What’s up with the Silence on IrisjeXx?

What’s up with the Silence on IrisjeXx?

As the title of the blog post might say, I’ve been on silent for a few days. I was just thinking about how I regret not being able to blog this week when I realized that I didn’t tell you anything about the why. Which is ridiculous because I am really excited to share this with everybody. The explanation, albeit a bit late, is the following: Introduction Week for University. This week of complete and utter madness started on Monday and is coming to an end in Friday. Which means that today was day 3 out of 5, and I’m beat. You have no idea how tired I am right now, and I almost wish I could skip a day. Almost being the key word, because at the same time I’m having so much fun and I wouldn’t really want to miss any of it.

Anyway, this week is called the EL CID-week. It’s THE week to get to know the city, the people you’ll be studying with, as well as all the Student Associations. In short, everything there is to know about starting University. Lots of things to experience, and too many parties throughout the entire week to count. The whole city is filled to the brink with students (I think about 6.000 or so) and there’s stuff to do around every corner.

My group number is 150, and we’re all going to be first year students, studying either English Language & Culture or Film & Literature. I’d say it’s the perfect opportunity to talk books and let out the inner geek. Even though I knew this beforehand, I had reservations about going and the first day I was so nervous that I felt like throwing up. Which was, looking back, totally unnecessary and a bit ridiculous… I panicked for no reason, because the group of people is awesome and super easy-going. There’s lots of laughing, lots of talking, and the past 3 days resulted in a scratchy voice (again! Especially since I just got over my throat infection and had gotten my voice back 2 days before the introduction week started).

Now for a picture, because we all need pictures! I only have one at the moment (the rest is still on my phone and I am too tired to upload them all at the moment, I need to go to bed, but I just can’t before cluing you in on what’s going on) and it was taken on the first day. It’s the group together, all the happy and ‘rested’ faces before all the fun (although, sadly, a few are missing on this picture).

Intro week!

It was going to be just this week, but unexpectedly I signed up for a rowing association. And it happens to be that next week is VIP week, which means I’ll be gone another week. I had no plans to sign up for anything, wanting to do the sensible thing and see how busy I’ll be studying, but it just happened. Yay for being spontaneous! (I try not to think too much about how exhausted I’ll be afterwards!)

I brought 5 books for this week… which was so dumb, because I haven’t touched at least one of them this whole week (and I’m going through some serious withdrawals here). It’s just that busy, and at the end of the day end up being so tired that the only thing I do is sleep. *applauds to oneself for writing this post while I have a serious problem keeping my eyes open*

Anyway, I’m going to get some shuteye now and I’ll try to keep you updated throughout the week (and maybe upload some more pictures)!

 

About Planning Ahead

About Planning Ahead

Planning

Planning blog posts. And it’s an incredibly smart and sensible thing to do. I’ve been given that advice countless of times by fellow bloggers, but no matter how hard I try, it never works out for me. Which is definitely not for the lack of trying, because it would be so incredibly handy for when I go away for a week or when I just don’t have the time for reading or blogging. Instead, whenever I go on holiday or have a blogging slump, my blog remains either painfully quiet and empty or it doesn’t (which means that I have brought my laptop with me, and am writing and posting my posts on the go).

I really want to be able to plan my blog posts in advance, like I said, it would be incredibly handy. But no matter how I try, I just can’t make myself write them. As weird as it sounds, I need to be in the mood to write my blog posts. If I’m not feeling it, the result won’t be up to ‘my standards’  (that sounds so weird, but really I’ll end up not liking the result and not posting it). I love writing my reviews and other bookish posts, but I can’t force myself to write them.

When I just started out, I managed to write my reviews right after I finished a book. I wrote them and immediately published them. Later on I managed to schedule them as well, divide the posts and spread them over the week. That’s as far as I got. One week ahead. But along the way, I found myself writing my posts throughout the week and publish them after writing them (or the morning after writing them). Which isn’t necessarily bad… but I don’t really feel productive and sometimes it really makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.

What bothers me most is that I would like to be able to plan my posts ahead. I’m good at planning… I plan ahead for homework (studying overall really), traveling, and more. So why doesn’t it work for my blog? It’s incredibly frustrating. Especially when I go on a holiday, am busy with all kinds of fun stuff, then take a quick peek at my own blog and see that I haven’t updated it for about a week!

Is that bad? I always feel like I’m letting people down by not posting anything. I’ve come to terms (kinda) that planning doesn’t really work out. Blogging is a hobby, and maybe by not planning everything ahead (like I do with -mostly- everything else) it continues to be that. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself, blogging about books should be and stay fun, and maybe this is the way to do it.

I guess what I ‘d really like to ask is: do you have the same problem? Or does planning work for you? Or do you have another system that you use and works out for you?

London Adventures

London Adventures

So I am back from my London adventure! My sister and I went there to celebrate that both of us graduated this year, a celebratory trip so to say. Since my sister has a thing for British accents and I have a thing for the English language in general, London was the obvious choice for us. Then YALC got confirmed and we decided to book our trip around this event, so we could attend as well.

Hotel and flight booked, bags packed, tickets printed, and passports ready, we left for London on July 9th. We arrived around 4 pm and went on our way to the Underground at Heathrow. Little did we know you can’t pay with Maestro card at Underground stations… and came 7 cents short for the two Oyster cards we needed to get to our hotel. Whoops. Lucky for us, the guy took pity on us and, with a wink, handed us our Oyster cards. Seriously, the line was long and the station was super hot. We did not want to go find an ATM somewhere at the airport, and then go back to the station to get in line again. Possible crisis averted, we took a relieved breath and hopped on the train. All went well after that, and about two hours later we entered our hotel room, where I dropped onto my bed and didn’t move for about two hours.

DSC03767The next day included Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Which roughly translates into sitting at the stairs at Trafalgar Square for about two hours trying to find out how the street artists (Yoda and gold/silver colour painted dudes) managed to float in the air, coming to a conclusion, and then another hour of laughing at other people trying to figure out the same thing that my sister and I had been pondering about before. That an a quick trip to the Waterstones (because I just can’t contain my bookish self). I realize that this sounds like a pretty pathetic thing to do when you’re in London, but it was highly entertaining! (and I must admit that there was some extra sightseeing involved as well).

Then for Friday. Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Squeare and some more Trafalgar Square. Piccadilly Circus involved lots of walking around, posing for pictures with statues, possibly imitating said statues, more Waterstones (don’t scowl at me! Because it doesn’t look pretty on you and since you’re reading my blog you must understand, so you can’t judge!) and some exploring at Fortnum & Mason. We actually managed to do something educative at Trafalgar Square (although the street artists remained quite entertaining) by visiting the National Gallery. Have I ever mentioned that I love to paint? Well I do, so I enjoyed this visit immensely. All the material taught in Art class came in incredibly handy. The only thing that could’ve made it any better would be for my father and mother to have been there as well, because I know how much they would’ve enjoyed this museum as well.

DSC03758At Leicester Square we visited the M&M shop in all of its chocolaty glory and we  went to the cinema to see The Fault in Our Stars! All the feels! I have tears in my eyes thinking back to the movie, because it is filmed brilliantly and the actors… Ansel Elgort! (do I have to explain how well casted that guy was? He played Gus absolutely beautifully!) When we got out of the theatre there was this guy standing there and he was totally laughing at our tear-stained faces. Which was so not a laughing matter! I was overwhelmed and sad and gosh… who laughs about that? Nah… I felt like a mess, so I probably looked the part as well having forgotten my tissues back at the hotel.

Then for the rest of the day we decided to go to the YALC preview evening, which was fun! This post will be way too long if I included YALC as well, but no worries, you can read all about the bookish adventure in this post. This event covered the whole weekend (read the recap to hear all about it), so I’ll just skip to Monday already.

DSC03827London Eye! This was a present from my parents (because London is super expensive… and both me and my sister were pretty broke at this point). Both my sister and I had this on our must-do-this-when-in-London list, even though my sister is afraid of heights and I get slightly squeamish being really really high up, and we loved it! The view was absolutely beautiful, and stunning, and we could see so incredibly far. Am I gushing? Yeah I’m gushing. Whoops. I’ll shut up.

Next up was the British Museum. Which was packed, and really close to the hotel (only about 500 metres), unfortunately we didn’t know that, so we took the Underground. Another whoops right there. Observation: My sister and I suck as tourists.

When we figured out our hotel was really close by our hotel, so we walked back to dump our bags and find a place to eat. We found a really cute Italian place, that served some yummy pasta. We ate, and went bag to the hotel. Another observation: Being a tourist is exhausting! It is especially exhausting, when you have people in the hotel room right next to you are LOUD and the walls separating the rooms are really thin. We decided that called for an emergency singing party (I believe we sung a few Fall Out Boy songs) and this resulted in our neighbours being quiet. Goal accomplished.

DSC03928Tuesday I am calling Rainbow Rowell day! She did an event at the Piccadilly Waterstones and I cannot contain my excitement (still) for attending. I will however, not tell you all about it in this post, because it’s way too long already (be on the lookout for that particular recap post, I promise it’ll be up very soon). We also went to the National History Museum, which was fun as well. We went early, so it wasn’t that busy yet and we were able to do the whole tour on our own time. No rushing, just enjoying the museum.

Wednesday… 11 am check out. Our flight home left at 3.45pm, but because we couldn’t really do anything in the city we decided to leave for the airport early. Our hours early were spent sipping Iced Tea at Costa and reading. In the end it turned out that we were very lucky for getting there early, because our flight got cancelled. Which scared me big time, and stressed me out, and I didn’t really know what to do. A mad dash to arrange another flight started. We got sent from one service point to another, were sent to another service point again were we were told that we’d be booked into a flight leaving another 2 hours later, and then somebody finally helped us. And booked us into a flight that was leaving before our original flight. Calls were made to our parents, who would have to pick us up earlier and another mad dash started to catch our flight. I honestly took a relieved breath when we were in the actual plane. This was by far the most troublesome flight experience for me, it was bad. I guess when stuff goes wrong, it goes wrong in the worst way possible… Anyway, the flight went smooth and after a well deserved Starbucks coffee after we landed we were greeted by our parents at Schiphol in Amsterdam.

Takes a deep breath. I guess that about sums up the London adventure!

 

About my Love for Classics

About a week ago, my mother mentioned something to me that has been bugging me for the past week. She told me that, while my love for reading is apparent within every post and every review I write, she felt like something was missing from my blog. I wasn’t really sure what she meant with that, and she was quick to explain. Ever since my knowledge of English was good enough to start reading my books in English, I have had a profound love for classics. Jane Austen is one of my biggest inspirations, Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite tales for as long as I can remember, Shakespeare’s plays have always intrigued me, and I adore good poetry. But somehow, none of this is apparent when you read my blog.

This touched a nerve. Because looking back at the many posts I have written the past year, these posts never shared this part of me. I have reviewed some YA retellings of some of my favourite classics (proclaiming my undying love for their authors whenever they managed to twist a well know story into something new and exciting), but never about the tales they originate from. I regret this now, and it caused me to start wondering why I never wrote about my love for classics. Now, a week later, I still haven’t come up with a good enough reason as to why I never did.

Some reasons did cross my mind, but if I’m being honest they don’t even come close to sounding good enough a reason (they come across as downright stupid even, and I am embarrassed to admit that these actually crossed my mind). I tried convincing myself that almost everyone knows and has read their classics, so what would one more review or one more opinion be? Which, now I am writing this post, actually sounds even more ridiculous than when I tried to convince myself of its truth. Another one: Nobody likes classics. This makes me want to strangle myself, because there’s NO way that is, or ever will be, true.

Honestly, I think that along the way I got insecure. I do this sometimes… Okay, let’s be honest here, because this happens more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve been told in the past that it was weird that I loved reading classics. Why I always focus on negatives, and then somehow twist them into truths are a mystery to me, but I’m glad that my mom pointed it out. Because my love for classics are a part of me, and I’d like to share this with you as well.

So I am going to start this July with a promise to you. How I am going to incorporate this into my blog is still a mystery to me (if you have any ideas, don’t hesitate to let me know) but I will start including them in the future.

I think that some rereads might be in order (Any excuse is reason enough for me)!

Looking Back

Looking Back

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time now, and due recent events I feel like it’s the perfect time to put this all out there. While I’m not really sure how this will turn out, it’s quite personal  to me, and long…

Looking Back: Insecurities and Struggles

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed a few capitalized tweets past Thursday. Capitalized as in shout it of the rooftops, because I passed my exams. I passed my final exams, which means that I am officially done with high school. Which is big, and beautiful, and a tremendous relief, and awesome, and kinda scary, but above all it proves to myself that I can do anything when I put my mind to it.

First things first, let me explain a bit about out Secondary Educational System. I always find this hard to explain, but I’ll try and do my best (to my Dutch readers, if I’m doing a crap job explaining this, please let me know! haha). In high school Dutch students are placed into different levels based on your ability to learn and how well you do at school. There’s vmbo which takes the shortest time to complete (4 years) and is the ‘lower’ level. Which doesn’t mean it’s bad! On contrary, but it’s for people that have a harder time learning at school. Then there’s havo which is the ‘middle’ level, this is for people that are good at learning and takes 5 years to complete. Last there is vwo which is the ‘higher’ level, this would be considered advanced level at American High School (I think), and it takes the longest to complete (6 years). The terms in Italic probably don’t mean anything to most of you, and the following information might explain things a little better to you.

School type (abbreviation in Dutch) Duration (years) Pupil age Gives access to
Pre-university education (vwo) 6 12-18 Research University / University of Professional Education
Senior general secondary education (havo) 5 12-17 University of Professional Education
Pre-vocational secondary training (vmbo) 4 12-16 Intermediate Vocational Education

I probably confused you even more with the overload of information I just poured into this post, but I promise you, I am going somewhere with this.

The diploma I obtained this year is my vwo diploma. And why I am so insanely proud of myself is, because vwo wasn’t the high school level I started with. I obtained my havo diploma three years ago. Learning wasn’t really hard for me, but it never came easy. As for so many other students, it took time and determination to get good grades and along the road to that diploma I had some serious setbacks. For instance I pressured myself too much, and always came out disappointed with the grades I got. Which ended in an enormous breakdown that had been long time coming. I took a break from school, wasn’t allowed to study more that two hours a day and had to make some serious changes to my study habits, because the way I’d been going wasn’t healthy for me. So with a little bit of help from teachers at school and my family I picked up the pieces and continued the road in a way that was much better for me. So I got that havo diploma, and then found out that I had no idea what I wanted to do with it. I had finished my high school education, gotten the diploma I worked so hard for, but in the end I had focussed so much on getting that diploma, that had no idea what to do with it when I got it.

So how did I get to the point where I am now? Some necessary background information: After obtaining a diploma, every student has the option to continue high school in the level that comes above the one they just finished (that is if you have the right grades). You probably can see this one coming: because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I chose to take advantage of that option and enrolled to vwo.

I’ll spare you the long details of those two years, but what I do want to say is that they were hard. I had lots of fun with friends, but studying took quite some time and keeping the grades up was a pain. Maybe I made it a little bit too hard for myself and set the bar too high, but I’ve never backed down from a challenge, and when I start something I’ll give it my all to try and get the best result possible.

So when I failed my final vwo exams and as a result of that failed my last year, I was heartbroken. I had to do the last year all over again, while my friends would go to University. I was torn between being happy for my friends and being sad about my insufficient results. Which I can tell you is crappy. While all around me people were partying and celebrating, I was trying my best to be happy for them while being sad and frustrated.

As I started the last year all over again, I was plagued by insecurities. A little nasty voice in the back of my head telling me that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t smart enough to get my vwo diploma. It was hard, but with the help of some of the best friends in the world and the absolute best family a person could wish for, I squashed those fears one by one and tried my best to pass every single exam I took. I proved to myself what my family and friends already knew.

Thursday June 12th at 11.30 am I got a call from my school that I PASSED my final exams and therefore would be receiving my diploma on June 27th. I couldn’t quite believe it at first, but I’ve been packing a big Cheshire Cat grin for days.  I actually did it. Can you see me flipping the bird to all those insecurities, because I am GRADUATING from vwo! Where I had to call people last year telling them that I didn’t pass, I now got to call every single one of them to tell them that I passed, which was the best feeling in the world. In addition to that, it’s double the joy, because my sister passed her exams as well and we’re graduating at the same time!

My sister (on the left) and me (on the right) all dressed up.

My sister (on the left) and me (on the right) all dressed up.

The past week I’ve been busy doing all the things that I didn’t do last year. I’m attending graduation parties, I got all dressed up and went to the gala the school hosted (and looked quite awesome if I do say so myself). Me and my sister are having lots of fun planning out own graduation party. Spoiler alert: There’s a sumo wrestling ring involved, as well as karaoke, and a homemade cocktail bar.

Honestly, I love everything that’s been going on and I’m enjoying every single thing that’s happening. While it sucked that it took me an extra year, I am proud of myself for continuing and not giving up. It may be a year later than planned, but I got there didn’t I?

And as my best friend said in the card she sent me right after she heard the news that I passed my exams: “The question is not who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me”. So next year, when I’ll be studying English Language and Culture at the University of Leiden I’ll do my best to start living by that quote, because if the past year has proven anything to me, it is that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.