Three years ago I started working at the university that I obtained my Master’s degree at. I am getting used to saying that now. If you had told me five years ago that I would be doing this job, I would never have believed you. Working in education? Me? Ha!
Yet, I find myself highly enjoying every single day at work, where I coordinate an international Bachelor programme. I interact with students, staff, and many colleagues who come from all corners of the world. I organise all kinds of events and projects both for students and staff, and generally am responsible for making the (organisation of the) academic year run smoothly.
It is truly a very enjoyable environment to be working in: everyone values education, (self-)development, achieving your goals individually and in team work, and preparing yourself for a good future. One of the possible ways to develop yourself and learn, is to visit other universities – see how things are done elsewhere, talk to people, ask questions, and also share with others the best practices that you have encountered. I took the opportunity to do just that, last year in May. Read on if you’re interested! 🙂
Until two years ago, I had had exactly one camping experience in my life. It was in high school, when I was 15. We were given the opportunity to sign up for certain destinations, one of which was a surprise destination titled ‘Your Choice’. I can’t recall why exactly why it was called that – as far as I know the students did not really have a say in it. But a big part of the reason why I chose that one was that in previous years they went to pretty cool places. The alternatives were alright, but not too exciting. I believe Friesland was one of them. Which could be fun, but not so much if you know that Your Choice could bring you to, for example, Spain. (And not when you’re 15.)
Anyway, I’m sure you can imagine our joy and happiness when we got the news that Your Choice was going to the South of France and would do a stop in Barcelona somewhere in the middle of the one-week trip. My enthusiasm was slightly set back when I realized that we would be going camping. Sleeping in a tent. And everything. I guess I didn’t worry about it all too much, though. Only when we got there did I really realize that sleeping with three people in a small tent would be a bit uncomfortable.
August, September and the beginning of October are a crazy time for me, and they have been for the past two years. I work at a university, where the summer months are always very busy. After the hectic (but super fun) Introduction Week early September, the ‘calm’ cannot return until after the event of the year, the Graduation Ceremony, early October. In that period between September and October I can count on not getting sufficient sleep. Things that I still have to do randomly pop up in my dreams, making me wake up very early in the morning and forcing me to get out of bed and get to work.
As you can imagine, once the Graduation Ceremony has ended and I can get back into the normal work routine, I am exhausted. That’s why last year I decided to take a little trip to catch my breath. Be in a different setting for a few days before returning to campus. We wanted something simple, and some place we both never went before. We rarely take the opportunity to be a tourist in our home country, so we decided to go to Friesland from Wednesday until Friday, and then spend the weekend relaxing back home in Rotterdam.
Ah, the International Film Festival Rotterdam. It has something magical to it. The tiger logo is projected everywhere, the beautiful theatres in town catch your attention more than ever, and it’s buzzing with foreign languages even more than usual… When the programme was released, I was a bit overwhelmed by the enormous amount of movies, but determined to make myself a itinerary. I decided to buy a Tiger Discount subscription and go to as many movies as I can. In the end I managed to go to five. Here’s where I went.
It was Monday afternoon when I first came to Edinburgh last July. I was full of excitement and anticipation: our two week trip through Scotland had finally begun. We would have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning to spend in the capitol of Scotland and we were eager to find out what the city had to offer.
We took an Airlink bus from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre, stepping off on a bridge that we would cross many times during our stay there. Our first mission was to find our Airbnb apartment on York Place, which was just a 10 minute walk with our two large suitcases. Our hosts were super friendly and their house was a-ma-zing. A great start to a holiday if you ask me: knowing that you’ll be super comfortable.
Ah, Glaschu. The biggest city of Scotland, the third-largest in the UK. It didn’t feel that big to us, but then again, we only had about 36 hours there. The city where I had the luxury of living in the heart of the city, right on Buchanan Street, the busiest shopping street. Where I slept right above Zara, in the same street as Michael Kors and other similarly expensive stores that I never enter out of principle. Glasgow. One of the cities that I am determined to visit again at a slower pace.
My memories of Glasgow are a bit bittersweet. We ended our two week trip there, which not only meant being about to go back to the Netherlands, but also having to part ways with our rental car. Man, I loved that car. But OK, on to more relevant matters. Glasgow… I must say I was a bit hesitant at first judging from the surroundings where we returned our car, but I learned quickly enough that apparently, at least as a tourist, you’ll feel better once you’re north of the Clyde river. Local people, correct me if I’m wrong, will you?
Since I was only there very shortly, I’ll not be able to give you a complete sense of what Glasgow is like, but I would be happy to share with you the things I enjoyed over there. Starting with… where to eat. Because after finding our Airbnb apartment and dumping our luggage, which was 80% dirty laundry from all the hikes we did in the Highlands, that was all we could think of.
I remember it so well: last year we were sitting in the car, moving slowly towards a destination unknown to me, but very well known to Tom. According to him, we were headed towards my Christmas gift. But what could that possibly be, considering the dull surroundings we were driving through? As I tried guessing where we were going and what my gift would be, we drove into some industrial area where small businesses were located.
And then, at some point, there it was: a small little shop with the waving flag of Scotland just above it. What I do not remember so well was how long and how bad my hysterical reaction was. It was probably something like “*Gasp* Scotland! What’s that? That flag! Is this where we’re going? *Gasp* Scotland! Outlander! What are we doing? Say something! What is this? What’s in there? HELLO? Why are we here? Is that the flag of Scotland? Huh? SCOTLAND!”