Day 1 on Enschede

The trip was, well – exhausting. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this tired in my life. I managed to stay awake the whole day with the jet lag so I could sleep all night in this new time zone.

The only part of the city I got to know was the road from my house to the university, which is 20 min away, bus or bike. Well, I don’t have a bike yet, turns out I’m too short for the bike I was going to buy so I need to keep looking for one that suits me, probably in the Hobbit store. I also lost my OV-chipkaart card for taking the bus after the first use, which means I need to a) find it, b) buy a new one c) pay the bus rides in cash. I’m still rooting for plan A but I’m not the best finding things when I haven’t slept for 36 hours.

My room is really tiny. But, really, really tiny. I do have a shower inside my room which is cool, but there’s a clog in the piping we need to fix. There’s a bunk bed I need to disassemble and get rid of because the mattress is literally a foot from the roof. Something about sleeping with the roof on my nose doesn’t sound very appealing, so until I can disassemble that thing and get it out of the room I’m sleeping in a borrowed sleeping bag on the floor. I haven’t really talked to all my roomies because besides the fact that I’m very shy and awkward and this is all too overwhelming to me and I want to run away and hide in my room every time someone talks to me, well, I haven’t had much time.

Thanks to the Universe Lore lives in the same city. She made dinner for me and lent me her OV-chipkaart so I could come back home. I really need to sleep. Tomorrow’s the introductory day at the University. Let’s hope my brain works better in the morning and everything changes to a positive discourse. Until then.

1 day until The Netherlands

Basically having a panic attack.

70% of this week was working my ass off to get my bank accounts in order before I leave the country, pick the clothes I want to wear for the next year and put ‘em in a bag. Learning to cut my hair, saying goodbye to my best friends and the guy I liked, throwing away stuff, saying goodbye to the band.

The other 30% I’ve been procrastinating, reading stupid stuff online, watching the Janis Joplin’s Little Girl Blue documentary, going out for a drink. I never gave myself the time to realize how fucking scared I am, I just wasn’t centered, I’m so nervous. It just hit me because I’m putting the last things in my bag, today’s both the band’s New E.P. Release party and my Farewell party. It’s done, I’ve done it. I’ve managed to escape from this city. Will it be better? Will it suck? Will it crack me or will it make me a better person? Wiser, more determined. Will I really find a path for my career or will I just discover somewhere else I don’t fit in?

By now, you should’ve probably noticed I’m ridiculously emotional. And now I’m all broken down to tears because I’m afraid, but then I’m also in awe of what I’m capable of doing. So just let it sink in, take it as it comes, open your eyes, just carpe diem. I’ll keep writing so you might find out how all this ends.

Getting my Dutch Visa

Well, I’m back from Mexico City where I had my appointment with the Netherlands’ embassy today. It was a fucking odyssey trying to get there on time because the city is HUGE and traffic jam in the weekdays is just ridiculous. So my aunt, which has been living in the city for about half a year, offers to take me there. Awesome, we don’t really know the whole city so we use Google Maps, right? Turns out there’s a pretty decent road within a couple of miles you can take with very few minutes of delay, so we get on our way. We drove between steep hills for about 15 minutes and my aunt was crazy scared and then we finally get to the long expected nice road – yay!? No.

My aunt seemed to forget you have to have some sort of pre-paid card in your car to drive through that specific road (it’s called a tag, and now I know the road was the second floor of Mexico’s city Peripheral Ring). And by this time we’re totally past our alternative exits to get to the embassy. It’s getting pretty late and my aunt feels super bad. We start to think I’m not gonna get my visa, but I can’t NOT get my visa because I already quit my job. Plus, I really want to go and study my master. Are people from the Netherlands always on time? Will they get offended if I’m late? I don’t really want to find out. So we decide to call an Uber which will obviously have that prepaid tag and I’ll take that road and I’ll get my visa and I’ll get my master degree.

The Uber arrives within two minutes, I jump to this other car, wave my aunt goodbye and I’m on my way again. I’m a little bit more relaxed, everything’s going pretty smooth and we’re a few minutes from there. I’ve got everything I need with me, right?. Except for… my papers!? I forgot my papers on my aunt’s car! I try calling her a hundred times, the call finally gets through. “Aunt, I forgot my papers in your car” I can tell from her voice she’s about to faint, she tells me she’ll try to make it as soon as possible but I should make an appearance in the embassy and explain the situation.

I’m just walking to the embassy, I cannot help but laugh at myself. These things just keep happening to me. I have no idea how I’ve managed to keep myself alive for 25 years. Seriously. 

Everything went pretty well at the embassy, they waited for me, I gave them all the papers needed and now my passport is traveling to Washington to get my visa stuck on there. Meanwhile, I’m back in my hometown and I’ll be trying to close any pending item at my job, pack everything up, plan a couple of farewell parties and get ready for my trip.

Here’s a rainbow I spotted on the flight from Mexico city today. It doesn’t really have any meaning other than the spectrum of light caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion, but it kinda reminds me I don’t have to be perfect to get things going. 

I found a house!

I’m glad to announce I finally found a house and roommates in my new town, Enschede. I just skyped with them and they’re so cool I cannot even understand why they thought I would fit in with them. We talked about what I was going to study, what the philosophy of science and technology is, what I like to do in my free time, we talked about Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. We talked about beer and the fact that I’m still learning how to ride a bike.

They told me they were going to discuss and let me know in a week if I was accepted. But they came back to me 20 minutes after, basically saying I was welcomed to their house. I’m so excited I started jumping. I’ll be honest, the house itself isn’t too fancy, but it’s full of good vibes and everyone’s personality and our own personal bar! I can’t wait to get there and meet my roommates in person. I can’t wait to hang my favorite pictures on the wall and use the bar. Achievement unlocked. I got a house!

Visa approved

“Dear student,

It is our pleasure to inform you that your visa application procedure has been completed and that you can make an appointment at the Netherlands Embassy/Consulate General in Mexico Stad.”

Visa approved! I guess I’m going have to spend next weekend in Mexico City then, yay!

Fear overtakes

Because you feel like you cannot take one more day of this 9 to 5. There’s a fire in your heart that’s telling you to go away as far as you can. Telling you something needs to be done, for your sake, for the sake of people, for the sake of the planet, making you feel like your purpose is way bigger than the money in your bank account, the chair you’re sitting on, or any title you can get. And you convince yourself it’s all going to work out. Somehow, things always work out.

But then you’re there and it’s all finally happening and your bank account has no money. You feel overwhelmed by the change. And you’re all by yourself and you realize you have no idea if it really is going to work out. And you forget about everything you wanted first, and fear overtakes your brain and it gets pretty dark inside your head. And you want to call it quits. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking right, I’m not ready for this, I’m not going to make it. I don’t know that much about life yet. This was a mistake”.

But you have to remember. You have to remember what was like having that dream, you have to move your hands violently and clear the fog and look at what’s ahead on the road. And when you ask yourself “How did I ever thought this was going to work out?” Remember you told yourself it was YOU who was going to make it work. It was you who was willing to sacrifice time, money and friends, for it. And it won’t be easy, you gave up comfort and reassurance and a path everybody knows. You exchanged that for the unknown, the uncertainty. And if you were courageous enough to take that path by yourself, you’re courageous enough to cross it.  And if you make it past the anxiety attacks, the drugs cravings, the procrastination, depression and overall shitstorm from your own mind, what needs to be done is waiting for you. And you are completely capable of doing it. So do it.

On fearing Immigrants

I’ve been on a (perhaps unnecessary) rampage of watching hardcore right wing conservatives sharing stats of immigrants flooding their home countries. From Milo Yiannopoulos to Ann Coulter and the increasing popularity of Donald Trump, seems they won’t hold their tongues and thoughts to bombard us with their multiple concerns on how foreigners are a threat to the safety and peace of their precious first world.

You want to be safe, I get it. It is not your fault that developing countries or third world countries are suffering an economical, military or ideological crisis. You do not want them disturbing the peace and beauty of the awesome free country in which you were born, I think I get it.

But the problem with that posture, one I believe you should consider, is that people under horrible circumstances didn’t choose to be on them. That was just a random turn of the dice that shaped their whole existence.

If they had been born in your situation, they wouldn’t have to leave their homes, they would stay with their families, study and make a career for themselves in their own country just as you did. And if you were born in their situation, you wouldn’t have that many choices, and it would be easy for you to consider walking whatever steps are necessary to protect your life, to look for money in a place where there actually is money, and save your family from poverty.

And you need to choose whether you feel any empathy for them and their situation or not. And if you find yourself lacking empathy for them, you may want to ask yourself whether your life and your own well-being and peace of mind is worth more than theirs. Ask yourself if their human rights are as valuable as yours.

Yes, having immigrants is a pain in the ass, they come here, they want jobs, they want a place to live, they take up all your space, and they may not come from a very progressive culture as yours. Yes, cultural shock could unbalance any place. But don’t we want to discuss, then, how we can prevent that people find themselves in a situation that demands them to flee from home to save their lives? Have you considered the slight possibility that the economic structure that the first world government has built up is taking on the exact same people you now hate? And can we change it so that everyone gets a fair sized slice of the cake? Why aren’t we inclining towards that side of the discussion? Because asking someone to stay still in a city where there are daily bombings and literally dozens of people are killed every day wouldn’t sound very appealing to me.

Money, why

I’m in the process of getting my resident permit for the Netherlands. It takes up to five weeks of waiting for them to decide whether I am dangerous or not for their country.

I am, in the meantime, trying to come up with new ways to make money. My situation is a little bit complicated because before knowing I had a partial scholarship, the numbers weren’t giving so I just assumed I would have to keep working for another year before leaving. After the scholarship, things changed. I made the choice to go with what I have and my budget is tight. Tight as my jeans after eating an entire Texas-size rack of baby back ribs. Funny I mention my favorite dish because, of course, I won’t be having it for a long, long time. Good bye pork-meat heaven. What food’s cheap in the Netherlands, anyway? Sometimes going from not-saving-a-penny to trying to save even the number of breaths I take feels like mom was right, and I should’ve thought twice before deciding to quit a very well-paid job.

I’m trying to get additional scholarships from Mexico but my Master program doesn’t fall into any scholarship category. Apparently, I’m the only person in the entire country who thinks studying philosophy in the 21st century is important. So nobody wants to fund my studies. Well, sorry folks, somebody’s gonna have to join me in the game. I will not rest until one of you accepts to help me.

Mom says “there are other priorities for the country right now”. And though I may not target my studies for productivity or profit around here, we do need to have some critical thinking going on in this place.

An idea

When I was fourteen, I wanted to study philosophy, write books and be a teacher. But I was told, “Anyone can be a teacher, you should study something that you like and then teach about it”. So then at fifteen, I wanted to study cinematography. That idea didn’t stick for long, I thought Industrial Design would be a more down-to-earth decision. Since I was a lot into programming and fixing stuff in my computer, I finally considered engineering at sixteen. So there I was on the day to enroll to university, at the engineering faculty, making a line. And I thought “I’m getting out of here, I should be on the visual arts faculty line”. I made a call to a not-very-bright-guy who was my best friend then, and asked him “what should I do?” He told me, “you’re already in the engineering line, just stay there”. And so I did that.

BUT THE POINT IS: I had no idea I was setting the path for the rest of my life, could someone please just give me a break?

And now after 8 years of successfully making my way through engineering school and engineering jobs, I’m quitting. I’m quitting my 9 to 5 and getting a master in Philosophy. I want to write books, and be a teacher. And I won’t resent the fact that nobody ever told me at fourteen “Hey kid, If that’s what you want to do, then do just that”. I won’t resent it because I have to start taking responsibility for the decisions I take in my life and face the outcome of all those choices. (Mr. Nobody, anyone?)  I will, however, in time, let my fourteen-year-old kids know they can do just that thing that’s itching their curiosity.

And so the real purpose of this blog (though I’m a little bit ashamed to accept it) is for it to be my loyal companion on this venturous (stupid, rather) journey. Let my sad and scarce savings serve as my first step, and with a little help from the blessed Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences from the University of Twente who believed in me enough to give me a partial scholarship, off I go. Here we are, ground zero, square one, starting line. Where to next?