we are again.

But from now on I’m going to make good decisions, be a good student and think about the future and everything. It’s good to be back here though, because after having spent threee months at home, I feel a bit like this…


And whenever I feel too tired or whatever to have the energy to be a good student and person and to party, I just listen to this instant energy bomb.
Really. It wakes me up everytime again. Next to that we suspect a classmate of us failed a cass but got a good grade because of a mistake. Sabotage!

Not really looking back… only a little bit

You know that feeling when you leave the hotel room or the apartment of whatever you slept while being on a holiday? During your holiday it was full of clothes and towels and teeth brushes, but now it’s empty. Somehow you really want to go home, because home is good, but on the other hand, it was so good here… And still you just close the door behind you and you leave.
That was the feeling I had when I left the room I’ve been living in during the school year. This year has passed by so damn quickly. Mostly I promise myself not to look back, but quite a lot has changed and it’s almost impossible not to turn around once more. The best part of looking back is the fact that I liked this year. Not at all times, of course, but overall this year has been full of interesting stuff – going from Russian and Polish to going out ’till dawn. These studies are definitely ‘my thing’, which is a nice feeling, and going out in the city of my university is exactly what I always wanted it to be. A lot of places to go, each with their own style and music, a bunch of nice people of our age, and not caring about when to return home.

So the confession I have to make is that I’m going to miss it this summer. There’s a great chance I won’t find any work for these months, which means: less money and boredom. I really hope I will still find something, and if not – I’m screwed. Either way, even though it was stressful at times, and confusing and whatever, I will really miss being there, going out there, living there. Which means I’m looking forward to return, and that’s a good thing, right?

Yesterday I went out there for the last time this school year, and when I returned the sun had risen already, it wasn’t dark by far, and I was biking home with this great feeling of having had a great last night now. It was a great ending to this year, better than I expected.

So I’m not really looking back this hard. I’m just being happy with the decisions I have made in general. I only want to ask one thing of you: please stay with me this summer, in case I go insane because of the isolation. Next to that I wish you all a great summer!

Biking home this morning didn’t look like this by far, but it kind of felt like it was me on that horse. Because exaggerating is an art!

In case of nonsense, break rules

(Did I say the sun had returned? I was wrong. It’s been snowing more than ever happened this year now. Sigh.
It could make me go all sad again, but I’m a strong and independent woman so I’m still pretty ok. After all I got the helix, so my life is like complete. I GOT IT. It’s still hard to believe sometimes. I had the guts to do something that is for forever and ever? Seriously? But yes, I did have the guts. Ow yeah.)

I just said my life is complete. Well, that’s not really true. Life can never be complete and perfect and stuff, we all know that, but it can come closer than you thought was possible. If I forget the crappy snow and the running-over-the-same-old-ground (which causes doubts, but nothing worse than that), my life is pretty cool at the moment. School’s going well, I have awesome friends, good music, nice clothes and so on. University seems to be good for me. I realised I no longer feel like very upset or frustrated or sad anymore. I can put thing into perspective, which I believe is very important to become happy, or at least at ease with life.

So, you’d think I live a good life now. Well, think again. One of the things that caused me to be seriously frustrated in high school, was the amount of nonsense we had to swallow all the time. There was nonsense everywhere. Stupid rules, stupid people, stupid subjects. Useless subjects. I mean, I’m interested in quite some things. Even maths and physics. In a measure, that is. As soon as it goes too far, I loose my attention. But okay, that’s just what you deem ‘interesting’. There were a lot of things that

Look at the hair! Look at it! It’s AWESOME.

were completely useless though. We had a subject called ‘religion’, and it was complete bullshit. We didn’t even really talk about religions or something. We talked about Jesus’ anatomy…

Next to that, we got a lot of assignments that lead to nothing at all. You had to spend hours to get them done, and they were so useless… It pissed me off. I can’t stand useless things. Especially during the last year of high school it made me go insane. During that period I started listening to more punk music. Thinking about it now, it seems very logic. Rebelling against the standard.

I thought university would change that, and it sort of did. I firmly believe it’s one of the things that made me happier here: less useless stuff, a destination to go to, not just random walking. I barely have anything to do that doesn’t seem to have use. I’ve got a lot to do, I’ve got a lot of vocabulary to learn, but in the end it will help me to speak Russian and Polish. It all has a reason.

No, not all. Because during these months, we’ve got a course of philosophy…

And we’re starting all over again. Thinking about life is good, too much thinking is useless and demotivating. Especially in combination with difficult words (with way easier synonyms!), it pisses me off to the point of not being able to listen or study this. My brain goes like ‘nope – useless’ and goes running around on green fields in the sun. Seriously. I don’t want to waste time on this… I mean, Internet is often useless as well, but that’s a different kind. Stop following me with obligatory nonsense and I’ll be very happy again. Until that day, you’ll keep seeing me pissed off.

And with a punk haircut. Promised.

As my name starts with an ‘A’, this was my ‘signature’ for when an assignment made no sense.

How do you handle obligatory useless stuff? Do you become a rebel or do you just do what you’ve got to do? Will you scream for anarchy or obey all the rules and swallow it all?

Who’s that girl living here?

Who’s that girl who lived here? Who’s that girl who bought those books and read them – over and over? Much like the magazines? They’re piled up in a corner of the room. Does she still read them? And there. Who’s the girl who collected those things? The gems (woaw, pretty) and the little stuff, figurines, stones, shells. Who’s that person with the pink curtains and that bed? Let alone that writing desk? Did she write these diaries and poems? Truly?

What kind of person is that?

And those CD’s, those clothes, even the wall paper. What am I supposed to think when I see this? Is this really representative for her character? Imagine the person living here. With a family. Being at ease in this place, being herself here. Knowing this room all too well and liking everything in it. The jewels she’s much attached to. Carefully chosen and bought, often worn. The pictures on the wall. They’re nice, yes. I admit that. The sheets on the bed. Just everything. I walk around here and wonder who she is. What she thinks. Would I like her?

I open the door, the door she has to know so very well. I walk down stairs. The carpet she’s seen since she were born and came to live here. The steps. The lamps. I open the door to the kitchen, something she must have done a thousand times already. Her family is seated there. One empty chair.

And I walk straight to it, going the same way since ever, and sit down on that chair.  I sit there, as always, eat together with my family, looking outside to the sight I’ve always seen.

And I wonder how much I’ve changed in such a short period of time…

One day we’ll be old…

This song below was quite a hype here at the start of my life at university. That’s only about two months ago, but it feels like ages. How young was I back then… Eightteen in fact, just like now. But it was just the start of the schoolyear, and I couldn’t know what was about to happen. By now I feel at home in my room in that city far far away from my home. I’m used to life there, and it is a good life for sure. I can’t remember much empty Thursday nights. Everything went even better than expected. Everything went great.
But now I sort of feel like I’ve lost it. Of course, my life will still be good and nice and everything, but the people you spend your days with can really change things. If you don’t see them anymore, if they won’t be around anymore, life won’t be as much fun as with them around.
I try to be rational about these things, I don’t want to return to my old, dramatic self, and yet sometimes I really need to let go of these sort of thoughts. Life will be different! Will it ever be as fun as it was again? Will there be people like you around? Are you a condition for good times?
Let’s hope everything remains its good self. Let’s hope I can tell lots of good stories when I’m old. I’m working on it, but it could be better. There could be more stories, better stories. For years I haven’t had a much exciting life. But maybe this is as exciting as my life will get.
One day we’ll be old. Time goes really fast, I can feel it already. I don’t want to miss chances. I just want to be young and spend my time with friends, doing things I like. Like everyone else in fact. Give me stories. Give me people. Give me those nights I start to miss so hard…