Second Winter

Being from Texas I never thought I would ever hear myself say, “I wish it would stop snowing.”

Coming from the south where it’s hot all year round, where cold to us is when the temperature is 50 (Fahrenheit) or below and snow is extremely rare, I was almost looking forward to getting to experience an actual winter and have a little bit of fun playing in the snow. I had no idea what I was getting wishing for. Read more

Cinematics

We were guided to a room that resembled a small cinema. The lights were dim, just like before they play the movie. In front of us appeared an older man, not very tall and wearing quite well a septuagenarian belly. He made no use of the microphone and he avoided being at the desk as much as possible and instead he walked up and down and, in his way, talked to each of us and infected us with his enthusiasm.He talked about movies and the magic that they hide and after 2h and 15 minutes, that went by unnoticed, he felt like he could still talk for hours and he just stopped because he had to. And above all, what better day to discuss movies than Tarantino’s 50th anniversary. Read more

A guide to the economic crisis

john-lanchester-whoopsMuch to my shame, I’ve found my economic training to be close to useless when trying to understand what’s going on with the economy. It’s like all those micro- and macro- and finance classes went in one ear and out both of them; news reports made no sense and neither did the buzzwords thrown around in dinner discussions. “Housing market bubble”, “USA’s debt to China”, “toxic assets” – what now?

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A story about ponies

The Dutch seem to enjoy making something out of nothing. Their lack of mountains and unreliable snowfall, for example, doesn’t prevent them from creating an indoor slope. But then again, we are speaking of a country that’s half stolen from the sea. Half of its windmill-laden rolling fields were ocean floor some time ago. Let that thought sink in, lame pun intended.

So, then, why shouldn’t Maastricht have a City Polo Tournament? No fields or arenas? No problem, City Hall must have thought, as they poured truckloads of sand into the Vrijthof. So that’s why I ended up freezing in the stands last Saturday, waiting for my first polo match ever.  The games were part of the TEFAF art fair and the local team played against Mercedes Benz in a two-a-side game that turned out, to my surprise, to be rather exciting.

Now, I know absolutely nothing about polo, except that it involves people on horses hitting a smallish ball with long stick-type things. So I can’t really tell whether the game was objectively great, but I sure did enjoy it. The four guys were all over the field, showing awesome control of their horses and, you know, the stick-type thingies. The British commentator was cracking joke after joke, calling the horses “ponies” for some reason and keeping the crowd as alive as possible. (My personal favorite line was bitching about the location. “Why do you guys have two churches next to each other? I mean, I can understand eight bars in a row…”) As for the crowd, it was rather frozen at first, but livened up as the match progressed, cheering and stomping for Maastricht City as they held their own against the opponents.

We lost, apparently, and my budding fever didn’t let me stay for the rematch. But it was crazy interesting to watch. Now, if the weather finally realizes it’s spring, maybe we’ll see water polo at the Vrijthof soon.

Exam time

Another day at the library. I’m becoming a piece of furniture between the four high walls of the building at the Grote Looiersstraat. I’m here to prepare for my upcoming exam. The only physical exercise consists of walking up and down the stairs to print, drink coffee, get something to eat or to read. Read more

Good Idea

 “I’ll tell you what you did wrong”, hissed the woman, “you screamed in front of the children! That is just bad! You behaved like a child!”
The man, obviously not impressed by the speech his wife just gave him, nodded.
This train journey from Amsterdam – Maastricht, was going to be a long one.
Hmm hmm, anything else I did wrong?” he responded with a calm voice.
Yes! You did..”, the woman suddenly stopped talking and stared at her daughter. She looked at her mother with big eyes.
Can I have my toooooooy?”
How could she refuse this?

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Reviving the gentlemen’s club

We all should know pictures like the one on top of this post. A gathering of great thinkers who, besides looking like bosses, discuss the big problems of society. Although I do not qualify myself to be on the same intellectual levels of the great thinkers, I would love to partake in one of these mind-stimulating get-togethers. The question that remains is obvious: is there a future for it? Read more

Sleepless nights in Maastricht

This issue has been eating away at me since I got here. I have been struggling with one particular fact: where do students disappear at night? Read more

City story

At the bottom of the Netherlands’ southernmost province, Limburg, Maastricht is gem of cobble streets studded at its corners with warm pubs and bakery’s. Read more

Cheers!

Guess what’s in my drinking cup!” A 4 year old girl stand in front of me. Emma looks at me with her big blue eyes, filled with expectation, like I’m going to preform some kind of magic trick. In fact, the only thing I do is naming all the drinks I can imagine. It’s a simple game which I once started as a joke. But it works; children like it and they tend to drink more. Read more

Why my semester abroad in San Diego sucked

So a couple of weeks ago I came back from my semester abroad. Never in my life have I been this happy about returning to Europe, and I didn’t think I would ever qualify as a person that wanted to leave their exchange destination. Especially when said destination is San Diego, CA. Read more

Surviving The Trains

Michael’s red jacket and pack flashed in and out the crowd as he bulleted around each person. Craning my neck while avoiding a confused man to my left, I attempted to keep him in my sight. We were all together in this, running for our lives to make that train connection with one minute left on the analogue clock above me. Read more

Another ordinary visit to the supermarket

Last Friday I visited the supermarket. As a willing contributor to Dutch economy and my own fridge I entered the shop not knowing that I was soon to be confronted with some deep thoughts on society. As I stood before the fruits and vegetable section question number one arose: should I buy the cheap or fair trade bananas? I wondered whether fair trade is really a product of fair trade, whether buying expensive fair trade bananas would make a difference at all. Eventually I compensated the cheap bananas for fair trade coffee pads. Read more

The silver lining

(No, not the movie which, irreverent truth be told, didn’t captivate me half as much as it did Academy Awards decision makers.)

The last few weeks took me on an emotional roller-coaster. Between being rejected for jobs, stressing over school-work and the worryingly slow progress of my thesis, missing friends and hating the moody weather, I thought I deserved to mope and whine about every little thing that did not go according to plan. But as I was fighting the resurrected snow on my way home today, I wondered: what if I shouldn’t complain?

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Winter Vrijthof

Breakup letter

Dear Winter,

With this letter, I am going to be really honest with you.

After (almost) 5 months, I have to say, I don’t think our relationship will work out. I have several reasons for that, which I’ll explain to you, one by one. I hope you won’t be too upset.

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Maastricht’s students are not ready for the new Muziekgieterij

It seemed like after the Muziekgieterij was shut down last year despite the voice of politely protesting students, many of us had eagerly anticipated the re-opening of Maastricht’s unique alternative club at the new location at Boschstraat. The Bruis Festival promised two days of cultural entertainment for young people like us, with an international lineup with promising bands, some of which I am sure will play arenas in the UK or tour with Coldplay before too long. Some of them are already on the way with TOY and Fidlar playing SXSW in Austin, the ladder playing festivals with Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers this year. I Am Kloot from the UK played Glastonbury, Lowlands, and Pinkpop so having them in Maastricht was kind of a big deal. Read more

A Running Commentary

For whatever reason, when I arrived in Maastricht, I expected “running” to be a foreign concept. Perhaps this is because I had only previously run in the U.S. Perhaps my stereotype of a European involved more bicycle wheels than it did Nike shorts. In a way, I felt I was going to be smuggling the concept of “running” over the Atlantic Ocean and into the Netherlands. This, of course, is a ridiculous notion; however when I set out on my first exploratory jog, I expected numerous odd looks and stares. To my surprise and amusement, no one took notice. A few days later, on an early morning run, I even spotted a few other joggers.

Though completely the same activity here as it is back home, running in Maastricht has proven to be a unique experience. The brisk temperatures leave my legs icy, but shivering for longer distances. I get lost almost every time I set out with my tennis shoes amidst the uneven cobblestones and the winding roads. I feel a strange camaraderie with the bikes flying down the street. I’ve discovered anything from random giraffe statues and bridges to abandoned castles and dirt roads. Every running-related experience has proven to be an adventure.

Maastricht7_a_1

Running has become several things for me while in Maastricht.

Running is a familiar activity… something that hasn’t changed from my “normal” life across the pond.

Running is a stress reliever when due dates and computer screens need to be left behind.

Running is an adventure and a way to explore this new city I now call my home.

 

Kelsey YanduraAbout the author:

My name is Kelsey Yandura, and I’ve been infused with a wanderlust that can’t be suppressed. I have basic facts like everyone else (21 years old / English major / Baylor University / Texas, USA / likes peanut butter). I’m in Maastricht from February-April, and I hope to soak up as much as I can. Forgive my ramblings.

Brain Porn

The current course in my specialization of Arts&Culture called Brainspotting. It is about contemporary perspectives on the mind and body. We talk about the philosophical sides (naturalism, materialism) but also about the social and cultural frameworks of depression and autism.

This week, we had a workshop about neuroscience and how misconceptions are created through miscommunication and/in the media (neuromyths). A lot of things are published which just sound ridiculous. For example: “The Trick to Winning the Nobel Prizes: Drink Milk!” (Newser.com). The website has as the ironic subtitle:“Read less, know more”. Or: “A Broken Heart Really Does Hurt (The Telegraph). You can find this Captain Obvious and a lot of others all over the web. Just type in “brain scans” on news websites, and you will be thrilled of what you will find. My teacher calls it “Brain porn”.

This made me think about the well known book 50 Shades of Grey. And yes, I’ve read it and no, it is not that shocking. In the context of the neuroscience, we can translate it to “50 Shades of the Grey Cells. Instead of latex, it is the prefrontal cortex which turns you own and according to another headline: sex may relieve migraine…

Since our society is based on sharing knowledge, my grandmother thought it would be good if I read the book as well. I had no choice; she can be very dominant, you know. In any case, there was no way out of it. I don’t know what she thought. Maybe: what’s learnt in the cradle lasts till the tomb, but than I could never, ever, look to my granny again. There is a claim spooking around saying “use it or loose it”, but I don’t think she thought that either.
A.Moraal wrote in the Observant (nr. 23), that she refused to read the book, just because her mother gave it to her (and I have to agree with her); it is traumatizing, thinking of that your mother read it and above all, enjoyed it. If I was in the same situation, I would not even dare to touch the book at all. But in this case, it was my granny who exactly told me, in very calm and down-to-earth-tone: “Oh well, it was a cute story, but that’s it. I guess I’ve read too much already to be shocked”. I was not shocked with that answer; at least she didn’t used the word experience. Since my granny is 85,  I think she knows what she is talking about. Wisdom truly does come with the years.

But, when she gave me the book, she asked my if I could give it to my mother when I finished it. I did what she told me, but still, I don’t want to know if my mum enjoys the book or not. At least, I don’t want to talk with her about all the details. If so, I’ll join A.Moraal in a brain scan, to determine how psychologically traumatized we are.

 

Setting the stage

Once we introduce ourselves we set the stage for others to characterize us.

This year I more than once had the opportunity to set the stage. I introduced myself in various social settings and thereby had the opportunity to show them my character, my performance and surroundings. It would be no Shakespearean tragedy or Becketts nihilism but some mix of comedy, romanticism and art house. Read more

The Maastricht Syndrome

The Maastricht Syndrome describes a lasting, location-dependent sexual low which is supposedly caused by external factors such as stress, work overload, lack of potential sex buddies or other turn-off forces linked to the environment. The Maastricht Syndrome is named after a town in Limburg in the Netherlands where it has been experienced by generations of students. Sexual frustration is generally associated with the Maastricht Syndrome. ( http://www.urbandictionary.com )

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“Intro” blog

I have been asked to write an “Introduction blog” before I start with the ‘real’ stuff. Some people find it quite easy to talk about themselves; they can tell great stories about their lives, including their pets (usually dogs or cats) and hobbies ( “Oh my god! I loooooove baking cupcakes!”). Read more

Getting around without getting lost

It’s been about a month since I left my home in Texas to study abroad in Maastricht. Through this program, I’ve had the chance to visit some amazing countries and meet a lot of interesting people. However, I realized that I never took the time to explore Maastricht. In fact, the only places I can get to without getting lost is the Albert Heijn that’s located next to the guesthouse, the CES building and Vrijthof Square. But why is that? You would think that after being in a city for a month, I’d be a pro at getting around, right? Read more