Advice from a Pumpkin

Hoi, alleman

Longest post yet incoming.

Tl;dr: I have a meta blog analysis. I make a Halloween reference. I made some friends. And I am starting to feel at home.

Sorry for a bit of a late update. I have been kept quite busy lately by the never-ending stream of readings and group-projects.  But, I have carved out some time to write this while procrastinating on everything else I ought to be doing. (:

The first order of business is a little ‘meta’– that is, referring to my own blog within my own blog.  But I think it is fairly important to say it as I have thought it. So, I apologize for the ‘inception-esque’ effect here.

Writing a blog is incredibly difficult.  Much more difficult than I would have originally thought. Not because of it being “time consuming” or technically challenging.  No. But because it requires to to be both introspective and objective about myself and my experience all at once.

It is hard to go back and re-read my previous posts without judging myself. And feeling the need to just erase it all and rewrite it more objectively, from the perspective I currently have. Because as quickly as things are changing all around me, I feel like I change just as fast.

But at the same time I feel that it is more authentic for me to keep them as they are written–Without the future me constantly “editing” the past me. I think this provides a better paper trail for growth, and at the end of my journey will be overall more rewarding. It’s a bit like carving a jack-o-lantern. When you mess up and cut one eye a little lopsided or not perfectly to how you envisioned it, you don’t just give up in throw away. You just do what you can, and accept it for what it is.

While it is definitely a challenge for me, I am trying to genuinely provide a look into how it feels to move to a different country alone and start anew.  Not just how it is.  And it is incredibly subjective and always able to change, but when I write it, that is how I feel it. And, maybe, someone who is in the same situation that I am will read my words and think, “hey. It’s OK to feel lost and alone and overwhelmed. You don’t have to be excited and adventurous and confident from the start”. Traveling abroad is all of those things, and then some. But it is very strange to literally watch all of the above happening to you through the course of a blog. Watching yourself grow, in a sense.

Mooovvviinnnggg on.

I have finally started to make some friends in the great country of The Netherlands!

*cue applause*

I will start to introduce the people I have met through the blog a few at a time.  Perhaps one day I will even make it through the entire program of people!  But I hate to write about people I have not yet gotten a good enough chance to know, so I will work my way through them as I am able to learn more about them.

First up on the list is the marvelous Marloes (pronounced “Mar-loose”). (see potato-quality photo below).  I have mentioned a couple of times in the past about some of the advice gained from the other Dutch PSTS students here, and she is the source of most of that haha.  She is an incredibly strong and compassionate individual.  And in all honestly, I feel like she would fit perfectly into my family. For those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting any of my family’s matriarchy, you definitely know that my granny, my adopted granny, my mom, and my sis are some of the most vibrant, strong-spirited, and caring women you will ever come across. And I am incredibly grateful to have met someone over here that shares many of those awesome qualities with them. I will always be one to say that the world needs women with strong hearts and bold minds; it is always a boon to have their company on any journey.

Second of which is Mees (pronounced more like “maize” with a soft z sounding like “mace”).  Also a native of The Netherlands.  He has provided me with a plenty fair share of advice about life here as well, but has also played a large role in bringing me “up-to-speed” with making friends and getting to know people better.  I feel like I have gotten to know many other students from the PSTS program better thanks to the fun little “events” he comes up with. And I’ve learned how to play some new games and appreciate old ones just a bit better.  Though he is highly critical and observant about the world around him, he has a good heart and is remarkable at interacting with other people.  He has also kindly volunteered his oven to the making of an American-style pumpkin pie. So, be sure to stay tuned for that adventure.

Last of this post, but certainly not least is Pati. Pati is an engineer from Mexico.  She was one of the very first people I met when I moved here, as a part of the international student welcome fest thing. Though I know her probably the least well of the people I consider to be friends, I honestly feel like I know her better because of her blog.  Pati is a phenomenal writer.  Not  just through style or whatever. But because her writing has a honest fire to it.  She is incredibly passionate about life, and has such a genuine presence around people. She is very good at making people feel… noticed? acknowledged? I’m not quite sure how to put it. But Pati is one of those people that make you feel “there” when she is talking to you. An incredibly rare and interesting quality to find in someone, but it is such a engaging part of her character.

Alright. So. There are a few of my classmates/friends! Like I said, far from everyone in my class. But I am hopeful I will have more to write on others as I get to know them.  There is still plenty of time. But this is a good way to feel like I’m “introducing” them to everyone back home, like I would when I lived there.  Though I can’t bring people to show them Pumpkinfest or play cards with my grandparents, I will attempt to give a small glimpse into what makes them so neat on here.

Next topic.

Last weekend I was actually able to go out into the city and hang out a little bit.  Marloes was kind enough to invite me to come have some drinks and see her boyfriend Stefan and his band play in the city of Enschede. Which ended up being great time.  There were mobile classrooms for science week, an interactive art exhibit, and a ton of people out enjoying the experience. Marloes and I also found some Gluhwein (what I make at the holidays with red wine, orange, cinnamon, and brandy) to drink. It reminded me a lot of home and enjoying it with my family during the holidays.  Overall an excellent night.

This week has been filled with lots of reading on Nietzsche and “being human”, Wittgenstein and language frameworks, social construction of technology, and a dip into artificial intelligence and philosophy of the mind with Searle.  And Marloes and I are gearing up for our next group project on actors, networks, and technology.

Wish us luck as we survive the next few weeks with lots of coffee, existential dread, and laughter as we approach the quarter’s finals.

Tot de volgende keer.

PS. Here is a nice picture of a storm I caught from my backyard and Marloes and I enjoying Saturday night’s drinks and music!

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