This girl. Let’s call her Amy. I know her for over 10 years. We are friends on all social media. Sometimes we like each other’s stuff. We used to hangout a lot. We used to hug, drink coffee together, sport together.
We haven’t spoken together for five years now. Sometimes I think about her. I know how she is doing. She took a completely different path in life. Not a bad path, just different. It’s a path that makes HER happy and that’s what matters.
I often wish we continued our friendship. Because she is a beautiful soul. I like beautiful souls. I like people that are good in heart and that I can have a good laugh with. But we have let it go too far.
This is the worst kind of state. Dwelling on your past friendships, when you know that each of you have moved different directions in life. If we met now, we would have nothing to talk about. And I am so sad, because I just hate letting go of people. But I guess it’s the right thing to do. Realising that certain people are not meant to stay in your life. And just let go.
Read at least 1 book per month Atm reading my 1st book, which is called The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal. It’s genius and I love it! A lot of advices supported by scientific research. Getting back to reading with my attention span of 5 secs was difficult, so I first started with finishing reading Hunger games to ease myself in this whole book situation. But it was not really necessary, this book is great!
Exercise at least 3 times per week
I actually exercise every day right now because I am following a Blogilates monthly plan, but after I finish it, exercising 3 times a week seems to be more realistic. Not sure what I will do though. I am considering picking up running again, even though I dread it so much. Pro tip from a Unilever recruiter: companies love active people! Not only you can participate in team building better, but it also shows your determination and strength. And strong body = strong mind, heh?
Meditate 5 mins per day This sounds perfectly ridiculous to me, or it used to. However, it seems to be the best way to relieve stress, anxiety and most importantly, it helps you concentrate and focus. Which is important for me. As you know, I might have a mild version of ADHD. To my shame, I have only been meditating ONCE since the start of 2016. I might create a vision board or smth to help me. Do those things even help? Hm.
I’ve always been close to my mom. Typical Asian family, you’d say. What might make our relationship special is that she underwent a heart transplantation when I was 9, blood cancer when I was 16 and leiomyoma removal surgery when I was 20. She takes about 10 types of medicine everyday at the moment, including antidepressants, has migraines, sleeping problems and back problems.
So naturally, she was always home with me because she was not able to work anymore. At the age of 9, I had no idea what are the consequences of a heart transplantation. All I knew was that I could no longer have a pet because my mom’s immunity system was weakened. As I got older and taller, my mom seemed to get smaller and smaller. I slowly started realising that my mom is a little fragile human and that she could pass away any day. I was trying to suppress that thought. And I was good at it.
I never told any of my friends about my mom’s condition. I would start crying whenever I started talking about it. Heck, I’m even crying now as I type this. However, not so long ago I’ve learned it’s a crucial part of me that I need to stop avoiding.
So, my mom was home every day. I got used to that quickly. I’m naturally a quiet person just like my mom. Our typical conversation wouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. It was very silent at our home, especially when she had headaches. We knew we loved each other, don’t get me wrong. But somehow I started taking her presence for granted. There was not so much to talk about. And right now, I just I wish we talked more about the little things.
Fast forward, I was going abroad for my exchange semester. I was used to not seeing my mom for a month or so and 5 months is not forever. Right now it has been 2,5 months of my exchange. We chat, whatsapp or skype with my parents about three to four times a week. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes, sometimes it’s 30 minutes. And I realised something. Of course, long-distance couldn’t break us. Nothing break Asian family’s bounds. But I did not expect the distance to make our relationships stronger. We actually talk now. About the little things. I told them how I set my boyfriend’s kitchen on fire, how I bought new raincoat or even how my butt is getting firmer from biking. They tell me how they feel, what they are working on right now. That’s the things we would not discuss if we were living in the same household.
Sometimes it’s good to take a break from each other. Look at things from distance.
Does the same apply for romantic relationships? It’s funny, but even though me and my boyfriend are together for almost 5 years, I can’t say for sure. Ironically, sometimes it’s short-distance that breaks people, not long-distance.
On August 17th I flew to the Netherlands as a part of my exchange programme within CEMS – International Management. We could pick 8 schools we would like to do our exchange at – of course Rotterdam was my first choice. I was quite lucky to get the spot, one of my friends ended up in a school he did not list at all.
Of course, first thing I got myself was a bike. I got it even before I found my room, which is a bit crazy. There is a huge demand for bikes, but even bigger for rooms. I love my bike! It really is the most convenient way of transporting yourself in Holland. I’m thinking of getting myself a bike in Prague too… my butt is getting extra firm, haha!
Many people told me Rotterdam is an ugly city… and it is true. But what really drives me crazy is the weather here. Since I arrived, there is no week without rain. Sometimes it would rain for 5 minutes and then get sunny for 5 minutes, on repeat. Once it caught me when I started biking to school and because I live 4 kms away, I had little pools in my converse shoes and my sweater was dripping. Worst day ever!
On the other hand, when it gets sunny, it has some charm to it. I love watching/walking/biking the Erasmus Bridge. Although there is a little hill and I always get ridiculously exhausted and I breath like an asthmatic there. There’s just something awesome about bridges – Golden Gate Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Charles Bridge..
When in Holland – visit Belgium! I can’t stress that enough. I have visited The Netherlands many times – Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, Breda. And probably my favorite place is the city lying at the border with the Netherlands – Antwerp. We went there one sunny weekend with my boyfriend and his papa en mama. They think it’s gezellig and I love shopping. My favorite shops there are definitely Brandy Melville, Jutka&Riska and a second-hand called Think Twice.
Also, they have the best waffles in the world.
Back to Rotterdam, eventually, I found myself a room. I was really lucky, found a great roommate and the location of the place was perfect. What was my surprise when 3rd day, after I moved in, someone put a letter underneath my door. It was addressed to a previous tenant. Apparently, this woman owed someone 2000 euros and they wanted it back. On the letter it stated: “We’ll come with police and a lock-man and we’ll take your stuff.” Signed by those Hollywood-like gorillas. It scared the crap out of me. Especially because the previous tenant was a Chinese woman and you know, if they come and see me, another Asian, they will just assume it’s her! I was really worried.
I ordered my boyfriend (who doesn’t like bothering people even though it’s their job to be bothered) to call those gorillas. The woman on the phone was pretty pissed. Apparently, this debt goes back to 2012 and she has been sending the letters for at least a year. However, the people who lived here before me, just kept ignoring them and were throwing them away because at that time, there were no threats written on the envelopes. They told me to call my rental agency. So my BF called them. They told me it’s not their job and to sort it out myself (in case you are wondering, it’s Stadswonen). They kindly told me to go to a city hall of Rotterdam and announce there that miss Xu no longer lives at my apartment. So my boyfriend had to call the city hall. There they said: “You have to get a BSN number first to get an appointment to start an investigation. BSN’s a citizen number. But we are full for those appointments, sorry.” So we decided to go to Breda (1 hour away by train), where we knew officers in city hall basically have all the time to think of meaning of the life and whatsoever. The woman there was really nice. She calmed me down and told me to send back the letters I have received with “return to the sender” written on it. Also she gave me my BSN number.
So with a BSN number, we set up an appointment in Rotterdam city hall. I had to wait for a week. And every single day I was worried that when I come home from school, there might not be anything in my room anymore. I mean, I know there wasn’t much but there was my pineapple lamp I was emotionally attached to and also my awesome Jeffrey Campbell shoes. Do they take such stuff? Anyway, on the day D, I finally arrived to the city hall of Rotterdam to start the address investigation. I was happy that finally we’re getting somewhere. The woman at the desk looked superbored. She stared at me, at my BF, at my BSN number and then slowly whispered: “Where’s your registration?” MY WHAT????!!!! “She’s here only for four months, she doesn’t need it.” Thanks, Spike! “Ja, but without registration, we cannot start the investigation.” I was THIS close to exploding. Then we decided to fuck this shit.
Eventually, the city hall started the investigation itself so now I’m safe. But man, those few days of stress and errands were challenging.
To balance this a bit – I witnessed an awesome fireworks by the Erasmusbrug. It was part of Port World Days festival in Rotterdam and it was beautiful! Also, there was a live orchestra playing from a boat. I love how there is always something happening in The Netherlands. I’m afraid I’m missing out so much because of school, haha!
Speaking of missing out, this place is a must! I have been 5 times to De Ijssalon: probably the best ice cream store in Holland. It’s crazy good and relatively cheap! About 2euro per scoop. My personal favourites are “grandma’s apple pie” and “white chocolate”. Yum!
Another favourite of the month: Ter Marsch & Co. burgers. I first heard of this place from my American teacher who said “this is the best burger I have ever eaten in my life”. And he is American, right? It must be amazing, I thought. And I can confirm as well – the meat was super juicy and real deal. What I liked about those burgers the most: you can actually see they cut it so that the bun on the bottom is thicker. That is because usually the bottom bun gets soaked and it’s not that good anymore. This is such a simple yet brilliant thing. BIG LOVE.
And yeah, I’m enjoying it here with my CEMS schoolmates! Rotterdam is starting to grow on me.
I burst into tears in front of my teacher because he gave me a B. I will never forget this experience and I feel forever ashamed whenever I see him at the uni.
Attended my first Model of United Nations conference and started wondering if I can switch studies. Realised I hate formal clothes. Started questioning my English as well. My mom had an operation and I was crying again because it was so scary. Everything is good now though. Looks like a sobbing year so far.
April: Two years ago I kinda won this competition and so I got to visit the European Parliament and some other stuff in Belgium, like Brugges and Pierre Marcolini sweetshop. Also, I dyed my hair pink which was fcking awesome. Except for the bleaching part. My hair is still recovering from it in 2015.
Oh and I met Ban-Ki Moon in Prague.
Flew to the Netherlands again; I didn’t realise I was there so frequently this year!
Another exams period. Got another B. From the CAE preparation course! Continued to question my English.
Then I flew to the Netherlands again ..
..just to fly to… NEW fucking YORK!!!!!! The best highlight of 2014 I swear. Probably the best highlight of my life as well, lol. Also visited Boston and Washington. God bless America!
September: Flew to Bari with my parents! Okay I did quite travel this year.
October: I volunteered at Forum2000..
November: Spike and his parents were in Prague and they met my mom and it was just a little less awkward than I had expected. Another milestone in our relationship, haha!
Took the CAE exam. Got an A. Stopped questioning my English. Had an urge to go back to my ex-teacher and shove my certificate through her throat. Fell in love with FKA Twigs and within few hours decided to buy tickets to her concert in March ’15 in Paradiso. Freaking excited!!!!!
So that’s it. It even surprised myself to see how many awesome things I have experienced in 2014. To 2015, then. I don’t wish for it to be awesome or anything. I know it will be because I am going to make it that way! :D
I do not believe people do good for nothing. For example, religious people do good for they believe it will unlock the heaven’s doors for them. You get up and let elderly sit at the public transport because you are afraid you will be judged if you won’t. Or you believe in karma. Whatever reason we have, it is good.. to do good.
So I volunteered at Forum 2000, a conference about peace and democracy. My reasons? It will look good on my CV and I am going to experience something new. Oh boy, I did. And actually, those things I could have never learned if I was only an ordinary visitor.
Let me specify: the conference was attended by around a hundred foreign speakers, fighters for human rights and what not. Each of the speaker had a personal assistant and I was one of them.
As an assistant I got to eat the cakes at the lounge and talk to a bunch of interesting people. The people who do good for years, not just a week like I was.
What volunteering at Forum 2000 gave me?
1) People are often afraid of big names, easily impressed. They shit their pants when Google is involved. If they see a product with an apple shaped logo. The same feeling I was getting whenever I saw Forum2000 logo. It was the feeling of respect for an organization with noble goals. And don’t get me wrong, it is a respect deserving one. Still.. there are so many mistakes that need to be perfected. The things you can spot in every institution.
a) Finance being used inefficiently, so inefficiently that half of the delegates didn’t get any food for 10 hours .. yet they were accommodated in a 5 star hotel in the poshest street in the Czech republic, Pařížská street.
b) Wrong people at the most important places. I understand they are your friends. That they need a job. And they might mean much more to you than the organization itself… but then you need to be replaced too. I just find it ridiculous to give someone the responsibility of logistics when the person is .. let’s say mildly confused.
There you see. Big brands don’t mean no fuck-ups.
2) If you FAKE it, you can MAKE it. So there was this lounge with free cakes I’ve mentioned above. Only delegates and their assistants could enter. However, if you’d look serious enough and wore a nice suit, you could get in as well. Life…
3) Compassion. And this is the most important point I want to make today. I got to know my delegate. He’s what’s bothering me. See, I’ve never been interested in Cuba. Yes, they are poor. So what. Half of the world is. I’ve realized this. People don’t get interested in vague stories. You must punch them in the face. With real stories, of real people. That is somehow the way “Humans of….” work. If I say “People in Cuba are suppressed”, it won’t move your heart. You’ve heard it so many times, seen it so many times. But then you see a Cuban man, being so humble and making sure to never bother you even though your job is to help him. And what really impressed me was that even though he comes from such poor background and was rather short on money, he didn’t take the opportunity to eat until he gets sick at the free cakes lounge. I would.
I feel so sorry for people that can not dream as big as I do. That the only thing they want is to survive whereas survival shouldn’t be something you desire.. It should be something guaranteed. I wish there was justice in this world so that I don’t have to care.