The Last Month...

Am I really writing this? Has the year gone by this fast? Here I am, 8 days left in the Netherlands, wondering where all that time went. First getting here, it seemed like ten months were going to be a lifetime... but all that changed when I actually lived those months, woke up every morning only to suddenly find that another day had gone by. I was told hundreds of time how fast time goes, how you have to make the most of everything coming your way, and yet I'm still amazed at how quickly all of this has happened.

Today was my last day at Twickel, my school here. I can't say I was heartbroken, there were some rocky moments in there I wasn't particularly sad to end. However, in saying goodbye to my classmates, I found myself getting hugs and questions and email addresses for people I thought hadn't actually noticed my being there. I realized (over the course of this year, but overwhelmingly so today) that you always have more friends than you think... you're just usually too wrapped up in your life to notice. I wish more than anything that I had known that earlier, so I could have gotten to know more people and integrated a little more. And to be honest, ten months at Twickel taught me far more about myself and about others than ten freaking YEARS of normal school. There is definitely something to be said for tough love. I learned a language completely through trial and error, was met head-on with my biggest flaws and had to figure out how to deal with them, and now know that nothing you do happens without consequences for yourself, and others. It's a little alarming to see how much I thought I knew going into this! If anything at all, the most valuable thing I've learned that you are never, ever completely right. There are many facets to life, and to people, and to right and wrong and our job as humans is just to explore them. It doesn't matter where you are in the world, what language you speak, your background. We may be born alone and die alone, and figure things out by ourselves - but as little as we might like it, we're all connected beyond our comprehension.

On a less philosophical note, here's what I've been up to in May! It was a fantastic month - lots of sun, the world's best birthday present, and lots of tulips. So many tulips. You don't even know.

My host parents know me really, really well. And they're amazing. Which must be why that one day, after getting the mail, Paula presented me with an envelope...
Paula: This is for you. Gefeliciteerd!
Me: It's... not my birthday. But thanks?
Paula: Well, what we wanted to give you had to be given early. So.
Henri: (bounces on his heels)
Me: ... a Pinkpop ticket?
...And then I passed out and they had to resuscitate me with CPR.
...Not really. But close.

You see, Pinkpop (so named because it falls around Pinksteren, or Pentecost) is the biggest music festival in Holland. This was the 41st year, and it is always awesome. I had vaguely planned to go earlier this year, but scrapped those plans when I saw ticket prices. I regretted it when I saw the Sunday lineup: The Maccabees, Kate Nash, Yeasayer, Florence + the Machine, Pixies, Gogol Bordello, The Prodigy... Henry and Paula were angels and gave me what was without question, one of the best weekends of all time. They even called up my good friend Ivy, a crazy-wonderful Kiwi whose music tastes compliment my own, so that we could go together - and what an amazing time we had!

I spent the 29th and 30th with Ivy in Helmond, where she lives, and in Langraaf, at Pinkpop. All the bands were fantastic, there were tons of people but no uncomfortable crowds or shoving, and the sun even came out for Pixies in the evening. We danced and sang and, in the case of Florence Welch with her eponymous band, stood in awe. If you click on one of those above links, click on hers. I usually hesitate at the term life-changing... but if music can change you, seeing her sing and be amazing up on stage definitely did. Plus, she's got the most brilliant red locks you've ever seen. What could be better?

(not my photo, my camera was so awed it ran out of battery)