“Life Lessons”

It seems such a long time ago. That I became Editor-in-Chief of the Dutch student’s media magazine Xi. That I started my studies in Media and Culture (or Film Sciences, as I prefer to call it out of shame for the way too popular original name). That I received my high school diploma. That I made my first film.

No matter how you see it, every approaching end (and I don’t mean to be as dramatic as I sound) makes you reflect the days you left behind. What did I do? What did I achieve? What did I learn? What did I lose? Yes, I know, they are intimidatingly phrased Big Questions, but sometimes it does no harm at all to try and find an answer for yourself to these and other questions, regardless of how insignificant and incomplete your answers may be. And as the sun has finally managed her way through the usual Dutch cloud cover, that self-reflection can be most pleasant.

So there I was, sitting in the sun in front of the Dutch Film Museum in Amsterdam, the monumental building that has been my refuge for the past two and a half years. While my face was working really hard to produce a little shade of brown (instead of the usual drunkard’s red), I felt my thought floating towards the time I’ve spent as a film student in Amsterdam, Holland’s capital city.

It was there and then when I realized what the University of Amsterdam had given me. I have to admit, the institution and I haven’t always been the best of friends (now there’s a euphemism for you). But at this point only the positive occurrences lifted themselves from my memories: the brilliant, creative, passionate friends; the inspiring conversations with people like Marie Baronian, Catherine Lord, and Dan Hassler-Forest (their names suggest foreign roots, so it’s no wonder our contact was so motivating); the masterpieces that have reduced me to tears on Tuesday afternoons at the Film Museum’s sultry screening rooms; the capitalist hedonism of the Pathé Pass (reduced prices at movie theaters, hurray!) and the FAME Pass (reduced prices at Holland’s largest DVD store, hurray again!); the best book I’ve ever bought, called Film Art

All of a sudden, it proved to be true what a Dutch-Aruban backpack turista told me when I was in NYC last March: “Don’t be too critical, because later in time, you’ll realize how much you’ve gained from it.” At that point I wasn’t keen to believe that, but now I do realize she was right after all. Of course, things have happened that I’m still rather angry about, but I guess those things add up to who you are in the end. And it has gotten me to Columbia University, hasn’t it?

And that’s how it goes with everything in life: with friendships, relationships, auditions, creative projects, jobs, adventures both domestic and abroad, experiences, challenges, struggles to be a good friend, a good artist and a good person… Well, eventually it all comes down to that old familiar, but very truthful proverb (and please allow me to use a Major Cliché here):

All’s well that ends well.

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