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Entries for 'fleur'

Exam week: high hopes, despite Schopenhauer

Exam week: high hopes, despite Schopenhauer

‘Life is a constant process of dying’. My classes on Schopenhauer at my exchange university in Spain might not sound like a recipe for a happy morning, but last year I was thoroughly enjoying them. Schopenhauer’s work tells us that we are unfree, because our desires rule our behavior. These desires will never really be satisfied, ...

Integration

Integration

Exactly one year ago, I was terrified by what I thought were KKK-soldiers invading my town with burning torches as their only weaponry. Semana Santa (holy week before Eastern) in Granada was not only an exercise in ‘how to effectively find your way through a crowd without being robbed and/or feeling like your private space is violated’,...

Told you so

Told you so

‘Told you so’ is among my most-hated English phrases, since it indicates two things: the other was right (and thus I wasn’t), and, probably even worse: I could’ve known, had I only listened. Before I went to Spain, I refused to believe the scaremongering stories about the level of Spanish university education. Surely, the...

Unresolved mysteries

Unresolved mysteries

On my way back to Granada - for the last time - after Christmas holidays at home, I am flying with Vueling, a Spanish airline, which means I’ll be surrounded by Spanish! Right after boarding, however, my excitement quickly dissolves, as I am suddenly reminded of one of the Great Spanish Mysteries my stay in Holland had made me forget about. ...

Spanish Europe

Spanish Europe

“You guys in Europe are different. You have a different way of seeing the world. I like Europe - everything is very well organized and there are a lot of opportunities.” My Blablacar-driver, just back from visiting his girlfriend in Southern England, surprises me. Not because he talks about the level of organization in other countries -...

An hour or forty years

An hour or forty years

A Monday in late October, I was taking the tiny bus from my house in the village-like neighborhood of Albaicin to the city centre. As usual on tourist-low hours (early Mondays), I shared it only with locals. Hence, I was, by a wide margin, the youngest passenger. After all, most young Andalusians are not here anymore, having ignored the ubiquitous ...

Don’t call them Spanish

Don’t call them Spanish

We know history has many purposes. It might offer us consolation, great movie plots, a sense of identity, lessons for the future, and, in many cases, tourism and jobs. Spain is one of those countries that counts with such a large amount of historical heritage that one might lose oversight - not necessarily a problem, in most cases, but an opportun...

From South to North: Granada - Madrid

From South to North: Granada - Madrid

“We are uncultured people”, concludes Manu, with a face that is darker than last week’s Andalusian rain storm. While I’m working my way around eating my green beans with garlic - being a vegetarian here is a challenge sometimes, especially on the deserted highway that leads from the nothingness of central Spain to the greatn...

 Big Green Taxi

Big Green Taxi

On my last day in Granada before returning to spend the summer in Holland, my taxi driver (28 years, flip flops, a college degree) seems to be hesitating. I look at him questioningly, and, after apparently deciding that not much can be lost because we have almost arrived at our destination anyway, he continues our conversation about differences bet...

Small things

Small things

It´s one of those ever-returning clichés that are (hopefully) about to reach their expiration date: it’s the small things in life that count/make you happy/matter the most/fill out any other positive phrase. The other day, having only just stepped foot on Dutch soil, a friend asked me the Million Dollar Question of All Semesters Abroad:...

Made in Holland

Made in Holland

A while back I spent the weekend in Seville: according to many, the most beautiful city of Spain. According to many others, also the place that host the least friendly people in all of Spain. People from Seville never leave their city (because it’s the most beautiful one), speak with a very strong accent. Like torturing bulls, so I’ve h...

Dead hours

Dead hours

“Where are you going?” “Meeting a friend.” My housemate cannot believe it – why on earth would anyone decide to hang out with a friend at 7 PM? Shocked, she tells me that those “are not times, they are not times (to meet)”: 7 PM is, apparently, a ‘dead hour’: at 7, you’re not suppose...

Memory failure

Memory failure

My last diary entry dates back from Monday the 11th of April. I cannot really decipher what I did on that day thanks to my hasty handwriting, but it does include the word ‘siesta’ scribbled into a corner. In February, on Schiphol Airport, I had bought myself a little red notebook as a goodbye gift – sometimes, one has to spoil her...

A bread from God

A bread from God

‘Are you sure you still want to learn Spanish?’ my Argentinean friend asks me jokingly. After having gotten used to her outspokenly Argentinean accent, in which every j-sound transforms into the hissing of a snake, I felt I had come to the point where I could understand practically everything in Spanish as long as I paid attention. Howe...

Holy smoke, what a week!

Holy smoke, what a week!

Call me naive (you wouldn’t be the first one to do so), but I had no idea that Semana Santa (the Holy Week) is such a big deal here in Andalucía. It all began one cold night at the end of February, when I thought I was dreaming a very loud dream: one in which a bunch of men were shouting at each other whilst trying to lift a very heavy tomb-l...

The battle of the sexes

The battle of the sexes

You thought UCM was alternative or ‘hippie’? Me too. After a couple of weeks at a Spanish university, however, I have come to realize that everything is a question of perspective (very postmodern, you say? Yes, I know, thank you). Sometimes, I’ve noticed, non-UCM students in Maastricht associate our faculty with naïve idealism, ge...

Cats and dogs

Cats and dogs

It’s been raining non-stop for the past two weeks in Granada, Southern Spain, and I decide to take refuge in one of the many breakfast-bars the locals start their days in. Savoring my small Spanish breakfast (a toast and an espresso), I detect a strange odor. There’s no way around it: someone stepped into a pile of dog shit. Reflecting ...

Orientation

Orientation

“There you go, Miss, your appointment is tomorrow morning at 10.54.” Having waited for half an hour for all the paperwork to be filled out, I look up from my phone and wonder if I understood that correctly. It’s only my third day in Granada, and my Spanish is rather rusty, so I decide to just repeat what the lady told me. “M...

Cobble stones 2.0

Cobble stones 2.0

During my first year in Maastricht, I reached a solid average of one bike repair session a month. The ancient cobble stones, leading many from the north to remark that ‘they feel as if they were abroad’, clearly did not do well to my old high school bike. After buying a more robust edition last autumn, I thought the problem was solved. ...