I have to admit something.
I am not good at writing series. This post was supposed to be the anchor post for me to blog about all the phases I went through while living in the Netherlands, but they never got written. Well, unless you’d like to count all the blog posts I did inbetween. Now I’m trying to at least finish what I’ve started (sounds familiar?), so here you go – the second (and hopefully not the last) chapter of the series.
I guess I’m only good at hellos and goodbyes.
Closing in to the end of my fourth year living in the Netherlands, I was stumped. How could it be that four whole years had gone by? Forgive me for being cliché, but damn, time does fly. It feels just like yesterday that I stumbled my way amongst the fast-paced crowd of tall figures, in an outfit unfitting to the horribly tricky Dutch weather, hopping onto a tram that takes me to the opposite direction of my actual destination (still making this mistake to this day). I remember longing for the cold weather when it’s summer and yearning for the heat during winter, but four years? Certainly does not feel like it.
During the past three years, I had been living in a small town half an hour away from Rotterdam. I used to be okay with the travelling until I decided that it’s getting tiring, and that I should try living on my own. With my belated move to the heart of Rotterdam, I *finally* got to do more things that are required before you can proudly wear the Ik ben Rotterdammer sassy sash while you bike with one hand texting and the other in your coat pocket. (Yes, it’s a normal sight in the city, and no, I can’t do that.) I’m far from having explored all parts of the city, but I’ve come to the point where I grew so fond of my daily life and the city in general that I want to share it with you.
From a newcomer’s perspective, it’s not weird to assume that cities in the Netherlands all look the same – old Renaissance-styled buildings (disclaimer: I don’t know what I’m talking about, architectural talk is out of my league) with canals, lots of windmills, and tulips blooming throughout the city. That would be Amsterdam and arguably every other Dutch city for you. Then there’s Rotterdam.
I know, I know – where are the cute old brick houses and little canal bridges? Do not worry, dear tourists, because Rotterdam does have those in some parts of the city. It’s just that at one glance, the city definitely looks way more modern-looking than Amsterdam. The bridge in the picture above is one of the most famous places in Rotterdam called the Erasmusbrug – directly translated to ‘Erasmus Bridge’.
Then you have the older parts of the city with classic Dutch buildings (disclaimer: I still don’t know what I’m talking about) and a lot of boats used as a transportation form. Being born and raised in the concrete jungle that is Jakarta, this part of Rotterdam is undoubtedly more interesting to me. I truly loved seeing the windmills and the colourful old-looking buildings.
The most recent pride of the city: the new Rotterdam Station. Just look at that. Pretty fancy, huh, especially when compared to Amsterdam’s. It feels much more glorious to me because I knew how it used to look before the big renovation. Rotterdam Station used to be ‘just’ a train station, nothing less, nothing more. In this new station, it’s a whole shopping centre on its own. Now we have plentiful of shops! Hema and Etos for all your house needs; nice clothing stores for quick window shopping; and countless of food & beverages shops starting from Chinese food to Kebabs. Heck, there’s even two Starbucks in the station.
Bottom line: Rotterdam is one fine city.
Also, another thing I have to admit (so much confessions in one post, I know) is that I have chosen not to learn Dutch, at least no longer actively. I tried in the beginning, of course – I took a short course at home before I came to the country, and I attended a mandatory Dutch class for the first half of my first year. Adding the fact that I am in the very country of the language, surely I would be fluent after a year or two, right?
I would be too shy to talk in Dutch, especially to the people I know; for instance my school friends, or my Dutch relatives. All of them would say “Just give it a whim!” – but to me, speaking in a language is not something I could ‘give a whim’. If I were to speak it, I want to be good at it, which I know is not the best characteristic to stubbornly hold on to while learning a language. I’ve been told to let go; to stop being overly cautious and self-conscious; to jump in with both feet. But I couldn’t. I feel so reluctant to speak the language that I’m beginning to ditch the concept of speaking Dutch as a whole. I’m still not sure if this is just because it’s Dutch, but I managed to speak brutal Korean with natives in Seoul two years ago, so I’d like to think of it as a matter of being comfortable in the language. (I sound like I’m making things up, aren’t I. Sorry. I might just be lazy after all.)
I am in the process of writing my final thesis as we speak, and looking to graduate as soon as possible! There is still no concrete plan of what I’ll be doing after my graduation, but here’s to hoping that it will include yet another adventure, in yet another country. I’ll see what tomorrow brings.
P.S. Holy moly – this was my first post of 2014. Good going, Bex.