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Last Christmas

“Is this your first warm Christmas?” a Guild member asked me. “Yes, it is”, I answered and thought of last year, when I was freezing to death in Vienna. What a contrast with my current situation where even jandals are unnecessary – barefooted is the way to roll. For one moment I thought I was back in Tonga but no, good old Auckland it is. You can feel your skin getting sunburned: putting your hand outside is enough. But that doesn’t mean it will be a bad Christmas. Despite the lack of Christmas songs I hear on the radio – mainly because I don’t have one – or the effort the 5 meter tall Santa tries to create which flaunts on the corner of Victoria and Queen Street: I cannot grasp this year’s jolly Christmas feeling. I pass this Santa everyday – and sometimes in the night. He looks down on the people in the streets, accompanied with his reindeer and presents. All this doesn’t work. Neither does the singing show window -really?- of a luxurious warehouse bring me in the right mood.

I’ve never been much of a Christmas person but that doesn’t mean I completely banish the feast. The evenings we spent as a family around the fireplace, reading books. The delicious bread my dad and I used to make around this time. It does bring up some warm feelings. Even the memory of our – REAL- Christmas tree of which the lights turn on/off whenever you make too much noise: it does make me feel a bit sentimental. We always tended to fight about how you are supposed to decorate it: lights-streamers-baubles vs. lights-baubles-streamers? I’m a proponent of the former one, since it decreases the change of breaking the baubles when you hang up the streamers. Unfortunately, my dad thinks differently.
What else are we usually doing for Christmas? Did I mention the annual fights during the Catan and the Top2000 in the background? That was so much fun – especially because I won most of time. Secretly I enjoyed the Christmas song we sang on the market square in Elburg on Christmas eve – although it was freezing cold.

But this year is different. Not in the sense that I’m not in Holland -again- but that I’ve a warm and humid Christmas, wearing a summer dress and jandels instead of winterboots and a scarf. I won’t be bothered with blue toes/noses/fingers. I won’t fall of my bike because of the icy roads. However, in return, I won’t experience the real Christmas feeling. I can’t go ice skating in the polder. Santa Claus wearing a woollen Santa hat and big black boots doesn’t make much sense when it is 25 degrees. On the other hand, I’m treated with sunshine, a light breeze and a gin-tonic. I missed out on Sinterklaas but this year’s Christmas is here to make it up. Well if you could excuse me, I’m off to decorate my palm tree.

 

 

Christmas

My sincere apologies for not having blogged for half a year now. I was too busy studying and too pre-occupied with fun activities such as finishing my internship at the Dutch embassy in Berlin, a trip to Belgium for a Nexus-weekend (I still owe Maastricht-Students an introduction to the Maastricht fraternity life), a visit to my sister who’s was doing an Erasmus in Paris (I got halfway writing a blog about that, but then I dropped the project), several international dinners with the fellow Public Policy students, a trip to the Christmas market in Aachen, my Bachelor graduation and the fancy Nondejuke Lustrum-gala afterwards, which I took my other sister to (think white tie in a castle, live music and open bar) and plenty of nights of the good-old getting shitfaced with either the Nexus guys or the ESN crew, to write about all these experiences. Read more

Christmas in North-America

Well yeah, I was slightly surprised when last week suddenly everything here was decorated in Christmas style. Light chains were put on trees, the stairway on Mont-Royal is decorated with Christmas tree decoration and in malls they play Christmas music. And when it started last week, it wasn’t even the last week of November. So yeah, it was a little weird. Read more

In the bleak mid-November

You wake up in a freezing room to a dark morning, cycle through the fog/haze/spray/rain, probably encurring some degree of brain freeze and spend all the daylight hours doing something that exists only as a dull means to a menial end.  You pick up a microwave meal en route back to your cave and whack it in the microwave.  6 minutes later with your violently shuddering radiator dialled up to 5, your dinner is served. Honestly, when it’s out of it’s plastic container you seriously have to question whether it should be going in you or coming out of you. Read more

Christmas holidays

Whether you’re a Christian or not, Christmas is a holiday you celebrate with your family. But I didn’t. For the first time in my life I had decided to spend Christmas holidays away from home. A bold decision but I reckoned that my time in Vienna was too short to waste days on a travel back home.

This decision proved a bit too bold for my taste. The week before Christmas, after a bunch of goodbye parties, I started to realize that my best friends where leaving Vienna for good even before my last month here had begun. In a short period of time I had to say goodbye to some of my best friends and my semi-roommates, my prospects for a nice Christmas became almost as depressing as the tale of the little match girl.

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Jet Lagged and Back in Europe

Originally, I had my doubts about going all the way back to my small home town in Wisconsin for only a couple weeks over Christmas.  I kept thinking of how many places I could visit in Europe for the same cost of a ticket to the States, and my grandparents’ home in seemingly-close-by Stockholm was calling my way.  Really though, I have to admit that I was afraid being back in Spooner (yes, that is really the name of the town I come from) would make me just a little too comfortable, and that being home would make me remember all of the things I usually seem to have conveniently forgotten.

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Cultural differences: the Netherlands vs. Italy

After spending the past holidays with Suppo, his girlfriend Pia (yes, I was the awkward 3rd wheel), and his family in Sicily, I couldn’t help to notice a couple of differences between Italy (Sicily to be exact) and good old the Netherlands. Little note in advance, this piece covers Sicily and Maastricht, two very distinct parts of both countries. Let the culture clash begin.

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An ode to Glühwein

You are the Austrian/ German hot mulled wine that makes the cold cold Austrian winter much more bearable. Your delicious sweet spiced flavours cheer me up every time I drink You and the warm glow (where Your name is derived from, obviously) You leave in my body makes me forget not just the cold but all minor inconveniences bothering me, such as studying. Good thing they sell You at the entrance of the WU for just one euro and only two euros for a turbo turbo You (with the double shot of Stroh 80% rum in You), especially great since you can just finish one such a turbo turbo in a fifteen minute break from class. You make my life complete. When I drank the first hot sip of You standing under the beautifully lit trees in the park next to the Christkindlmarkt I felt pure joy, like a child I felt, and at that moment I realised that if there existed such a place called heaven You would be in it.
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About Complaining

Before you continue reading, I must state in advance that I am one of the most positive persons you would ever meet. For me, it’s all about looking at the bright side of things, but I have to apologize this time. It has been a long time since I have done this, but I need to complain about some things.

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