I decided that I wanted to celebrate Christmas and new year with my parents in the Netherlands. It would be the first time that I went there since they moved back. Barbara didn't mind as she knew she had to work during the Christmas holiday. Celebrating Christmas together with her family wasn't an option for me. Since we were seeing each other nearly every day, we decided it was not worth all the troubles and arguments for Barbara in trying to come along with me. Just a week not seeing each other shouldn't be a problem. Looking back now it seems strange, but we never celebrated one Christmas together. To be honest I even don't know if the Chinese celebrate Christmas in a different way than the English or Dutch.
In the Netherlands my oldest brother introduced me into the Dutch student life. He was studying at the Technical university and was living in a student house. The student life at that time was quite decadent. It was easy to get a grand and there was no time limit in studying. The result was that there was little studying going on. Hygiene wasn't an issue either. For the Dutch readers, the house was officially called "Goor en Ruft", I don't quite know how to translate it.
My brother's friends spend most of their time trying to find out ways how to irritate the common citizens and testing the bureaucratic systems. If there was somewhere a fault in bureaucracy, then they would find it. They did it with a lot humor and it was all very harmless. For example they organized a football tournament and named it after the most irritating civil servant they knew. They even invited him to do the prize giving. Outsiders would have seen these students as lazy, dirty, noisy, alcohol consuming nuisance, a waste of the taxpayers money. I felt very at home there.
Every time I went to Holland I spend a lot of time in that house. When Barbara was in Holland later that year I tried to introduce her to this life, but understandingly it was not her style. For someone who always had the work hard to get things done, she didn't understand why people want to live that way. She did cook a meal once for the whole house and she did enjoy the attention she was given when she came along. Once I asked her what she thought of those students, al she said was: "loud and hairy".
Barbara and I were very different from each other but in a few things we were similar. We had the same sense of humor. We could make each other laugh, it was fun being together. There was always some positive energy between us, we enjoyed being together. Personally I find that when you can't laugh together anymore your relation is ending.
Another thing we had in common was that we respected each other's choices in life. We both didn't like to be told how to live our life, therefore we didn't try to influence each other. Barbara must have had her thoughts when she noticed that I was so attracted towards the student life of my brother. But she never made a negative comment or tried to persuade me to spend my time differently.
在荷兰，我的大哥带我熟悉了荷兰的学生生活。他在工业大学学习，住在一所房子里——学生之家。那时的学生生活非常颓废，很容易就会得到一个大荣誉，在学习时间上几乎上没有要求，结果就是大家都不学习。清洁卫生方面也没有要求。荷兰的读者通常都称学生公寓为"Goor en Ruft"，我不知道用英语怎么讲。
(translated by Julia)