Monday, 25 October 2010

Learning dutch!

Hey everybody!

that post won't be really hard to write because I've just started to learn some dutch. As most of you know, in Belgium there are three official languages: flemish/dutch (Flanders), french (Wallonia) and german (Lüttich). I'm doing my erasmus in Leuven (Flanders) so the university gives to the new students the oportunity to learn dutch for free. At first it doesn't seem really useful, but I think it's being interesting and funny, although I have to study too. I don't know if I'll come back to live here again or maybe in the Netherlands, but I think it's really important to learn the language of your host country. Now I can say hello, goodbye, thank you, you're welcome... and I should know how to introduce myself and my family.

The funniest thing of learning dutch is that in the lessons you meet people from different countries and all of us have to learn the new language from the english (and that's neither my native language), so it's a bit more difficult but I really enjoy. If you don't have a lot of courses to follow and you want to learn something new, it's a good choice! It really doesn't matter if I'll use it again, I'll see :) but now it's being useful!

Maybe in future posts I'll write something interesting in dutch, now I just can write basic expressions. For the time being, here you have a funny song from the first lesson!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Last saturday my friends and I decided to go to Maastricht. From Leuven is really easy to go there and we thought it would be exciting to go to the Netherlands and visit such an important city. Troughout the history of the European Union there have been a large number of important cities where took place european conferences, meetings and treaties. Maastricht was the city where the European Community change its name to European Union as we know today. It was the first time that the member-state governments and representatives talked about an "european citizenship" and they also discussed about vital issues like judicial cooperation, subsidiarity and monetary union.

As a european citizens we wanted to come to Maastricht and see what happen with the city to had been chosen for the Treaty. In fact, there's nothing really different or special there but it's a nice city to visit. I don't want to write as a guide, because the article on wikipedia about the city has a lot of useful information. I'm thinking about how was our day there, how we feel there and what we enjoyed most. Firstly, I have to say that I feel really proud that we can go by train to the next country without no border control, we just had to go to Liège and take another train and ultimately we just spend an hour and a half to arrive to Maastricht. It was probably the coldest day I've ever had since I arrived to Belgium. The city it's not so far but I could really feel the temperature falling down. We haven't really planned the trip so we went from the Station (it's a nice building but I prefer Antwerpen station) to the Tourist Office and we decided to do a walk tour. It was getting colder during the morning and we didn't see the sun in the hole day so we walked around the city and we could really enjoy some sightseeings like the Helpoort or the Basilica of Our Lady. Through city streets I found some little charming shops with curious gift or home decoration items.

The white cloudy sky started to rain each half an hour, but we finished our walking tour around a nice animal park, where I could feel sorrounded by nature. Now I know why people say that the Netherlands means green and feeling peaceful... because you are in a city and in the forest at the same time, and that's great! You can choose what you prefer every day. I'm sure that it would have been interesting to go there in a weekday because normally it's full of students and, as happens in Leuven, the city changes a lot. But it was definetly alive and full of people in the shopping centre, where we could find a nice and cheap restaurant to rest a bit.

One of the most funny and surprising place was a bookshop which was inside a church. I'm not sure about the name of the street but I think it's quite famous. Inside the big religious building I could find amounts of books in different languages

What I found really interesting was all people speaking Dutch, I couldn't really understand them but I knew at least some words from the language course and I hope it will be useful in the future. Maastricht was rainy all the afternoon and we spend some time in the big Market, in the main city centre, plenty of food stalls (sweet snacks or the typical Frituur, which means fries and not really healthy things... but they tast always good, that's the problem!) But I think that the most strange and new experience was to have a warm chocolademelk (hot chocolate) in a Coffee Shop. Yes, a dutch Coffee Shop, and I just have to say that they ask us for our ID card. I'm not joint smoker and anything like that but it was surprising to stay there. That means also the Netherlands. And I was talking with a friend from Norway about the politics in this country, because there is allowed so much things that normally are forbidden in european countries (most people know about the famous red district in Amsterdam).

Despite the cold and the rain we enjoyed our trip to Maastricht and it made me feel different. I could discover a small part of one of the powerful european countries and I would like to know more about that. It's unlike any other place I have visit so far. And it's attractive and, of course, it smells a bit different :)

Oh, the pictures will be uploaded soon! Blogger is doing maintenance!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Brugge: world heritage city

I have been thinking about what I should write about this amazing city. I found impossible to say how it makes me feel. It's the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders. Brugge. Even the name is beautiful. Some people call it the Venice of the North because it's full of canals. I've been to Venice and I can say it's really different.

Brugge it's the belgian most famous city, besides Brussels. Maybe it has too much tourists and you cannot really feel just in one day which kind of city is. Although it's a comercial centre with an important port, you don't awake its modern life because it seems to be stopped in the middle ages. Like a fairytale, as the city you could imagine when you're a child and you think about princes and princesses, witches, horse carts, haunted castles... It's quite difficult to get to the city centre because it's still the kind of city with narrow cobbled streets but it makes the walk more interesting. Well-preserved traditional buildings, small churches everywhere and a large number of nice pictures you can take.

As all the belgian cities, Brugge has the main centre in the Grote Markt, with the Belfry or Belfort, a medieval bell tower. It's so hard to walk up it but it's really worth. The city centre is plenty of interesting buildings as the city hall, the Church of Our Lady and the Burg Markt. But you can find all the information about that in a city guide or in the website ( I just wanna explain - and it will be a bit difficult because my english is not good enough to talk about feelings - what does Brugge conveys me.

When I walked around the main streets I found something different. It doesn't make me feel in my element but the quite atmosphere - despite the amounts of tourists - was relaxing. When I just left the centre and go around the canals (one of my favourites is the Dijver canal) to the north part of the city I felt like in another place, in another country, even in another world. Or maybe in other age. Of course it was interesting to see the touristical sights but I really enjoyed a short walk through time. If you just leave a bit the touristical part of the city you can find an incredible silence. A peaceful silence just broken by the river or the peal of bells. Just thinking about nothing and looking at the nice colourful houses.

Burgge has obviously important shopping streets and also a lot of souvenir shops. They were really nice but too much typical for my liking. Laces, chocolate, postcards... but, in fact, there was something else more satisfying. A sail around Brugge canals to find a different point of view of what you've seen before. The city insight. I think it's better than go for a horse ride though it can be really nice (but a bit expensive...). Afterwards it's a nice idea to find the Wollestraat (close to the Grote Markt) and there's a great pub where you can taste different kinds of belgian beers for a cheap prize and sit by the river and enjoy the scenery.

During the afternoon... what can be better than walking around the big river plenty of ducks and swans? Relaxing, lovely place. The Minnewater. It's called the Love Lake. And the closest Beguinage. Shooting, reading a book, sitting on the grass, walking into mysterious stories... I should write more about that and spend a long day in Brugge. I'll never get fed up visiting Brugge...

In this link you can find all the information about the city and also a really nice panoramic views.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

in the heart of Europe

Most of the subjects I'm studying at the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven are related to European Studies. This mean that I'm attending to lessons about politics, international relations, arts, literature... always related to Europe. Belgium is at least one of the most important countries in the European Union and if you're studying here you cannot ignore that.

I'm not going to copy my notes eventhough they're really interesting but I'll upload here some maps. Today the teacher of International Relations and European Integration has shown us these images and we've discussed them. It's really interesting to be in the same group of amounts of people from different countries and also different continents. I've seen how many points of view can exist all over the world and it makes me feel different. It makes me feel a little piece of a hole puzzle and also I have now the evidence that I have no idea about the world, not even Europe.

I just want to show everybody these maps because I'm sure you'll think about it.

European point of view of the world
USA point of view of the worldArabic point view of the world

Chinese point of view of the world

Let's think about that. Who has the right point of view?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Listening to Belgium

I have just discovered some beligan groups and good flemish singers. Here you have some of my favourite songs... I love to listen to new music from other countries, and they play really nice!

Eva de Roovere - Fantastic Toch

Hannelore Bedert - Smaak

dEUS - Instant Street

Hannelore Bedert - Vocabulaire