Expect the unexpected.

Every year, around this time, we have something called “housing lottery,” which essentially allows us to have preference on the times we can choose housing for the following school year. This year, me and my four other friends happen to be just some of those unlucky students who got a not so good number. I believe none of us expected it, but now facing this reality, we are very conscious that housing on campus falls through the cracks. In other words, there won’t be housing for the five of us on campus.

So we must head off campus, this means it can be cheaper or more expensive for some people. We would need to deal with a whole range of issues we have had to deal with the past. We would need to be even more grown up in order to take on this bigger responsibility that it is to live off campus.

The main challenge is that we are all currently studying abroad. Yet, the reason I am telling you all this, is that despite the geographical and physically separation, my friends and I have found a way to keep supporting each other and come up with a plan to remain together for our last year. Honestly, I cannot see myself living away from them for the next school year. As I have said in my previous posts, I found in them my posse, my base—if I am not with them during my last year of college, my mental health is going to suffer greatly. So I am willing to compromise in certain changes that living off campus will imply. On the other hand, I also believe that living off campus may be the way of us not unlearning much of the progress we have made living away from home and of everything we know so well, during our time studying abroad.

As I explained the last time, I am learning so much about myself here in The Netherlands. Maybe I am not hitting the books as hard as I do at Brandeis, but I am doing something I have not really done before. I am learning about life. I am learning to appreciate more everything I have back home, especially the good that my parents play in my life. I take them for granted for many things.

In addition, I think the opportunity of living off campus will allow me to continue having better control over my veganism, which it officially has been about a month. During my visit to Denmark, I saw one of my friends and I discovered through her diagnosis that, just like her, I may have an eating disorder, which makes my life complicated. But, there is a way to control it and that is if I am allowed to have more control over what I eat. I remember I would often limit myself to many of the Brandeis’ options because I would deem them as “unhealthy.” As a result, I would end up eating the same most of the time. I am basically obsessed with only putting “healthy” food in my body, but as long as I do not lower my intake of food, it should be fine for the moment. Although, I planning on seeing a specialist on the matter to see if there may be a solution or a better way to treat it, if I do happen to have this undiagnosed disorder. Not to mention, it will prepare me to live my adult life, wherever is that I end up at, and let that initial frighten of doing things without your parents’ backup, slip away or be tamed, at least, in order to take further risks later in my life.

For the moment, I know we have to be diligent on the housing matter, but I am also trying to control my anxiety and just take every day as it is. If it gets to become too overwhelming, I count to ten and it keeps me on check. To be honest, there are many things that make me anxious, especially when it requires waiting and being patient, I need to work on that and that is just one of the many things I am figuring out here in The Hague. All I can say is that I try to remain positive and look at the bright side of everything. I believe in the good old phrase, “Everything happens for a reason,” maybe some believe it is asinine, but it gives me comfort—it really does and it makes sense every time I plot the dots with regards to my life’s experiences.

Just know that, if you do happen to stumble upon a great group of friends like I did, you would like to compromise some issues, like money or in other regards. Not everything goes the way we plan it, but if you are prepared to deal with the unexpected, then you most likely will know how to deal with the friendships that really matter. To me, my friends matter a lot and they play a vital role in my life, thus, I am certain I can compromise a few things for the sake of the group. And to be honest, it does not even feel like I am compromising anything only because I would be able to still live with my four best friends one more year and to that I cannot put a price to it.


Santiago Montoya