Tag Archives: Politics

Classes #FridayReflections

It’s still Thursday in my part of the world, but the #FridayReflections linky has already opened. This week, one of the prompts asks us to decide which class from school or college we’d like to take again if we could.

There were many subjects in high school that I liked. I was big on politics at the time and had a particularly clueless social studies teacher. He once made three big factual mistakes in a five-minute lecture on the elections. In my memory, I corrected him. I couldn’t do that now, as I barely know who’s on the government now. So maybe I’d do social studies again, but hopefully with a more knowledgeable teacher.

I would also love to go back to English class with Mr. E, who had worked a year in the United States while an American teacher came to our school in the Netherlands. This was when I was in eighth grade and could barely understand the American teacher. I wasn’t particularly good at English in seventh and eighth grade. In ninth grade, I was angry with Mr. E for telling me he had to specially type his tests for me instead of handwriting them so I’d better study for them. You can bet that as a fifteen-year-old adolescent, I didn’t bother. From tenth grade on, I loved English though. I had become an avid Internet user over the summer break and had discovered that most valuable information I wanted to read was in English. I became quite proficient at it as I started an online diary (which later morphed into a blog) in the fall of 2002. I loved Mr. E’s stories of his time in the United States, so maybe I’d take his class again.

The first class that came to mind though when I read this prompt, was not a high school class. It was my college psychology class. The teacher was thought of as boring by most students. Because his class was at the end of the day, many students would rather catch an earlier train home than go to his class. You see, we were part-time students, taking our classes on Mondays in the afternoon and evening, and this professor’s class took place from 7:30 till 9:00 PM. Many students, including myself, also didn’t live in the college city, hence the need to take the train home.

This professor though was one rookie lefty and I seemed to be the only one who liked this. He threw Socialist Party merchandise into the auditorium in the days leading up to the 2006 parliamentary election. I was a Socialist Party member, so I didn’t sign the complaint he got for this. Not that I would have signed it had he shown a conservative affiliation either. I did sign a complaint about the first test we got in this class. I still don’t remember why I signed it, but most likely it was largely due to peer pressure. This was obviously before results were in, but I ended up scoring a B.

Looking back, I would’ve loved to attend all of his lectures rather than catching an early train. He had a great sense of humor. Just this morning, I recalled the tale he told us about getting a referral to a psychiatrist for wondering whether the fact that he acquired a spinal cord injury early in life and had to be in rehabilitation a lot changed his personality. The psychiatrist barely listened before writing him a script for an antidepressant. I remembered this tale because, after yesterday’s post, I was wondering what my motor difficulties could be diagnosed as, if anything. If I ever ask my GP to refer me for diagnosis for this, I hope I won’t run into a physiatrist or neurologist with the same attitude as this professor’s shrink.

I got an A for the second test in this class and a B for my research project. I would love to do the research project again, but would choose a different topic. I had many topics in mind that were disorders I later ended up being diagnosed with, like borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder and autsm. I finally settled on the subject of mild intellectual disability though. Maybe I’ll do a similar project one day on one of the topics I had in mind then.

Living my Imperfect Life

Ten Things I Like About the Netherlands

One of Mama’s Losin’ It’s writing prompts for this week is to list ten things you like about your state. I tried listing things I like about my province, but it’s proving too hard to write about Gelderland in English. Therefore, I’m cheating a bit and writing about my country as a whole. After all, a U.S. state is often larger than the entire country of the Netherlands.

1. The landscape. This is something I particulalry like in the province of Gelderland. The landscape here consists of woodlands, hills and rivers. In the western part of the Netherlands, many areas below sea level have been man-made. These areas are called polders. I was born practically in the Alexander Polder in Rotterdam, which is the lowest point in the entire country, being six meters below sea level. Most people who are not from the Netherlands like the polders better than the hills and woodlands of Gelderland.

2. The Wadden Islands. I could’ve included them above, but I like them in particular. These are a set of islands north of the mainland. My parents, sister and I would often go on vacation to Vlieland. I loved the dunes and beach of Vlieland, but the island also has some forestry.

3. The politics. No, I dn’t like the Dutch government, since it’s led by a conservative prime minister who gets his way in every area. Labor is on the government too, but they are fake lefties anyway. What I like about the Dutch politics is that small parties like GroenLinks and the Socialist Party can get onto the parliament too. Of course, this does mean that the Christian right gets on the parliament too.

4. The climate. Dutch people tend to think it’s typcal of the Dutch to complain of the weather, but I believe this is a universal way of starting smalltalk. We have a little of all four seasons, though fall always seems to last the longest. I particularly like the springs and summers here and like the occasional day of snow in winter.

5. The values. The Netherlands is considered extremely liberal by American standards. Most people are irreligious and don’t shove their beliefs down your throat. Though I am a Jesus follower and like to participate in American-based Christian culture sometimes, I like to retreat to my little, liberal church too. The Dutch are usually tolerant, though this has gone down a bit since 9/11 and the emergence of first Pim Fortuyn and then Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party.

6. Social security. It’s pretty good here compared to the United States and even most of the rest of Europe. I get around €770 a month. People not in institutions get more, but they substract my long-term care copay. Many benefits are income-based, which is good sometimes for me but not so good at other times because my husband has an income too. However, generally speaking, the Dutch system is mostly egalitarian despite almost fifteen years of right-wing governments so far. I like that.

7. The health care system. The Netherlands maintains a number one position in the European Health Consumer Index, which measures quality of health care systems. Though health insurance was liberalized a bit with the 2006 Health Insurance Act, health insurance is mandatory and usually quite affordable. The government decides what is covered in the basic package, which is the mandatory piece of health insurane, and people can buy additional coverage (with insurers being allowed to refuse them or raise premiums based on pre-existing conditions). The Long-Term Care Act went into effect in 2015 and covers institutional care. For community supports, local governments decide who will be eligible.

8. The educational system. Though we aren’t as much of a knowledge-based economy as the government would like people to believe, education is usually quite good and a lot more affordable than in the United States. College tuition, unless you take longer than usual to graduate, is about €2000 a year. Elementary and secondary education are free until you’re eighteen. We do have a few expensive, private schools, but not nearly as many as other countries do.

9. Music. Though I don’t care for famous Dutch singers such as Frans Bauer or Marco Borsato, I do like music sung in dialects. My parents live in the province of Groningen and I love listening to music from that province.

10. Queen Máxima. No, that’s a joke, but I couldn’t think of anything else. Most people in the Netherlands at least used to adore the queen. She isn’t head of state, as her husband Willem Alexander is, and this probably gives her some extra cuteness.

Mama’s Losin’ It

28 Before 28

It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog. I started up a Dutch blog again, and this time I hope that neither this blog nor the Dutch one suffers from my having two blogs. The reason I didn’t post for a while has nothing to do with the Dutch blog though. It’s to do with the fact that my braille display needed repairing and they took it into the shops for repairs rather than trying to fix the thing while I waited. This originally meant, or so I thought, that I couldn’t use the computer at all. Thankfully, I figured out the text-to-speech functionality and could do some Facebooking and blogging in Dutch. The synthesizer doesn’t do English though, so blogging here was out.

Even though I had over a week without blogging, I didn’t get lots of inspiration, because I couldn’t read the mostly English-language posts I usually get my inspiration from. I am determined to write though, so I’m going with Ginny Marie’s spin cycle prompt. The prompt is “28 things”. I originally thought about taking the easy way out and writing 28 random facts about myself, but then I realized I am 28 right now. Therefore, I choose to write 28 things I did before turning 28. Not all of these are truly achievements I made, but oh well.

  1. Went to three different elementary schools and two secondary schools. Graduated high school in 2005.

  2. Learned three foreign languages (English, German and French) and Latin. Forgot all but English and a tiny bit of German.

  3. Taught myself calendar calculation.

  4. Went to a school prom. Once or maybe even twice.

  5. Had crushes on only three different people. All of them were unapproachable. I don’t know whether I could even call what I feel for my husband a crush.

  6. Went to college and university. I attended college for a year and university for all of two months.

  7. Took five college courses in psychology. Passed two, failed one and never took the test for two.

  8. Lived on my own. For three months, but I did it!

  9. Got married.

  10. Lived in four different cities/towns, three of which are in the province of Gelderland.

  11. Rented an apartment with my husband.

  12. Got two cats.

  13. Traveled to France, Germany, England, Switzerland, Italy and Russia.

  14. Had eight major surgeries, seven of which I had before the age of nine. The eighth was my eye surgery in 2013.

  15. Got my wisdom teeth and had them out.

  16. Was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, borderline personality disorder and a host of other psychiatric conditons that I got dediagnosed with again.

  17. Was on at least a dozen different medications, ten of which were psychiatric medications.

  18. Had at least a dozen online journals and blogs.

  19. Was the owner for four or five Yahoo! E-mail groups and one Facebook group. None of them are currently active. Created another (also inactive) Facebook group and became a co-admin for a Yahoo! group and a Facebook group that are both active at age 28.

  20. Wrote a resume. Once. Because it was a college requirement.

  21. Spoke to two members of parliament in person. One came to my high school and the other came to the blindness rehabiliation center. Both were from the Christian party.

  22. Was a member of the Socialist Party.

  23. Voted for them only once and voted for two other parties, both on the left of the political spectrum.

  24. Participated in two debating contests representing my high school.

  25. Was a member of a children’s choir even though I cannot sing to save my life.

  26. Owned the DSM-5, the current edition of the psychiatric manual, even though it’s not in use in the Netherlands yet. Read most of it.

  27. Had twelve computers, three braille displays (and got my fourth one just after my 28th birthday) and four mobile phones. All of my computers were laptops and none of my cellphones were smartphones.

  28. Attempted to write my autobiography at least half a dozen times.