French

Although my New Year’s Resolutions state that I wanted to pick up my German this year, I have in fact been focussing more on my French. For five years, I studied French in high school and I cannot remember anything beyond: ‘Je ne parle pas fran├žais’. French has always been an incomprehensible language to me and I have never felt any kind of mastery. The website and app Duolingo has been instrumental in my new-found confidence in the language. I’d still struggle immensely if I wanted to talk to a French person and I don’t believe I have enough basis yet to have a conversation beyond ordering bread for breakfast or asking people to speak English, Dutch or German with me, but even that small amount is more than I have ever been able to say. Phrases such as ‘Qu’est-ce que’ no longer frighten me. In fact, I can write Read More …

From The Mad House and Asylum: Welcome to Contemporary Mental Health

Sometime last year, I discovered Coursera and it has proved to be a brilliant way to work on New Year’s Resolution #3: to learn – new things and old alike – and to have a blast doing it. I signed up for a large number of interesting courses and in February, I genuinely started. One of the most interesting classes so far has been The Social Context of Mental Health & Illness by Charmaine Williams. The first week focussed on the history of mental health from the 18th century on. It’s been a trip down memory lane as we discussed the Victorian work houses, prisons and later asylums. It’s rather discouraging to be reminded how the history of mental health has been plagued by huge swings from high optimism to low pessimism, and constant underfunding and a lack of resources. The Dutch museum Het Dolhuys (The Mad House) in Haarlem Read More …

New Year’s Resolutions

As the year 2013 came hurdling into the world, I found I met it calmly. Life is turbulant, exciting and uncharted, but the Christmas Holiday functions as it always has: as an oases – a moment of rest. Now, as the holiday comes to a close and life in all its busyness is gaining momentum once more, perhaps it is time to look at the landscape around me and sketch myself a map. To draw up some signposts to help me explore. The year 2012 was marked by stress, frustration and tiredness. For the year 2013, it is vital then to build in more rest, enjoyment and excitement. The moments when I feel freest are on the motorbike. To feel the wind in my face; breathe in the fresh air; to feel the machine move with my body and the sheer exhillarating feeling of going fast without having to exert Read More …