my name is natalia. I am a Phd candidate at the radboud university nijmegen medical centre, nijmegen, the netherlands. in daily life, i do research in computational psychiatry. in free time, i go dancing, hiking, investing and blogging.

Democratic or Republican

Tomorrow, the parliament elections will be held in Poland. Therefore, today, on this paticular day, I need to keep calm about my choices and I cannot speak about it to public. However, I think I am still allowed to talk a little bit about my general political preferences.

So, a weird thing happened. While living in Poland, I was viewed as as ultra democratic. Poland is still very conservative, so if you openly say that marrying someone you never slept with is a stupidity, and you have nothing against gay people and transsexuals, you are perceived as an utterly liberal person. I also like the sense of safety from the government, and the idea of a society with a strong middle class. Therefore the Scandinavian, high-tax and high-equity model was actually appealing to me. The funny thing is that after moving to the Netherlands, my views did not change at all but now - compared to the Dutch - I feel like an ultra conservative person. In the Netherlands, if you don't believe that making appointments online just for sex is a good way of starting relationships, you are old fashioned. And if you believe that 35% tax is a little too much after all, you are a damn capitalist. Well, I have a house right now and I have to pay so high taxes that after paying the mortgage, the bills, the land taxes and the tax from rental, I am breaking even. At the same time, while I am working on keeping my house in a good condition in the evenings, many people around me are spending time on drinking beers. So, why should I give away all the earnings from my little investment so that these lazy guys can get unemployment benefit after their contract expires and keep on drinking beers? In Poland, I was opting for high taxes and high social help but this only because everyone is working their butts off over there - as opposed to here, where some are working and some are drinking beers.

Anyways, I am very surprised to find myself as a republican, or as conservative. I would never believe that would happen, especially given that I am still the same person. I am also starting to think that the Netherlands is a bit too left-sided for me, and that I am becoming more and more American-ish inside. As for the aforementioned America, I just came back from some conference in Chicago. I visit US at least once a year, and every time I come back from there, I am more and more flabbergasted. Is it that I feel weirdly good over there only because it is a great conference and everyone is cheering? Or is it that I meet more people who are closer to me on their minds than in Europe? I got a fear from America a few years ago when I left for California for three months, and as a person completely fresh with programming, I had hard time working with very fluent programmers around me. But recently, I am getting to think that Americans just better understand what science really is, and that's why feels good to hang out with them.

Because science is madness. It needs a lot of sacrifice and devotion to do it - it needs attention, it needs balls, it needs art. Europeans just play it safe. They try to give a frame to it, to standardise it. In the Netherlands, every graduate student is supposed to have four journal papers, which requires to only take on projects that have high chance of working out. Usually, this means reproducing earlier studies, with a tiny bit of changes in the protocol. I noticed that some people conduct a cognitive experiment, then mould the data with the standard software and whatever comes out, they publish. If the results are consistent with the literature, they can sell it as a confirmatory result. If the results are inconsistent, they sell it as a little discovery, or ‘a new insight’. In the worst case, they end up with a second league journal paper and they are happily progressing forward. Americans on the other hand, are more of a risk-seekers, they more often look for a needle in the haystack in hope for a big discovery. Since I became more independent, I less and less fear life. And it reaches my head sometimes that I could actually try myself with US once more. 

But on the other hand, America is such a capitalistic place… It is so capitalistic that humans compete with each other on every possible level. Even the cities compete with each other for inhabitants. For instance, Chicago is depopulating nowadays - just as Detroit used to two decades ago: since the taxes are higher than in other cities, people are moving out, and in a consequence, the taxes are rising even more. Thus phenomenon also demonstrates how unstable the aggressive capitalism is. It scares me, but also fascinates me. Since it is so much unstable, your whole life depends upon one thing: whether or not do you manage to join this narrow group of people who benefit from the system and who are getting well-off, or you stay in this vast majority who is slowly losing and falling into bankruptcy and misery.

Imposter complex

Overcoming fears