Curriculum vitae imaginationis

#5 on the list of ‘Required Documents for Application to this Master’s Program’: an updated curriculum vitae (résumé). According to the explanatory note, a curriculum vitae is “an overview of your personal details, and your educational and professional background”.

I wonder, should someone who doesn’t know what a resume is even be allowed to apply for a postgraduate degree? Also, why specify that the resume has to be updated—isn’t that kind of obvious? No, prospective student, don’t send us the Comic Sans MS document you wrote in Microsoft Word 97 with nothing but some babysitting to boast. We want experience! We want extracurricular activities! We want sweat, unpaid internships, after-school jobs in shoe stores and downtown cafes—anything to prove your dedication to responsibility and hard work!

When I was five or six years old, it was my life goal to own a petting zoo. I wouldn’t stop penciling meticulously designed floor plans into the margins of my primary school notebooks. Rabbits would go here; goats there; horses would get a pasture of honor in front of my house. Countless drawings and frustrated teachers later, I had perfected the farm’s architecture to a point where I had no idea what else to add. Continue reading

The weekend getaway

My parents are on a weekend trip.

That seven-word sentence is not an accurate reflection of the frantic planning that went into it. And I don’t even mean the planning of the weekend itself; I didn’t know about any of that. I hardly know where they are, what they are doing, or whom they are with. No, I mean the part of the planning that involved my participation, and the planning in the hour before their departure.  Continue reading

If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much

I like to think my identity is not particularly defined by country borders. Sure, I live in the Netherlands, and I was born and raised here. But on average the English network of my bilingual brain is activated far more often than its Dutch counterpart, and I spend so much time online that the words ‘Walmart’ and ‘Pop-Tarts’ look as familiar to me as ‘Albert Heijn’ and ‘bitterballen’. I mean, I even know who Tim Tebow is, for God’s sake.

The internet is slowly turning the world into a giant pop culture melting pot. The fact that I’m from the Netherlands often seems negligible to me—a detail, rather than a defining part of who I am. And yet sometimes I am reminded of how unbelievably Dutch I am. Continue reading

Please stop damaging my face, if you don’t mind

Every now and then, university teaches me about concepts that are not currently in mainstream use, but really should be. Take the linguistic concept of face, for example. Not only is it applicable to many real-life situations, it’s also a lot of fun to tell people they’re hurting your negative face.

Ever wondered why people say, “It’s quite chilly in here, isn’t it?” instead of “Close the goddamn window”? Or wondered what the most effective way to get rid of a person is? Or what exactly the term “saving face” is supposed to mean? This crash course on face explains it all. Continue reading

The love-hate relationship between literature and film

Are there any two fields of study with a love-hate relationship as fierce as that of literature and film? These fields are so often pitted against each other, despite their many similarities—or maybe because of them.

At the same time, it sometimes seems as though it should be impossible for one person to love literature and film equally because there are just so many differences between the two. Reading is mostly a personal, fragmented, and time-consuming activity; watching a movie, on the other hand, tends to be a communal, non-stop experience that rarely lasts longer than an hour or two, three.

It sometimes seems as though people are not supposed to love literature and film equally, either. Bookworm or movie maniac: the choice is yours, as long as you make one. It’s “the book is so much better than the movie!” vs. “books are boring” and “TV? I much prefer a good read,” vs. “I don’t have time for reading”.

Maybe these two forms of art simultaneously resemble and contradict each other to a point where peaceful coexistence is impossible. But why should it?

Shakespeare & Company, a stunning English bookstore in Paris.

Continue reading