My first day at the gymnasium began with approximately 10 kilometres cycling on a hilly road. The school was much larger than our village school. New classmates and many new teachers. Learning remained easy and I made sure not to show it. I remained an outsider as a student from a distant small village with another dialect who cycled alone every day 20 kilometres on my bike.
After some time I was included in a group of girlfriends and I was more at home at school. The lessons were boring and homework was not needed: it had to remain a little exciting. In our village I played music in the harmony; I also had several girlfriends from the primary school. With a primary school boyfriend I explored the forests and experienced all sorts of adventures. By cycling every day I had an excellent condition – many boys could not follow me until halfway high school they had received sufficient male hormones to exceed me with body strength.
As the oldest of the three sisters I had an advantage: I had control over everything that happened between us. I mothered them; this caused sometimes conflicts with my sisters and my mother. Being the oldest also had a downside: I thought I might control everything that happened between us . I noticed in the third or fourth class that I was the only special daughter. My sisters were ordinary normal pupils; my tutoring for their high school lessons had not much extra result. I was and remained the only outsider in our home.
My second sister was once asked in her class at school how many books were read every year at home. Most families read about 10 books. One classmate mentioned 50 books. My sister said that we read about 500 books. That was fully right: I read about 300 books – also easy books, my father 100 books and my sisters around 50.
In the second half of the gymnasium we had to read books for our final exam. For English I had chosen Ulysses by James Joyce. I had to amend that choice, because our English teacher found this book too complicated . As alternative I chose “Lord of the flies” by William Golding – a novel about the derailment of a group of boys on an island. Of course I also read Ulysses from cover to cover – later when I was older, I understood this book better after a second reading. At a very abstract level the book Ulysses has been model for the structure of our Odyssey to “Who are you”. Yes, from the monologue by Molly Bloom I have learnt a lot about the earthly views of women on men: certainly yes. Again I played hide and seek – now with my feelings of love, until I met my great love a few years later in Delft.
For Dutch I read among other books the entire oeuvre of Hugo Raes and Jef Geeraerts. By these authors I became sensitive for institutionalised crimes against humanity.
The French existentialists and phenomenologist – Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus – I also read. Simone de Beauvoir was at that time for me a model of a self-conscious intelligent woman – she wrote wonderful books such as “Tous les Hommes sont Mortels” and “Les Belles Images”. Albert Camus with “Le Mythe de Sisyphe” and “L’Homme révolté” showed me far-reaching choices by humans – we will encounter these books later on our Odyssey.
In an overview of world philosophy I read a reference to the Tao Te King by Lao Tse. This book fascinated me because I could not give this book a clear place in my mind set at that time. We will encounter this book in chapter 7 on our Odyssey.
Women’s emancipation and pop music had a limited place in my life at that time. My loves were untouchable and vague; the boys in my area were naive or stupid – except my primary school boyfriend. We made all sorts of wanderings – at the end of the high school we also made distant wanderings of many day. My mother was opposed; my father agreed and began a conversation about the contraceptive pill – this was not the case. We went hiking in Belgium, a few days hitch-hiking to Paris and also to Taizé for the sense of communion – not for the religion. The last summer holiday at high school we travelled through Europe by train for one month. I am still in touch with my primary school boyfriend.
I learned science – mathematics and physics – without any effort all; I receive a nice outcome at a Mathematics Olympiad. I read the Scientific American in the school library – it was fun to solve the puzzles by Martin Gardner .
In the summer holiday after my final exam I read almost all the books of Erich Fromm. His humanism against the current, I found worrying  and encouraging. Later, we will encounter his books on our Odyssey.
In my last year of the gymnasium, I decided to continue my life with a technical study at the Delft University of Technology. My father was very proud of me. Together, we quickly found a room in Delft. A new era in another culture dawned.
 See also: Brown, Eleanor, The weird Sisters. HarperCollins p. 121
 Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Paris_Night.jpg
 See also: Gardner, Martin, The colossal Book of Mathematics. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001
 See also: Fromm, Erich, Escape from Freedom. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1941
 Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Delft_stadhuis.jpg