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December Diary | 02-12-16

I think everyone is so very ready for this festive period after the shitty year, news wise, it has been. I simply do not have the time to attempt either blogmas or vlogmas, because it's a manic uni month full of deadlines and other commitments, but since I don't want to let this festive month go by unnoticed, I thought I would start a new series, possibly bi-weekly, where I'll talk about anything and everything that has been going on this December month. Let me introduce you to 'December Diary'. I think topics will vary, but we will see how we get on.

Despite everything that has happened in the world over the last 12 months, Brexit, the Trump election, a number of celebrities that have passed away and the future these events will bring, I still had a pretty amazing year personally. I turned 21 this week and it's always a change to look back on the year that has gone by. Last year has been one where I have been content with myself for maybe the first time ever. I love where I'm currently at and I think I have a pretty solid plan for at least the next two years. I was talking to my parents yesterday, how much I actually love being at uni. I revel in the challenges course work brings me. I'm making friends left and right who actually make me feel good about my life, I have a lovely studio that I can call my own and that instantly feels like home the moment I step in the door and I see my parents plenty enough still. Plus we got the sweetest pup at home who always manages to put a smile on my face.

At the same time birthday's also have a way of making you realize how quickly life turns by. At 21 I can officially call myself an adult (even if I don't feel like one at all). It scares me looking at the future after school, but at the same time it's incredibly freeing. I have every change to do something that I really love and I hope that life will turn out alright. I know I've gotten very lucky and privileged growing up, but what will happen when I'm really on my own two feet? Maybe, I'll turn out like Rory Gilmore and keep on making mistakes. I remarked on twitter already that I'm so much like Rory, it almost scares me, especially since so many people seem to hate her. (Has anyone seen the revival by the way. I'm available if you want to talk).

In other news:

  • I've decorated my student room yesterday. It looks very festive. 
  • I'm also currently at home with my parents and tomorrow I'll be celebrating my birthday again for family.
  • Sinterklaas is this week, which officially marks the first of festivities. I've plans to watch christmas movies on the 5th and we're playing Secret Santa on Thursday.
  • Vlogmas has also started. It's the only time of year, that I watch vlogs. I love watching what everyone get's up to in December.

Take Care,

We live in a beautiful world, remember that

Last week was a weird week. I think we all woke up on Wednesday to some shocking news. No-one expected Trump to win and most people, including myself, haven't recovered from it. I couldn't quite believe it when I first heard the news. Yet we will have to find a way to deal with it. I've seen shout outs to keep creating, even in these doubtful times. And I fully agree. Fighting in any way we can is the only way forward. There is one thing that I've been wondering about ever since though: how could the opinion polls and the media have gotten it so wrong? I was both convinced and desperate to believe the polls leading up to the vote. Yet they didn't predict it write. I personally think a lot of it has to do with representation in traditional media and on social media. I follow people on twitter that are my own age, from my own background, have the same educational level and support the same world views. I don't read the voices of other people. I don't read or hear from people that voted Trump. All I hear is outrageousness in the outcome, everywhere. And it's weird, because there are at least a few million people who are incredibly happy with the result. I wonder if we, as 21-century beings, could and should change in this regard? Would it be better to find ways to listen to people who aren't the same as you? We should support diversity. It's the only way to let go of hatred and prejudice. And yes this should mean listening to Trump supporters too. Maybe that would change their world views too.

In the aftermath of the election, I and two of my best friends, went away on a short trip. It was booked months in advance and came at just the right time. We flew out to Marrakech on Thursday and returned on Sunday. Just what we needed. We experienced a totally different city and culture and at times I wasn't sure I liked it. Nonetheless it was a beautiful city. Being there was sometimes uncomfortable, but at the same time thrilling and adventurous. And that has a lot to do with being in a different culture and experience the 'otherness' of people. Yet, in many ways, they are the same as we are. They see us as outsiders yet welcome us in. We can learn so much from each other. Hearing the calls for prayer from the mosques was beautiful for example and it made me appreciate their culture. Ignorance of that, has created all that hatred towards muslims in the Netherlands and I honestly hate that. I think a lot can be said for listening to the voices of others. People you associate yourself with, but also with the people that you don't understand. Because in conversation you will learn so much more about each other. That is what makes traveling so beautiful too, it gets you to appreciate people and cultures.

There is a quote in a book I read recently that speaks of this and it's also something I learn in my human geography course at uni:
When we are reaching for the stars, the challenges ahead are such that we will perhaps have to come together to meet them: to travel the universe not as Russians, Americans or Chinese, but as representatives of humanity. But so far, although we have broken free from the shackles of gravity, we are still imprisoned in our own minds, confined by our suspicion of the 'other', and thus our primal competition for resources. There is a long way to go. - Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography

How can we break free from our shackles is what I'm wondering? Traveling and learning and education might be of value and I think listening is very important. But we also need to find a way to make information accessible and to let go of our fears of 'the other'. Because we are all in this together and we still live in a beautiful world. We need to remember to treasure that world and each other and find a way to live together.

This has turned into such a philosophical post. I'm sorry about that, hope you liked it nonetheless. I hope this brings you some hope and that it will mark my return into the blogging world. Let me know what you think in the comments and if you have any thoughts about the election, let me know. I'd love to read them.

Department Stores and Shopping Arcades

Le Bon Marché, September 2011
Wikimedia Commons 
I love visiting both Paris and London and I've been to both quite a few times before. There's one kind of place that I love to visit when I'm in either city. They are those grand department stores, like Harrods and Galleries La Fayette. It reminds me of a time gone by. There is so much history, but at the same time history is still being made in those places too. Consumers go in there day in day out, everyday still. In class last week I learned about the history of those places and retail shopping in the broader sense and I wanted to tell you all about that.

Have you ever been to one of Paris' shopping arcades? A shopping arcade is a straight covered passage that runs from one street to the next. You can find them all over Paris and other European cities. There is one in the Hague that I often visit, I love how beautiful it is. Shops are lined on both sides and lighting has been provided ever since they have been introduced in the 19th century. I personally think they are beautiful and well worth a visit. I learned last week that those shopping arcades are the predecessors to shopping malls and department stores all over the world.

The oldest shopping arcade in Europe is actually not in Paris, but in Brussels. It's called Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, but you can find similar structures in Paris. The oldest covered passage in Paris is Passage des Panoramas. It was opened in 1800 when the streets of Paris were still narrow, dark, muddy and crowded. Not exactly a good place for shopping at one's leisure. The passages or shopping arcades provided a save place to shop. Lighting made it inviting, a place away from criminality and coldness outside. The stores in the Arcades were different then the shops we know today. There were no fixed prices, no windows that lured customers in. The tradition back then was that as soon as you entered a shop, you were expected to buy an item. The passages were the beginning of a change in Paris it's street plan.  A few decades later, in 1848, Haussmann began his great renovation of Paris and grand boulevards were introduced.

With the introduction of shopping arcades, shopping changed from a necessary activity into a pleasurable one. It became an activity that was enjoyed by females in their free time. And after Haussmann's renovation of Paris, another place to shop was introduced: department stores. Boulevards all over town became more attractive and space opened up to built department stores along those boulevards. Lots of them still exist now, and not just in Paris, but all over Europe. A few including: Le Bon Marche, Printemps, Galleries La Fayette, Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty, House of Fraser.

People were lured into department stores by beautiful display windows. Those displays conveyed a new world, a fantasy world, that gave a different meaning to certain items and the whole experience of shopping. Something you see in the extreme in shopping malls nowadays. It was all a means to strategize a way of turning a passant into a consumer and make sure that consumer didn't leave the building without something in their hands. Nowadays I sometimes feel like all we do is consume, like everything is an item that we can simply buy and that has become part of our identity. It's fascinating to learn about how that all started.

My favourite department stores, I've been lucky enough to visit visited include: Liberty, Harrods and Galleries La Fayette. But these few are still high on my list:

Selfridges is a tv show I haven't seen yet, but it sounds like it's a show that would be interesting to see in light of this topic. I think it's time to watch the first episode. Do you know more about this topic and do you like to shop in these places too? Let me know what you think in the comments.

My Return Ticket 2.0: A Fresh Start

I've always considered September as more of a beginning than January. September marks the beginning of the academic year, in January I'm just sad that Christmas is over. Right now, is when we or I at least truly start over. New books, classes, stationary, everything reorganized. I want to use this time of the year to turn a leaf in my blogging journey too. I'd like to introduce a new chapter of My Return Ticket to you.

Somehow we have made it to the end of summer. I've already had my first classes of the year yesterday. The start of a new academic year and the fact that it's September makes me want to start afresh with everything. Including this blog. I bet you are surprised to see me here after almost two months of absence. It has been absolutely ages, but I'm happy to welcome this place back to life. And I'm ready for a change, hopefully so are you.

You know this was not always the plan. I had lovely visions of spending my free time over summer writing on here all day every day. Making the most of that free time that summer usually brings to really make something of this blog. And I really wanted to. But I kept overthinking and rethinking everything that I and this blog stand for and I was afraid to start. Now we are a month later and classes have started up again. I don't even know if I still have the time to make something of this blog now.

You know what I find the most difficult thing about blogging? Sticking to your own voice and not comparing yourself to others. I follow so many amazing blogs with great writing and/or photography that I wish mine was more like. But they are not me and I am not them and this is not their blog, it's mine. We are all unique and that unique voice is what makes you as a writer stand out. I'm not anyone else and nor should I be. I think that is one of the greatest lessons I learned when thinking about all this, this summer. I know that I'm not someone that can make the ordinary look beautiful with beautiful writing or amazing, dreamy photography like so many other bloggers do. Instead I think I'm good at finding those extraordinary places and moments. I'm good at navigating the world, finding what is worth it. But I'm too straight forward to write lyrically about everyday life, not to mean that I joint enjoy small moments of joy of course. So instead of writing about my daily life as I've been doing lately, I want to take this place into a different direction. I want to become a travel blogger, the real kind.

I have no idea how this blog is going to develop, I don't even have any kind of plan or editorial calendar yet. I'm not even sure there is even going to be one. What I do know is that from now on I should write about something that I'm passionate about. Show the world what I can do, who I am. Hopefully someday this blog will fit on my resume as something that I'm proud of.

I'm dearly sorry for this long ramble that you probably don't even understand half of (so do I by the way). I feel like this has been a hurdle I needed to take that is now out there. I can move on and really start writing again now. I think I just needed to get my intentions out there in the world. I'm glad they are out there now.

101 things in 1001 days

Source: Design Darling

I came across a '101 things in 1001 days' list I made in 2011 in my mail drafts recently and thought it would be fun to create a new one  again. I love the timeline of this list: it's just long enough to dream a little about all that is possible, but it's realistic enough at the same time, that you are likely to finish at least a couple of them. I plan on having a few regular update posts about how I'm doing with the list. It might just be the perfect way to start having some more adventures and to get myself out there. It might even get me a few blogging opportunities too. You never know. If you decide to make your own, I'd love to read them.

This list has been inspired by Mackenzie Horan.

STARTS JULY 21, 2016
ENDS APRIL 28, 2019


1. Come up with 101 things (July, 2016)
2. Put 5 euros into saving for every goal accomplished

University & Blogging

3. Graduate from university
4. Study abroad
5. Find a mentor
6. Change jobs
7. Invest in a formal wardrobe
8. Fulfill an internship
9. Write a guest post for a blogger I admire
10. Have a blog that I'm proud of to put on my resume
11. Make 5 blogger friends (0/5)
12. Meet a blogger in real life
13. Feature a guest blogger on my blog
14. Establish a blogging routine
15. Find my blogging 'why'
16. Reach 1000 followers on twitter (885/1000)
17. Write at least 15 blog posts per month for a whole year
18. Teach my readers some Dutch
19. Interview another blogger
20. Find a way to incorporate geography into my blog
21. Learn some basic HTML and CSS skills
22. Do an outfit post
23. Learn Photoshop
24. Go to a bloggers event


25. Visit Iceland
26. Road trip through America
27. Travel on my own to another country
28. Travel to Barcelona
29. See the Northern Lights
30. Climb King Arthur's seat in Edinburgh
31. Rent an Airbnb
32. Visit Montreal
33. Go to a German Christmas market
34. Visit a French market and pick up a bunch of flowers
35. Visit the French Riviera
36. Visit Monaco
37. Visit Marrakech

Family & Friends

38. Have a spa day with my mum/best friend
39. Host a dinner party
40. Do something epic for my parents 25th year of marriage
41. Treat the pup to 10 new toys (0/10)
42. Go on a trip with just my brother
43. Road trip with my best friends somewhere
44. Take my grandparents on a day trip somewhere
45. Send July christmas cards to my best friends
46. Take the pup to the beach


47. Go on 10 dates (0/10)
48. Go on 10 self-dates (0/10)
49. Go to bed by 10pm for a week
50. Wake up at 6am for a week
51. Start a recipe journal
52. Volunteer as a summer camp counselor
53. Read 5 classics (0/5)
54. Watch 5 classic movies (0/5)
55. Read 5 non-fiction books (0/5)
56. Donate blood
57. Unplug completely for 24 hours
58. Write in a journal everyday for a month
59. Learn how to tell a story
60. Be a vegetarian for two months
61. Keep a food diary for a month
62. Improve my body image
63. Learn to take risks and make my own choices
64. Learn how to cook for one using cookbooks
65. Read 50 new books (0/50)
66. Have my wisdom teeth removed
67. Try five new to me foods
68. Add 10 picture frames to my studio (0/10)
69. Set up a new library account and rent a book to read each week


70. Make a local bucket list
71. Try 20 new restaurants in Utrecht (0/20)
72. Spend an afternoon at a Botanical Garden
73. Visit the Anne Frank house
74. Have a staycation in Utrecht
75. Tick everything off my local bucket list
76. Visit 10 museums (0/10)

Just for fun

77. Write a fictional story
78. Dance in the rain
79. Go stargazing
80. Carve my initials in a tree
81. Get a new year's kiss
82. Go paragliding
83. Take a photo everyday for a month
84. Run a 5k
85. Watch 20 documentaries (0/20)
86. Watch everyday of the Rio Olympics in 2016
87. Read all the Harry Potter books (0/7)
88. Identify 100 things that make me happy
89. Learn how to play tennis
90. Have a weekend without plans
91. Go apple picking
92. Go strawberry picking
93. See all the Harry Potter movies (0/8)
94. Read Pride and Prejudice
95. Buy a pretty basket for on my bicycle
96. Take a surfing lesson
97. Prepare a meal using ingredients from a farmer's market
98. Make a playlist for every season (0/4)
99. Knit a sweater
100. Learn how to French braid
101. Set up a new library account and rent a book to read each week

Let me know what you think in the comments. What would you put on your list?

The Best Beach Reads

I love reading. It's my way to escape. I read whenever I can and I never leave the house without a book. I think my greatest accomplishment to date is that I got my best friend back into reading. I'm always recommending books to her and other friends and family and usually they even like my choices. I'm not very good at writing reviews, I tend to get a bit too gushy, but recommending I can do. This is a list of all the best reads I think would be perfect for summer. Most of them will make you laugh out loud and squeal with cuteness.

Amazing fiction I've actually read and loved:

Who's that Girl - Mhairi Mcfarlane (a funny novel about online shaming and a famous actor that I absolutely loved)

The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance - Kirsty Greenwood (If you love vintage clothing this will be perfect)

Girl Against the Universe - Paula Stokes (YA, tennis, sweet love interest and a great portrayal of mental health problems)

Summer Skin - Kirsty Eagar (If there's one book you should pick up from the list, it's this one and it's set in college)

Me before You & After You - Jojo Moyes (You should read these before watching the movie)

The Day we Disappeared - Lucy Robinson (An amazing twist I didn't see coming, it will keep you gripped)

Throne of Glass series - Sarah J. Maas (Another YA. Let me tell you, the series grows better with the book and you won't be able to put it away)

The Fixer - Jennifer Lynn Barnes (I remember reading this on one of the hottest days of summer last year and I literary couldn't stop, a great YA thriller and the second book just got released)

Every Last Word - Tamara Ireland Stone (Another great example of a YA about mental health problems)

The Start of Me and You - Emery Lord (Perfect YA summertime read, Max and Paige are probably my favourite couple ever)

It's Summertime

 The problem I've found with taking a break from blog writing, is that it's so hard to get back to a writing routine. I've been saying to myself to get back into it, but it's just not been working. Every time I sit down to write, I just can't seem to get the words on paper. And then I get distracted by other blogs, get a little jealous of their writing style, and it just starts to gets worse. It's just like playing a sports isn't it? When you fail to continue working out and take a break, it's like you need to start building your stamina all over again and looking over at other sporters who are way better than you isn't going to help at all.

But let's catch you up about what has been going on lately, alright?

The last month of the school year has been a blur of deadlines, exams, meetings with friends and weekends away. And then at the end of the month I've been following the news on Brexit too. It's a bit too crazy to think about it, I find. A country wanting it's own borders back in a world of globalization. It sounds pretty unthinkable to me. I don't want to say too much about it, because I don't think I'm invested enough to know much about it. However, I had been hoping for Remain and it's been interesting to follow the discussion before and afterwards.

Looking back on the past few weeks, I'm happy I called an hiatus on the blog. I couldn't have juggled any more activities than I already had right now. Busy weeks, followed by busy weekends have made it a fun, but tiring few weeks. My weekends included participating in the national student championships with five matches in two days, fourth place as a result, three goals by my own making, pizza, great company and two awesome parties. Another weekend was spent being taught how to become a summer counselor with real kids to practice on.

I don't think I've talked about it on here yet, but my summer plans include volunteering as a summer camp counselor for three weeks. It starts in a few hours and if I'm completely honest, I'm nervous as hell. What if I can't do it? I worry about not being a natural leader and creating chaos, but despite all, I hope it will be fun too.

Everything uni-related has been wrapped up last week and now summer can start. I had a whole plan of spending the first week of my summer break working on the blog, drafting blog posts ahead of time for when I would be away and just generally chilling. That didn't work out due to a writer's block following my hiatus. I left it behind now though I think: I've written three blog posts today, which are set to be scheduled over time.

I'm pretty excited to be working as a counselor at the summer camp for kids despite my nerves. I sincerely hope it will be fine and that I will learn fast. Other plans on my summer to-do list include: a road trip with my best friend and a city trip to London and I hope to be spending the rest of my time watching the Olympics (and maybe working some more too).

Tell me about your summer plans in the comments below, I'd love to know!
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