On Friday November 13, Valeria Solesin was killed during the ISIS’s attack in Paris. Valeria was at the Bataclan concert hall when three men, without masks, burst in with Kalashnikovs and began shooting blindly at the crowd, for more than 10 minutes. Valeria had my age, your age, my story, your story.
When I decided to start the PhD in my actual research group, little did I know of the uphill battle ahead. Strong competition? Hard working? Geen probleem. But surviving here as the only PhD woman being single among fourteen PhDs, postdocs and technicians was an endless inner struggle.
It was summertime and it was raining. I was too late for the gym and too early for my 9’o clock dinner. But I was perfectly on time for the upcoming thunderstorm and for my daily dose of sneezes in the saddle of my Sparta bike. The exact moment I was mad at myself for not checking Buienradar.nl - holy holy is Buienradar, Buienradar is the Law - I saw somebody in the distance, getting completely wet while coming out of the bike shed. Another idiot as me - I thought - and not Dutch, for sure.
This column is for you, weeper expat living in town, threatening to divorce Eindhoven at least twice a week (three when it rains). I beg you, have a look at my five-minutes blablabla below, unless you have finally found the courage to move to your beloved Amsterdam, abandoning us in this awfulmoderncitywithoutanhistory, where there is nothingtodoapartfromsportingandgetting- drunkinstratum.
It has been a week of inspiring meetings, passions overwhelming habits and monotonous jobs, stories of humdrum lives drastically changed by new beginnings.
Eindhoven, 8:35 am, two bike flows: Witte Dame-Piazza-Station-TU/e and, from right to left, TU/e-Station-Piazza-Witte dame. You better decide carefully which route to follow, and the type of Eindhovener you’ll be: the designer or the engineer. The question is: will these two parallel lines ever meet?
Let me tell you a story about acquaintances, short chains and travelling postcards.
Once upon a time, before the Facebook era, a bearded social psychologist called Stanley Milgram claimed that everyone is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. In other words, a chain of ‘a friend of a friend’ statements is the only thing you need to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. Six degrees of separation, also called the ‘small-world phenomenon’. Have you ever heard of it?
Chances are, at some point in your life, you'll have to write a brief description of yourself. Hope that you were born and raised in a certain place A, and that over there you got married and you built up your own family. Pithy, easy, straightforward.
But, if you have experienced islands and dry lands since embryonic age, you have been changing 4 regions and 3 dialects, 2 countries and 3 languages, 23 neighbours and 14 flatmates, just breath and let a striking quote (and some columns afterwards) do the dirty work for you.
Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You'll find what you need to furnish it - memory, friends can trust, love of learning
Valentina Bonito, swinging on the vines of the PhD jungle, somewhere at TU/e