Ode aan Groningen

Het is kwart over zes in de ochtend en met een slaaphoofd en boterham in mijn mond ren ik de trap af. Buiten weet ik in alle chaos van de ochtend toch even stil te staan om de doorkomende zon te appreciëren. Dit is mijn favoriete moment van de dag. Snel pak ik mijn fiets en race ik naar de roeivereniging. Onderweg ruik ik het verse brood van de bakker en zie ik de marktlieden hun kraampjes op de Grote Markt opbouwen. Het maakt me vrolijk en er verschijnt een glimlach op mijn gezicht. Terwijl ik verder fiets strompelen de laatste studenten de kroegen uit. Zij hebben morgen een zware dag voor de boeg terwijl mijn morgen allang begonnen is. Eenmaal aangekomen bij de roeivereniging verschijnt er weer een glimlach op mijn gezicht. Het water is spiegelglad en de zon doet geloven dat het ook daadwerkelijk warm is. Met z’n allen stappen we de boot in en roeien we weg in de kalmte die deze ochtend te brengen heeft.

Het is kwart over elf in de avond en ik fiets terug van mijn commissiegenoot. Onderweg naar huis fiets ik weer over de Grote Markt. Zeventien uur geleden was het hier rustig en werd de markt opgebouwd, nu lopen er mensen door de straten en wordt er hard gewerkt om de kermis op te bouwen. In de restaurants zitten nog wat mensen en de eerste studenten strompelen alweer naar de kroegen. Het leven hier is bruisend en opnieuw maakt de stad mij vrolijk. Met een glimlach op mijn gezicht fiets ik naar huis, wat is Groningen toch fijn.



We all gathered in Reersø

Bussum, the Netherlands

After I came back from Tanzania I was home for a month. During that month I spent time with friends, volunteered at the field hockey match between the Netherlands and Australia and prepared for the UWC summer xperience (will talk about that in a later blog post). On the 19th of June, I left the Netherlands again, this time to go to Denmark!

Last year, we had spent Midsummer in Klara’s (Sweden) summer house (remember?) and we wanted to do it again this year. Katrine (Denmark) invited us to her summer house in Denmark. We were so many UWCers!!! Katrine, Tao (UK), Carsten (Norway), Norman (Denmark), Ulrikke (Denmark), Amanda (Sweden), Solveig (Norway/France), Sophia (Denmark), Mar (Netherlands), Wouter (Netherlands – WK UWC) and Mai (Vietnam) were there! Klara and Isak (Denmark) had also been there, but I had missed them. It was so amazing to see them again, listen to their stories, discuss problems and just feel at home again. Rest. We were at peace. It felt like we had all done the craziest things this year and tasted reality, now we could go back into our safe zone. Continue reading

Remember I was in Tanzania once?

The rainseason has officially started

This should have been the title of a blog post I was writing in Tanzania. I left Tanzania in May, it is August now. What happened?! A lot, and blog by blog I will try to give you an update. So, first of all, my last few weeks in Tanzania. (Written in May)

Moshi, Tanzania


In the end of this week, I will be leaving Tanzania and that is crazy to think about. One week is nothing and there is still so many things I have to do, procedures want to change and adventures I have to explore. The past month I have done a lot of cool things. If I tell you all of them, you would barely believe that I am actually here to work on the journey of ISM (the school here) towards becoming a UWC. But I am actually doing a lot of work, I write reports, email people, come up with ideas, give talks and mainly keep on explaining what UWC is and why ISM wants to become one. I have also thrown myself into de (non-exsisting) alumni database, which is a lot of work, but it has to be done, so that is why I do it – otherwise it would never happen. Continue reading

I kayaked to Kenya

Moshi, Tanzania

Oh oh oh, so much has happened and I have not told you anything about it! Where should I start? Maybe I should explain my current situation. ISM has Spring Break at the moment, 2,5 weeks off!  Tomorrow I will go on a trip, but I will tell you more about that in my next blog. At the moment, I am sitting on a bench in the playground of ISM. I needed internet to send some emails and reply to Facebook messages (sorry guys, I will try to reply earlier) and around me there are people working on maintaining the school. I re-invented Flekke fashion, as I am wearing rainboots (rain season has started and there is a lot of mud), my new tailored trousers with a colourful African print, a t-shirt and a fleece. And I am eating banana crisps, yeah, life is nice. The last week I have attended a neurology conference for non-neurologists. I have learned a lot of things, but some things were just too complicated. However, I enjoyed it a lot to be able to be there.

Hugo on the rock in the river. There is not much water yet on this picture, but now it has rain extremely hard, there is more water.

Continue reading

About how I try to survive in 36 degrees Celsius

Moshi, Tanzania

Dear all,

While I am writing this I realise this is my third week here already. Time flies! I am almost on a quarter of my trip… For some weird reason, days here pass like crazy and even though I have done a lot of things, I still have the feeling I just arrived.

I am here to help with the fundraising for the International School of Moshi (ISM), they want to become a UWC and that is where I have to help. I am working together with Gemma, and we created a task force of people who can help us. In the task force, there are many UWC alumni from or in East Africa, ISM alumni and other people interested. We are organising events her in Moshi, but also in Arusha and Dar Es Salaam. I hope I can actually help with something, because it would be great if ISM would be a UWC. However, I need to say that I am a bit hypocritical because I do not think I fully agree with the speed in which we got new UWC colleges the last couple of years. Of course, it is great that many people can have a UWC experience, but I prefer quality over quantity and as many national committees are already struggling with getting scholarships, how are we going to be able to pay for all these (extra) students? I still support a UWC here in Tanzania because I believe that we need another UWC on the African continent, same as in Latin-America. But before we are able to actually have this UWC, we need money, loooaaads of money.

Random picture of a supermarket here. They have no fruits or vegetables but so many sodas, sanitary products and plates…

Continue reading

I am finally in Tanzania!

Moshi, Tanzania

Update: I could not send this message yesterday because I do not have internet in the volunteers house. Now I am sitting on a bench under a big tree at the ISM campus. This morning I ate breakfast in Moshi and walked around there. I also bought a useful phrases book English-Swahili, so hopefully I will be able to say the basics soon.

Dear all,

I am in Tanzania, finally! For a long time I was planning on going to Tanzania, and the moment I booked my tickets I was so extremely happy, but it was still so far away. And suddenly, two weeks ago before I left I realised it was actually going to happen. I am really going to Tanzania.

On Wednesday I took a plane to Kilimanjaro airport and from there I went to Moshi, my home for the next 3 months. Moshi is a town in northern Tanzania, near the Kilimanjaro. I have been here before in 2013, together with my family. We visited Marco and Marieke and their 6 hildren who live and work there. The last couple of days I have been at their house so many times, because they are amazing and it is very cosy (: Continue reading

ONE Youth Ambassador


Bussum, The Netherlands

Last year, I volunteered at The Night of UN and there was a market with several organisations in The Netherlands like PLAN, One World, the Red Cross but also ONE. I signed a petition for ONE there and a couple of weeks later I got an email where they asked if I wanted to become a youth ambassador. So, I applied, got an interview and got accepted and now I am one of the 40 ONE youth ambassadors of The Netherlands.

What is ONE? To be honest, I had no clue what they did before I applied, but now I do, hahaha. I just applied because I agreed on their values and liked the fact that they don’t ask for money, but for your voice. Continue reading

I miss the friendships and the fjord

I am sitting here with mixed feelings. I don’t know if I am jealous at the first years for being back in Flekke. I don’t know if I am happy I don’t have to go back. I don’t know. I just simply don’t know.

RCN is not my RCN anymore. The place got new people, new faces, new thoughts, new cultures, new friendships, new relationships, new activities and new memories. If I would go back it would be visiting a school, not going back to my school. We, my co-years and I, took our RCN with us, when we left the Flekke bubble.

I am lovesick in so many ways. 

I miss the fjord. I miss the late night bonfires and star gazing sessions. I miss playing cards against humanity and random camping trips. I miss talking with Peter (the chef) in multiple languages at the same time. I miss the footsteps in the hallway and knowing who is coming. I miss the post-it notes on my desk, the “hi”‘s on my way to school and the hot chocolate in kantina. I miss the postcards in my mailbox, lifeguarding sessions and countless walks to the island. I miss the silence of the landscape combined with the chaos of the people. I miss running up teacher’s hill and reminding yourself you should exercise more often. I miss the moment of realisation as soon as you walked into silent house. I miss the happiness as soon as the kayaks were out. I miss the running around to look for a working printer, the endless Student Council meetings and porridge on Saturdays. I miss the slow Finland House automatic door, the not working lock on Norway House and the endless problems with Internet and electricity. I miss the First Aid Team, which had less members showing up each week. I miss emptying paper boxes after Ozonizer meetings (which never lasted longer than 8 minutes). I miss the faces of relief after IOCs, IOPs, FOAs, orals, mocks, exams or just a difficult day. I miss the appreciation for the sun and the acceptance of the rain. I miss the first morning it’s light again when you walk to breakfast. I miss the college meetings and clapping for every slide. I miss the dayroomparties, the deep conversations far after your planned bedtime and the difficulty mornings as a consequence. I miss the shoes shattered around the hallway, the couples secretly walking hand in hand and the happiness when the only washing machine in UTC you trust is free. I miss the no judging. The acceptance about who we are and what we want. I miss Flekke fashion and Ashok’a accent. I miss the running back to Student Village because it was colder than you thought. I miss the movie nights in somebody’s cosy bed (even though I always fell asleep-sorry Nina) and the unexpected love you got. I miss the talent. I miss the passion in everything we did. I miss the drive to make a change. I miss laying in the hammock ‘studying ‘ and listening to the people walking by. I miss the skateboard with a different owner each time I saw it. I don’t miss Philip’s orange hoodie. I miss Dutch gatherings and Mottak afternoons. I miss my teachers at connect and the peers for evening snack. I miss the place in front of Finland house, and my favourite places at the islands. I miss jumping in a fjord that is as flat as a mirror. I miss the football match between the first and second years. I miss the tears in my eyes at Ridderrennet. I miss the bus trip to college after a break and going around ‘the corner’. I miss skinny dipping at teachers beach. I miss the cheese toasts and introducing people to hagelslag. I miss missing my family. I miss waking up 5 minutes before class and still be there on time. I miss dinner at Kip’s. I miss the hikes to explore. I miss Joker Flekke and the sale on apples. I miss student shop and it’s it-is-an-emergency-I-need-chocolate.

But most of all, I miss the people that made the place.