November 27, 2015


Weekend! I’m so much looking forward to not having to wake up by the sound of the alarm at 7am. This morning at the office I felt I was still half asleep while sitting behind the desk. Nevertheless I tried to make myself a bit useful. In the past few days I’ve made a few comparison between lists, related to the used HS codes and tariffs and have now sent the outcomes to my company supervisor. Time seems to pass so quickly now. Only two more months left until the end of the internship, and the start of the thesis next semester. I haven’t started looking for a company (or subject yet), so I guess I’ll better start soon with that. If possible, it would be nice to do it for the same company where I’m doing my internship.
 For the course Project International Trade, last Tuesday was the final presentation. Can’t really tell if it were good or bad, as no feedback was given and I was somewhat too nervous to really pay attention. Tonight is the deadline for handing in the report, so fingers crossed a sufficient grade will follow soon.
With the holidays coming up, two birthdays this week and moving to a new home soon it’s still quite busy, but at least those are nice distractions.  Whenever I have time I go looking for stuff for my new home. Fun, only too bad it’s really expensive and internships don’t make you very rich. But at least I’m happy I get some compensation since at many other companies you get nothing at all. Apart from the time living abroad for my exchange abroad period, it will be my second time living on my own since I’d lost my previous home in a fire earlier this year. I’ll live even closer to work, so perhaps I will go cycling to work (only need a new bike for that because mine got stolen, not my most luckiest year I guess). Anyway, that would be much better than the daily hour’s travel I had when going to school.

A little while ago at work there was the end-of-year’s presentation in the company’s cafetaria where there was reflected on the set goals etc. It came a bit as a surprise, as I hadn’t been informed about the meeting as I’m actually working for of a different part of the company than where I’m situated. Also the managing director will soon leave the company, so it was a bit of a goodbye to him as well. All familiar faces were present, and a few presentations were held. My company coach as well held a speech in which he even mentioned me and my research so that was nice. Afterwards there was time to chat with others and enjoy the free drinks and snacks that were offered.    

November 24, 2015

Sleepless in Amstelveen

Two nights ago, or was it this morning...? Somehow my days and nights blend together lately. It could be the dark mornings and early evenings of this northern country. I get up for work and it's dark, I look out the window at the HvA and it's darkening even before I think about catching my bus home. And then "Bam!," suddenly it's pitch black, and my contact lenses are sticking to my pupils and I am bleary eyed from trying to read and work all day in the gloom.

 Early this morning, or perhaps it was yesterday after all, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. with my head full of thoughts buzzing around like a swarm of bees. I tried to shoo them away, but they settled happily on the branches of my frontal cortex. "We're just here to make honey" they said in a friendly tone.
Still, I brushed them away. They built a hive, but said softly, "Don't worry, we're not here to harm you. We don't sting." Another one added "Not hard, anyway." I asked them if they would mind moving their hive at least to the floor next to my bed because I need my sleep and their buzzing was keeping me awake.

It was yesterday, or today, or a few days ago, or every morning this week, that very early, in the hour that I usually reserve only for turning over from my left side to the right side, that I find myself far too wide awake. This morning it was 'what to write a blog about,' and Adele is now singing on her new album 'when the night keeps you from sleeping.' Adele knows what I'm talking about. It's not my brain that's overly active so early in the morning. It's all this restless energy of the world that's breaking into my dreams.

I used to be able to separate my life from the chaos in the world. After all, I grew up in Israel. If you don't know how to create a bubble around you, then you can't survive. At least I couldn't.  I didn't read the news, still don't watch talk shows with angry politicians, I enjoy fiction and creativity, and surround myself with positive people as much as possible.

But the images have been pounding at my bubble steadily over the past few years. The Arab Spring began, and we all hoped it would lead to a happier Middle East, but sadly some of the dictatorships that fell turned into countries of even greater chaos. Peace grew further and further from Israel, where my family still resides, and since I go there to visit frequently, I cannot ignore the situation there.

And then, the overflow of refugees started landing in enormous numbers on the shores here in Europe. 

And as soon as I saw the first images of rubber boats full of grandmothers, children, young people, old people, just tired, trying-to-survive people, my bubble burst, and tears I hardly ever shed about anything started to pour out of me. I want to dive in and save them all. I want to work for the coast guard and rescue everyone. I want to give them 'warmth and shelter from the storm,' (sorry for the plagiarized quote), and I want to house them all in my home and play with their children so the parents can rest and let them find peace and escape from their wars.

Suddenly I find myself actively searching what to do, who to meet with, bridging East and West, making new friends and stretching myself emotionally. I want to do too much. I feel guilty for all the good I have, for all the heating I have in my house, for my job, for health, for a happy balanced family where no one is left behind although of course part of my family is back in Israel where it isn't all that safe there either and of course I feel guilty about that as well.

So at 4:30 a.m., my brain wakes me up to remind me to start being anxious and worried about the day to come, and to remind me to wake up early so I can start to save the world or as many souls as possible, and do my work, and be a good enough mother and not only that but do all the happy good things that are coming my way these days, and to plan and organize and think about the future too.

While some people are struggling to survive in the present.
So, the bees are making honey. But they're keeping me awake.

While I struggle with that dilemma, zentangling helps keep me calm.

November 16, 2015

Mid-term appraisal, halfway there!

After the exams, last week was luckily a little less busy but still somewhat exciting because it was time for the mid-term appraisal by my company supervisor. Thinking of it, it means I have already completed more than half of the internship period by now, yay. Another nice thing is that the company will be closed by the end of the year. Maybe it isn’t that surprising, but I hadn’t thought of it before and a week of holiday to look forward to is of course a very positive thing.

Anyway back to the mid-term appraisal. I was slightly nervous about it, because it was hard to predict what feedback I could expect. I had already collected several files with extensive information (think of files with 30 to 60 pages on logistical matters and HS codes I had written) but it still needs to be transformed to something more practically useable.

We’ve gone through the form  in which you mainly reflect on the tasks and goals set in the commencement form. Luckily I can overall conclude the feedback given was quite positive with only a bit of feedback on being ‘more demanding about achieving goals’. Since I’m very calm by nature and therefore always somewhat careful not to ‘disturb’ anyone too much, I could largely agree with what he said. Moreover he valued my motivation and commitment so I’m satisfied.

For Project International Trade (a course I take at school) next Tuesday will be the final presentation. It is a group project in which we write an import plan for importing chewing gum with collectable dragon ball posters from Japan into the Netherlands. My part mainly is about the landed costs (so the purchase price + freight and insurance, possible import duties and taxes etc.) with some legal aspects as well. Presentations are not really my favourite thing, but I really hope the content of the report/presentation will at least be sufficient to pass the course.

Besides all that, I’ve put together a little overview for myself with the courses I still need to finish in order to graduate. For quite some time I’ve struggled with the idea of quitting the study and doing something else, or continuing. I’m glad now I haven’t given up, and even though it’s still unsure whether I will graduate by the end of this school year, I at least have some hope now. On Facebook I’ve also liked a few pages to get positive quotes for a bit of motivation every day. You never know how it may help.

The class with whom I do the Project International Trade course will do their exchange next semester. For me it’s already been a few years ago, but since my group members heard I’ve already been to Kaohsiung they like to ask me about my experiences there and it’s nice to give them some recommendations and think back of the period. Besides a lot of stress and sleepless nights, it remembers this study has also brought good things, friends, and experiences.