Well, we’re back. The university has once again opened its doors to the hundreds of students eager to learn, or get attendance marks, at least. But before we go any further, I think it is worth pausing for reflection on what you can experience during a short two-week break at home.
I must admit, being at home again was a strange sensation. Not only was I no longer solely responsible for cooking, cleaning and other tasks that take up so much of your time as a student (thanks mum & dad), but I found myself struggling with traffic; I had become so used to left-hand drive cars, that I was getting in the passenger seat in my own car, and forgetting which way to look before crossing the road! Thankfully I didn’t cause an incident, but screwing my head back on to the British way of thinking took the majority of the two weeks; I only just got used to the roads again before I shipped myself back out to Amsterdam to be confused yet again by the simplest of things!
Anyway, perhaps one of the things that I had missed most about home is actually the scenery. As much as I enjoy getting lost down the narrow, endless streets of Amsterdam, going home gave me chance to have easy access to the countryside where I can walk my dog, one thing I can’t do in Amsterdam. To wake up in the early hours and go for a run on the winding pathways in the local forest, just as the sun is kissing the misty hillside, is a sight that makes getting up early a worthwhile venture. It might have been freezing, but the view was magnificent, not least because it was pretty much the first hill that I had seen in three months as well…
The Christmas meal is not the only thing that happens in the Ellis household during the winter break. In fact, on New Years Day, I also turned 21. I basically get the chance to celebrate Christmas and my birthday in one two-week period, which I suppose is a pretty handy thing, not least because I can actually be at home to celebrate it. I didn’t have that much of a party per se, given that many of my university friends are either from different parts of the UK, or from different countries altogether. So, instead of all that, it has now become an Ellis tradition to go to the football match of the team we support, Derby County, as a bit of a birthday treat (boring for some, but we like it). To my surprise, my birthday got mentioned on the half-time announcements, so that was a great, completely unexpected surprise!
With the holiday now behind us though, my attention turns to the new year. This is a time of new beginnings and challenges that all of us will be facing in the future. Whether they be academic, sporting, or something else, just remember that these are all opportunities to take and be successful in what you do. Personally, 2018 was a great year. The chance to come out and begin a new journey in Amsterdam is something that will live long in the memory, and now that we are moving into the second half of that journey, I am determined to commit myself to having a successful time out here in whatever challenges I face.
I could talk about university now, how we all face new academic content, how you’ll miss relaxing or being at home, or simply being as far away from university as possible. But instead, I want to leave you with a message, something that I believe is a crucial motto that you should follow throughout the next year. Strive to be better in whatever it is that you do this year. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, what goal you’ve set yourself, what deadlines you need to meet. Don’t wish for these things to be easier, but aim to be better at what you do. This is my target for the next year. I want to make my remaining time in Amsterdam a great one, so I am willing to challenge myself both academically and in my sports in order to improve. I understand that I leave this text on a more serious note, but I believe its important to start the year as you mean to go on. So, I hope you all had a happy new year, and I hope that you all throw yourselves into whatever challenges you’re facing; you can do it!