Intoxication (in various forms)

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Over the last couple of months, there have been several eventful moments in which I found myself completely intoxicated. The first association people will have is alcohol, but it’s surprising how many other things can cause this (usually unfortunate) state of mind and body.

The thing that happens to me on the most regular basis is food. One of the many peculiar habits Americans have, is to create enormous portions of food. Whenever I am eating out, the portions that are served are so big it’s physically impossible for me to finish them. Even when you order a pizza here, you better make sure you’re with at least one other person, (although three is more optimal) simply because it is too big. In addition to that, American food tends to be very sweet – it is imperative to check food labels routinely when doing grocery shopping, just to make sure there was not too much sugar added to the product. Even the most savoury food items one can think of will have sugar added, like soup.

The second thing on my list landed this spot because of the past week. It is not something particularly American, but something that many people run into now and then. This past week I had four paper deadlines coming up, which meant I spent two nights in the library, working until 4 am, and getting up in the morning at 9 am. Consequently, I was basically a walking zombie for four days, which was not very conducive to my writing and logical thinking skills. This is where the intoxication-part steps in: I lived off of coffee the entire week. I would not advise anyone to do this more often than strictly necessary, but it worked perfectly for me, because I had a very productive week and finished everything in time.

The third intoxicating substance on my list is alcohol. No comments there.

The fourth and final thing on my list is a more positive sort of intoxication. This weekend I joined the GW International Affairs Society on their fall retreat to Shenandoah meadows – essentially the middle of nowhere. No phone reception and no internet, something that almost never happens in the Netherlands (I presume because we have a much smaller territory to cover – slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey). It was refreshing to be away from the city for a couple of days, and the surroundings there were gorgeous. Intoxication by the beauty of my surroundings is my favorite kind, just because it makes you happy and quiet and thoughtful.

Shenandoah national park

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