Category Archives: Dutch Journal

One year in the Netherlands

Told you the extreme right is rising

Some months ago, during the local elections in The Hague and Almere, I predicted the rise of the extreme-right (PVV) in the Netherlands. And it happened! This week’s elections sent the PVV “sky-high” in Dutch terms. Geert Wilder’s party received 15,5% of the votes, becomming the third larget party in the Lowlands. Bare in mind that the winning party (VVD) got 20,4 % of the votes, while the former prime-minister’s, Balkenende, party fell from 26,5 to 13,7% …Now the question remains who will form part of the coalition government as the leading two parties do not have 50% of the votes…We’ll see, but as I told you, the extreme right is rising in times of crisis.

The AH and Utrecht chapter is now over….

It was the end of August 2007 when I first stepped on the streets of Utrecht. A year later I went back home without being able to close that chapter. In December 2008 I had to come back, even if for a week…

It was February that year when my friend Peter Angelov came to me and told me about some work opportunity at a groceries store…If you’ve ever been to the Netherlands you know which one I’m talking about. The Albert Heijn… Filiaal 1322, Burgemeester Reigerstraat, Utrecht to be more specific… A tall blond Dutch man greeted me, showed me around and introduced me to my new colleagues…He was Peter Krebaum as I found out. My manager…My job ended there in late June 2008. We shook hands, padded each other on the shoulders and promised that we will see each other. I went back home, finished my Bachelor as class first, got accepted to the Maastricht University. I was applying to all possible scholarships, internships or any means of financing possible…Let’s be frank about it. I had money to survive for a month in the Netherlands, not even talking about a whole year with tuition fees as well…You see, this is what people who later on asked me “What??? You come from Maastricht 2 hours by train just to work here? Jij bent gek jongen (you are crazy young man)” could not understand…I finished with top grades, had my hopes high just to receive the same answer over two months. “Sorry, but your application has been rejected”, “Sorry, but another candidate has been chosen”. Plan A, B, C, D….didn’t materialize…Plan J did. I wrote to Peter Krebaum:

Hei Peter,

Sorry to bug you. Do you know if there would be any chance for me to work at the AH this summer? And if I could work, how many hours could I work in the summer months as I start my masters in Maastricht in September and I basically have nothing to do until then from the 1st of July. Take care Peter and enjoy the Sun.

Gashi (Szilard)

And this is what he answered:


Hi Gashi!

How are you!!???
It would be great to see you this summer as an employee of AH!!!
In july and august i could schedule you approximately between 20 and 30 hours a week!
If that’s ok you are very welcome!!

Greetings,

Peter

I booked the first plane to the Netherlands, packed up and left…I didn’t yet have a room and already started work on the 1st of July 2009. I was living in a hostel for a week until I was able to find accommodation. Work had begun and Peter kept his word. He allowed me to work as much as it was humanly and legally possible because he understood the position I was in…So came the summer months, the constant hassle with the UWV (they are the ones handing out the work permits), the endless searches for new jobs and accommodation in Maastricht. They didn’t materialize. No jobs for me in Maastricht. It meant only one thing. Coming back to Utrecht each week…Peter prolonged my contract and work resumed…Probably only I know the hours I spent on that train going back and forth between Maastricht and Utrecht for the upcoming 9 months. Getting up at 6 in the morning to catch the train or coming back at 2 a.m. in the morning and biking home…Nights spent in Utrecht at friends’ places when I needed more money and more work.

Peter never once objected and he understood what I had to go through… I once again got used to work, to always losing or forgetting my name tag, to starting with zuivel, continuing with groenten and ending with clusters vier, vijv en zes. The vragtwagen would arrive so we had to unload it. Between 17 -19 p.m. hoards of people would roam in asking for pijnboompitten, halfvolle biologische melk, zuurkool, thaise specialiteiten and all that. Words only we know the meaning of. Till this day I cannot speak proper Dutch but ask me anything when it comes to supermarket products…

Put yourself in my situation, endless hours spent filling shelves with a law degree in your pocket and years sacrificed studying. Many times this thought haunted me and I have to thank the people I worked with who made me realize how fortunate I was to be part of that team. Korne, Rick, Joeri, Derya, Bass, Willhem, Vincent, Ellen, Rikkert, Iris, Abe, Leon and the list could go on…

Today this came to an end. No more shelf fillings, annoying grandmas, late night poker games with the guys, running after the last train to Maastricht. Listening to the names of stations: ‘s Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Weert, Roermond, Sittard and de eindbestemming Maastricht.

Many people don’t realize what this place means to me. This is what made my staying in the Netherlands possible, this place provided friends and this place provided the resources to pay my rent, food and university. This place means more to me than any hotshot firm’s, professor’s or school’s name on my CV. Because no one helped me out when I needed it, but these people did…The best of my wishes to the AH team, Filiaal 1322, Burgemeester Reigerstraat.

–         We’ll see each other. – said Peter Krebaum

–         I’m not gonna get all sentimental Peter, because you Dutch people are not like that. But we’ll see each other. – said Gashi.

Another month to go in Maastricht and we’ll see if the Dutch chapter closes. The German one soon begins.

Maastricht 2010, 29th May…..2:43 in the morning

Early X-mas present…

2 weeks ago…just another boring lecture…

Gashi: Ammm….Jüli…have you by any chance got a pen?

Jüli: Sure thing. – she takes some time searching in her “all-knowing all-having” woman’s bag – There you go… – and hands me a pen.

Gashi: Thanks 😀


1 weeks ago…the same  boring lecture…

Gashi: – I turn to the girls sitting in front of me and ask them in a slightly fake polite voice – Sorry girls, has anyone of you got a pen?

Girls: Noopp…sorry..- and they continue their discussion of probably what kind of shoes they will be buying during the afternoon.

Gashi: Ammm….Jüli?

Jüli: Yeaah? – and she looks at me suspiciously while she’s drinking some water (btw, approximately 2 liters during each lecture)

Gashi: Have you by any chance got a pen? – and I twinkle my eyes like an overgrown toddler bagging for some “food” from mama

Jüli: Yeah. Just gotta find it – so once again she searches in her “all-knowing all-having” woman’s bag – There you go.

Gashi: Thanks 😀


Yesterday…You guessed it..Same boring lecture…

Five minutes before lecture…I’m slightly bored and my grey matter is already anticipating the joy of new information kicking its every twisted little turns…Suddenly Jüli appears and sits down next to me…The normal Wazzup? What have ya been up to? takes place. She places her stuff under her sit. Opens her Macbook, drinks a sip of water (from the two liter bottle of course) and hands me over a small plastic bag from her “all-knowing all-having” woman’s bag.

Jüli: Here you go…

Gashi: What is it?

Jüli: Open it!

Gashi: – a sudden burst of laughter – No way!!!!! – I crack-up and start laughing – in the small plastic bag at least thirty pens lay quietly.

Jüli: I hope now you will have pens for the rest of the year 😀

Best memorial and best oralist and we still didn’t get into the finals?!

Just to make it clear to everyone, four master students from our University busted our asses since the end of October onwards to compete in the Dutch Rounds of the ILSA-JESSUP Moot Court Competition. It is the biggest moot court competition in the world, but this info you can find on their website.

Yesterday the Dutch rounds were held in The Hague, Indira and me pleading for the Applicant side and Kristina and Arnaud for the Respondent side. Let me just tell everyone that it was a complex case of international public law including sovereignty, self-determination, international investment, company law and diplomatic protection. We, as I presume each of the four competing teams, spent a great amount of time not just submitting the two written memorials but also preparing to plead in front of a bench. I was lucky enough to have Justice Keith from the International Court of Justice sitting on my bench.

First two teams would qualify for the finals which were held yesterday as well and the winning team would go to Washington to compete in the international rounds. Strangely enough I didn’t have the patience to watch the finals anymore. How could we have the best Memorial, I also won best oralist and adding up the total points we were definitely not on last place…And still we did not qualify for the final?!

I left with a bitter sweet taste, as the points, the memorials and best oralist show that we were a pretty damn good team…But it looks like the finals weren’t meant for us…We move on and now I turn to the sweat part…I enjoyed these last months of preparations, although it meant that weekends were not weekends anymore, holidays weren’t holidays anymore and besides other school activities we had to bust our asses on the competition as well.

I am greatly thankful for Phyllis (our coach) who dedicated a great amount of her time to us and never missed a training session. I am also thankful to anyone who listened to our oral preparations and gave us vital feedback.

Most of all I am thankful for the team. We did a great job out there yesterday. We did get the best Memorials, we did kick ass in Court and I got the best oralist (just to brag about it ;).

It was an amazing experience, we held our stuff together, we showed that we can plead in front of an international bench of judges and we came out with heads up. Well done to all of us!!!

Febr 7th 2010

Canzonetta sull’aria…just something for the soul ;)

I’ve somewhat neglected my blog lately. The reasons are quite simple. Each day I have French courses, we started the preparations for the Moot Court oral rounds and just finished the written part. Besides this I have an extra exam, work in Utrecht and you know social life. So I am once again sitting with one ass on multiple horses (as Neli-neni would say…”Mount only one horse with one ass, kid!!”….But while doing all this,  I remembered a short little canzonetta I want to share with you…I came across it some years ago when watching one of the best movies ever made, Shawshank Redemption. It’s part of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Figaro’s wedding) and sang by two sopranos. Here it is. Canzonetta sull’aria, Song about the air.

My New Year’s Resolution

Honestly, I don’t remember whether tonight at 12 o’clock I made any new resolution. I know it is gonna be a tough year for me, in every sense of the word. Going back to the Netherlands my January is going to be as hectic as possible. Finish the Memorials for the Jessup, start the oral preparations, give an extra exam because of the changing of my masters, start French courses, work in Utrecht and let’s not forget the ongoing Dutch bureaucracy. Besides this in February we are going to have the Dutch rounds of the Jessup in The Hague. New courses, work and all that.

Everything is still uncertain for my second hall of 2010. I will have to decide these days which partner university/ies will I go to in my second year. I would like to move to the Southern Hemisphere from September, but the exam for the European Commission is probably going to prevent me from doing that. So most possibly Spain/Italy will suffice for next fall and if everything goes ok, then South Africa from 2011. These are still bold plans besides numerous others I don’t want to enumerate right now.

A late New Year’s resolution would most probably be: I hope to have the strength to carry out all these plans of mine. I wish for an easier year than the previous one, as 2009 was one of my most frustrating, nerve wrecking years up till now. I wish health and prosperity for my family as I do know that in times of need, they are the ones to fall back on. To all the rest, I wish you a New Year of ambition, self knowledge and patience with others. Dare to dream, dare to push the envelope but always be with your feet on the ground.

Weather, November, December and a general mood….

I always remember how during literature classes in high-school I had my opinions about poets in general. I recall as we once studied about Byron’s poetry and the general “spleen” feeling of helplessness. I also recall numerous other, turn of century, poets who could write amazing poetry. In my head there were to simple answers for this, besides poetic genius. Byron probably felt his “spleen” because of good old British weather. The latter guys most probably frequented brothels, slept with hookers and drank a cognac topped of with opium…What better source of inspiration than that?

Why weather? Quite simple….British, Dutch and in general North-Western European Atlantic weather just kills your soul. And this isn’t some crazy conclusion of my November affected brain. It gets darker sooner than in more southern countries. At 16.30 p.m. it is already dark, the day break is way after 7 a.m. and you start having proper daylight after 8 a.m.

Looking outside the window I have only one plan in my mind. Staying home all day, but of course it is not possible because modern society requires us to do things that are just against basic physiology. The weather has been like this for over a month and a half now, and this was my greatest fear materialized. It is the heaviest, greyest, soul-sucking weather you can imagine. There are no clouds, no sunlight. It is a constant mass of pale grey light that people here have to call sky. Rain is ever present. Almost each day you end up wet. Nothing really happens basically. It is a dull, pointless, shapeless mood without any true feelings. Days merge together, your notion of days and weeks become a big mass of something. A something that right now I have to call everyday life.

You get up in the morning without the will to do anything. You know the sky didn’t change, you know daylight is almost over in a couple of hours and most probably the rain and wind will make you think twice before leaving your house. But of course even in such conditions you have to ignore it. Go to the university, go to work, do your daily duties in complete weather ignorance. I know the Dutch are good at it, I know I am not. I just cannot ignore the weather. It is a ruthless soul-sucking device, taking away your basic will of getting up in the morning. When your body says no to everything, you still have to go ahead, and act like everything is just fine. It just doesn’t work for me.

If Byron would have been drinking a nice mojito on a South American beach, next to the company of a gorgeous woman, I think he would’ve given rise to the “splash” and not “spleen” feeling. Man, Byron, why didn’t you get on a boat and at least sail to Spain?

Maastricht – 10th dec 2009