Flashbacks

9 04 2014

running shot 2Although it is safe to say that Utrecht is always on my mind, this past week has been especially prevalent with thoughts of stroopwafels, bikes and the Dutch. Every little thing seemed to be pointing for me to remember some minute detail of my time there, and luckily, today it hit me. While abroad, I would occasionally take runs [I use the word lightly] around my neighborhood of Tuindorp. My first time going out, I had no plan and just thought I would run as far as possible and hopefully maneuver my way back. The run would go past my student housing complex along the road I would bike to school until I would come to a bridge near a playground with a white bench [where I would rest if it were especially hot]. There, I would make a left and run along the road until I made another left at a brick wall only to run until I saw a mini park with a pond. At this point, I would only be about 15-20 minutes in my run, but the park was so pretty that I decided to sit in the grass. That first time there, I can remember laying back in the grass, a sweaty mess, listening to my music, smelling the fresh cool breeze and hear the unique sound of bikes on cobblestone all around me. I loved that little place I’m pretty sure was next to a church. I’m not sure why, but every time I would run I would take solace in knowing I would eventually take a break from the run and from the ever-coursing thoughts of terror at being in such a foreign place.
running spotToday, I decided to walk to the UC to get dinner. The sun had barely started to set; it was cool and the air smelled different. Clean, even. And while waiting for the light to change, I took a half-second to close my eyes, hearing a biker whish past me, my music playing in my headphones. Instantly, I was back in that park, so vividly as if I had literally run into a pole [which I promise you did happen while riding my bike a few times]. I was surprised that I wasn’t overwhelmed with a sense of sadness – but a feeling of just being at home. So much so that once I had my dinner and made it back to my apartment, I got on Google Maps and followed my old running path until I found the street view of the park, sunny and filled with liveliness.
I’m not sure what this feeling is yet. I honestly have no idea. So often I’ve been sad at being away from the Netherlands and from that life, but today I was happier. I smiled at the images in my head and instead of desperately clinging to them, I waved as they passed and inhaled deeply, still smelling the air.
I’ve applied to be a UT International Guide for the fall semester. Something similar to Erasmus, I assume, where we serve as tour guides, welcome leaders, and peer mentors to international students for the semester. I hope to get the job. Maybe my incessant need to talk about studying abroad can come in handy now!
Tot ziens.

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