Popular Posts

2015 blessings

Happy New Year everyone!

This post is going up at exactly 0.00 Central European Time, which means that when you read this it is the new year in my timezone and hopefully in your timezone as well and if it's not then I hope you enjoy your last few hours of 2015.

At the beginning of 2015 I thought nothing could top 2014. After the amazing year I had in 2014, I thought for sure things would go wrong in 2015. But 2015 has proven me wrong. It has been a fabulous year and I have been very lucky.

This year has marked the beginning of this blog, back in March. I had a blog before this one, Rainy London, but I wasn't satisfied with it anymore and wanted to start completely over. I have to be honest though, it has been quite difficult for me to blog consistently over the past year. Whenever I've been busy with uni work or just general life stuff, I have been known to let this blog slip. I'm actually quite sad about that, because so many happy memories are left uncaptured. They will be forever in my heart however. Because I've been on some awesome adventures in the past year that haven't been documented properly on here, I thought I would share a few of them in this post.

Obviously I have had some low points during the past year along with the highlights, where I haven't felt confident and lonely at times. But you should always count your blessings and the bad things will last shorter than the memories of the good things. Overall it has been a good year for me.

I do want to also address that even though it has been a good year for me, a lot of bad things have happened in the world that I think have all touched us very close to our hearts. In this light I'm thinking about the refugee crisis that the EU has had to deal with and the attacks on Paris. I really hope that 2016 will be a better year, where we can all respect each other and live peacefully.

Ok I've rambled more than enough now. Here are my highlights and blessings from 2015:

The many adventures I've been on
This year has definitely been about traveling. My travels started in February when I visited London for a few days with my best friend. We had a wander around Tate Modern, had a gigantic pizza at Homeslice and had a little look around Borough Market. I was also lucky enough to visit Saint Petersburg in April. It was one of the most special trips I've been on. We went on an exchange and we got to stay at the homes of local people and some Russian students showed us the city. It was all really special, especially since the culture is totally different from Europe. I would really like to go into more detail, but I suppose that is better saved for another time. I also went interrailing over the summer and visited North-West Engeland just before that as part of my major program. Last but not least I also spent Christmas abroad, skiing in Austria.

Visiting Saint Petersburg
Like I said before, this is one of the most special trips I've been on in my life. I loved that I got to see the city from a local perspective and got to know the Russian culture a bit more. Apart from visiting the many highlights that the city of Saint Petersburg has to offer, we also spent a few days in the countryside. That was an experience in itself. I didn't think the countryside would be so poor, but it was. The roads had holes in them and the houses were very shabby with fences around them. Everyone there had German Shepherds to protect their houses as well. But even if they were poor, they were still so generous and put up with having 14 people over for a sleepover and also gave us tons of food. Even if Russia sometimes gave me chills (it is hardly allowed to talk about politics at all and the language is something of it's own. Also police officers and military there are SCARY!) the people there were one of the nicest I have ever met.

Interrailing across Europe over the summer
Another trip that will always have a special place in my heart is the trip where me and my friend spent two weeks in July traveling across Europe. I actually shared most of that trip on here. You can read about it in this postherehere and here. In consecutive order we visited Heidelberg, Basel, Lugano, Como, Genoa, Cinque Terre, Lago di Ledro, Venice, Trieste, Vienna, Budapest and lastly Prague.

Moving into my own studio
I was hoping I might move to student housing this year and leave my parents home, but I never expected I would get a small studio in Utrecht. It is honestly a dream come true. I live 5 minutes away from my lectures and about 15 minutes away from the city centre. It is less expensive then a room and I get to have my own kitchen and bathroom. Obviously it gets lonely sometimes, I live completely on my own now, while so many others have roommates, but the freedom you have makes it worth it.

Growing amazing friendships
I have been so lucky to have met the most amazing friends this year. They honestly feel like they are becoming my best friends. It is so nice to be able to call them for advice and have them over for a catch up. It is nice to know that you can share everything with other girls and feel like you belong.

Doing really well in my studies

I can't even describe how much I surprised myself by how well I've been doing. I know for 100% that I have chosen the right course for me and I couldn't be more happy. I'm currently studying human geography and planning if you didn't know and absolutely loving it.

Feeling more confident in myself
I'm kind of embarrassed to say this as a twenty year old, but 2015 was the year I had my first kiss. It made me feel so much more confident. I have always secretly thought that there was something wrong with me, but it feels so much better now. I know one kiss shouldn't matter that much, but to be honest it kinda does to me.
And then two months later or so my best friend got herself a boyfriend. I was so happy for her, but also quite jealous for a while. I wanted to be desirable too you know. I have been thinking about starting up an online dating profile, but then I realized that I was perfectly happy with the way things were. Single life isn't as bad as you think. I don't need to have a guy to make me happy right now.

These are the highlights of my year, but besides that there were of course also a few small things that have made me happy and probably always will. These are blessings I will always count no matter what:

Being with family
Seeing the Theory of Everything in the cinema
Watching The Great British Bake Off
Spending time on the sofa with a good book and some tea
Chatting with your best friends and having a good laugh
Having said best friends coming over for dinner in your own apartment
A bite of your favourite chocolate
Encouraging discussions with your fellow students
Having professors believe in your abilities
And finally going back to your parents house over the weekend to enjoy all the home comforts you have missed during the week

I hope 2015 was wonderful for you and 2016 will be even better.

Once more, A very happy new year!

Merry Christmas From Austria

I can't believe it's Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow it's Christmas already. The time has gone so fast. Especially the last week. I'm actually quite sad that the festive period is almost over. It seems like every year I get more and more excited for Christmas. This might be due to the fact that I learn more and more how other countries celebrate. A few years ago I hadn't even heard of mince pies or the fact that the 26th December is called Boxing Day in the UK and that people eat turkey and pull crackers and actually eat their dinner at lunch time on Christmas Day. Does anyone else find that weird? I love all those little traditions that other countries have and try to incorporate as many of them into my December too.

And on top of that I love the traditions we have in our own country as well. Like Serious Request or the fact that we have a second christmas day on the 26th and that we do presents early in December instead of Christmas Day or that we eat oliebollen for new year's eve. All those things together make me feel more and more festive every single year.

And then every year january comes around and I am so sad it's over and I have to wait another year again.

But let's not think about that. We still have christmas and the new year to celebrate.

This year will be a special one for me and my family. It's the first time that we'll celebrate Christmas Day in another country. Normally we spend it at home or visiting family and eating way too much food. This year we will be skiing all day and then having a cosy dinner in our lovely apartment. So much better!

We are spending the week in Austria. So far, it's been amazing sunshine and snow and lots of sleeping. In fact, I'm sat here writing this post in our cosy little apartment after a long day of skiing and drinking mulled wine in the sunshine. It's the perfect way to spend this period and I wish we could do it every year. And we're about to open our christmas presents, before my Mum and I will be of to the local Christmas Eve Mass. I love it.

Tomorrow the plan is to have a nice breakfast and a generally relaxing morning. I might even watch a Christmas movie. In the afternoon we're off for our last afternoon of skiing. And then when we return we will make a big Christmas dinner. On boxing day we will be driving home and the plan is to have another christmas day at our grandparents on the 27th, because we couldn't be there on the 25th.

I hope everyone has a lovely day and if the festive period is difficult for you, then I hope you can still surround yourself with your loved ones and get through the day as best as you can.

Have a very merry christmas!

I'll catch you again in a few days, when we're home again.

I'm Off

It is so much fun to watch your vacation photo's back from years ago!

The matter of fact is that we, as a family, are off to our first christmas skiing holiday. We have been on quite a lot of skiing holidays in the past, but never at christmas. In approximately 9 hours we will get in the car and drive to Austria. As a way to celebrate this fact, I thought it would be fitting to add a few photos from skiing holidays from the past for this blog post. These pictures were taken years ago and I have very fond memories of those skiing trips. When I looked them back up, I realized that I completely forgot how stunning the Alps can be and how amazing I always found such a skiing holiday.

And we're going for a trip to the mountains since six years again today. I can't be more excited.

Since I'm off today to spend the week leading up to Christmas up high in the mountains, I thought I would do a little goodbye post and wish everyone a very happy and merry Christmas next week.

My mum is packing upstairs  right now and I'm sitting by the Christmas tree in my christmas jumper writing this post for you. I am super duper excited for the week up ahead. We've never actually been on holiday over Christmas before. It's going to be a first timer and it's going to be amazing.

I'll make sure to take lots of pictures of course. You can expect the weeks after Christmas to be full of snowy pictures of mountains. If it's going to be as amazing as my memories of past skiing holidays are, then it's going to be the best time I've had in a really long time.

I have two posts scheduled for next week, but goodbye for now and a very merry and happy christmas to all of you.

Personal Challenge: Finding my blogging voice

On January first I'm going to set myself a challenge. It's not a New Year's resolution, even if it's based on one, because I can never keep my new year's resolutions.

No, this challenge is a thirty day challenge and the only effort it takes is for me to sit down at my computer and write on my blog every day. It can be about anything and everything I want as long as it serves the purpose of finding my voice and place in this world. The thing I write might be as long as a tweet, or might be an entire letter, it may contain pictures or won't contain pictures. It's about anything I fancy writing about.

In the blogging world, as of late, many established bloggers have been talking about the future of blogging. Michelle, Hannah, Katie are a few examples. These bloggers have all been blogging for years. They have found their feet in the blogging world and have become successful.  Especially Michelle and Hannah struck a cord with me in their posts about the way blogging has changed and the future it has. They both touch on the subject of blogging popularity. Blogging has become more and more professional over the years. Blogs have started to look like magazines and like Hannah said blogging has gone in a totally different direction then from where it all started. Instead of bringing real content in a way to counteract all those perfect magazines, the blogs have turned into magazines themselves. I completely agree with Hannah. I think people will start to realize that this isn't the way blogging should go and that maybe not in the next year, but sometime soon all of us will again turn in a totally different direction. Maybe even go back to the old days, where everything didn't have to be perfect.

So, where does this leave me?

While reading all these lovely blog posts, and agreeing with most of the thoughts expressed in them, the questioned that remained for me was: what exactly is it that I want? What do I want the blogging world to become and how will my blog fit in it?

And then I realized that I don't have a clue what I'm doing with my blog right now. I need to create some kind of structure for myself, which I have never created before, because of my lack of trying. I have never tried to find my blogging voice, never tried to find something that I'm happy with. All I wanted was to be like other bloggers. All I wanted was to perfectly copy what they were doing and apply their blogging style to my life. Let my just emphasis that I wanted to be like them because I adore each and every one of them, not because I wanted to be successful.

But you can't perfect anything on your first try right? That is also the reason why I've started and stopped so many blogs over the years.

I have always wanted my blog to be perfect, but that is going to change from now on. 2016 will hopefully be the year where I find myself. One of my new years resolutions is to work on myself, get healthier, think about what my goals are for the future and work on my cv and I feel like blogging is going to be part of that New Year's resolution.

The only way I feel like I can give blogging a proper change, is by just figuring it out along the way. By sharing on my blog every single day for a month and maybe even longer than that, I think it will be a learning process and it will make me a better blogger. I'm not going to worry about whether my posts will be good enough. Like my professor said today: "When you want perfection on your first try, you are never going to even start your project."

I have so many plans for this blog and I feel like I will never get down to those plans if I don't find my own blogging voice first. So that is exactly what I'm going to do.

Now I thought it would maybe be nice if others wanted to join in. Maybe we can give each other feedback and ask each other for advice. What do you think?

A Very Merry Christmas Tag

I can't believe how quickly time has gone this year. Christmas is around the corner and before we even know it, it will be 2016. We need to make the most of these few weeks we still have before Christmas day. I'm not looking forward to the bleakness of January at all.

Even though I've been massively busy lately, I've still been feeling really festive and when Celeste tagged me to do the Very Merry Christmas Tag, it came at the perfect time. As we speak, I'm writing this up on a lovely Sunday evening where I'm snuggled up under the blankets with a cup of tea and Notting Hill on tv.

Let's get the questions going then right?

1. What is your favorite thing about Christmas?
If I'm honest I love everything about Christmas, but if I have to choose one thing I think it would have to be the run up to Christmas rather than the day itself. I obviously love spending time with my family on Christmas day, but I think I love the atmosphere surrounding everything to do with Christmas more. Christmas time is just so festive and everything and everyone is so lovely. It's my favourite time of the year.

2. What is your favourite Christmas movie?

There is one movie that I have watched every single Christmas day growing up and that is Sissi. It might not be your classic christmas movie, but it's so good! If you have never watched it before, go watch it sometime this christmas season. For me, it's the perfect christmas fairytale in my opinion.

3. Real or artificial tree?

Real tree, 100%. I don't think we have ever had a fake tree in our house. When it's not a real christmas tree your putting up, then it's not really Christmas. That's my opinion anyway, it might be different for anyone else. For the smell alone, I would go for the real tree all the time.

4. Giving presents or receiving them?

I love receiving gifts of course, but the fact that you have to open them in front of your friends and family is something I don't necessarily like. I would much rather buy a really thoughtful present and watch other peoples reactions.

5. Do you open your presents Christmas morning or evening?
When I grew up, neither. We never used to receive Christmas gifts and instead would receive presents on St. Nicholas Eve, on the fifth of December. This is the birthday of Saint Nicholas, which is celebrated with gifts in the Netherlands instead of on Christmas day. But the last few years we have done small gifts as a family on Christmas Day and that is usually in the morning. So lately it's been Christmas morning, but a few years ago we wouldn't have done any presents at all.

6. What tops your tree?

I don't know what you call them in English, but in dutch we top the tree with what is called a 'Piek'. It's just your basic tree topper, those vintage ones.

7. As a child, what was the one crazy, wild, extravagant gift you always asked for but never received?

I can remember always wanting a Baby Born when I was younger and I always really wanted a lovely bed from the same brand too. I remember being so disappointed when my mum made the bed herself instead of buying a way more expensive one from the brand. But when I look back now I realize how lucky I was that my mum was so creative.

8. Handmade or bought Christmas cards?

I love receiving handmade Christmas cards, but I would never be able to make them. I'm not creative at all, so bought Christmas cards for me all the way in that perspective. That being said, I probably need to go to the shops soon to buy a few.

9. What's your favourite Christmas food?

I love me some good turkey and stuffing or maybe mince pies. It's a tie between those two I think.

10. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

Yes. We don't usually do anything special with dinner, usually something light to set ourselves up for the days ahead, but we always go to the late mass at the local church.  I love that, because then when we get back it's usually already past midnight, which means it's Christmas and we start the day with hot chocolates before going to bed. This year we won't get to do that, because I'll be on holiday for the first time ever.

I hope you liked reading my answers to these questions. 
Thank you so much to Celeste for tagging me.

I'd like to tag Be, Courteney and Alice

Happy Birthday to me: I've turned twenty


Today marks the first day of my twenties. Happy birthday to me!

I'm in two minds about turning twenty. On one side I'm excited. Apparently your twenties are the best years of your life and I honestly can't wait. But on the other side I feel old now that I'm not a teenager anymore. I don't want to grow up. You don't realise how quickly time goes until you look back. Oh my lord time went fast and as of lately the days seem to turn more quickly than ever before.

So yeah, so far my birthday has been good. This morning I had a lovely brunch with my family whilst opening presents and this afternoon my parents will come to visit me. I love birthdays. There is lots of food and cake involved and I always find it lovely when people congratulate me. It's nice to know people care about me and  shoot me a message. And getting gifts is always a bonus too right? This morning I got a lovely new eReader from my parents which I absolutely love. I can't wait to put my books on it and start reading. And from my brother I got an awesome laptop sticker. I'll show you sometime soon.
Anyway, I just wanted to shoot a quick message to all my lovely blog readers. Are any of you doing anything fun today? I'm going to spent my day eating all the cake and opening presents.

Have a lovely day.

Birthday and Christmas Wishlist


I love shopping during the festive period. Apart from the crowds, it is always such a beautiful experience. I like to buy cosy sweaters and look for festive things I can decorate my house with. Also everything in the city at the moment is beautifully decorated and I just love the atmosphere that is around at this time of year. The cold weather makes it perfect for nipping into the warm shops or go for a hot chocolate.

It's also obviously the season for gift buying and I thought that maybe you and I could both do with a little bit of inspiration for that. These are the things that I would love to get for myself or for others that have the same taste as me. Since my birthday is coming up in a week, this is always the time of year where people are starting to ask what I want and I can never come up with anything. So this is a way to answer all their questions. Mum, if you are reading this, these are the things I would love to get for my birthday or christmas.

25 facts about me

I thought it would be time to write about a few things you don't know about me. I haven't been blogging for long and I thought it would be a nice way to introduce myself to all of you. I love hearing about other bloggers random facts about themselves. Now it's time to try it for myself. Let's go.

(I have to say it's really hard to come up with 25 interesting facts about myself, but I hope these are ok).

1. I wear glasses all the time.  I've never owned contact lenses, though I'm thinking of buying some for a holiday that's coming up.

2. I hate clipping my toe nails, even the thought of it makes my skin crawl *shivers*

3. I'm completely addicted to tea in general, but one kind in particular. It's called autumn storm and is basically a blend of apple and cinnamon. It comes out only in autumn here, so I buy it in bulk and stock up for the entire year.

4. I'm a dog person. We had a Golden Retriever up until last Christmas, when she became so ill we had to let her sleep in.

5. People normally don't consider me small, but in actual fact I'm only 5'2.

6. I favour bananas when they have brown spots on them. I'm probably the only one. Everyone else thinks it's gross.

7. I have a massive sweet tooth and would probably eat chocolate all the time if I could.

8. I'm currently doing a degree in Human Geography and am a second year student at Utrecht University.

9. My all time favourite tv show is The Great British Bake Off. I could honestly watch that every single week for the rest of my life if I could. 

10. I failed my driving test six times. From the second time onwards I got so nervous I just couldn't pass, though I'd like to believe that it's harder to pass a driving test in the Netherlands then anywhere else. I did pass my theory test the first time though.

11. I had my first kiss when I was nineteen in a club in Budapest with an Irish guy.

12. One of the most special trips I've been on was an exchange to Saint Petersburg with some Russian geography students. It was amazing to discover a culture that is so different from my own.

13. My full name is very posh: Elisabeth Petronella

14. I'm kind of a nerd. I love studying and organizing and any kind of planning.

15. Stationary is my life.

16. I have a really bad taste in music. I listen to anything cheesy and poppy. I honestly feel quite embarrassed when people ask about my favourite music. 

17. I hate putting myself in the spotlight and am a real introvert.

18. I have had quite an obsession with anything British since the age of twelve and it has always been my dream to live in Great Britain one day.

19. I will never pass up a trip to London.

20. I have actually not mentioned this yet, but my nationality is Dutch and although I have been obsessed with anything British from the age of twelve I'm still a real nationalist at heart and I won't pass up an opportunity to cheer my country on and celebrate it's traditions.

21. My obsession is watching sports on tv. I probably know more about football than my brother and dad do.

22. My favourite time of the year is the period between October and December. I love everything about autumn: the leaves, spices, pumpkins, anything christmassy. 

23. I'm a real homebody and don't like going out to party at all. That being said I'm also a morning person all the way.

24. I've never been drunk and don't plan on getting drunk anytime soon either.

25. I'm a book worm at heart and can't help to always have a book with me. I like to read as a way to relax, which means it isn't likely you will see me with some literate novel, though I would love to make it through Rory Gilmore's list of literary books one day. 

So these were some facts about me. I hope you liked them and I might do another one of these sometime in the fuut

The start of the festive season

Christmas is just around the corner. Are you excited?

For most of us in the Netherlands Christmas is not something we think about just yet. That will come after the fifth of December, when Sinterklaas has gone back to spain. But the festive season does start right now, with the arrival of Sinterklaas. This might sound weird for the people who don't live in the Netherlands, so let me explain.

Believe it or not, but for children in this country Christmas is not the most important holiday of the year. We don't believe in Santa Claus or Father Christmas and the tradition has never been to receive gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Instead we celebrate the birthday of Saint Nicolas on the fifth of December. And that is when we receive presents. The tradition is that Sinterklaas or Saint Nicolas arrives from Spain (he lives there with his helpers) on the second Saturday of November, which was last week. He will return on the sixth of December and the night before that on his birthday he will hand out presents to all the children that have been good in the past year.
It's basically the same thing as Christmas but on a different day and in actual fact Santa Claus and Sinterklaas are the same thing.

I can remember from when I was younger about not really caring all that much about Christmas. The most important date was always the fifth of December. I didn't believe in Father Christmas. Here in the Netherlands Christmas was always about food and celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, never about receiving christmas under the christmas tree. And I still love that about Christmas.

In the last few years with social media and blogger friends from other countries, my love and excitement for Christmas has grown and now I love the whole of December with it's festive spirit.

So yeah, the arrival of Sinterklaas last Saturday marks the start of the festive season for me. I'm officially allowed to watch Christmas movies, listen to christmas music and drink hot chocolates. It's always a crazily busy period, but it's my favourite time of the year. 
These are the plans I have for the coming month and a half:
  • First of all it will be my birthday at the end of November. I will celebrate it with my family on my actual birthday. I'm also planning on meeting up with a good friend and my group of uni friends will meet up the day after to celebrate my birthday, but also Sinterklaas. We are doing secret santa.
  • As I said, my birthday is closely followed by the celebration of Sinterklaas on the fifth. I don't really know how we are celebrating it this year, but I won't be receiving any presents. We might go to the movies though.
  • And then we are storming right ahead to Christmas. I actually have something really really exciting planned for the week before Christmas. I will tell you about it later, but you can expect lots of pictures.
  • And then hopefully we will be partying out 2015 and making awesome resolutions for the New Year.
It's weird isn't it, how traditions alter from family to family and from country to country and I sincerely hope that the celebration of Sinterklaas will never disappear, because it's one of the characteristics of the Dutch culture. Tell me about your plans and traditions surrounding the festive period.

Beautiful Paris

I feel like I'm obliged to write something about last Friday's events in Paris. I was still at work when the attacks happened. After I came back, my family and I spent the whole evening in front of the telly to keep up with the updates. It was truly awful to see it getting worse by the hour and with more information came more deaths. It just kept getting more horrific and it was awful to watch. I went to bed worrying about all those people in Paris. And when I went to work the next day it was all we talked about. That was when I realized that I couldn't form the words to describe it. I didn't know what to say. What can you say about an event like this?

But I feel that we should talk about it. It's important as a community to stand together and support each other as human beings and since I couldn't form the words to talk about it out loud, I thought why not try to write it down.

When seeing those awful images, it made me angry. It made me wonder how people can do that to their fellow human beings and it made me angry to see such a beautiful city in despair. A little more than a year ago I went on a trip to Paris with my best friend and it was honestly one of the best holidays I ever had. We still talk about it. That July we celebrated Quatorze Juliet in France with fireworks over the Eiffel tower and a parade in the streets. The weather was beautiful and everyone was celebratory. It's a jarring contrast between those two images of Paris I have.

The weekend back then was one of the most relaxed city trips I'd ever been on. We had an impromptu picnic in our hotel room, because we were too lazy to go out for dinner. Spent a free afternoon simply reading a book in the Luxembourg Gardens and another night we watched the world cup final in a packed cafe. That was the trip that made me realize how mesmerizing Paris actually is. I want to remember that, instead of those awful images we have seen from Friday night.

I honestly can't imagine how those terrorists are able to do what they do. I can't comprehend it. How can you do something like that to your fellow human beings? I suppose they must be brainwashed, but it's just so awful to imagine that people are capable of something like that. I already feel guilty when I don't go to church on a sunday, imagine if you have the deaths of hundreds of people on your hands.
And it's not that these attacks are worse in Paris than in any other part of the world, where they are more common. It's the fact that it's so close to home that you can imagine it so much better. It's far enough from your bed when the attacks happen thousands of km away that you can't imagine it, but when they happen so close to home it is much more jarring.

I have no clue how we are to proceed from this. How to stop those attacks from happening and what to do with all those refugees. But I think we should at least just try to remember how beautiful our planet is and how lucky we are to live on this planet. There are still good things in the world, I truly believe that.

Utrecht: better than Amsterdam?

There is more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. Utrecht is the fourth biggest populated city in the Netherlands, right behind Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague and in my opinion one of the most beautiful. I would urge you to give Utrecht a go. Not only is it the most centrally located city, it's also a university town and bears close resemblance to cities such as Amsterdam.  I might be a bit biased mind you as Utrecht is my University town and where I live at the moment, but it's still it is one of the most beautiful cities I know. In some occasions I would even say it's better than Amsterdam.

When I mention to foreigners that I'm from the Netherlands, the reaction always is: Oh, Amsterdam, right? And then they look surprised when I mention that I don't live in Amsterdam. Obviously there is more to the Netherlands than that. And a bonus is that Utrecht won't be as packed as Amsterdam is. When you visit the main city centre on a week day in Utrecht, there won't be any tourists, just a few locals most likely. It's so much more peaceful.
I went into town yesterday to pick up a few things and I was again struck by how beautiful Utrecht is and I couldn't help but take a few pictures. It has a lot of the same things that Amsterdam has too: canals, bikes, lots of shops and beautiful old buildings. There are almost no tourists and compared to Amsterdam Utrecht feels much more like a small town instead of a bustling city. And that is one of the things I love most about this city. It has a very cosy feel.

Utrecht is mainly a university town. It hosts the largest university in the country and lots of other higher education schools. This means that everywhere you go you will see students and youth. You will also see people biking absolutely everywhere. The city has been known for their traffic of cyclers.

The city's origins date back to the Middle ages and you see that back in the structure of the city centre. Most of the buildings are from that area. The pictures below are taken in my favourite part of town. It's situated just behind the main shopping streets. I was there during the day, but when walking around there at night it feels like you've been transported right back to that era. I've always loved that. The Dom tower stretching out above the little houses gives it even more of a middle aged feel. Especially since there are some creepy stories surrounding it. I might post about that sometime if you'd like.

The city is very small. I wouldn't if you would be entertained for a few days by just visiting Utrecht, but because Utrecht is so centrally located in the Netherlands you could easily visit other cities, like Rotterdam or the Hague. Or you could even go on a day trip to Utrecht from Amsterdam. It's only 20 minutes by train and definitely worth a visit.

I'm curious have any of you ever been to Amsterdam and/or other places in the Netherlands? What did you think of it?

Life lately: I'm happy to be back

I'm back, and here to stay for a longer time than last hopefully! I've missed you guys so much.

I've been trying to blog on and of for a few years now and every single time, before I start to get into a routine, life happens and I just simply forgot about it and leave my blog behind. Poor blog, always second place to whatever happens in my real life. I suppose that is the way it is. I'm sad about it though and envious of those who do make it happen and manage to blog consistently while also studying and having a social life. I simply can't manage it, it seems. However, the coming few months will be a lot less busy and I'm determined to do get my blog back on track. And this is I guess an introductory post to the coming period and a little catch up of what I've been doing these past few months, since I last blogged back in September. Welcome back to my blog guys, you can expect a lot more from me in the future.

These pictures were taken on the first day of November, last Sunday. What a beautiful day that was. It was probably one of the hottest days of autumn we had up until that moment, although this past week has been exceptionally hot too. It was one of the most beautiful autumn days I can remember in a long time. When I think of November, I think of cold, rainy weather that is great to stay indoors with a nice hot cup of tea and a little bit of chocolate, but not this. Though I love my cold, rainy weather too, I think we might need to make the most of it. And that is exactly what we did last Sunday.
We went to a forest close to my new home in Utrecht. It's actually really close to the home of our retired queen, princes Beatrix in Lage Zwaluwe. The landscape is stunning over there, lots of beautiful old trees and winding lanes, with patches of open field in between. There is a very posh feel to it, which isn't too surprising when royalty actually lives there. But still, there are a lot of absolutely stunning country homes, in which I could imagine myself living when I'm old and grey.
It was beautiful, and the sunlight streaming through the colourful leaves made it all the more stunning.

So what happened in my life these past few months? I guess the biggest thing that happened is the fact that I've moved out of my parents home back in september. I have been trying to adjust to living on my own ever since. It has been awesome so far. I love that I don't have to travel back and fort every single day and that I'm able to actually workout and do more social things in evenings as well. And I love to cook for myself every day. I'm consistently thinking up recipes and tweaking them to my satisfaction and I bloody love it. I can't wait to share a few of them on here.
But at the same time it has been kind of lonely too. Mind you, so far I've been home every weekend to visit my parents and work part time at the local super market, because I still do that on weekends. I can't complain about that really. I mean, I see my family and friends every single weekend. But still. I was so used to catching up on our days at supper with my mum. I guess that is what I miss the most. It is simply not as fun to eat dinner all by yourself.

So yeah I've been adjusting to living on my own and have also been extremely busy with course work too. October was extreme. I was stupid enough to think that I could manage four courses instead of the usual two. That was a big mistake. I think I managed to pass each of them in the end, but I didn't enjoy a second of it. This past month consisted of rolling from one project into another and I've spent a serious amount of time in the library. I'm so glad it has died down a bit now. Last week, while some of my best friends went on a midweek trip to Dublin, I had my last test of the first period and I'm so relieved. Next week, my new courses start and I thought it would be wise to tone down the amount of courses I took on, now it's three instead of two, which is so much better!

And that means a lot more free time, to actually get back into the blogging game.

I honestly don't know what it is about blogging. I keep getting back to it and trying again and again and again. Hopefully one moment in time, it should finally stick and I will manage to keep going. I hope this is that time.

I haven't talked to you guys in ages, so what have you all been up to? I need to catch up on all the blog posts I missed too, so send me your latest blog posts! It will be lovely to read them and hear from you.

See you soon!

How to nail a group assignment when your group partners aren't doing their job


Everyone will encounter this a few times during their school years or career. A group assignment that needs to be handed in, but the communication is bad, people aren't doing what they're supposed to do, everyone has different ideas and it's just not working. It results in everyone being frustrated, you leave everything to do last minute and you feel like you are doing all the work. How to deal with that?

YOU need to communicate, even if others are not
Even if no one else is communicating, make sure that you do. Tell them exactly what your doing or where you are when you can't respond. If one of you is making progress, then maybe others will follow and take over your job. Maybe they will tell you what they are doing in return and you can take a step forward.

Make sure you have planning
You are not bound to a planning and you can change it during the progress, but make sure that it's clear what everyone has to do. Even if the others aren't doing your job, do yours, because that will make the progress go forward at least. It's also important to ask questions. When you have written a piece, ask someone to review it for you or ask another member of your team if they want to take over and write that certain piece.

Don't do all the work yourself
Even if it's important that you tell your partners what you are doing and that you are doing your job, it is also important to make sure that you are not doing all the work. Tell the others that you aren't available to work on it anymore for the rest of the day and tell the others what the things are that still need to be done for the rest of day. Don't answer any questions for the remainder of the day and let them do their job.

Let the others know that you are not happy with their work ethic
If you are frustrated, don't keep it all in. That won't serve the problem. As I said before, communication is the key, so make sure that the others understand that you aren't happy with the way things are going. There needs to be a balance of course. You don't want to scare them away or brake into a fight, but let them know. That way they can do something about it and maybe it will al work out.

Don't let frustration get in the way of your work ethic
Being frustrated can result in feeling like you should just stop working. Like it won't matter how much work you do, you are not getting any further. Or feeling frustrated that no one is doing anything, so you should stop doing things too. You feel like people are taking advantage of you (that is of course not okay), but others might be frustrated too. You are not the only who wants to do well or get a good grade, so make sure you still do your job.

If all else fails, tell your group members that it isn't working out for you and that you'd rather do it alone.

Sunday Reflections


Today has been great. Sometimes you just have those Sundays where you get that Sunday feeling. You know, where it's just a totally relaxing day spent with your family, eating great food, enjoying a walk in super nice weather outside and even pampering yourself a little. For some people, Sunday is their favorite day, but for me it can be a hit or miss. Sometimes they make me feel so sluggish and tired, and sitting inside all day makes me get a headache. Plus I always plan Sundays in as a day for homework, which can suck of course, but not today. Today was amazing so far and it's not even over yet. I made a to do list this morning and so far I ticked most things of my list. I spent a few hours in bed this morning watching some F1 on the BBC (isn't Max Verstappen something? I'll always support a follow dutchie), before having a big brunch and start revising for my Statistics exam coming Thursday. Even though the subject sucks, even that wasn't so bad. My mum and I walked along the river for a good hour in the sunshine and we are going out for dinner tonight. And now I'm writing this post while enjoying some chocolate and a cup of tea. Life's truly good at the moment.

Can I just apologize though for being absent these past few weeks? I don't know, I'm having a lot of trouble finding the motivation and ideas to blog. Do any of you have any tips on how to write blog posts consistently? I think I have the most trouble with taking pictures for the blogpost. I don't know why exactly, but I just have a hard time picking up my camera and finding the right ways to take the photos I want to take. Maybe I should schedule in a certain amount of time where I take all the pictures for the week ahead?

Anyway, you didn't miss much in these past few weeks. I played some floorball for the first time on Thursday and really liked it. I think I'll try it more often. I'm also planning on doing some more lessons at my local gym, like zumba, pilates or yoga.
I'm also really busy with uni. Next week I have a test and two assignments to hand in and the work is really starting to built up. It's slowly driving me crazy and I feel like I should really start planning a little bit more. I think a few hours in the library are due soon, maybe I'll schedule in a full day of studying.

So how has everyone else's week been? Did you do anything fun?
© My Return Ticket. Design by MangoBlogs.