[Column] A year in Delft

Ten months and 15 days. That’s how long it has been since I came to Delft.

Leaving home and going away from my family was a conscious decision. They say living alone makes you learn things that cannot be taught. You work through things on your own and those experiences and the actions you take mould you.

I knew getting accustomed to a new place would take some time. The academics, the place, the people you spend time with and the culture were all new. And I loved every bit of it. I immediately took to how direct the people were, and I couldn’t wait to explore the place. The culture in Europe that comes from its long-standing history is something I wanted to see first-hand and was one of the important reasons why I chose to come here. I have a multicultural group of friends and sometimes you notice subtle nuances about things that they do or say which might give you some new insight. There have also been times when you observe things which make you appreciate your own culture even more. It is a rewarding experience.

This doesn’t necessarily mean I was good at dealing with everything here. The academic rigour needed some getting used to. I tried to find the right way to study and to deal with the quarter system but failed and failed again. And that unexpectedly puts you in a position of a lot of freedom because things couldn’t get worse (at least it seemed so back then) and it is really up to you to decide for yourself where you want to go from there. I eventually managed to put my best foot forward with a lot of help and hard work.  I wouldn’t have experienced any of this had I still been back home. Living alone really opens you up to new possibilities. You discover parts of yourself you didn’t know existed before.

It surprised me though, how a place so different to where I come from could make me feel so welcome. Coming here changed me in a lot of small ways. I’ve grown as a person. Made good and bad decisions but I can live with the bad ones too because they were my decisions. Found some great friends, lost some. It’s funny how we move forward leaving parts of us behind.

When I think about Delft, I think about pretty cobblestone streets, the cold yet cosy Christmas markets, ice-skating with my friends, the glistening ripples in the canals and watching the spectacular late sunsets through my windows, all at the same time and in no particular order. These are moments that I will carry with me forever.

I come from a country which can only be described as beautiful chaos and this messy collage of memories somehow fits right into that description.

I will be leaving this week to go back to India for a month. And I will miss this place that I’ve begun to call home, even though it is just for a while. And I’ll be back to do it all over again.

Padmini Manivannan is a Masters student studying Signals and Systems at TU Delft and hails from Chennai, India. She loves doodling in her free time.

Padmini Manivannan / Columnist

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