Home is where the heart is, they say

Life just keeps going.

In about two weeks I moved my life back from Poland to Belgium, and I’ve done my last exam here. For this year, at least. As soon as I settled down a little here, I had to start studying again. Let’s just say I jump from one thing into the other without catching a break. Right now, I’m working on my bachelor thesis as well – because that thing has to be finished as soon as possible, before I start working.

I’m one busy creature. Maybe it’s for the better, so I don’t get all too nostalgic to Poland. During the last weeks, I felt as if my life there had finally become the life I wanted to have there. Leaving that country was not something I was looking forward to. Things were going well, my Polish was improving, life looked good, but then I had to return home.

Which of course isn’t so bad either. I’m happy to see my family again, that’s for sure! And when I was at a cafe with friends, I had to admit that life in Belgium has its very, very good sides. The biggest downside is that everyone speaks Dutch. What am I doing here if I can’t improve my other languages? I’ve never felt so sure that I want to go to Russia. Despite all the effort and stress and waiting, I have to go to Russia. I want my Russian to become even more fluent than my Polish, and I know that it’s possible. Also, I know that after two months here, I will be longing to something different again.

I can notice that I have changed these past months. (Luckily – what is the point of doing something like this if you don’t notice any difference?) In short, I think it is independency. I don’t need people to feel at ease, I don’t need people to cook for me. It’s very much appreciated if I have them around, and having my parents helping me out is great, it’s awesome! But my point is, if they wouldn’t cook and wash and do stuff for me, I would be able to do it for myself. That is a great feeling. Also, try to impress me – I speak Polish and Russian and traveled on my own with two heavy suitcases to Poland. You won’t knock me off my feet all that easily!

If home is where your heart is, then I will have many homes. I think my heart will be shattered all over the world. I went to Poland and made it mine. A little piece of my heart is still there.

And that’s how I like it. These five months have made me more independent and more fluent in Polish, and at the same time they made Poland like a second home for me. It’s not always been easy and fun, but in the end it was worth the effort. This is an experience I will always carry with me.

Now who wants some pierogi!

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A sense of belonging

When I decided to stay in Belgium, I had to start my courses here a week later than everyone else. I missed out on almost all the first classes. That’s certainly not a big problem, and I have good classmates who tell me what I need to know about those first classes, but it does mean that I started my academic year a week later, and maybe that is why I have been so busy. Part of it, at least. It seems that I have been running from point A to B, from classes to food and back, and then to homework and then to bed and then to point A again. I have been running around, it seems. Just running around.

I thought this would be terrible, staying. I thought it would be hell. When I decided to stay in Belgium, I already knew I was choosing the ‘lesser bad’ option. Staying was not what I wanted, but being late more than a month in Russia wasn’t what I wanted either. And it seemed to go well. I have adapted to my new situation. There are small little bright sides here too: I have a good new room, I have good classmates and housemates. Things aren’t as dramatic as I imagined them to be.

But yesterday, I was listening to a certain song, and suddenly I started to miss all the others, all those who are now abroad. I miss them. I want them closer to me, I want to talk to them and go to dinner with them and have a drink with them. But they are all abroad and I am here because of no other reason than someone not doing his job well. I have lost. And I’m one of the few who actually had everything to go studying abroad. Not one retake for an exam. Good grades. No difficulties whatsoever.

And yet, here I am.

Together with missing my friends, I started to think I don’t belong here. I’m taking someone else’s space. This shouldn’t be my room and these people shouldn’t be talking to me and I shouldn’t be walking around here. It’s not like I don’t feel at home, because I do, but I have the idea that I’m out-of-place. I’m very used to this life here again already, and I think I’m doing well, and things look okay and everything. But I shouldn’t be here. I should be elsewhere.

It’s a strange thing, and I know I just have to suck it up, man up and so on, but this injustice and missing sometimes hits quite hard. I’ll get out of it again – but for now, I will try to find a way to deal with it.

Where I am now

In Belgium, clearly. It’s the seventh day after my last post, simply because I have been busy starting over my life here. Exactly one week ago we managed to find a room for me in the city where I study – of course, I had found someone else to stay in my first room, thinking I’d be gone for a year. Since that day I had to put an order to my Belgian life again, choose my courses, move my stuff to the new room and trying to get used to it all – which happens quickly.

Luckily, it is not as bad as I thought it would be here. My new room is nice, I like living here, and the housemates are very friendly. The courses are okay, we’re mostly with four people in class, so that is not much at all, but less desperate than I expected. It’s also interesting to note that our professors have made it a big issue, all the troubles with going to Russia. I’m far from the only one who had such troubles (though I’m the only one to stay), but they’ve noticed and now I’m even asked to talk about it with someone. They want to hear my story to see what went wrong, in order to make things better.

It’s a little too late for me now, but okay. I will do a second attempt next year. If the university there will still take me, that is… They have done all this effort, and now I have to inform them that I won’t be coming anyway. I’m still struggling with telling them this. Fingers crossed they won’t be mad!

So, that’s the little catchup with my life. I plan to write more interesting posts again soon, but for now you at least now where I am, and how I’m doing. Take care and see you soon!

The Q&A

Hello there, dear readers, today is our national holiday, so drink a Belgian beer or eat some french fries to celebrate that Belgium exists, okay? There is nothing special today, shops are closed etc, and I must admit there was more of a Belgian spirit when we were in Brazil.

But okay. The real subject of this post will be the questions Zaychishka gave me. She nominated me for the Liebster Award. If I remember it right, I got one (or a few) already, and sometimes I forget or ignore them, but her questions were interesting. I’m not giving any  more random facts, because there are barely random facts left about me, and I’m not nominating anyone because most of you know each other very well. It’s purely the questions that I’ll answer.

Zaychishka is a blog on Russian and Ukrainian fashion. (Since I’m mentioning Ukraine now, I want to take a second of virtual silence for the victims of the plane that has crashed there. A very, very tragic situation. I’m incredibly sorry for what happened there and wish there was a way to console all the people who have lost someone.) Her blog is very inspirational, interesting, and of course very relevant for me!

Now, she’s given me some nice things to think about. Here we go:

1. What subject did you least like the most in school? (it could be from elementary, high school, college/university etc)

Hmmm, probably our religion class in high school, that wasn’t much about religion at all, or the philosophy class at university. Philosophy can be very interesting, but the way the professor approached it seemed to utterly bullshitty to me. I skipped at least half of the classes. No regrets.

2. If you could be any animal what would you be?

A cat, clearly. A cat that gets spoiled, like ours.

3,Which ancient culture fascinates you the most?

Hard one! Ancient culture are always nice to read more about. I’ve been studying Latin in high school, so I know quite some things about their culture. I would love to know more about the ancient Egyptian culture. And the Celtic mythology is something I never fail to like as well!

4. If you could talk to anyone in the world, who would be the person you would want to have a sit down conversation with? (dead or alive)

This question is too hard. Though there is this dancer in the Mariinsky theatre who has such a strong and almost royal attitude. I’d love to find out where she got it from.

5. Have you ever been mistaken for a celebrity?

Never!

6.  How did you build up the courage to put your words out their- with your blog, for all to see? (or did you even need any courage at all?)

I need less courage to blog than to talk about certain things, just because I don’t have to face you every day. Though I mind my words sometimes, since this is still the Internet. I’ve never got a bad remark or insults, so I feel like I can say about everything here. And that’s a very good feeling!

7.Where are you from? Which country?

Well, unless you skipped the first part, I think that’s pretty clear!

Not the classiest thing to eat... But still very good and very Belgian. Source

Not the classiest thing to eat… But still very good and very Belgian.
Source

8. What is a funny misconception about the country you are from? (Or stereotype).

That we all speak French. In fact there are three official languages here: French, Dutch and German. The German part is very small, but the other two are almost equally as big. I live in the Dutch speaking part.

9. What is something that you do that you consider relaxing?

Reading, and dancing in a way too. Especially when you’ve finished a class or something, and you’re tired in a good way, and you can sit down then…

10. What inspires you to blog? (this is a very good & timeless question)

The overload of things I want to share. I need to get it out, or it gets stuck in my head. I need space there, so I need to get the words and movies and songs out every now and then.

11. What would be an ideal dinner & dessert? Any scenario would work, let your thoughts run wild.

I would like a walking dinner, so I can try everything. And some vegetarian lasagna with olives and a glass of wine… And of course I never say no to french fries with beer. Maybe not very lady-like, but too good to refuse. Seriously. And afterwards, some sweet melon, or tiramisu, or how is it called… You know, it’s a chocolate dessert, hard on the outside, but still fluid on the inside. That is good. That is very good.

That was that for now! Feel free to be inspired by this and answer the questions as well, and go say hello to Zaychishka 🙂

And I’m back!

And we’re back! I hope you guys had a great time while I was gone, but I don’t doubt it. Did I have a great time? Oh yeah, totally! Thanks for asking. It was amazing. We did a lot of Belgian things together. She was a great tourist!

We drank some typical Belgian beer. Because unless you don’t drink at all, you should try them. Nothing represents us better than our fluid gold. You’re more of a wine person? Well, that just means you haven’t tried the real Belgian beer. It is pretty impossible you don’t like any of them. According to Wikipedia there were 1150 original beers counted in 2011. Let that sink in for a moment.

Wait for it.

Yes, that’s incredibly much indeed! But we reached the good amount of trying six different ones in a few days. Yay!

She ate vol-au-vent, the favourite dish of many people here. It contains chicken, so I’m not a fan, but well, it’s something you have to eat if you come to live as a student here for a few days. No way around!

She ate a warm waffle. As in, a waffle, warm, with a lot of sugar. It’s something you find on every corner of the street here, more or less. Because Belgians sell so much food on the street. I never realised how focused we are on food and drinking.

We even have these places where you can buy only French fries and meat to go with it. And some drinks perhaps, but that’s it. You go there, ask what you want and they’ll prepare it right in front of you. It’s awesome and cheap and tasty. And it’s food, again. We like eating.

I hhave come to realise I’m not a bad guide, so if these pictures make you hungry and thirsty, feel free to book me! 😉

Treasure Hunting # 3: A Belgian Blessing

Since we went to Europe last time, it’s only a small effort to visit Belgium – so here we go.
There’s quite some treasures to find here of course. You probably know the beer, the chocolate, the ancient painters (Van Eyck? Rubens?), waffles, French frites and so on. Long story short: you won’t be hungry here, nor thirsty… Which is great!

But that’s not all. With all the States drama and the Russia controversy and Syria fights, I have come to the conclusion that here in Belgium, we live a good life. As small and innocent as we are, we’re not in a fight with anyone, nor do we stop functioning when something goes wrong. We’ve had our political problems, but we didn’t shut down the entire country. If you lose your job here, you will find help. If you get ill, you will find help. Everyone pays a lot of taxes, but in return we can count on the system to keep us alive when needed. We have a relatively good climate. I mean, people here will complain – “It’s too hot!” “It’s raining all the time!” – but we barely reach extremes. In this small little country you can find both mountains (more like hills actually), the sea, and many cool cities. We have historical buildings and everything, we’ve got a history I’m quite proud of. We’ve fought in wars, and the Dutch part of Belgium fought for the right to speak Dutch, or Flemish, as you please. We got that right. Thanks to the linguistic diversity most Belgians speak at least two or three languages.

We don’t have that much to say in the world, though the European Parliament is settled in Brussels, but somehow that might just be a good thing. People don’t hate us – because honestly, what can you hate about Belgium? (Though abroad they tend to think we’re German, and Germans aren’t appreciated everywhere, so that sometimes causes some less pleasant situations.)
People don’t have guns here, there are barely shootings. Most people are atheists, so religious fanatics are rather unknown. Being gay isn’t accepted by everyone, but our prime minister is openly gay (and rocks the bow tie) – it could be a whole lot worse. Everyone can go to university because the costs are quite low. That means many students eventually give up their studies, or try many different studies, but it also means everyone gets a chance – not just the rich.

It’s good here.

 

On the music:
*The first song is Ne me quitte pas from Jacques Brel. It’s a song on a breakup; he begs the woman not to leave him and promises her a whole lot – a quite sad song which I like. In French, one of three official languages.
*The second song is I’ll stay here from Balthazar, a Flemish group. The title fits the text, as I actually want to stay in Belgium for the rest of my life perhaps…

Politics, politics, politics…

Every four years, patriotism

Once every four years, I’m a really interested in sports like hockey and rowing and stuff like that. Yes, every four years I spend too much time watching tv and feeling like all the world is one big family. That’s what makes the Games so special: the entire world is watching, and it feels cosy. Of course we all just one the first place for ourselves, but even then it’s a cosy feeling. And suddenly, you become an expert in a certain sport you don’t even do yourself. The grades of gymnastics is no longer a mysterious number for me, and I can easily say if a dismount was good or bad.

Gaelle Mys doing incredible things during the qualifications of gymnastics. She’s not made the finals. *sob*

It all started four years ago for me. I was fourteen then, I had never really cared about the Games because I didn’t really know what it was. But four years ago, I was hooked. Suddenly there was platform diving (Google translate product… if it’s the wrong name, please let me know) on tv. Suddenly unknown Belgian talents appeared and we won medals! Belgium is quite a divided country. Three languages are spoken here, and next to that there’s a great difference between the attitudes of mind. But on two occasions, we are real Belgians: when we’re abroad, and when there’s a great sports event going on with booming Belgians. The no one cares about language at all. All Belgian athletes battle for all of us. If one of them wins, we’ll say that ‘we’ have a medal. Which is slightly unfair for the athletes, but okay.

Row, row, row your boat… This man was kick-ass!

Because of my joy four years ago, I couldn’t ignore the Games now either. I’ve seen the opening ceremony though I wasn’t at home. I’ve seen a few Belgian people now, going from badminton to hockey to table-tennis and so on. The man who represented us in the table-tennis competition had his seventh Games now. Imagine! Unfortunately, we’re mostly not good enough to win a medal, but at least we defend ourselves. Our hockey ladies had their first Olympic battle against the Dutch hockey ladies, who won gold in China… Plus: all of them are still studying. They’re no full-time hockiers and yet they almost survived the first part of the game without a Dutch goal… (Until right before the break the Dutchies suddenly scored a goal.)

The burden of at least 112 kg… He ended up on the twelfth place.

I mean, we’re not always the top of the top, but we won’t let ourselves be easily beaten. And for that, I want to honour all our dear Belgian athletes!
Oh, and in a few days, I’ll be going on a holiday with friends. WHY on earth are we traveling NOW? What was I thinking? What the hell was I thinking?

What sports are you following? You do follow the Games, right? Which athletes are defending your country’s honour? Babble to me, dears. Let it go!

Mozzarella and Tomatoes 4 : The good, the bad and the ugly

Somehow, the best moments on a trip are the ones that aren’t planned. Their were little lacunes in our strict scheme where we ahd the greatest time. I mean, seeing all those wonderful places was great too, but the spontaneous actions of oneness are different. They aren’t planned.
For example, one guy bought 6 bottles of wine and a few of our group sat together in front of the hotel and we drank all the wine together. We didn’t even have to pay the wine. It was very cosy. I like the feeling of oneness, and that moment had that feeling, also because there were only a few people of the eighty people on the trip. And just because we were all on the same trip, we could just talk to anyone. As soon as you have something in common, you may talk. Weird, but true. Me like.
There were a lot of Belgian and above all Flemish schools over there, and when we met another group at the metrostation, we started to sing our very beautiful, high-quality song ‘It’s silent on the other side’. Soon to be followed by the song ‘Hookers’, with these lyrics:
Hookers
Hookers
Hookers
Hookers
And so on.
We were each standing on our own platform and screaming that at each other. It’s a Flemish sign or recognition, you know.
In another metro station, we also sang our Belgian hymn together. I mean, we have our real hymn and the hymn that is played at the Olympic Games. But our real hymn is like this (repeat every sentence in your head because that is how it goes):
Everywhere we go
People want to know
Where we come from
Where we go
So we tell them
We’re from Belgium
Pretty pretty Belgium
And if they can’t hear us
We sing a little louder
(Repeat louder)

If you hear people singing this, it’s quite obvious where they’re from, right?

But there were bad moments too. The first of April here, is the day of practical jokes. But our first of April was full of things going really wrong. It started with one pregnant teacher being nauseous. She immediately returned to the hotel. Minus one leader. Later that day, another teacher fell of a stone and his shoulder was dislocated. Another teacher accompagnied him to the hospital. Exit two more teachers. And then someone’s wallet had disappeared. The wallet with all the money, with the ID and stuff.
That evening, we would take the metro and train back home together. (I wouldn’t have done it alone anyway) But we missed the last train and we had to walk home, which took us 45 minutes. We had been walking all day long, we were all fed up an,d then we had to walk… Two girls and I played word games and we made it, but still. It was midnight and we were walking there… God.

Further on there were some pathetic drunk people and stuff, but after all, this was a great trip with lots of memories to talk and laugh about. You never forget this kind of trips, you know. They are so amazing and all. I had a great time.