YES! We made it.
After 1200km of biking from Rotterdam, I safely arrived in Zürich.
It was a two-week physical and spiritual journey. Never before had I travelled by myself, let alone a biking trip from A to B. Niek, why the hell would you, or anyone else for that matter, struggle so much when you can just take the train or fly?
So, I’ll provide a good answer. I have several reasons, which I’ll elaborate.
Get out of the Comfort Zone
Make Adventure in Life
I believe getting out of the comfort zone is the most guaranteed way of learning and growing. You’ll bump into yourself constantly, face your inadequacies and imperfections and simply new learnings. After studying in Rotterdam for four years, I built a desire to leave behind an epic chapter and start a new one. To grasp the true meaning of getting out of the comfort zone – which is the main purpose of my entire exchange - I started thinking about extraordinary ways to travel to Zurich. I came up with walking, hitchhiking or biking. Since I have already done two larger biking trips (Rotterdam – Trento and Garmisch – Rome), I knew I would enjoy the physical struggle and so I opted for the biking trip.
I truly believe we’re all missing adventures in our life. I’d like to describe an adventure very broadly by transforming chaos into order and confronting the unknown. There is something very archetypal about making adventures. This means it resonates deeply with the human psyche and thereby also satisfies the psyche on a profound level. We, humans, are made to go out into the unknown and charge forward, however, in this modern-day, it’s become a lot harder. That’s why I chose to start this entire adventure of exchange, with a short, intense adventure on the bike first.
Biking is highly meditative. Because of the medium pace and constant movement, you can “freethink” all the time. Your mind has capacity left to start thinking. And let me tell you, when you’re on your own, on a bike, for at least 10 days, you’ll start thinking. A lot.
During my biking, I did a lot of self-coaching. Every morning I would write down some questions, write about them shortly and then I had all day to deconstruct my disempowering beliefs, thought patterns and come up with new perspectives. It’s been uncomfortable at times, but simultaneously, it allowed me to dig beyond the surface and uncover some deeper issues for myself. Moreover, it also allowed me to think about my future in a flow state. It helps me tremendously to shape my vision.
Once I arrived, my lovely sister and brother awaited me in Zurich, cheering me on and giving a warm welcome. This was truly an emotional moment for me. After my initial arrival, I have travelled for almost two months consecutively. The majority with friends and family, and another small party by myself again. Thus far exchange has been the second-best choice in my entire life and I will try to share some learnings I’ve personally had.
My perception of time has changed.
Where in Rotterdam, I would find myself procrastinating quite often, I am much more occupied on my exchange. With the limited time of one semester in mind, I started treating every day as a special day to make it happen (Shoutout Rotterdam). It has led me to be a) more efficient with my studying time and b) more importantly, create an awful lot more experiences. I believe for us students to truly grasp this, we should embrace this mindset and start more adventures with a strict deadline in mind. Excess comfort and complacency have no time in our lives yet, let’s keep that for another time.
It’s very easy to fall back in routines and being mindful about this is the first step. Of course, you shouldn’t completely exhaust yourself by constantly getting out of the comfort zone. However, it’s key to notice that it’s easier to fall back into it than you think. I consciously try not to hang out with the same people all the day, and seek my fellow Dutch people. This allows me to be challenged and engaged with a variety of interesting people.
Be passionate about something and share that.
By observing other people on exchange, I’ve noticed whenever people are deeply passionate and driven about something, it spreads a certain, special vibe. It’s a very pleasant vibe to be around with and more importantly, people will notice you and give you opportunities. This is the perfect bridge to what I’m passionate about:
Creating a community around self-development and meaningful engagement.
In the past two years in Rotterdam, I’ve set up an organization called Extraordinary Life and the aforementioned is our mission statement. As I’d consider myself rather ambitious and industrious, I’m not just going to sit still here on exchange.
Instead, we’re setting up a new branch in Zurich and I want your help 😊
We are hosting workshops about the comfort zone, taboo topics (yesss), spirituality and other topics around self-development. This is all in the pursuit to develop ourselves towards our potential and thereby become who we truly are.
If you’re interested, the first events are on the 15th of October (Taboo Topic on Student Loneliness) and the 29th of October (Screw Passion, find Purpose).