I am from the war-ravaged nation, Somali, and six months ago scored a major one. I secured a scholarship to do my undergraduate degree in the Netherlands. First, joy at having my hard work appreciated and second, the anxiety.
Part of me wanted this bad. I wanted to leave mu country for so long, but only so I could go gather enough knowledge to come back and make it a better place. I still plan to do that once I am done with these studies. The other part of me was apprehensive. What would I tell people about my nation of they peppered me with questions – which I was sure they would.
The only real journey I had made out of Somali was to neighboring country, Kenya, where I went to high school and lived for the past 10 years. Well, ready or not, I was going to the Netherlands!
As you would expect, I was super impressed by The Hague. Every time I ride my bike to town or just to catch some air, it feels liberating. I was and is still overwhelmed by the infrastructure, the waterways, and scheduled public transport that never breaks down.
The city is clean and everyone minds their business, whichmakes me miss my days at home a little. Still, I am yet to take it all in six months later.
Neighborliness – or Lack of it
As an international child support lawyer in training, I am generally a very social being. I love eating in a crowd, laughing with people around me, and maybe this is a bad habit – I am a little touchy. More than once I have slapped – not so hard – a friend on the arm or back as I laughed and ended up being reprimanded. Old habits, I guess but that is how we act at home. Well, when in Rome…
In the same breath, I noticed most people hardly make eye contact with strangers in the streets as they are usually minding their own. I, on the other hand, am always scanning the streets for a friendly face to smile at or wave. They must think I am a weirdo.
Drink, Child. Drink
The liberation of the streets means people are not afraid to drink at will. Of all the things I am trying to grapple with, this impresses me the most. Freedom is beautiful and no one should be judged for carrying a bottle of liquor or chugging from a concealed flask at 11am.
The Nightly Walks
These I find fascinating. I love walking, which I did all the time in Kenya and Somali, but the nighty walks are new to me. Since the city is super safe, I find myself walking everywhere just to feel the breeze. Winters are not easy on a person born and raised in the tropics and so I am yet to get used to those. Till then, I will be that melanin-goddess bundled up in five layers of clothes. Also, winters make me miss home terribly.