On Arrivals; or A Charming Introduction to the Behemoth of Bangkok.

My first taste of the metaphorical open road was to be Oriental in origin, with a long planned sejour in South East Asia the perfect segway into Europe. Of course, it wasn’t to be anything intrepid, with a greater emphasis on hedonism over hardship. Still the trip promised much, and with the brothers I planned to meet there already three weeks hardened I was anxious to arrive.

My final night in New Zealand coincided with the last day of the corporate year and it was with little surprise that I found myself still in town at the witching hour, wobbling back to the familiar Freemans Bay villa I had called home for the last two years. An early alarm, some last minute checking and I was off, my hangover momentarily placated by the remaining buds of nature’s panadol.

Then the first of what would be many queues, impatient proles shifting restlessly behind me while the line slowly snakes forward. A greasy dose of chicken to ward off looming nausea and some painkillers, then customs, safety announcements and settling into my budget sized seat –finally I was in the air, but it wasn’t without some sorrow that I bid my beautiful nation good-bye.

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On Origins; or How I came to be in Holland.

It seemed like the easiest choice in a year that had been anything but: the chance for some new scenery, and a reprieve from the demands of reality. So I applied for an exchange, determined to get away from the grind that I felt my life in New Zealand had become.

It had been four years since I moved to Auckland, and for all the joys of being a student there was a bitter current undermining my happiness. Weighty tomes of law and self-imposed high standards strung me out, the late nights serving drinks to future employers adding to the dark rings silhouetting my eyes.

In hindsight it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was, but there was no denying the drag of routine. The general fatigue at the all-encompassing nature of university was heightened by a summer spent researching in the Psychology department – starting a new year yet feeling like I had never left. It was a daunting year too – the pressures of an honours research paper atop a heavy course load, with promises of a corporate internship to follow. It felt like my next few years were already written for me, and that my role was to dutifully complete the steps. I found the whole prospect of it somewhat stifling, and was deeply sceptical of my own motives for taking this path.

So I decided to opt out, to take some time to re-evaluate my commitment to the corporate future that awaited me. An exchange was the perfect pretence: “overseas study” an obvious euphemism for a government-funded holiday. The choice of destination was one that didn’t overly concern me – anywhere but here, screamed a part of me, and so distant Holland it was.

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