The year twenty-ugh


2020 has been an absolutely chaotic year. It’s been a continuous rollercoaster with no end in sight. Or maybe that’s just life. It feels like 2020 is the life lesson. We are such vulnerable creates in the face of nature. Yes, people bring destruction, horror and pain to each other and to the world we all have to share. But nature bitch slapped us all into a global halt. And even then, some people still want to prove they’re stronger. I don’t blame them. It’s not exactly human nature to be submissive to anything. That’s most likely what got us here in the first place, anyway. But what does seem crazy to me, is this apparently incessant need to be better and to escape a perfectly chaotic world as it already is, and continuously causing more destruction.


I am rather annoyed. This year has been perfectly chaotic for me, too. It’s thrown my whole life upside down, and I also felt a continuous need to prove myself and that I am capable to adapt, too. I up and left Shanghai on January 27th, escaping the virus in China. By that time it had partly shut down the country. Especially Wuhan of course, but also Shanghai started measuring our temperatures before entering clubs, flights started cancelling, and I lost my job. Well, I still had the job, but I had no working hours anymore, and no income. I did, of course, have rent to pay. And so it seemed like a good solution to come back to The Netherlands where I hadn’t been for nearly 3 years. Setting off with just my one suitcase, I left the rest of my stuff in our shared apartment in Shanghai, feeling rather excited for a holiday to Europe. Turns out that China did a much better job at handling the virus than the rest of the world did. About a month later, the country announced foreigners weren’t allowed to enter the country anymore. And so, here I am. To stay.


All the rest of my belongings arrived just two weeks ago, after having waited for 5 months since they got packed up by a terrible company that did zilch for reassuring me my stuff would actually arrive one day. My awesome friend did try and comfort me by saying that I could just buy clothes again. Which is obviously true. They don’t hold too much value to me, other than some sentimental pieces. But my diploma, diaries, notebooks, presents from my adorable students, those are irreplaceable. But I am skipping ahead slightly. What happened in the meantime was actually rather exciting. I applied for a MA degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, and cried happy tears when I read the email notifying my admission had been accepted! What a day. I still had to show them proof of my diploma, though, which I couldn’t do because that, along with my other stuff, was still somewhere boating on an ocean.

Now we live in October, 2020. The degree is proving itself to be very difficult and I’m wondering if I can cope and make it to the end, I live in a most amazing apartment in a gorgeous spot in Amsterdam, and my parents are only a 20- minute drive away! We haven’t lived this close, hell, even on the same continent since the last 7 years. They’re coming for dinner tonight, and if we wanted to, we could see each other again tomorrow, next week Wednesday, or next next week Friday. That’s been fantastic!


All in all, chaos. The good and the bad. A lifetime fit into one year. Madness and happiness. And quite frankly, I’m rather exhausted. I still count myself lucky: I haven’t lost anyone to COVID-19, and although The Netherlands is seeing virus-related ignorance and a huge rise in COVID affected people, we are still free to roam and bars and restaurants only close at 22:00. Plenty of time for a meal, a good chat, and at least two glasses of liquid courage (liquid motivation at this point).


Can we all just try to be a little better, a little kinder and a little more gentle towards others and the world around us? Can we wake up just a little bit more and take care of the planet and our friends and family? I am exhausted, and I find myself leaning more and more towards these things that I find make my day just a little bit better. It’s just nicer to feel better than to act and feel like shit.

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