My two cents of thought...

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My two cents of thought... Empty My two cents of thought...

Post  randy on Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:00 pm

It's a very windy day today. The wind blows almost everything that stands in front of it. The fact that it is still winter does not help at all because it only adds the chill I feel when I bike or walk outside. I still have about one and a half hour before my meeting with a professor so I decided to just sit down in the cafetaria, sipping my hot chocolate while watching the grass sways as the wind blows....

Then I come to realize how fast time passes. I have been living for almost two years in Holland and boy... to say that it's just an experience in life is such an understatement. In hindsight, I understand how much I have changed from what I used to be to who I am right now. I have laughed with my fellow friends, I have been exteremly drunk with my roomates, I have cried over failed exams, I have seen some of the most beautiful old buildings, I have stressed out over an important assignment, nevertheless, through that process I have also matured myself into a better stage in life.

It all started when I first step my feet on Holland's soil. After a red-eye flight from Canada, "Finally, terra firma!" I said. I thought going to Holland would be nothing but fun and laughter. Good education, great people, beautiful architecture, and freedom were things that were running in my mind. What else could a boy ask for more? Little did I know that the consequences and responsibilities you carry on your shoulder were big. My first day in Groningen was already solely dedicated to visit numerous people and offices to arrange for a residence permit. Then I had to start filling my fridge with food and drinks, buying notebooks, and those necessary things to get yourself ready. Paperworks and numerous phonecalls coloured my days. I felt timid, I felt down, I felt strange, I didn't know anyone. I think it's quite logical to experience such feelings, especially for someone with a completely different background like me. Fortunately, things started to sort out itself. I met new friends both Dutch students and International students, I got accustomed to how things work in Holland, I visited Dutch cities, etc. When you understand how the rhythms work in Holland, when you get to know more people, when you know where to go, life was suddenly so much brighter.

Morevoer, I come from a family with Asian background, with Asian standard of excellence, and of couse with Asian values. When I dealt with Dutch education system for the first time, I was shocked or even appaled! Professors were not easily approached for individual meetings, classes are short and I had free days without classes more than what a kindergarten student would have. Readings, readings, writings, writings, somehow these things found its way to get into my already busy days. I couldn't forget my first 'failed' final exam. I was so down and I couldn't understand what did I do wrong. Moreover, the pressure from family also added salt to the open wound. I come from a family with Asian background, with Asian standard of excellence, and of course with Asian values. A 6 is a big no-no and a faild exam (5 and below) means you're shunned for the rest of your life. But the good thing was, I learned that life is not only about studying. You can be as bright as Albert Einstein or Bill Gates, but without balancing your social life, it won't matter a single bit. I decided to join the Student Ambassador program, I made networking by joining student organization, I went to student parties, I followed meetings and seminars, and other things that will support your academic life. I made study schedule and try to be dicipline about it. I wouldn't say that my method of coping with failure is fool proof but at least it helps me to relax a bit from otherwise 'studying all the time' lifestyle. Besides, the University of Groningen also provides student services that you can take for free or for a small fee. I met a very helpful student advisor and a very professional psychologist to help me cope with the pressure based on my own values. My Dutch friends are also amongst the best and most sincere people I have ever met. Also don't forget about the international student community that makes this city so vibrant and vivid!

Beep, beep, beep, my alarm goes off. I end my day dreaming about my life in Groningen. I have to get ready for a meeting with my professor. I take the last sip of my already cold hot chocolate and stack my laptop and book back into my bag. I stand up and walk away. As I leave the room, I smile and stare outside, looking at the grass that is still blown by the cold wind, yet it stays there for more years to come, only to grow longer and become stronger. That's how I see my life in Groningen. It's bitter yet sweet, it's laughter and tears, but more importantly, it's the foundation for my future... Would I recommend studying in Groningen? Definitely! Would I regret my decission to come to Groningen? Maybe in my after life but definitely not now cheers

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