Jesler in Freiburg

Hello everyone and herzlich willkommen to the documentation of my year-long Germany-adventure. I’m Jesler van Houdt, 20 years old, UCM, and currently experiencing all the ups-and-downs of doing a Double Degree in Freiburg. I am passionate about sustainability/environmentalism and all the fields they are intertwined with, as well as writing. Join me on this adventure to find out all peculiarities and ingeniousnesses of our neighbours to the East (or, with regards to Freiburg, to the South). 

The Ultimate Freiburger Recipe

The Ultimate Freiburger Recipe

Now that UM students are starting to toss their backpacks into the corners of their rooms and pack their suitcases to get away from stress and deadlines, I too am awfully confronted with the fact that my year abroad is slowly but steadily dawning to ...

Hello, 'above the keyboard' dressing!

Hello, 'above the keyboard' dressing!

I sharpened all my pencils. Cleaned and neatly organised my desk. Requested permission to access all Google docs and Zoom meetings. A tingling in my stomach affirms it: My second semester in Freiburg starts in two days and I am excited! Wait, back...

My self-grown donation

My self-grown donation

More than two years ago, during my first semester in Maastricht, I went to the hairdresser. The result was… embarrassing. It wasn't bad. I just looked like a 40-year-old in the body of an 18-year-old. Which, again, isn't bad. It's ...

Masked driver

Masked driver

Like many of you (I assume), I feel like a criminal about to rob the cashier whenever I enter the supermarket for some cherry tomatoes. I've already looked into sticking Frozen stickers on my huge mask to demonstrate my goodwill. After all, no on...

Supermarket Sneeze

Supermarket Sneeze

Months ago, I wrote a paean of praise for the Mensa Canteen here in Freiburg. Needless to say, I was shaken to my core when I heard that its doors shut weeks ago due to the ongoing Corona pandemic, and a tear still manages to escape from my eye when ...

Perfect lock-down Sunday

Perfect lock-down Sunday

It almost seems impossible to have a ‘perfect’ day in these times of frustration, restrictions and isolation. In a way, it even seems wrong. But the truth is, the Corona Virus is no longer the first topic I talk about to friends when I &l...

Corona means cheesecake for breakfast

Corona means cheesecake for breakfast

That a train stopped at the seemingly abandoned train station Höxter-Lüchtringen surprised me even as I entered it to start my 6-hour long journey back to Freiburg. And not only because this was the first time that I was surrounded by anything other ...

Self-Quarantine Day 9/14

Self-Quarantine Day 9/14

  On the first day of my 14-day quarantine in Germany, a letter from the ministry of health was already waiting for me on the kitchen table. It contained all the things I was allowed to do during the upcoming two weeks and, more importantly, ...

 1 Boeing 777 for 20 people

1 Boeing 777 for 20 people

Arriving at the airport in Singapore accompanied by 80s radio tunes was surreal, to say the least. I felt like the whole world except for me discovered how to teleport, making airports obsolete and leaving them deserted. Seeing another human being in...

Countdown to Germany

Countdown to Germany

Friday the 10th of April, 7 am, Singapore. A small group of three headed over to the bus station, wearing face masks and desperately trying not to touch their faces that nowadays seem to start itching as soon as you set foot outside. Fifteen minutes ...

Singapore in "Circuit Breaker mode"

Singapore in "Circuit Breaker mode"

Monday, the 6th of April - Orchard Road, Singapore It is 3 in the afternoon and Orchard Road is buzzing as if it were the weekend. Not unusual for the number 1 shopping street in Singapore, filled with stores ranging from Dior and Gucci over to H&...

Post-Corona Mindset

Post-Corona Mindset

We’re all looking forward to the day that we don’t have to live in the constant fear of COVID-19 anymore. The day that our hearts don’t make a jump when our phones ring because we suspect that, in the end, someone we love did get in...

Find the new in the old

Find the new in the old

In times of seeing the other as a threat, A virus carrier from whom I have to hide away, I started overindulging, no longer afraid of getting fat, For, will I not stay inside until I’m old and grey?   I think back to life be...

Looking at the flowers in the gardens

Looking at the flowers in the gardens

Not a day seems to pass by anymore without at least three new e-mails updating me about how Corona is affecting my life. By the time I'm writing this, Maastricht University has sent out its 15th Corona update. My current University in Freiburg co...

Dangerous Daughters and their Heavy Travel History

Dangerous Daughters and their Heavy Travel History

When my aunt traveled to Singapore a bit less than three weeks ago, she was met with raised eyebrows from her colleagues. “Is it really wise what you are doing?”, they asked her condescendingly. “Do you really want to go to Asia?&qu...

’S klane Glücksspiel

’S klane Glücksspiel

Sun - smiles - semester break I long debated how to brag about my deadline-free horizon. And then decided that I won’t. Instead, I will give you a taste of a Freiburgian semester break. And what better way to do that than by giving you the u...

Ich packe meinen Koffer

Ich packe meinen Koffer

We’ve all played it as kids: I'm going on a trip and I'm taking with me [fill in the blank]. And now here I am, standing in front of my suitcase, staring around the room, and whispering “Ich packe meinen Koffer und nehme mit&helli...

Wir können alles…

Wir können alles…

…außer Bildungspolitik. (“We can do everything. Except for education (literally: ‘educational policy’).” It’s written in big letters on the sweater that my professor is wearing in this last week before exam wee...

How a spaceship landed in the Bertoldstraße

How a spaceship landed in the Bertoldstraße

“It means destroying that which we are presently incapable of understanding. Forgive me, but I am not an advocate of knowledge at any price.” It is the week before exam week, but something else is occupying my every thought: a spaceshi...

Everyday Schlaraffenland

Everyday Schlaraffenland

They always said it didn’t exist: the Schlaraffenland - the land of milk and honey. The land of plenty, where the portions are bigger than you could ever stomach, where you can choose from five types of dessert every single day, and where every...

Museum hopping into the night

Museum hopping into the night

Museums that hide wonders in the middle of the night. Artifacts that come to life. Now, I'm literally citing books and movies. "You even stole part of the title from a 1993 children's book and 2006 film!" Very true, good catch. I...

In the dark, dark forest

In the dark, dark forest

In the dark, dark South of Germany is a dark, dark forest. And in this dark, dark forest is a tiny dark town. And by this tiny dark town is a dark, dark path through the woods. And on this dark, dark path through the woods walk three girls, looking f...

Offline

Offline

Due to unfortunate circumstances, I'm by far better at keeping my new year's resolutions than anticipated. I'm reading more, I've cleaned my whole room top to bottom, and I’m listening to my new favourite podcast Zeit Verbrechen...

On New Year's Resolutions

On New Year's Resolutions

Utrecht - Arnhem - Oberhausen - Duisburg - Düsseldorf — I watch the train stations come and go as I go more and more south. As I slowly trade open, green fields with singular trees that somehow seem lost in the landscape for the dark, overpower...

Everything is ok

Everything is ok

The first deadlines have come and gone. The first final examinations are silently knocking on my door, whispering, in the true UCM spirit, that everything will be ok. I look down at my phone. The train ticket back to the Netherlands, back to my ot...

Glühwein time

Glühwein time

The inner city lights up with bright red stars and large, white fairy lights. Groups of small children pass me in the morning, singing German Christmas carols from the top of their lungs. I spend the rest of my ride to uni continuing the songs under ...

“Is this a protest?”

“Is this a protest?”

It’s a cold, dark Tuesday night. A group of six theatre geeks wrap up their conversation in front of the bar in which they’ve been talking about their upcoming production, gender and hierarchy in theatre, and the future in general. Time f...

“Here I stand, I can do no other!”

“Here I stand, I can do no other!”

“Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders.” It’s the infamous quote by Martin Luther, allegedly said with pride and triumph in 1521. Here, in the university library of Freiburg, these words gain a whole other meaning. You might have...

German Unpunctuality

German Unpunctuality

Secret agent Jesler vH, ID 6152144, reporting for duty. Strange behaviour has been observed over here in Freiburg: all classes start exactly fifteen minutes late. Everyone seems to willingly go along with this delay - even the most punctual among the...

Sleeping under the stars

Sleeping under the stars

Sleeping under the stars - singing around a campfire - learning to juggle by a cold lake It seems like a shot from a movie. One of those movies where people just eat one bite of their croissant and then leave the beautifully laid breakfast table. ...

“Just 30 cents - she didn’t do that much, after all”

“Just 30 cents - she didn’t do that much, after all”

“Germany and The Netherlands are basically the same.” Secretly, I used to think that too. Oh, how wrong I was. Just one example: the legendary German Trinkgeld. Whenever I ask a German about the tipping culture over here, I always g...

Confusion is great

Confusion is great

“Moments of confusion - great!” This is how the academic director of University College Freiburg (UCF) welcomed all first-year and exchange students during the official welcome week. And I, the good student that I am, am already following...

Old Town Road to Freiburg

Old Town Road to Freiburg

I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road, I’m gonna ride ‘til I can’t no more. Well, instead of a horse, I had a big car that was so fully-packed that I had to create a small cave for myself to sit in, surrounded by all...

Death by Lady Bureaucracy

Death by Lady Bureaucracy

I’ve never been a fan of Kafka’s work. It always seemed too dark, too negative and too whiney. Now, I won’t claim that I’ve grown to like Kafka - I have not and will not attempt to reread his stories any time soon. But I have ...

Goodbye lah, you Crazy, Rich, Asian Metropole

Goodbye lah, you Crazy, Rich, Asian Metropole

A long, ocean-blue canal in the middle of a gold-plated shopping centre. Hop on a gondola and enjoy your journey past Dior, Chanel, Prada and anything else your heart desires. Though you don't need to enter to know what is being sold: posters at ...

Love Letter to UCM’s Curriculum Planners

Love Letter to UCM’s Curriculum Planners

My dearest UCM Curriculum Planners, Forgive me, for I have wronged you. For two years, I have failed to acknowledge your love for my academic career and your insufferable effort to allow me to take the courses I desire. At times, I have even cu...

Beach Clean-Up: Once upon a time?

Beach Clean-Up: Once upon a time?

They hatched! A hundred hawksbill turtles hatched and crawled their way into the sea at Sentosa’s Tanjong Beach one week ago! I’d like to think that I contributed the most modest of shares to this miracle - after all, once upon a time ...

An opportunity, not a threat

An opportunity, not a threat

I've always prided myself on knowing my languages. Until I went to Penang, Malaysia. While enjoying my delicious banana pancakes one warm morning, Sandra, the (Indian) woman in charge of the restaurant area of the little hotel I was staying at...

You’re also still in Singapore, Bob?

You’re also still in Singapore, Bob?

Bob is still in… Singapore? I thought this was going to be a blog about your exchange to Freiburg, Germany? Also, who is Bob? Bob is a lizard - you’ll get to know him later on. And regarding the first question: universities ...