Declaration of Dependence

Throughout my previous blogposts(which were written a long, long time ago, shame on me), I often bored my readers with how much I just love to travel. By the way, did I mention that I am super excited for my trips to Berlin and Montenegro? God, I just love visiting different places! Traveling is just so amaaaaaazing!

Lately however I have come to find new insights on my habit of not wanting to commit to a particular country and my continuous need to stay mobile. Namely, that I am terrified of being dependent. Traveling provides me with great excuses to keep my head in the sand, safely sheltered from adulthood. Thus I don’t have to commit to adult things such as buying a house, taking a mortgage, settling into a career, closing a one-year gym membership or thinking about the future at all. I can simply tell myself that, while I am not working towards a stable future I am at least mobile and independent.

Around me I see people signing declarations of dependence by getting financially involved with their partners, taking a million years to build that dreamhouse (mom, dad..), committing to, in their eyes, irreplaceable employers and worst of all having kids. And while I might turn out to be the washed-up girl from Lily Allen’s song 22, I spend every penny on seeing the world so these people can pretend to be jealous of broke, careerless and cultured me and I can pretend to be not jealous of them and their perfected homes and slowly progressing careers. Perhaps Dependence isn’t always bad and I should just sign that damn declaration.

Istanbul

Once upon a time, not so long ago I decided to move to Istanbul to get my MBA at BAU University. Perhaps that decision was made with the rash, happy-go-lucky attitude of a child. So for practical (read: financial) purposes I duly stayed in the Netherlands. However I will get a taste coming weekend of what it is like in former Constantinople while the boyfriend will get his eye laser treatment. (For Dutch people it is cheaper to take two 4 hour flights, stay in a 4* hotel for three nights, and get the most advanced eye laser treatment in Istanbul than to get it done here..)

While I will of course be the sweetest, most caring girlfriend on earth, we must see something from the city. What do you recommend, besides the overly touristy things that we will of course enjoy, photograph and subsequently bore our friends with.

Let me know,

Cheers!

Current Score

Just now I noticed that I could have carried out an entire pregnancy since my last post. For the past seven months I worked an internship which required me to work insane hours at a minimum wage. Oh well, nothing above good education I guess. In between serving my master working I was however able to read some pages of the book. 

– A lovely, cold, weekend trip to Copenhagen for my birthday in February
– A romantic weekend in Paris for our two-year anniversary
– A traditional Lithuanian wedding 

Our Piggybank currently contains €513.17, which is about 10 percent of what I already spent mentally:

– The boyfriends eye laser surgery and sightseeing in Istanbul coming September
– A weekend trip to either Warsaw or Krakow
– Perhaps some last summer sun rays in Nice
– Celebrating Christmas abroad, suggestions?

Meanwhile I spend my days making careful considerations about my future career (Sounds more hopeful than begging employers for a job I guess), looking for an apartment the boyfriend and I can agree on and lots of sports, but not today, today is cold. What have you guys been up to?

Eavesdropping on the Elderly

Only seconds ago I was asked by the elderly man i was just eavesdropping on about the wifi I’m using now on my iPad. I told him I’m lucky to have a weak signal from the supermarket next door. Assuming he would barely know what an iPad is, I told him I always sit here as its the only table where you can get a signal. He replied he’ll sit here tomorrow cause normally when he brings his tablet he can’t get any wifi. Modern grandad, how cool is that?

Looking around I see two groups of people; housewives sometimes with little children and retired people. Not really my age group, but as this is the only place to have breakfast in the middle of nowhere a.k.a my hometown I have no choice. And quite frankly it makes a good, quiet environment to study in and breakfast is only one euro.

But as you can imagine iPad-man’s and his breakfast-partner’s stories are far more interesting than multinational business finance could ever be. They speak about their neighbors (hers are refugees and his are immigrants from Curaçao), about how she made fresh vegetable soup last night while he coincidentally ate soup as well and about what they’re going to do next. They say goodbye and she leaves for the supermarket, while he walks home since he already bought the bread he needed.

What’s striking is to see how happy they really are. They both seem to have settled into a slower paced but happier life and don’t care that it’s utterly boring. Or maybe the boredom is just my perception and I’m actually a little envious that they manage to be happy without the thrills and stress that I seem to need so badly.

Maybe I too should spend more time on simple things such as grocery shopping and a little less on needing to perform. But first I have to finish (and start) a ten page essay before midnight.. sigh.

Hamburger Christmas Time

If it weren’t so cold december would definitely be my favorite month of the year. I am a sucker for all the cheesy decorations, glitter and sometimes even the christmas songs (Here you go; another guilty pleasure). As a matter of fact as I am writing this I’m wearing a red sweater with a big fluffy white heart and the silhouette of two reindeer kissing, as reindeer normally do of course.

Isn't it cute?

Isn’t it cute?

For the past two years I escaped the holiday madness at our house by subsequently celebrating in South Africa and Switzerland. Even amidst the summer heat Cape Town was turned into a charming town with fake snow, fake christmas trees and songs blasting out of supermarket speakers. Oh the weather outside was so frightful.. sunburns and all. Switzerland, however was exactly what christmas was supposed to be like with actual snow, christmas markets and of course mulled wine.

As for the Netherlands: we have our own, very wet version of snow and some decorations. However compared to Germany or Switzerland it is very meager. Therefore I, in my christmas craze, and the boyfriend, because he loves me, have decided to take indulge ourselves in the nostalgia of German christmas markets. Because we’re insane about Hard Rock Cafés, we thought it’d be cool to have two in one and visit a city with a Hard Rock Café, meaning our options were narrowed down to two options: Hamburg and Berlin.

So we consulted my mom who, being German, qualifies as my nearest Germany expert. The answer was simple as a binary code Hamburg was  a zero, Berlin a one. Our choice was therefore to visit the Hamburg Christmas markets, as it won’t be a city we’ll visit soon whereas I will for sure visit my family in Berlin sometime.  Having some obligations (family and work) we can only visit Hamburg from the 21st till the 23rd, but we’ll just cut sleep or something to get the full experience.

Staying true to the purpose of my blog I wanted to book a cheap hotel and had actually found a really nice one via Twitter. But the boyfriend, spoiled as he is, booked this awesome 4* hotel, a place in which I am, despite my protesting, not hesitant to sleep in. So, I’m really excited to visit Hamburg! By the way; were hamburgers invented in Hamburg?

Love,

Sophie

P.S.: I apologize for the high level of cheesiness in this post!

Happy Belated St. Nicholas!

For those of you who don’t know: where I’m from Christmas only comes in second. Number one on the list of December holidays and precedent to your Santa Claus (may I remind you, Mrs. Mean UN Woman)  is St. Nicholas, whose presence we celebrate on the fifth of December (or on the sixth in Germany and Belgium). He looks similar to Santa Claus, with a red outfit and all, but rides a white horse instead of a reindeer-pulled sleigh. His elves are much taller than santa’s and black, because they crawl through chimneys to bring presents to little kids. We celebrate with lots of nice little treats, singing and poems. The food is really my prefered part, as in any festive event. 

Currently all Dutch media, politics and even the UN occupy themselves with the question whether St. Nicholas and Black Peter are racist because some bored nitwits, that clearly have racist minds themselves for noticing, link the white man with black helpers to slavery and therefore accuse all those little five-year-olds and their parents of being racist for celebrating. 

Anyways, enough for politics. I’ve never been much of a St. Nicholas fan and always liked Santa Claus better. Maybe because my mom, who was not Dutch, didn’t really understand what to do and we didn’t celebrate it that much. 

Still I wanted to wish you all a happy belated St. Nicholas! And tell me? Is this racist? 

sinterklaas

Love, 

Sophie

P.S.: I am really lazy and in a hurry so I linked some articles to help you gain a better understanding of this Dutch tradition. 

 

My Guilty Pleasures

By the time you’ll finish reading this, you must think I am one of the craziest people on earth. But well, that never stopped me before. So, feel free to indulge in my guilty pleasures and feel just a little better about yourself.

Film: Pitch Perfect

Image

I don’t know what I like about singing college students, but recognizing the ‘Cup Song’ sang by my eight year old niece was definitely an embarrassing guilty pleasure moment.

Tv-series: The Carrie Diaries

Image

Girly over-the-top-drama all the way, but the Sex and the City Prequel makes me reminisce for high school, in the 80’s that is! I only allow myself one episode a week to maintain a somewhat productive life. Will Carrie and Sebastian ever get back together?

Music: The Biiiiiirds and the Bees

Hmm, tough one as I have no shame when it comes to music. For sure I do listen to shameful music, but I don’t perceive it that way. Hope this song made your day!

Snack: Fast Food

mac

When it comes to eating I hardly have any self-control so basically my number one guilty pleasure is just eating in general. Really, I’m a pig that only stops eating when there is no more food. Though I taught myself to stop eating or pretending to be full when others do.. Oh, and I also have a soft spot for McDonalds food, well any fast food really.

Activity: Daydreaming

aydreaming

When I was a kid I would imagine myself being my favorite tv-character or Britney Spears. I would create my entire life in my head including imaginary friends, family, problems, looks, nationality etc. Not uncommon for kids to do I guess? It becomes a little embarrassing by the age of 18 I guess, let alone 22.

Creepy collection: Imma Hardrock Horder

SAM_1650
Need I say more?

 

This post will either double my number of followers as crazy stuff sells or decrease my followers to about 20% because now you all now I’m nuts. I dare you to beat me!

The Gift of Giving

I have many faults, but greed is not one of them if I may say so myself. Despite this, I am possibly the worst gift-shopper on earth. More than once I returned from a birthday/holiday shopping spree with beautiful presents for well.. myself and nothing for my giftee. While this may give you the idea I’m utterly selfish, I blame my perfectionism for not being able to buy gifts. Especially when it involves those close to me. You can imagine this degrades the boyfriend’s birthday to the worst day of the year.

This year I think I actually did well. His actual birthday is not until tomorrow but I decided it’d be better to stay ahead and surprise him on friday. So, all the way through last week I have  been arranging my gifts, while ensuring he had no clue. My idea was book a hotel room and invite him there by emailing his professional email address.

The first step obviously was to book the boyfriend so I picked some random movie to see and a restaurant I supposedly wanted to have dinner at. Then, the second problem was booking the hotel room without a credit card since he would find out that way. Thankfully hotelspecials.nl allowed me to book the room and I even got a discount as a bonus. Also I tortured myself with the task of getting him a record player and some vinyl records. Normally we divide roles very traditionally, where he takes care of all technical things and I make him food as a reward. However past week I studied audio equipment, looked for music in a smelly old record store and hooked up my newly found treasures all in secrecy. Frustrations about not being able to say a word and needing help nearly made me give up at least four times.

Thankfully that moment where he entered our hotel room with the key I had hidden in his car, to find his birthday cake, presents and champagne completely astounded takes away all my frustrations and makes it instantly worth it. I realize, as I look at him playing with his new toy or as he is finding new records in that same shop, that successfully surprising him gives me more joy than receiving any gift ever has and for a moment I am truly happy, only because the gentleman is too.

 

Feeding the Piggybank

The reason I started this blog was because I wanted to show how easy it is to travel if you are on a tight budget. I had worked in tourism before and learned the most occurring motivation not to travel is a financial one. Since I’m still a student I’m not rich (yet) and I don’t really want my boyfriend to act as my credit card, so we bought a piggy bank in which we save money to travel. 

We’ve been saving since january or february 2013, and we started of slowly. When I counted our money in august we had saved about €400. Lately however, both of us have become mildly obsessed with collecting change. I find myself drawing money from an atm in front of Starbucks to spend it at Starbucks, where I would’ve normally used my debit card. On saturday we reached new extremes, when we were at a concert and had to buy beverage tokens (is that what you call them?) They where €2.20 each, and we needed about 8 or so. BUT that would bring us to an amount of €17.60 and €2,40 change. The ‘adult’ decision was to get 14 tokens, twice what we needed in order to get more change.. 

Saving has become pretty expensive lately. However we do get some childish rewarding feeling every time we collect some change. Then counting our assets makes me feel eight years old again. I love it. We now have €630,74 and will use it to enjoy our first small-change-funded-trip together this weekend. Hello Prague!

By the way; Happy Movember!

Image

Is it right?

As for traveling I grew up in a mixed environment. There was my grandfather who had once been mistaken for a member of the mob, had eaten live monkey in China and had gotten food poisoning in Japan. Then there was my mother who always told me the grass was much greener at the other side and inspired me to travel. But only when I’d come of age, because there was also my dad. My dad’s a very strong and bear-like man, but he has some secret fears. He is scared of flying, foreign languages, other cultures, being homesick, foreigners in general, foreign food, foreign music anything beyond the boundaries of our garden and basically anything he did not grow up with. As a consequence the only traveling I knew was spending summers at our safe (dull) summer house in the south of France, eating the same food as we did back home and listening to the same music. 

Imagerave

When I graduated high school I was still a minor and therefore no world trips where to take place. My decision was to temporarily be a good girl and go to business school, for the mere reason of being able to study abroad later on. This is where the fun began. Really my only objective was to leave my parents, though I was not allowed nor financially capable to leave the house. Therefore going abroad was the only option.

I took some vacations when I could, but the true adventure came in South Africa. I was curious and hungry for adventure, so I was friendly to anyone, naive and too open-minded. This led to me almost being harassed by men my dad’s age, having to use the service entrance to my apartment cause some guy I’d dated would await me in front of the normal one for weeks, my drink being spiked and accidentally smuggling weed past port security onto a yacht. Furthermore I got drunk in countries such as Morocco and Egypt, pissing off local authorities. 

Also back home I was still craving danger and I made crazy plans such as crossing Africa by myself from north to south, trying dangerous sports and moving to Asia. Until I was eavesdropping on two students in the train the other day. Student A, I’ll call him Tom had spent some time in South Africa. He spoke for a while about all places that I had visited and loved so much. Then he spoke about his friend, a 20 year old student from France. I’ll call him Jean-Pierre, cause that’s what all French are named, right?

Jean-Pierre spent a summer in Cape Town, partying a lot like students are supposed to do. One night he was driving, fairly intoxicated and he got pulled over. The police hinted for a bribe, but in his drunk state of mind Jean-Pierre refused and expressed hatred towards this corrupt system. The police officer arrested him and took him to the station, where he was led into a cell with three officers. The officers raped Jean-Pierre and released him the next morning. Upon his return to France, Jean-Pierre tested positive for HIV.

This story really hit me because I knew it is a reality in South-Africa, occurring on a daily basis. Secondly that could’ve been me. We were the same age and I was just as careless. Well except for the drunk driving maybe. 

That is where I started wondering. South Africa is extremely big in corruption but also in tourism. Isn’t it ethically wrong to visit a country where these malpractices occur and where so much injustice is done? 

Let me know what you think!

Love,

Sophie