Mohit's Netherlands Experience

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page"- St. Agustine

From Boston to Amsterdam

“Friendships must be built on a solid foundation of alcohol, sarcasm, inappropriateness, and shenanigans.”- Unknown. Last week (from the 12th till 17th of December), I had the fortuity of a friend visiting from Boston! Riday Nakhate is a friend of mine from Northeastern University since a few years now, and we decided to make a plan to go to Amsterdam together before my coop finishes. Having not seen each other for 4 months, there was a lot to catch up on- and where to do it better than to walk around the canals of Amsterdam! A city whose beauty lies in the subtlety of its path walks merged with the canals, Amsterdam was simply breathtaking. Aside from observing the natural allure, we also made a trip to the Van Gogh museum- but after seeing the 1 hour queue to enter, we decided to enjoy the paintings in the gift shop instead- much less of a wait time. Still a successful trip I’d say. We also did a bunch of other touristy stuff like taking photos next to the “I amsterdam” public logo, and eating a bunch of street food from fries with mayonnaise to warm stroopwafels (yup, we went all Dutch). After spending 2 days in Amsterdam, Riday came back to Eindhoven with me and I got to show him a little bit of where I’d been living for the past 4 months! He also happened to be here for my birthday (16th December- now I expect a gift next year around) and we had a great time going out and about Eindhoven! Funny how two Indians that met in a university in Boston ended up spending one’s birthday in Amsterdam and Eindhoven. Only with Northeastern University. #iHeartCoop #NUCoop #Boston2Amsterdam #Eindhoven #Reunion

London: A City Like No Other

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”- G.K. Chesterton. I guess on my trip to London I was a bit of both; a traveler and a tourist. I had always heard so much about London, and you’d be surprised at how many students go there for university after completing high school in Zambia; but nothing could have prepared me to experience the hype once I got there. Winter Wonderland, Oxford Street, Big Ben, London Eye, meeting the Queen- so much to see, so much to do, so little time! First off, I have to start by thanking my friend Sara Karnib, once again a friend from Zambia (I told you you’d be surprised how vast us Zambians spread around the world), for being such a great host and showing me around! And also a big shout-out to Kasweka Konga, Luciano Pasquini, and Aaron Byrne for coming out and having a Zambian reunion! Much love <3. One of the first things I noticed when I got there was how pleasant the weather was compared to what I had pictured it to be. I thought I’d be walking into a huge storm without any sunlight, but London actually has not so terrible weather when compared to other European cities. It was slightly warmer than the Netherlands, and it also did not rain too heavily whilst I was there as it did in Scotland. One of the coolest things I did with Sara and Kassy was go at 4am to a place called Duck and Waffle where we could see the whole view of the city from the top of a building whilst eating a piece of duck with a waffle (maybe it was the alcohol talking, but I found that to be an amazing combination). One not so cool think Sara and Kassy did force me to do though was go on the unnerving epitome of death ride called “The Hangover”. A 90 meters free fall drop disguised as a “ride” in Winter Wonderland that will leave you pretty breathless by the end of it. I’ve got to say though, I think I conquered my fear of heights after seeing how beautiful the view was from all the way up. Amazing experience with amazing people. #Reunion #WinterWonderland #London #NUCoop #iHeartCoop

Switzerland: How Did So Many Zambians End Up Here?!

“A trip to nostalgia every now and then is good for the spirit.”- Dan Bartolovic. I had the delightful opportunity of travelling to Lausanne in Switzerland over the past weekend. I visited and stayed with a friend I had not met since I left Zambia for university in 2012! Abhijit used to be a grade below me in High School, and we were together at the same High School for 8 years. He’s been studying in Lausanne, Switzerland, for the past 2 and a half years now- and once we both realized how close the Netherlands is to Switzerland (well close in terms of Zambia being far…), we did not hesitate to immediately make a plan! He visited me the weekend before and we had a blast in Eindhoven, and now it was my turn to visit Lausanne! However, it turns out in Lausanne there are a lot more people from Zambia than I had expected. Another friend from our High School that was 2 years below me but played in the same basketball team as I is now studying in Geneva, and he joined us for the weekend in Lausanne too. His name is Tsotlhe. As if this was not a reunion enough, we soon found out that another friend of ours that I had not seen in 4 years, Ali, was also doing an internship in Lausanne. We all went out for lunch one day, and it literally felt so surreal; as though I was back at O’Hagan’s in Lusaka for lunch (sorry, Zambian reference). I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in quite a long time- reminiscing over past stories and catching up on where life has taken us all now, and how coincidental it was that we ended up meeting in Lausanne! Aside from the amazing reunion, I got a chance to explore the spectacular city of Lausanne. It snowed over the weekend, which actually only made the city even more beautiful. We were able to see an awesome view of the mountains during the day, and go to some of the best clubs at night. I know I am definitely booking my calendar for a trip back sometime, but first I’ll have to save up enough to come back to Switzerland- a McDonalds meal there costs about 12 Swiss Franks, which is currently about 12 U.S. Dollars for all my American friends. Yup, about 3 times as much than America- granted the quality is much, MUCH better. Who knows, perhaps by the time I visit again there will be even more Zambians in Lausanne and we could have a big braai (sorry, Zambian reference again)! #Reunion #Travellers #Lausanne #WhatAWeekend #TakeMeBack #iHeartCoop #NUCoop

Glow Festival!

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”- Albus Dumbledore. The 7th – 14th of November marked a festival of lights in Eindhoven, entitled Glow! Over 650,000 people visited this festival in 2014, and this year the expected number was to be even higher. As the founding city of Philips, Eindhoven takes pride in profiling itself distinctively in the area of light- celebrating this design and technology driven initiative where around 50 light artists create public light installations, sculptures, projections, and performances. This year was absolutely beautiful. I went on a tour sponsored by the company where I intern- ASML- with an Italian friend I met in Eindhoven, Cristiana. The tour lasted about 2 hours- but believe me you would not even notice the time you spent walking because you’d be too distracted by the enchanting lights. My favorite was the main attraction, which was a large illuminated installation of a castle (seen in the picture)- made me feel like a child in a kingdom. Coincidentally enough, Diwali- which is a festival of lights in India- fell on the 11th of November this year- during the week of Glow. My longing for an Indian Diwali was pretty much fulfilled by the abundance of lights at Glow- but perhaps some Indian sweets would have been the cherry on top of the cake (or the silver stuff on top of the barfi- trying to make an Indian sweets reference here). The beauty in Eindhoven never ceases to amaze me. #NUCoop #iHeartCoop #GLOW2k15 #Eindhoven #Netherlands

Scotland: Home to Breathtaking Landscapes and Amazing People

“The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”- Muhammad Ali. A powerful quote with profound applicability. It could be that as the world changes it also changes your view of it, or perhaps it is your perspective that evolves due to new experiences on the same world itself. Firstly, I’d like to apologize for posting this so late! The past 2 weeks have been filled with travelling, festivals, and tons of work at the office! Excuses aside, I’ll be posting 3 posts in succession to make up for lost time :). Scotland- where to begin with this magnificent country. When I first arrived on the 6th of November, I was not quite sure what to expect. My ignorance led me to believe that most European countries are pretty much the same- rainy weather, lots of Irish bars, cycles everywhere, etc.; but Scotland changed that impression fairly quickly (well, apart from the rainy weather).  I went to visit a friend from Zambia, Zara, who has been studying in Edinburgh for the past 3 and a half years now. It was a sort of reunion as our other Zambian friends from London and Leeds joined for the weekend as well- Kasweka and Valencia. We had an absolute blast of a weekend. Amidst the night life- which is tons of fun (Scottish people know how to #turnup)- the beauty of Edinburgh is unparalleled. I guess the picture says it all, but when I first saw the castles and other building architecture, I knew my phone was going to get drenched in rain because I’d be taking pictures all day. There was one view that really made me just think about life. It overlooked the whole city from a high vantage point, and something about it just didn’t let you turn away from it. My friends insisted on carrying on to see more sites, but I stood there for a good 10 minutes just taking it all in. Absolutely mesmerizing. As beautiful as the city is, I noticed that the people are very optimistic and cheerful as well. I remember us coming across a child and his mum as we walked down the street when suddenly it started to rain pretty heavily. We looked at each other in dismay, but the child and mum were almost celebrating. “Mommy it’s starting to rain; YAY!”. The confusion in me was shoved aside by this optimism, and we all decided to still go sight-seeing amidst this downpour. All in all, Scotland gave me a newly found appreciation towards architecture and natural landscapes. #Scotland #Beautiful #Reunion #WhenCanIGoBack #iHeartCoop #ExperiencesWorthALifetime

A Homely Feeling Away From Home

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”- Miriam Adeney. I think an addition to that quote should be, “but when you do reunite with those people from different places, you always feel a somewhat homely feeling away from home”. I had a few friends visit over the past couple of weekends, and it was simply bliss. The first was a friend of mine that I had not met since graduating from high school in Lusaka, Zambia! Michael’s currently living in Arnhem, the North-East of the Netherlands, and after making contact we both agreed a meetup was long overdue. Catching up on all things Zambian, and reminiscing on old I.B. days, brought back some fond memories that had been forgotten. Having been caught up in moving and relocating to a new place and environment, it made me halt for a second and stay connected with my roots. Traveling and experiencing new cultures can always be invigorating, but I believe it is important to know where you are coming from and not change whom you are completely depending on your surroundings. Now I’m not saying it is not good to adapt, but I think some of the values and beliefs that your culture has taught you should not get washed away in the sea of exploration. Maybe that will be the opening quote for my next blog post. Anyhoo, we had an amazing time exploring the longest bar street in the Netherlands (yes, it is right here in Eindhoven), and we jammed out for a large part of the night (we both play the guitar, and our singing is bearable). My other friend that had visited was a friend from Boston! Aline’s doing a study abroad in Paris, and after a few weeks of planning, we finally got a chance to meet in Eindhoven. It was so great seeing her again, especially since she had done a coop abroad before her study abroad, and so was missing in action for almost a full year. We definitely caught up on all things Boston, and had a blast of a time exploring Eindhoven together. Cheers to living it up with old friends; no matter where you are. #Friendships #Reunions #Homeliness #NUCoop #Eindhoven #Netherlands #iHeartCoop

DDW: Dutch Design Week

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul”- Dieter F. Uchtdorf. These past few weeks have been insanely busy ones; hence the slightly long period of no posts! My apologies! In an attempt to make amends, I’ll be posting 2 posts right after one another :). To start with, a few weeks ago was the Dutch Design Week! I already briefly mentioned what this event is in my previous post- essentially an abundance of public displays that depict some form of human expression. It could be a design for a new type of energy efficient water irrigation system, to a design that is visually appealing and inspired by modern art. The phenomenon of design being categorized as its individual entity is what really surprised me. I never thought of “design” as its own process, I always thought of it as a major step in producing any product, however the product is the bigger picture. For instance, in an engineering class at Northeastern University, we were told to make a contraption that can safely land a pumpkin off a 5 floor building- the design of this contraption is up to you, but the end goal was that it had to land a pumpkin without breaking it. However, the emphasis during design week is given to simply designing anything- with or without an “end goal”. I find this the rawest form of human expression as not only do you build off of instinctual creativity, but you have no limits to what you can conceptualize. In the picture are a few of the highlights of exhibits seen in a public gathering- definitely eye catching. #DesignForTheWin #Eindhoven #NoBoundaries #NUCoop #iHeartCoop

The Streets of Eindhoven are Buzzing!

“It’s better to look back at life and say: “I can’t believe I did that.” Than to look back and say: “I wish I did that.”- Wiz Khalifa. This quote may not entirely reflect this post, but it is definitely one that I love to live by. This past week has been quite the busy one in Eindhoven- between the Dutch Design Week that just started a few days ago, to the Eindhoven Marathon that takes place once a year, and not to forget the lively PSV game; Eindhoven has been the place to be! Similar to a tradition in Boston (where I attend Northeastern University), Eindhoven has a yearly tradition of celebrating a 40 km marathon run. This run occurred last week on the 11th of October, and it was setup through the whole city of Eindhoven, passing all the main landmarks (the main city of Eindhoven is in a circular region that only spans about 8 km in diameter). A magnificent sight with balloons, live bands, and lots of food trucks. Another event that occurred this weekend was the PSV football game- to which I happened to get free tickets from work. For those as oblivious I was a few weeks ago, PSV is Eindhoven’s local football team, and having defeated Manchester United a few weeks ago, they are quite the impressive team! It was my first ever football game, and the Philips Stadium was my first ever football stadium to set foot in. With an amazing and loud atmosphere, and a chilled beer in hand, it was the ideal Saturday night. Lastly, the whole city of Eindhoven is buzzing about Dutch Design Week (DDW)! This is one of the biggest events that occurs in Eindhoven, where students and artists alike have public displays of their masterpieces for a week- some of which are interactive. Being home to the outstanding Design Academy of Eindhoven, some of the exhibits were absolutely mesmerizing. One that really caught my attention was a window that could change its transparency based on the voltage that passed through it- hence being able to choose how much sunlight entered your house. It’s expected to go commercial in 2 years, so start saving up people! I was fortunate enough to also be asked to give an interview whilst observing an exhibit, sharing my opinions about what I thought of DDW. They were delighted to hear it was my first DDW- and how much I was loving it. Quite the busy and amazing week indeed. Stay posted for more pictures from DDW coming up soon in Gallery of Escapades! #Eindhoven #DutchDesignWeek #PSV #NUCoop #iHeartCoop #Netherlands #ButHowGoodWasILookingForTheInterview #PublicHammocksAreTheBest

Some Culture For The Soul

“Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity”- Robert Alan. This past week at work, I encountered a couple of cultural differences that I was pleasantly surprised by. Knowing my background, you may ask “differences” in comparison to the culture I have experienced in Boston, America, or Delhi, India, or perhaps Lusaka, Zambia? Well, in one simple answer; all of them. Personally, I do associate myself with more of a Zambian culture as I grew up and attended school in Zambia for 16 out of 21 years of my life, however at my workplace in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, I noticed a few norms that I had never experienced in any of my cultural encounters before- and I loved them! The first norm I noticed is that there is always music playing at the workplace; albeit at a low volume. The picture in the middle of the collage is of a standard radio that is common to be shared between 3 – 4 workstations (the workstations are pretty close where I work). The station selected plays all trendy, top of the chart songs, ranging in variety from electro-house songs like “Lean On” by Major Lazer, to making Beliebers out of everyone at the workplace with “What Do You Mean” by Justin Bieber. Coming from a previous coop where mum was the word at the workstation, honestly the music was slightly distracting at first, however I started to notice that it would help me get through the day and make me feel much less tired by the end of it. I soon got so used to the music, even when the radio might have been off, I would plug in my earphones to the same radio station online. The second norm I came across- which perhaps I love even more- is getting together for “vlaai”. “Vlaai” is a Dutch desert, which directly translates to flan- however, it’s more of a traditional sweet pie, as can be seen in the pictures on the sides of the collage. It is customary at the workplace that whenever a major event has occurred- such as a birthday, or a colleague having a new born child- then said colleague celebrates by bringing vlaai for the whole floor (our floor is about 30 people). I’m not sure if Dutch cows just produce extremely delicious milk, but vlaai is like something I have never tasted before; it’s jaw-droppingly delicious. Kudos to experiencing new cultures- especially when it ends up in having a belly full of delicious treats whilst jamming out to Avicii. #CoopLife #DutchTradition #CulturalPerspectives #iHeartCoop #NUCoop #Eindhoven #Netherlands #VlaaiForTheWin

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