University: Semester 1, Week 1

Saturday 9 September 2017, First year

by Charlotte Stevenson

University: Semester 1, Week 1

Relevant to
Charlotte Stevenson
You know when they say that time goes fast? Well, I don't know exactly who they are, but they aren't wrong. Time is still something I am settling into here, but it is already starting to go too quickly in ways. I think this is because the work pace in the Netherlands is so different to what I am used to back home. Instead of having a lot of work here all at once, it is very much about pacing things across the weeks into smaller assignments with some bigger assignments which are a product of those at the end. But more on that in a second. 
 
A few sketches of some Dutch things that I did this week - Copyright CLSS 2017
More than anything, this semester I am studying here in Amsterdam it feels more like two semesters and this is because I have three classes until the end of October and then different classes until the end of December - hence the fast work pace. It's learning a lot about a myriad of interesting and useful things, but it can also be tiring at points so I am trying to make sure that I do tasks as soon as they are set. For instance, whenever I get reading for class (which is pretty much every day) I usually do it in the evening when I get home because that way I have notes ready and I don't need to think about it agian until the next class. I have had to change a module so far this semester to a different one and whilst this was stressful, it only again highlighted to me that I have made the right choice in doing an Erasmus because learning to deal with negative experiences like that more independently is a really important skill to have. 
 
It's hard to call a favourite class because I like them all but, if I had to, then it would probably be Dutch themes. This is a history module which focuses in on the development of the Netherlands from 1555 right up to the present day, meaning there is always plenty to discuss and research. This previous week we had quite a complicated, almost philosophical discussion, about what exactly a nation is and how it can be formed by a small group of people. I'd never really thought that something which is commonly stated but isn't tangible as imagined before, and talking about it that way made me realise just how complex everything around me is. It was obvious then that I would spend my evening reading up on this further and working to comprehend how communities are simultaneously positive and negative things which begin initially as creations.
 
In The Personal is Political, we have discussed again so much already. We get to create a research project in this class on anything of our choosing which I find really exciting. I want to focus in again on that area I never shut up about in my field (the impact of spaces, atmospheres, environments, etc). More specifically, the impact of virtual spaces and how this is the next development in the conversation surrounding so many different indentity based topics. I think it is a good platform on which to voice ideas (whilst it can have negative repercussions) because it means that anyone can be part of this global conversation which is of the utmost importance in opening our minds to new perspectives we perhaps never would have come up with on our own. 
 
One thing I wasn't prepared for was the rain - it's been practically torrential! My rain coat hasn't failed me but unfortunately my trusty backpack flooded so I had to get a new one in preparation for the next round of clouds. Now that I look back it's actually quite comical; I thought being from England where it rains all the time that nowhere could possibly be rainier. Boy was I wrong! I felt very much like I was starring in an underwater play that day with how soggy my socks were.
 
Hitting the books - Copyright CLSS 2017
So whilst this week has mainly been introductory classes so far, like I say it is a faster paced system here which means my first assignments are due in next week. Those consisting of an 800 word essay, a 900 word essay and the first 300 words of one of my final projects, on top of reading. But that said, I am enjoying them a lot more than I usually would enjoy working on assignments because they are paced and I feel like I have control over everything at the moment because I am keeping organised and working in advance. Another thing I have learnt then (or two) that I would like to pass on to you: Don't be afriad to ask the questions you have when you have them otherwise you won't have the necessary information to make the sort of progress your potential would otherwise allow - and always carry a highlighter because they are life savers in the long run.
 
Alongside settling in academically, I've just been trying to find a balance in general for my life. Working out budgets that work for me, figuring out how much work is pushing my limit, planning out in advance for future assignments and knowing when to cook, clean etc. With so much to settle into doing for myself after adjusting to home over the summer, it's important to make things into habits as early on as possible otherwise I'll end up doing silly things like missing meals to work and that always results in burnouts workwise. But like I say, so far I'm doing ok. I think one of the biggest reasons for that is because again, I am not giving up anything for anything else. I do my work, I do my chores, but then I have my own projects to work on beyond the classroom and access to a place with a piano (of course). So, with that said, it's time to get on with a bit more assignment work. Here is a recent arrangement I did of Taylor Swift's latest song, hope you like it:
 
 
Thank-you for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. 
 
It makes my day every day! If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!