“Third time’s the charm” (or more when dreaming)…

View from the bike (La Bambina Gazelle)


The phrase “the third time’s the charm” has become part of my everyday here in Holland; still learning to navigate Groningen with its canals, narrow streets and never-ending bicycle lanes, I tend to circle around intended destinations three times. Given my non-existent Dutch, Google Maps can only do so much before I bear onto the wrong street, ride against traffic and/or realize that the place I was so supposed to go to is several streets back. Despite of all, I don’t mind getting lost in this great place. Groningen has a “rhythm” that waves between the cozy feeling of a small town and an in-vitro cosmopolitanism.

And it is that Groningen has an interesting past and present; I witnessed the commemoration of “Gronings Ontzet” a holiday unique to this area. On August 28th, locals celebrate the successful stoppage of French/English troops when they tried to siege the city during the third Franco-Dutch war in 1672. On the other hand, the city has welcomed a large population of college students that makes it the thriving university center that it is today.

Although far away from home, I can’t help but to meditate on our current reality and the importance of the past. It is interesting that also on August 28th , in the US, we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech as it was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. A piece of rhetoric just as important today as it was back then given the latest news on police brutality and racial tensions that have affected us all. Nevertheless, I was encouraged to learn of marches in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, which join a worldwide campaign to stand against the abuse of power by governments and police. I think such manifestations go hand-in-hand with the purpose of this exchange program at Hanze University; spending a semester overseas is not only to experience a foreign culture but also to learn to bridge cultural differences and focus on shared similarities for better understanding.

MLK’s inspirational words continue to resonate with me after I realize that my (new) university’s motto is “Share Your Talent. Move the World”. This is a significant coincidence because my main intention here is to keep developing my talents in the constant pursuit of my dream of becoming an artist. As I continue to navigate this city and discover more interesting things about Dutch culture, I must reiterate that I don’t mind getting lost. As long as I never lose the inspiration, the hope and the dream to move the world…even if it takes me three or more times to get there.

Downtown Groningen