Sometimes trying to come up with a topic for a blog can be downright difficult. Inspiration just loves to get lost en route to what should be an enlightening moment. I am sitting at my desk with one leg underneath me. The London Philharmonic Orchestra are playing Carmen Suite No.2, and the volume of my headphones is up really loud because I love the calming effect really loud classical music has on me before bed. Yet, I am nowhere near ready for bed yet. I need to write a blog post and I’m racking my brain for ideas with no huge success. I am convinced my brain has slowly degenerated and fallen subject to a case of idiototicstupid-itis since completing my masters degree almost one year ago.
One year ago. I wonder what I was doing one year ago. One of the beautiful things about blogging is the ability to preserve of memories. I click on my National Blog Post Month folder and scroll to November 4th 2013. I laugh at the irony – this day last year I blogged about procrastination whilst procrastinating, and here I am one year later procrastinating again. Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ begins to whistle softly in my ears. I smile at the fact that it was this time last year that I fell deeply in love with the score of that very ballet. I associate it with nights alone in my student bedroom reflecting on a busy day of college meetings and studying. I associate it with long days in the library furiously writing my thesis. I associate it with cycling to college in the rain. I smile again as I remember sitting through numerous classes in wet jeans all because I didn’t see the point of a rain suit.
I get a message from the lovely Paris from Not Just A City asking about my time in The Netherlands. I read the questions she asks me, answering them briefly in my head as I go, and smile again as inspiration hits with such dexterity that I can hardly imagine the thought of such arduous worrying over having ‘nothing to write about.’ A veil of nostalgia was hanging over me all evening. When everything ignites a fond memory of the past, there’s only one thing to blog about.
10 Things I Miss About This Time Last Year
There’s no denying that the last three months of 2013 were a defining point in my life. I won’t go into the details now – this intro is long enough as it is – but I will give you a glimpse into the main aspects of my life last year that I miss.
In no particular order, I really miss…….
1…Living in Utrecht. Probably my favourite city in the whole world. I have spoken about my love of my second hometown extensively on my blog. I love the grachten (canals), de Wilheminapark in the centre of the city, the lack of tourists compared to Amsterdam, the people, the food, accessibility from Utrecht to anywhere in the Netherlands, the cycling, the freedom… I miss my entire lifestyle.
2…The University of Utrecht Library (Drift). I spent upwards of 75% of my time here in November & December 2013. Even if you aren’t a book lover you can appreciate how inviting those bookshelves look! I used to tuck myself away at the end of a stack, usually in the languages or literature section. The reason being is that whenever nature called, I had to pass the above pictured area to get to the toilets. 2013 Charlene had her priorities straight!!
3…Cycling everywhere. This year I have a car, but I miss the flexibility of having a bike as your primary method of transport and the opportunity to go where no car can go. Being able to park wherever you like has it’s perks too!
4…The Dom Tower during the day. The central point of the city, and a great meeting point for anyone who doesn’t know Utrecht very well. ❤
5…Thinking I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought I had it all planned out. Turns out I was pretending, and I honestly still don’t know what kind of a career I want. I want to do it all.
6…Dining ‘op terras’. I miss sitting outside on freezing cold evenings with nothing but heaters and warm conversation to keep me toasty. I miss our local cafe-bar, Buurten, where Morgan and I retreated for wine and cheese if we weren’t in the mood for study… which was far too frequently. It was here I first discovered my love of Old Amsterdam cheese, and I will forever be thankful for that!
7…Dates at museums and cafés. Whoever says Paris is the city of love has never spent time in Utrecht! I spent many an afternoon and evening enjoying the company of a handsome man sipping coffee, and appreciating the work of Dutch artists I had never heard of. Everyone needs a Dutch love-affair at least once in their life!
7…The Dom Tower at night. Still the central point of the city. Still a great meeting point for anyone who doesn’t know Utrecht very well. Just even more domineering and magical!
8…My international group of friends. Undertaking a masters degree with an international focus, and studying in three different countries in three months meant that I met a lot of people from a variety of cultures. I made some of my closest friendships this time last year. I miss my Frenchies and Dutchies, and of course the Irish contingent too!
9…Saturday dinners with Teddy. One of these great international friends of mine, Teddy, and I used to choose a different restaurant in Utrecht each week to try out. Greek, Argentinian, Indian, Ethiopian, you name it, we tried it. Sometimes other friends joined us, sometimes we dined alone. Then there was a time that we decided to order off of JustEat.nl. Ah who am I kidding, I just miss Teddy in general *waves to Teddy who is now in London*
10…the magical feeling of belonging. Somebody said to me that Utrecht is my spiritual home, and I completely agree. I have never felt more at home in an unknown city, in a strange country where I did not speak the language. It was as if I was immediately accepted and welcomed into Dutch culture with open arms, and I embraced it back!
It’s times like these that I value my decision to start documenting my so called adventures through blogging. I am so grateful to have my thoughts to look back on just one year later. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like to read them in five or ten years time!
What do you remember or miss most about this time last year?