Monday, 23 June 2014

Netherlands v. Chile/ Procrastination v. Thesis

Hi everyone,

Unlike the usual monotonous Mondays, today is an exciting day in Master’s land. Today is the third Netherlands game in the World Cup (and the third day of football-induced madness) topped off with the first of a series of final thesis deadlines.

Students in our LLM, depending on who is your assigned supervisor, are doing small jumps for joy and happy dances as they submit the final draft copy of their thesis to be graded. Submitting the thesis (otherwise known as the small *fingers crossed* masterpiece you have been working on for weeks) today means you can get it back with corrections, receive a provisional grade and have the opportunity to edit it one last time to go up a maximum of one grade point. For those who are highly organized, avoid procrastination and are immune to the many distractions of summer, it is a good opportunity to receive feedback. For me, I will be steadily plodding along to the final deadline of July 14th, working out the nooks and crannies of my arguments on the insanity defense at the ICC and hoping in vain that my footnotes will magically edit themselves during the night.

Among the many distractions of summer, it is hard to ignore the thrills of the World Cup, even for those who only find themselves drawn to football once every four years. The Netherlands is truly a football-crazed nation, and the World Cup is certainly no exception. Walk through the streets on a World Cup match day and you will find outdoor TV screens, decorations that rival the national holiday and (of course) people dressed head-to-toe in bright orange.

The excitement grows with every game as the Netherlands claimed victory against both Spain and Australia and are marching on to the next round, with the remaining game against Chile to be played out tonight. It is hard to escape the infectious cheers of HUP HOLLAND! that spread across the city after every goal. If there was ever a moment to see the party spirit of the Dutch, it had to be the celebrations following the Netherlands 5-1 win over Spain, a sweet revenge against the team that took the finals four years ago.

Fans cheering as the Dutch team scores a goal in the World Cup
For those who don’t like football, there is still plenty of distraction. Many of my classmates have managed to sneak in a quick holiday (or two) over the past few weeks, sharing pictures of sun-soaked places while I enviously work away at my thesis. My consolation is that my flights for summer holidays are booked and I will soon have a few weeks back in Canada after being away for an entire year. It’s just enough time to get a taste of all my home favourites before returning to the Netherlands - my new home away from home.

The joys of getting to the end of the programme and handing in the thesis are also met with the reality that most of the people in our programme come from far away and it’s just about time to return home. Some people have already gone home early (because you can write your thesis from anywhere) and most are planning to leave this week. The class is set to have a final dinner on Wednesday, a final hoora to a year well spent and good friends made along the way. There will certainly be many promises of reunions with those good friends we wish would find a job in the Netherlands and stay well past this year.

While others jet off to start new jobs, travel, or spend the summer celebrating before continuing with law school back home, I will be happily continuing my student assistant work at the university and looking forward to staying in the fairytale city of Utrecht long past the end of the programme. Aside from very studious ICC-related reading, I am reading the many adventures of Foeksia de Miniheks (Foeskia the mini witch), a popular Dutch children’s book. Learning language and culture is a continuous process here and there is always something new and unusual.

This week, I thought the sight of a schoolbag hanging from a flagpole outside a house was the result of beer-fuelled World Cup antics, only to be informed a school bag is placed on the flagpole of the house to signify that someone has just successfully graduated high school. It’s just another long-held tradition that you bump into along your way as an international student.

As the Dutch say “Doe maar normal, dan doe je al gek genough” –  Just act normal, then that’s already crazy enough!

Tot de volgende keer/Until next time,