DECEMBER: WHAT A MONTH

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✌️ I began the month in Amsterdam. My mum visited me the weekend of the month and appreciated that she came down to visit me. We spent one night at my place in Maastricht (I`ll never forget what happened before she came, haha…) and one night in a hotel in Amsterdam. We walked around and my mum mainly did some shopping. All in all very nice to see my mum again and to be in Amsterdam again.

✌️ I came back from Amstedam on the 2nd and the next day I was in Italy for the first time. It took me quite some time to get there and I also got to spend about two hours in Switzerland before I caught the bus from Zurich to Milano. It`s a nice city, but at the same time I feel like the city centre itself doesn`t have that much to offer, as f. ex. Paris? I might be wrong, but I had a good time there! I spent two nights at a hostel there, which was interesting and got to learn that it can be a struggle to speak English with Italian people.

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✌️ I visited Krakow after six and a half years. I spent one night there and wish I had more time, but for now it was enough. It was weird to be back there, but oh, so nice. I also visited Auswitch, which I`m so glad that I did. A post about my visit there will be up very soon!

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✌️ Missed my plane in Italy. I was so stressed when it happened, but afterwards I just… I`m not sure, but I can tell you that much that it`s not the first time.

✌️ Ordered something from the Motivated Collection of UnJaded Jade. I was so excited to pick it up when I received a notice about it being at the post office.

✌️ Surprised my mum in Norway! HAHA, so much fun. She got very much surprised and I`m really glad that I went back home for the holidays.

✌️ I think I visited the christmas market in Oslo for the first time. I can`t remember having been there before, at least, so it was cool to compare it to the ones that I`ve been to in Maastricht, Achen and Krakow.

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✌️ Met a few of the exhange students that came to Oslo last semester. It was so sad to say goodbye to them and it made me even more thankful about the time I still had left in the Netherlands.

✌️ I also surprised my dad and my brother, and visited my family twice during the holidays.

✌️ And I mainly enjoyed some chill days in Norway. The weather was really nice. It should`ve been much colder, but it wasn`t plus the snow looked beautiful on the ground.

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✌️I ended the month and the year by celebrating the New Years at our neighbours` house. They had invited us over and we had a great time.


All in all, December was an amazing month. I spent time in five countries and got to see my family and friends again. The month was also “easier” to enjoy because I knew I still had about a month in the Netherlands, which I`m enjoying right now.

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ANOTHER SURPRISE & A FEW CHILL DAYS

Hola people! Hope you`re all doing well and that January has been treating you well so far. 🖤 Since last time I`ve managed to come back to the Netherlands. Yep, I was out of town for a few days. More specifically, I was in Germany. I decided in December that I was going to surprise my family there (my aunt, my uncle and my cousins). Maybe some of you remember that I went to Frankfurt am Main at this time of the year about a year ago? Well, this time they had no idea. Nobody in my family knew, so you can imagine that I was pretty excited, haha. I showed up at their door and not only did I surprise them, but I also scared them for a while. Mission complete. ✌️

On my way to the station in Maastricht I thought about how I couldn`t remember the name of the bus station where they live. I looked through some old photos and found one of the bus station (that`s why you should have pictures of the stations, because you never know). Then I thought about how to get into their building without having to ring from outside. Guess what? I met one of the women who lives in the same building and whom I met last time I visited my family on the bus, so that wasn`t a problem. When I rang at their door bell, I hid so they couldn`t tell who it was from the little window on the inside, HAHA. I could my cousins whisper “who is it?? It`s a thief, don`t open the door”. AH, guys. I know I`m crazy, but it was also fun and something my cousins won`t forget at first.

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

I spent only three days, but really had a good time. Had good food, played a lot of “ludo” with my cousins (which we always have done and we never get bored), watched a few Pakistani dramas and enjoyed the entertainment of my cousins. They`re some years younger than me and do weird but funny things, which make me laugh. All in all, a good weekend!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOne of my cousins was so lovely and bought me a milkshake on his way back from school because he knows I really like them. That made me emotional. I really appreciate it when people do little things for me and remember details. Processed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

I came back to Maastricht yesterday afternoon, went almost straight to school, hung out with some of my friends for an hour and then went home. That reminds me… I managed to loose my bank card somewhere in Germany. I KNOW, don`t even mention it. It`s annoying, but what can I do. But everything works out in the end and at the end of the day I have plenty of crazy, funny stories to tell.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHERE I BELONG

“Go back to where they came from.”

Those seven words have hurted many. Seven words. You can hear them being spit out on the street sometimes. On the internet it seems like they’re everywhere. I read and read. Get annoyed, imagine things I would’ve said but don’t say because I don’t know. It feels like some will never get it anyways. I don’t get offended. Not that anyone ever has said those words directly to me, but they’re said to “people like me”. “People who look like me”. People who to some extent believe in the same as me. People who don’t look Norwegian.

Even though I don’t say a single word online when I read such comments, I get frustrated. So many opinions, so many thoughts about humans they don’t really know, but think they know because we’re from Middle East, North-Africa, Pakistan. Because we’re Muslims. Because some are immigrants, because some can’t speak French or German that well. It’s like being talked about, but not talked to.

I don’t feel offended, nor do I feel discriminated. I feel sad and frustrated on behalf of myself and people who apparently “are like me”. Or maybe not, maybe I’m one of those “successful” stories because I am in several ways integrated physically in the European country I live in. I study, I socialize and I speak Norwegian fluently. I feel frustrated because why does anyone have the need to throw those seven words to someone else, just because they come from another country or have roots from another country and are not ethnical Norwegian or whatsoever? Why does it matter? We have one earth we are supposed to share together. Just because you were born in Norway and have parents whom are Norwegian, does not mean you have the right to be here more than someone who was born in Kenya. Just because your family has been living here for many years, does not mean immigrants can’t be here. We do have countries and boarders, but remember that those are boarders decided by us. And if our boarders are not open, then we should at least open up our hearts.

I don’t know if this is the reality, but it seems like one of the reasons why “they should go back to where they came from” is being “they’re” not Norwegian enough in their eyes. Not American enough, not French enough. Not enough. There are for example many Norwegians out there who say that immigrants need to respect the laws and rules of Norway. If they don’t respect the culture, they can’t expect respect in return. I don’t believe in that kind of respect, but if that’s the case: shouldn’t it go both ways? Shouldn’t the people who already live here also respect the cultures of the immigrants? Apparently it seems like for those people it’s a one-way thing.

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I was born in Norway. I’ve been living there my whole life. I’ve grown up there, went to school there and now I’m studying there. And despite all this and so much more, I don’t feel Norwegian, whatever that means. Should I be shameful? No, why should I? Should I give in to the Norwegian culture and assimilate myself? No, the process should come more naturally. Do I have to be “Norwegian’ and feel Norwegian in order to live in Norway? In order to integrate in the Norwegian society? No, who decised that? Some people, and who said that I have to listen to them. And what on earth does it mean to be” Norwegian”?

Stop telling immigrants and people of other ethnical origin what they should feel like. They should learn the language, they should socialize with the society they’re now a part of but for God’s sake, there’s a lot we should do too but we don’t do it. It’s easy to point at other people, laugh at them and say that it shouldn’t be done like that, but like that instead but only they know wht exactly they have been going through and are going through. Stop preaching about Norwegianness and Americanness and let people decide what they want to feel like, as long as they respect the laws and the rules. You can’t force people to feel a specific way.

No one gets to decide what I should feel like. No one else gets to decide where I belong. That’s something I would know, that’s something I feel. And if I don’t, I’ll hopefully figure it out and if I don’t; well, I know I’m Iqra and I’ll survive.

 

 

I DON`T WANT TO THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT IT

I don`t want to think too much about it, but the past day has kind of forced me to think about it. Or it`s just me. Two of the girls I`ve gotten to know here, are leaving this week. One has already left, actually, and we said bye last night. She might come back on time before I leave; I really hope so. The other girl is leaving this Saturday and even though I still have time, I`m being reminded of that “damn, my time here is about to come to an end.” Today the guy from the housing corporation who welcomed me when I arrived at my place here in Maastricht came for the first inspection of my room. It was weird to see him again this time because I`m soon moving out, like what. Someone please explain to me how the past four months just flied by.

OKAY, enough about that for now. I`m pretty sure I`ll be more than sad in a few weeks. For now I`m going to try my best to enjoy the time I have here. I`ve already had my first seminar and lecture. This course is going to be intense, but I`m sure I`ll be fine. I just need to read the readings, attend every seminar and lecture and be productive. Yes! I`ve been working every day so far this week, which has also been nice. I like doing a short shift in the morning or early in the afternoon – that way I`ve worked a bit and still have the rest of the day.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetYesterday after work I went and got myself some fries, which were delicious. Almost got late for my lecture, though. Which was held by an anthropologist, by the way. She talked about ethnography, her research and how to do interviewing. Quite interesting, but since I`ve “been in” this field for some time, I felt like most of it was not breaking news for me, but it`s great to gain some good tips for my bachelor thesis which I`ll be writing… not next semester, haha. THIS semester. We`re in 2019 now, Iqra.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Last night I hung out with my friends from here. It`s been so nice to see them again. One of the girls was leaving a bit after midnight, so we spent time talking, playing a and just chilling. It was weird to say bye to A last night (I`ll call her that), but oh, I appreciate those experiences and meetings so much. Hopefully we`ll see each other again very soon and if not that, then one day in the future. 🖤

I`ve been up since about 05.30 because of work, and I just looked at the clock and was like “is it only 12.39 now???” Now I`m off to an office at the university and then to the city centre so see if I can find anything I want among the sales. Have an amazing day y`all.

LET`S GO BACK

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Good food, surprises, Oslo, lazy days and some productivity. That pretty much sums up the past three weeks. I`ve had some chill days here in Norway and now it`s about time I go back to Holland. I don`t need to say it, but I will: I AM SO EXCITED. I`ll land tonight and then have a almost three hours long train ride ahead of me, so I won`t arrive my place until midnight today, but that`s okay. This is all a part of a very fun adventure. 🖤

Talk to you from the Netherlands!!

 

MY JOURNEY AS A STUDENT: A ROLLERCASTER

In secondary and high-school, I was the good student. I was the productive student. Sure, I did procrastinate sometimes, but all in all I did the work I was supposed to do and I did quite well. When I joined university, things changed. I was no longer what I would call “a good student” and the F I got on one of my exams the first semester made me think that was a conformation of exactly that.

For me, the transition from high-school and the university was bigger than I had first anticipated. I`m not sure what exactly I had imagined, but it was when I joined university that I realised how much of a difference there is here between 13th grade and first year of university. In high-school we have to work more independently with the subjects, but the syllabus is not that huge. Also, the teaching methods were different. We`d read book, watch movies, prepare presentations, write essays and do exercises in our course books. At university, I`ve mostly had lectures and seminars to deal with, and one exam at the end of the year. Especially in the courses that are directly related to social anthropology, which is what I`m studying. The first two semesters especially, the work load seemed so huge. We had so many articles to read and I just didn`t know how to tackle them. I wasn`t that motivated and procrastination slowly became a friend of mine. One would think it`s so easy to sit down and get work done, but no, it obviously wasn`t that easy in my head.

I don`t know exactly what made me feel so unmotivated, but one factor that didn`t make things easier at all was the fact that most of the first semester, my grandmother was admitted at the hospital. At the end of the semester she died. I spent much of my time with her, which I don`t regret at all, but I also had to deal with school and sometimes I tried. It`s not like I didn`t study at all; I did meet up with a few students to discuss the syllabus (which I mostly hadn`t read), I attended every single lecture and almost all of the seminars and did have a lot of notes, but I guess that doesn`t help as much as it perhaps have should because I wasn`t motivated and didn`t find my own way to deal with the studies.

I was very sad when I received my first F ever during the first semester. For some time I felt like a failure, and it wasn`t something I talked about. I didn`t tell my friends about it, because I didn`t want to. I ended up not feeling like a good student anymore. It was the kind of feeling that just wrenched your body and makes you feel bad. A grade made me feel that way. I had to tell myself this (which I also wrote on my blog about a year ago and which is something I believe more people need to hear)”: WHAT EVEN – sometimes life happens, sometimes things don`t go according to the plans and sometimes you have to try again. Feeling that way sucked for me, and it made me realise how so many others must be feeling. The feeling of failure, the feeling of not doing enough or being enough, especially when you`ve been doing so good for a long time. It`s easy to feel alone about failing your exam, even though the statistics show that`s not true. But, you`re not alone and it`s okay if you`ve failed your exam. That doesn`t mean I recommend you to fail your exam(s) – put an effort and give 100. Sometimes, that`s not the easiest thing to do. You feel unmotivated, you`re not focused and life happens. Sometimes things don`t go your way and that`s okay – just make sure you get up and keep trying.”

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I won`t say that I forreal got up and kept trying. I did do more work, but still wasn`t that motivated, I didn`t have a proper study schedule and there were many times when I was supposed to syudy, but didn`t. It seems kind of far-fetched now and in my head right now I`m like “did that really happen?”. Time has passed by and it`s been 2 and a half years now. Two years I spent studying in Norway and a half year I`ve spent in the Netherlands. I`m not sure how much, but the time I`ve spent in the Netherlands really has motivated me to work. Maybe it`s the teaching method we`ve been using, which forces us to be active and speak up in order to learn as much as possble, or maybe it`s the interesting topics we as a class have been discussing together. Maybe it`s the whole experience; I`m not exactly sure, but now I really feel motivated to get work done and hopefully get better grades the upcoming semester. I want to find out what works for me and work harder.

Feeling like this honestly makes things better. Motivation makes you feel more energic, more “on it”, more dedicated. It makes you actually want to get things done and be productive. I`ve been trying to work on my motivation for some time now and I`ll definitely be using some tools when I began the last part of my semester in the Netherlands next week. I`m going to write a post about motivation tips, as I know there are many more out there that lack motivation and don`t know how to just sit down and get some studying done.

I hope someone out there found this post inspiring and motivational. Remember that somethings things do go left instead of right. Remember that a grade doesn`t define you or your future and also remember that we`re many students out there who have been struggling or are struggling. Who don`t know how to balance it all. You`re not alone and you are for sure going to make it. 🖤 And in order to make this a more motivational place, let`s share the highlights and lowlights. Are you a student? What has it been like (so far)? Have you ever gotten a grade which has made you doubt yourself or your skills? How do you motivate yourself? Share your advices, I`d love to hear them, as well. 

 

SOME GOOD FEELINGS

💖 I`m going back to the Netherlands on Sunday!! Goes without saying that I`m happy about that. I can`t explain how happy I am that my exchange semester hasn`t come to an end yet and that I have so much to look forward to.

💖 Right now I`m motivated to forreal give 101 % when it comes to my studies and I hope it stays that way. I have a good feeling about the next few weeks in the Netherlands and I hope I can bring those good vibes back with me in the suitcase(s).

💖 Coming home for the holidays has really done me good. It`s been nice to “come back” and relax here. It`s nicer to be at home when you haven`t been home for quite some time.

💖 This whole month is going to be amazing and I have positive feelings about January in general. I have a few chill days here where I can do whatever I feel like before I`m off to the Netherlands.

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About three days left  and I`m leaving. I feel like those who haven`t done an exchange semester or something similar can`t fully understand how I feel. I`m glad that I don`t have to go back to the university in Oslo next week to attend a lecture regarding the bachelor thesis. I`m going to fully enjoy the next few weeks and I already have some fun planned out. AH, what a way to start 2019.