A Giant Tortoise & A Tiny Island in The Indian Ocean

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things. That’s what I am thinking right now while writing this blog with a grateful but sad muzing gaze. I am already back in Belgium, and with pain in the heart I had to leave Mauritius after a wonderul three weeks. Unfortunately, I did absolutely not manage to keep up with my blog, as I was too busy having fun. But I’ll keep my promise and write some after-travel memoires and reflections, while letting Mauritius mesmerize me over and over again… ❤

It’s a little bit paradoxical to hear from a giant tortoise that you have to enjoy the little things in life, but it is exactly what I’ve learned the other day from him while visiting his tiny island habitat in the Indian Ocean, when he secretely whispered in my ears: A great life isn’t about great huge things, it’s about small things that make a big difference. I think that what he ment to say is: it’s not because you seem to be giant, that you can do great things, buy you can still do tiny things in a great way. And sometimes it are exactly those little things that manage to occupy the biggest part of our hearts. Or in short: the versatility of ‘small’ and ‘large’ in a spiritual nutshell is where my mind wonders when seeing a giant tortoise on such a small island in the Indian Ocean. 😉

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 We didn’t know we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun…

It was Thursday, the 23th of July, when we had a new field trip with the Ethnographic Field School to the south eastern part of the island again (noth so far from Mahébourg which we had visited the other day). On today’s agenda was Activist Efforts in Mauritius, a break at Blue Bay and visiting the Mauritian Wildlife Foudation at Île aux Aigrettes.

We started with an almost 2-hours drive, but by now we got so used to our driver that we were actually becoming close friends, exchanging phone numbers, life histories and music from our iPods with him. To be honest, the poor man had no other choice than surrendering to our (damn cool) Western party music, but the good thing was that he liked it. Or at least that what it looked like, because he always turned the volume up. And he started to initiate us to Mauritian music as well, so we ended up exchanging our musical preferences while ‘cruising’ through the island, with tropical beats on the background… There is actually one particular song that I really want to share with you, because of various reasons…

Zoli Mamzel, is a Créole song, which means “Jolie Mademoiselle” (Pretty Lady) and it is written by Gary Victor, a cute Mauritian guy with a big heart. He has an adorable voice and addictive flow which enables you to experience instant happiness, and it is a sing-along-song…. It is thé song that everyone on the island knows, it was a big summer hit, and it’s lovely! Okay, just listen and try it: ”Hey zoli mamzel,..Beh zoli Nation pas gagne droit tousel,..dans gauche, dans droit, fodei gueter couma li aller, La haut enbas, fodei gueter couma mo ..?” (I give you the acoustic version, but if you like it more up tempo, try this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_ZuCGllSrk

Ok, back on track… Our first stop was Blue Bay, a highlight of any visit to Mauritius! Whether you are on an educational trip or not 😉 Blue Bay is located in the south eastern part of the island, not too far from the international airport. While you drive to it, you can enjoy some of the most wonderful scenery and landscapes of Mauritius. But then when you arrive at Blue Bay…. I mean, it is obvious where the name of this place came from: such a blue bay! This is the kind of place where you realize: yes, yes, yes, I am in paradise! Look at all this beauty our earth has to offer us: white sandy beaches, turqoise blue water, small green islands, …. No wonder that this place is a favourite of both tourists and locals!

Mauritius Day 11 019The best things in life are for free? All beaches in Mauritius are public!

After having a coffee at a local bar with one of the students, and enjoying a lovely chat, I went to walk around the bay for some photographing and observation of the locals. It is amazing to see how the locals are also enjoying this piece of paradise. The hindus for example, come to pray at the beach as well. Of course they won’t wear bikinis, and so as a tourist you should dress and never go monokini (a bikini is provocating enough!), but they wear sari’s. I have no idea what kind of rituals they do, but involves some prayers with water, flowers, and offering of food to the gods. Beautiful hindu religion! It adds this extra value to the place, which makes it so relaxing at the same time. Just staring at it with this ocean background made me feel in a meditation-like mood. If that makes sense?! 😛

Mauritius Day 11 067Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place look beautiful. 

After spending some time at the beach with my fellow students, swimming, snorkeling and feeling over-blessed in life, it was time for a more educational turn of this field trip day. We took a boat trip to Île aux Aigrettes, a nature reserve, where we would visit the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. We got a guided tour by Nethi Chunwan from this organization, and he showed us all the island. And with all the island, I mean, the whole 27 ha. 😀 And with the boat trip, I mean: a 5 minutes ride to cross the 850 meters of ocean between the coast and the island. Lol.

But what makes Île aux Aigrettes so special, is that is made up of coralline limestone, whereas the mainland of Mauritius is of volcanic origin. And that’s why you can find some special nature stuff there, I mean: exotic animals and native plant species. It is good that this place is kept well maintained as a nature reserve, and clearly a lot of effort was put in the intense conservation of restoration of this bit of forest and the reintroduction of these rare species, such as the pink pigeon (yes, it exists!), the Mauritian Fody (a red-head bird), the Olive White-eyes (Birds with white circles around their eyes), some special orchids (“Oniella-polystachys” if that rings a bell), and the Aldabra Giant Tortoise (yes, the one who taught me a lesson… 😉 ).

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The Aldabra Giant Tortoise

My favourite, however, was the Ornate Day Gecko, a typical specie of Mauritius and Madagascar that feeds on insects and nectar and has a total length of only 12 centimeters. But it absolutely mesmerized me because of its bluish green, blue, brown, cyan, white, turquoise and red colors. And no, I couldn’t bring it as a pet, because it needs a temperature of +/- 28°C and…. They are protected, of course!

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The Beautiful Ornate Day Gecko… You can look but you can’t touch…

After being introduced to the unique flora and fauna, the restoration work on the island, and some knowledge on the local area and the history of the island, we were taken back on a short boat ride to Pointe Jerome, where our trip started. Well, this was an amazing place worthwhile visiting! Bye Île aux Aigrettes, take good care of your beautiful self! ❤

Mauritius Day 11 263A short boattrip in paradise. Off to Île aux Aigrettes!

After this amazing day, we drove back home to Pointe-aux-Piments. And because home is where the heart is, I spent some time with my very best local family. Eating together, talking about our days, and feeling loved!

I ended the day with some writing on projects, making apointments for interviews and going through my pictures of the day. What a great time!

Friday, the next day, back to school… Back to reality! Classes in the morning became quite a habit at our temple based Summer School University. We had class in the morning about how to write up our papers, because slowly but steady each students began to have some ideas and data for his/her project. Yes, yes, I keep saying it: we do actually work between the hours of fun in paradise!

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Some publicity for our Ethnographic Field School in Mauritius!

After school, I went with my roommate to the local tailor shop, which was actually just a house with some very lovely ladies who had great fun dressing us up, and especially watching us getting dressed and undressed, admiring our white skin and making jokes. A great experience to get measured for a tailor-made sari by the way, especially when the seamstress appears to have no measuring tape. The Mauritian way! Lolll 😀

Mauritius Day 12, 13 & 14 001Getting my Sari tailored…

In the afternoon we had ‘free time’ to spend working on our projects, and so I had planned 2 interviews with informants for my anthropological project. I met one man and one woman in town, and spent an hour with each of them. A great and interesting excercise, but also very exhausting!

At 5 PM we had an evening session by Dimitris Xygalatas, our professor, about how to write an Ethnographic Paper, followed by a session on how to write a Scientific Paper (yes, those two are not the same!) by his Phd-student, Martin Lang, and another session by Michaela Porubanova, one of the other instructors, who is specialized in Psychology, and she did some cool experiments with us.

We finished the night of ‘classes’ eating in a Chinese Restaurant, while watching a documentary ‘Stealing a Nation’ (2004) about  Diego Garcia, another small island in the Indian Ocean that belongs to the Chagos Islands, and which was claimed by The United States to build a large naval and military base there. Ever since 1971, the population of this British Indian Ocean Territory was removed (deported) to Mauritius and the Seychelles. This caused a lot of controversy, together with the other dubious military activities of the US… This was really something I didn’t know about before, but which is very interesting knowledge, and very sad at the same time. Makes me think about “Make Love, Not War”, and how idealism and realism don’t walk hand in hand with each other most of the time. You should just check it out and reflect upon this, by watching this short movie (or watch the full movie that we have seen):

But then, finally… After some heavy stuff… It was time to let go all the stress and prepare for the second weekend, which I started in style with some of the students and instructors at our favourit party spot: the Banana Beach Club in Grand Baie. Party along all night long… And even though we had other awesome plans for the weekend… YOLO, because no one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they had plenty of sleep! 😉

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Yours Truly ❤

‘Zoli Mamzel’

Julie

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Dreaming of the Dutch & the Dodo

Oh my God, I am already more than 2 weeks here now and I realized that I don’t manage to write properly about every day, because there is happening so much all the time! I am only in my room for a few hours of sleep each night and the days are very very busy! But in a good way, of course! What am I doing….? Following classes, doing fieldtrips, researching for my project, visiting beaches, doing some sightseeing and having the time of my life with the best host family ever, and an even greater group of students and professors!

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The Summer School group in front of the National Museum of History

There is literally not very much to complain about, and if there was one thing that could be better, then that would be… Having more TIME! So I guess that time flies when you’re having fun, and unfortunately there are only 24 hours each day, so let’s just give you a brief overview of some of the past few days so you get an idea of what exactly makes it so much FUN being here!

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On the road in Mauritius…

The second week started with a second field trip. The theme of this excursion was “Cultural Heritage of Mauritius”. We started the day with a journey from Pointe aux Piments (north west) to Mahébourg (south east), where the sea looked a bit less turqoise blue and the coastline was a bit more rough. We met our guide for the day near the peer. Geoffrey Summers and his wife, Francoise Summers, were living on the island for several years. The Brittish couple knew the island very well, and with archeology as Geoffrey’s specialisation, he knew a lot of things to talk to us about. We got to know a more historical part of the island that we had not heard of before. Interesting!

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Geoffrey Summers (our guide) & Dimitris Xygalatas (our professor) at Mahébourg

After a windy walk on the peer in Grand Port and a quick visit to the restants of some tanks used during World War II, we continued to Fort Frederik Hendrik. It’s a museum which is named after a Dutch guy who had his office here during the 17th century colonisation period by The Netherlands… The historical site became a museum in 1999 and tries to represent both the Dutch and French colonial settlements in Mauritius.

Did you know that the Dutch were the first inhabitants to settle on the island and colonised Mauritius from 1638 – 1710 ? Later it were the French ( 1710 – 1810 ) who colonised the island, and after that came the British rule ( 1810–1968 ), followed by the independence of Mauritius in 1968.

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Students at the peer in Grand Port

After a brief guided visit to the museum, it was time for lunch in the beautiful tropical garden of Fort Frederik Hendrik, surrounded by ruins. The leftovers from the walls of these ruins learned archeologists that French ruins were standing on top of a Dutch fort, so in this regard it is an important place for those who want to get to know Mauritius very well. And I guess that was the aim of this visit, even though I must admit that this historical tour was a bit boring for me.

Maybe more interesting was the Tour des Hollandais, which was founded very funny by me (Flemish) and another Dutch student. This tour is about an old watch tower, used  as a vantage point to observe the bay for any incoming ships, and protect Mauritius from invaders and so on. From this point they could prevent potential attacks from the French and later on from the British.

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Dutch Girls gone Wild…?!

In the afternoon we continued our excursion to Mahébourg, where we visited the National Museum of History. Here we got to know even more facts about the colonial history of Mauritius. But the most magnificent part of this element of the trip, was the beautiful French colonial mansion in which the museum was located. It was built around 1770 and inaugurated in 1998 as a museum by the one and only Prince Maurits of Orange-Nassau, exactly 400 years after the first Dutch landing in Mauritius.

But an even more interesting novelty was the story about the Dodo bird in Mauritius… which explains why this animal is so popular, even though you cannot see it anywere on the island…

  • The dodo (Raphus Cucullatus) is an extinct flightless bird that was endemic to Mauritius
  • The dodo was extinct by the time the Dutch abandoned Mauritius due to extensive hunting
  • The dodo’s appearance in life is evidenced only by drawings, paintings, and written accounts from the 17th century
  • The dodo achieved widespread recognition from its role in the story of Alice in Wonderland
  • The dodo has since become a fixture in popular culture, often as a symbol of extinction and obsolescence

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The famous but extincted Dodo bird…

Okay enough history for today! What else did we do? We also walked to a river where women washed their clothes on stones, saw a place in the lush forest where people practice Black Magic, and visited a grassroots NGO where women do basket weaving… The last stop of the day was in a restaurant, to have some well deserved food after a busy day of educational travel before heading back to our home town!

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Francoise Summers guiding us through the Basket Weaving NGO project

That evening I was very tired, and so were my roommates, from all this traveling around. We had dinner at Nanny’s place, and worked on our computers for a couple of hours before heading back to bed for a good night of sleep.

The schedule of Tuesday mentioned “Cognition and Culture” in the morning and “Religion and Cognition” in the afternoon. These classes were given by both Dimitris and his co-instructors, and were something totally different from what I had heard about Anthropology before. It was interesting, but also very difficult material to relate to in my opinion, so I guess I will better not bother you with the details about this either.

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Another day of classes at the Temple

But don’t think now that this was all very boring, no, not at all! Because just when you think it is getting boring, it is time for a lunch break again, or another few hours between the break at the beach! And this is how we roll: time flies when you’re having fun, so you better make the best out of every day you get here! And so did I do: bought food for lunch at a local ‘Patisserie’ and went straight to the beach to chill out a few hours between Cognition, Culture and Religious classes today…

Another piece of daily wisdom and insight: if you want to be and stay happy, be flexible and always open to changes! Don’t fix your plans, because…. The weather can change, just to give an example! I was actually planning a second visit to Triolet during lunch break, but the weather was so extremely nice that I decided to run home for that bikini, and run back to the beach. Best decision ever! Everyone happy! 🙂

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Me and a colleague-student at Pointe aux Piments beach

Or to rephrase this in a more anthropological way… 

Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods… 😉

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Enjoying our daily lunch break…

In the evening my roommates and I were taken to a local restaurant in Trou aux Biches by our host brother. He invited us to try some of the local food in that place, which was quite a surprise. Some of the dishes were very nice, but others I didn’t like very much. But it was good to try everything, and to be hanging around with a local family member in a not so touristy-spot.

Wednesday was another day of classes. So you see, I am actually very busy studying here! In the morning Dimitris (yes, we call the professors by their first names here) talked about Cognitive Anthropology, one of his specialisations. It is all about addressing the ways in which people conceive of and think about events and objects in the world, while providing a link between human thought processes and the physical and ideational aspects of culture. And yes, I know that this sounds Chinese to you, so that is why I will not go into details again…

After spending lunch break in a local restaurant in the village and a powernap on the beach, together with some other students, it was time for another lecture given by Martin Lang. He gave us an inspiring introduction to Cognition and Quantitative methods, such as surveys, questionnaires, etc. and he also talked about Cultural Consensus.

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Martin Lang talking about Cultural Consensus

I also went to the village to recharge my phone, which is another notable story! Did you notice that I am always online while being in Mauritius? Well, if you reload every week for 100 rupees (+/- 2,5 euros) then you can get a package with Free Internet & Unlimited Facebook for a week here. So my 3G is on most of the time and whether I am in the forest or at the beach, I am always connected… Whether that is such a good thing for an internet addict like me, I am not sure… Because you know what they say: there is no WiFi in the forest, but there is a better “connection”… 😉

That evening I spent most of my time writing a Research Proposal for the project I am going to do here. My subject is now definitive, and I will explore the intertwined relationship between cross-cultural romantic affairs and sex tourism on Mauritius. The fundamental purpose of this study is to explore the question: “What is the difference between sex tourism and romance tourism, and how is it perceived by people who have intercultural relationships in Mauritius?” The objective of this research will be to increase our understanding of this social reality by developing explanations of the phenomena by critically evaluating the interrelation between sex tourism and romantic cross-cultural relationships in Mauritius. So now you finally now what I am doing my fieldwork about!

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Trying out a Sari in the local village’s shop

But oh yes! Before I forget to mention… Apart from working on this, I also went with my host father and host sister to the village to buy a Sari! Sari…What?!

  • A sari is a South Asian female garment, associated with grace and is widely regarded as a symbol of Hindu culture
  • It consists of a drape that is typically wrapped around the waist with one end draped over the shoulder
  • A sari is one of the most common outfits used by the women of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, …
  • Saris differ from each other on the basis of design, fabric, drapes and colors
  • The length of a sari can vary from 4 to 9 meters

And moreover, that Wednesday evening we (my American host sisters and I) cooked dinner for our host family, after them cooking us dinners so often. We decided to make Mexican food, even though that is not very American or Belgium, because first of all the ingredients were more or less available here in the supermarkets, and second of all… A funny story! Our host family eats “Faratas” all the time, a local flat bread of which you have to use to eat the rest of your dish by wripping of pieces of this piece of bread. But I used to eat it all the time as a Burrito/tortilla, so that is why we decided to learn the locals eat Tortillas stuffed up as burritos. A funny cross-cultural experience in which we exchanged our culinary behaviour and habits! 😛

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Me and my American host sisters cooking Dinner for our Mauritian host family

Unfortunately I must admit that it was more fun for us than for our host family, who was not used to eat Guacomole with cheese and salad in a wrapped up – look a like – Farata flat bread… I am not sure if they really enjoyed this ‘different’ food as they are quite conservative. Also, our Hindu family is vegetarian so they do not eat meat, chicken, fish, eggs, … Therefore we used Tofu – look a like – chicken, which they did appreciate of course.

The evening ended with showing the Saris we had bought to our grandmother and family, and that was a lot of fun! And I worked until the late hours designing some research methods and tools for my research project…

Voilà…. This was another update of my busy days in Mauritius! I hope you liked reading it as much as I liked experiencing it, and I will keep you posted soon with more!

Kisses & Love,

Julie

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The beautiful peer and the view at Grand Port

Settling into Mauri…What?!

Waww, I have only been here for a few days and so much has happened already! I feel like a cameleon, adapting smoothly to my environment. So: where to start?!

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It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.

It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

Sunday I arrived and I got to know my host mother a bit. She speaks some French but mostly Créole and it is obviously not always obvious what she is trying to say. She is very nice and kind, but also a little bit possessive in her own unique hospitable way, as she is cooking dinner and makes me eat whatever she likes. She made me eat the weirdest things, fortunately she is Hindu so I am not supposed to eat meat (lucky vegetarian I am!).

I was very happy to meet my fellow roommates after a few hours of being drawned into a little culture shock, having no internet, no phone, no toilet, no shower and so on. Emily is an American student who is staying at “grandma’s place” (as she calls it) as well, and Francesca is also an American student who is staying in the house next door, where I go to shower and use the internet. The house next door belongs to the children of ‘Grandma’.

Where I stay there is no bathroom at all, unless you consider the open air sink as a bathroom. So I have to walk through a garden and knock at the other houses door, which is not really a problem actually. But not really a luxury either! :p In the shower I got company of Mom and Daughter Cockroach, so yes… I have already made some friends here, and built up a reputation as murderer!

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Going out to get some streetfood with my roommates

But enough about the house and the weirdest food being served there, I am here for Ethnographic Fieldwork, not for wishing I was at the beach all day! And dear friends, I hope you don’t keep thinking that that is (the only thing) what I am doing here. Anthropologists do have a hard life! 😉

Because as fast as I arrived in the house, so fast was I gone again. After a terrible too sweet and pink drink that I was offered to drink as a way of welcoming me into the family, I was invited at a Knife-Walking ritual in the village of Pointe-aux-Piments. So I did not even have time to put my luggage down and check my room, as my host father and I were already gone again.

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Colorful Hindus in Pointe-aux-Piments

The ritual was exactly what it sounded like: people were literally walking over knifes, while playing music, burning essence sticks, while suffering and so on. I had never seen a ritual like this before – and I am not expecting to see many of these again in my life – and I was also not really understanding much about it either. The only thing that is for sure that is they sacrifice theirselves for their religion (Hinduism). I was told that before the ceremony those people were praying and fasting for several days, and during the ceremony partcipents would then envoken their godess whilst making a sacrifice. Walking over the swords appears to be a very meaningful and extreme ritual for hindus, in which they are seeking to prove their piety by withstanding their pain.

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Walking over Knifes… A quite unsual religious practice in Mauritius!

Monday it was time to go to school at 9AM… Dimitris Xygalatas, the Summer School professor, an anthropologist who is very experienced in doing research on extreme rituals in Mauritius, opened the course by overviewing all practical concerns and reviewing the syllabus. I got to meet all the other students. We are with 18 students, coming from different countries such as Denmark, United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Peru, Servia and Belgium (which is represented by myself). After introducing ourselves, our field of study (we come from different degrees in social sciences, varying from Bachelors to Masters levels), the instructors also presented themselves. Apart from Dimitris, there are a few other instructors as well, who are basically research assistants or connections of Dimitris who are also researching within Mauritius. So we are a group of +/- 25 persons.

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Having classes at the beach. This is The Life!

So what is this “Ethnographic Field School” all about?

Well, the course will “provide empirical training in ethnographic fieldwork through immersion into the field and engaging in qualitative as well as quantitative field studies involving a variety of methods such as participant-observation, interviews, surveys, and behavioral and biometric measures. The course also examines key methodological, epistemological, and ethical issues pertaining to the study of culture and working with human subjects. Furthermore, it involves a series of field trips and lectures on Mauritius, its diverse culture, and its fascinating history”, as it is mentioned in the syllabus.

So: again, we did not come here for 3 weeks of paradise and sunbathing, but we came to experience “the real Mauritius” (even though you can start questioning that, if you think about being a large group of Western students living closely to each other for the next few weeks).
After that first general session in the morning, we had our first lunch break and everyone was excited to get to know each other better, to overcome to culture shock and make some new friends. We decided to explore the coastal area of Pointe-aux-Piments (the village were we stay), and so we discovered our first beach at only 5 minutes walking from the classroom, which is actually located nearby a fancy hotel: Récif Attitude Hotel*** (about €90 per night for a standard room, which is kind of affordable for a paradise island!)

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Getting to know each other at the beach of Pointe-aux-Piments

Well, I have to admit… It is kind of paradise here, right? And I guess not many of you reading this have lunch breaks as I am having here. So God bless the life I lead, and thank God for this amazing opportunity! But to all good things come to an end, quite fast, because lunch break was “only 2 hours” and then it was time again to return to the afternoon class. The only thing that I could think of, was that this might become an extreme ritual that people must start to practice every day and everywhere, lol.

This session an introduction about Mauritius and its culture was on the schedule, but as smart as Dimitris is (yes, we can actually call our professor here by his first name!), he started with a little quiz to test our knowledge about Mauritius, or in other words: did we read enough, and prepare ourselves well for this course? I spare you the answer to be honest… Woops! 😉

Funny facts you might like to know about Mauritius:

  • Did you know that Mauritius is about the size of Luxemburg?
  • Did you know that Mauritius has no official language? (But English and French are taught at school)
  • Did you know that the tallest mountain on the island is about 800 meters high?
  • Did you know that Charles Darwin has written not only about the Galapagos Islands (which I visited last year), but also about the flora and fauna of Mauritius?
  • Did you know that there is actually a town called Pamplemousses (grapefruit) in Mauritius?

But… maybe most important, do you actually know where in the world Mauritius is located? I bet most of you readers don’t, which is actually not really a problem (because I also did not know it very well before I heard about this course and looked it up). The most important is that you know that it is NOT “one of those French islands in the Caribbean”, but that is actually “one of those islands in the Indian Ocean, near Madagascar and La Réunion”. Or to be more specific… here’s a map:

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Enough educational stuff for today! Unless you really want to know more interesting facts about this island, then you should look at this nicely written article! Tomorrow I’ll write about more interesting facts, but more important: my interesting life and experiences here, a Sega dance night and much more fun!

A big kiss for all of those who are so great to keep following me!

You’re the best! Thank you for all the support!

x x With Love x x

Julie

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Welcome to Mauritius!

Here I am. After all I got what I wanted. I have travelled again to a place far far away, both geographically and psychologically. I might say that I do not need therapy but travel to feed my huger for soul food. And soul food can be understood in much variations.

Let me begin with the beginning. In March 2015 I applied for an etnographic field school. I was not counting on a big chance to be one of the lucky few. But I made it and a few months later I am in Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, known as a honeymoon destination in Belgium, but so much different than perceived, that is obvious after a first few hours here.
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I have been travelling from Antwerp to Brussels, to Paris to Mahé (Seychelles) to Mauritius. The journey took me 27 hours in total, and therefore you can imagine it was itself quite an experience. However, what touches me most is not the distance, but the people. What speaks more for a country to a heart than people? Maybe a landscape, but still… I have had an amazing flight, meeting a French guy who was going to visit his family in Madagascar. Unfortunately in this life our roads have split fast, him flying further to Antanarivo and me going to Port Louis, but time went to fast that I did not even suffer from these long flights! I just remember I could not stand almost crying when the plane left the Seychelles, because I was so touched, and it really looked like a paradise: I cannot describe it!
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View over many amazing islands near Mahé, Seychelles
Arriving in Mauritius was different. It was a bigger island, less paradise and more organised at the airport. The road to Pointe aux Piments was modern, but the infrastructure was mixed: both modern buildings, luxury hotels and poorer houses where observable on the road. After a field of sugarcanes, the road split: left to the Oberoi hotel, and right to the village. And no, this was not the Mauritius from the postcards or from the pictures on Google, this was an untouristic place, untouched by globalisation, so it seemed…
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Entering my Homestay House
My heart beated faster and faster, as I was arriving more closely to my homestay “house” and having to force myself to give up all hope for “destination paradise”. I was not staying at The Oberoi, obviously! My new house was a concrete building in a street without name, barking dogs, no hot water, no internet, no toilet paper and so on… Nothing to fancy for at all! But I surrendered immediately: from the one second to the other… Acceptance is sometimes in life the best way to make things “flow”… And after all, didn’t I just say that it are the people who touch us most, and not the infrastructure or the distance?
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Life With Family “Bissessur”
Some very friendly local people warmly welcomed me into their “house”, and made me (almost) forget the cold of concrete third world buildings and poorness. Isn’t the one who has the biggest smile and the most open heart the richest and most beautiful person on earth? Yes, I have to learn my lessons in life over and over again… And if I long for development, the comfortzone is the first one to leave. Because through development is not in comfortable housing, but in personal development and widening your horizons.
So, yet here I am… Or to end where I started off with: After all I got what I wanted: a new adventure, starting from today in Mauritius, and you will read more about it soon!

KEEP CALM and STUDY ON.

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My Erasmus time is about half. I do not know where to start, but I decide to write about what the past 3 months did to me… Even in my head there is no structure in it, I can only say that it was a crazy period, undoubtedly one of the best in my life. I have to admit to myself: the (good) life is like a (good) wine … It gets better as it ages. Until recently I thought I had found the best already, that I had found heaven on earth: I found my passion in traveling the past years, I met a soul mate in Roatan (Honduras), I went back to Central America because of him, and ultimately it didn’t lead to the love of my life but to the best backpack trip ever through Honduras, Belize and Guatemala. A new world opened up for me, I met different people with open minds and crossed my own boundaries, shifted my limitation-level.

Mijn Erasmus-tijd is over de helft. Ik weet niet waar te beginnen, maar ik besluit om wat te schrijven over wat de voorbije 3 maanden met mij deden… Zelfs in mijn hoofd is er geen structuur in te vinden, ik kan alleen maar zeggen dat het een knotsgekke periode was, ongetwijfeld één van de leukste in mijn leven. Ik moet het toegeven aan mezelf: het (goede) leven is als een (goede) wijn… Het wordt met de jaren beter. Tot voor kort dacht ik dat ik het beste al had gehad, dat ik de hemel op aarde al had gevonden. Ik vond mijn passie de voorbije jaren in het reizen, ontmoette een zielsverwant in Roatan (Honduras), ging door hem terug naar Centraal-Amerika en dat leidde uiteindelijk niet tot de liefde van mijn leven maar wel tot de beste rondreis ooit, door Honduras, Belize en Guatemala. Een nieuwe wereld ging voor me open, ik ontmoette open geesten en verlegde mijn eigen grenzen.

BIG TRIP (3) 301Apart from that, I started a lot of studying during recent years. Time flies and the second year of my bachelor study in ‘Tourism and Recreation Management “is almost over. I am more motivated than ever to go for it, and I discovered while doing it all that the ‘journey’ is more important to me than the ‘goal’. That is to say, the more I get to know myself better, the less I know what I want to do by profession.  I just feel that the life I lead and the path I walk, is undoubtedly the correct one. The past few months here in Spain are proof of that. So, do I study to graduate as soon as possible and find the best job (read: best paid) as possible? No, I’m studying and I want to make full use of this student time, and along the way enjoy … And so I came in recent months mainly to a new spiritual insight that I already knew before, but not so much appeared to penetrate in my mind …

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

(where did it all started again?)

Life is a journey, not a destination, so enjoy the ride.

(do I need to have a goal?)

Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way.

(is this my destiny?)

Los daarvan ben ik de laatste jaren ook flink aan het studeren gegaan. De tijd vliegt voorbij en het tweede jaar van mijn Bachelor-studie ‘Toerisme- en Recreatie Management’ zit er alweer bijna op. Ik ben meer dan ooit gemotiveerd om ervoor te gaan, en heb al gaande en al doende ontdekt dat de ‘weg’ voor mij belangrijker is dan het ‘doel’. Het is te zeggen, hoe meer ik mezelf beter leer kennen, hoe minder goed ik weet wat ik bijvoorbeeld exact wil doen van beroep. Ik voel gewoon dat het leven dat ik leid en het pad dat ik bewandel, ongetwijfeld het juiste is. De voorbije maanden hier in Spanje hebben daar uiteraard hun aandeel in. Studeer ik om zo snel mogelijk een diploma te behalen en een zo goed mogelijk (lees: betaalde) job te hebben? Nee, ik studeer en wil deze studententijd ten volle benutten, er gaandeweg van genieten… En zo kwam ik de voorbije maanden vooral tot een nieuw spiritueel inzicht, dat me eerder al wel bekend was, maar niet zozeer bleek door te dringen…

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

(waar begon het ook alweer?)

Life is a journey, not a destination, so enjoy the ride.

(moet ik dan een doel hebben?)

Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way.

(is dit mijn lot?)

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In October I become 22 years old. And although here on Erasmus I undoubtedly act more than ever like a real student, I realize that I get older, I will never be 18 again. And I realize that this time here is passing too, and that adulthood imposes itself inside me. I notice that in my environment too: old friends are starting to graduate, to find work, to think about children, and oh yes … of course … Many have been in a relationship for certain time already. The stability which I mirror myself to gives me a strange feeling of instability… I mean, my life is far from stable, and I would do everything to keep it like that, so it seems … Do I want to graduate? Do I want a fixed job? Do I want to think of children? Do I want to commit myself in a relationship? Or shortly said: do I look like I am fascinated by this stability? The answer is an obvious NO. I crave more of my current lifestyle, and it feels more like I have fear of commitment… I want to get out, on the road, on track, … and gradually, I secretly hope to find my place, my position, my destiny in this world. Because no, I still don’t have any idea where or what that might be. And I realize that with every step I take, I hope to be one step closer to my “home”, a place or a person or I-know-not-much-what where I can “come home”. That home does not seem to be in Belgium, that is one thing we can all agree about already… And may it also be clear by now: on Erasmus in Gandia (Spain) I have not found it either. So … Now I can tell you one thing for sure though: my Spanish prince on the white horse didn’t canter around here. 😉

In oktober word ik 22 jaar. En hoewel ik hier op Erasmus ongetwijfeld meer dan ooit als een echte student tekeer ga, besef ik dat ik ouder word, dat ik nooit meer 18 zal zijn. En dat ook deze tijd hier voorbijgaand is, en dat de volwassenheid zich in mezelf opdringt. Ik merk dat ook aan mijn omgeving: oude kennissen beginnen stilaan af te studeren, vast werk te vinden, aan kinderen te denken, en oh ja… natuurlijk… Velen hebben inmiddels een relatie van enige tijd. De stabiliteit waaraan ik me spiegel doet me een vreemd gevoel van instabiliteit geven… Ik bedoel: mijn leven is verre van stabiel, en ik zou er dan ook alles aan doen om het zo te houden, zo lijkt het… Wil ik al afstuderen? Wil ik al vast werken? Wil ik al aan kinderen denken? Wil ik al een vaste relatie? Of kortom: ben ik gefascineerd door die stabiliteit? Het antwoord is een stevige NEE. Ik hunker naar meer van mijn huidige leven, en het voelt eerder alsof ik bindingsangst heb… Ik wil weg, op weg, onderweg, … en gaandeweg, hoop ik stiekem mijn plekje, mijn functie, mijn lotsbestemming op deze wereld te vinden. Want nee, ik ben er nog helemaal niet uit waar of wat dat moge zijn. En ik besef heel goed dat ik bij elke stap die ik zet, hoop om een stapje dichter bij mijn “thuis” te zijn, een plek of een persoon of ik-weet-niet-veel-wat waar ik kan “thuiskomen”. Mijn thuis is niet in België, dat heeft iedereen inmiddels al wel door… En moge het bij deze ook duidelijk zijn: op Erasmus in Gandia (Spanje) heb ik ze ook niet gevonden. Dus… Bij deze kan ik jullie al één ding verklappen: mijn Spaanse prins op het witte paard is niet voorbij gegaloppeerd. 😉

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Anyway, even if life is all the more out of the journey itself, and the less about the destination … I would not be me if I did not continue indefinitely planning, searching and thinking ahead. I live in ‘the now’, try to take only the best of the past, but the future … That, to me is an art: the art of always thinking 5 steps forward, always have a plan A, B and C, and not mind to throw all those plans suddenly over completely just because you’re fickle by nature/character … It might be the secret of my success. 😉

Enfin, ook al bestaat het leven des te meer uit de reis, en des te minder uit het reisdoel… Ik zou ik niet zijn als ik niet tot in het oneindige bleef plannen, zoeken en vooruit denken. Ik leef in ‘het nu’, probeer van het verleden alleen het beste mee te pakken, maar de toekomst… Die is voor mij een kunst: de kunst van altijd 5 stappen vooruit te denken, steeds een plan A, B en C te hebben, en het niet erg vinden om onderweg al die plannen plots helemaal om te gooien, gewoonweg omdat je wispelturig van aard bent… Dat is denk ik het geheim van mijn succes. 😉

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How do I see the future? Beautiful … Of course. And challenging … That especially! The recent months might be flown so fast that I even almost forget what I did exactly and with whom, but a little voice in my head is so inspired and motivated, that a lot fantasies are growing up to work out as new ideas and opportunities … So it is becoming clearer in my head how the coming years should look like: I will return to Belgium in July, as it must, and because there is some money to be earned. That’s part and parcel of life. Then I continue my studies Bachelor of Tourism and Leisure Management in Belgium, for the last year already. This means that academic year 2013-2014 will be my graduation year, normally. The first semester I stay in Belgium, but the second semester I ‘must’ do an internship. And as my specialization is ‘Hospitality Management, Hotel & Tourist guide‘, I opted for an internship abroad. This does not surprise  you anymore, naturally… I have not received confirmation of my internship destination yet, but I know that it will be for a period of four months (March – June 2014). The permission for my projects will be offered in July, as the conversation with my coordinators can only take place after my Erasmus time here in Spain.

Hoe zie ik de toekomst? Mooi… Uiteraard. En uitdagend… Dat vooral! De voorbije maanden mogen dan wel voorbij gevlogen zijn, zo snel zelfs dat ik bijna vergeet wanneer ik juist wat heb gedaan en met wie, maar een stemmetje in mijn hoofd is zodanig geïnspireerd en gemotiveerd geworden dat er heel wat hersenspinsels aan het werk zijn gegaan met nieuwe ideeën en mogelijkheden… Zo wordt het stilaan duidelijker in mijn hoofd hoe de komende jaren eruit moeten zien: ik keer in juli terug naar België, omdat het moet, en omdat er wat geld verdiend moet worden. Dat hoort nu eenmaal bij het leven. Dan zet ik mijn studie Bachelor in Toerisme- en Recreatie Management voort in België, het laatste jaar. Dit wil zeggen dat academiejaar 2013-2014 mijn afstudeerjaar is, normaalgezien. De eerste semester blijf ik in België, maar de tweede semester ‘moet’ ik verplicht op stage. Gezien mijn afstudeerrichting ‘Hospitality Management, Logies, Gids & Reisleiding’ wordt, heb ik voor een buitenlandse stage geopteerd. Dit verbaasd jullie natuurlijk niet meer. Ik heb nog geen confirmatie van mijn stagebestemming gekregen, maar weet wel dat het voor een periode van 4 maanden zal zijn (maart – juni 2014). De toestemming voor mijn aangeboden projecten zal er pas in juli zijn, gezien het gesprek met mijn coördinatoren pas plaats kan vinden na mijn Erasmus-tijd hier in Spanje.

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I have proposed 3 choices: my first choice is Yanapuma in Ecuador. I quote a web page for this: “It is an NGO (non-governmental organization) and is to be carried out in urban and rural communities throughout Ecuador with sustainable development as an aim. It will mainly help the local communities so that they can develop conservation and protection of their natural environment and their cultural heritage. Yanapuma helps with technical assistance, experience, knowledge and both national and international connections in order to ensure in these communities sustainability in the future. They work on different themes: health, criminology, education, nature, water, agriculture, … and it is also active in tourism. “Community-based tourism” is a more social form of ecotourism in local communities and aims the community and tourists to be aware of the natural and cultural value of the area (and the community) and to ensure that the benefits will continue within the community. ” http://www.yanapuma.org/

Ik heb 3 keuzes mogen opgeven: eerste keuze is Yanapuma in Ecuador. Ik citeer hiervoor even een internet-pagina: “Het is een NGO (non-gouvernementele organisatie) en heeft als doel duurzame ontwikkeling te verrichten in stedelijke en landelijke gemeenschappen in heel Ecuador. Men wil voornamelijk de lokale gemeenschappen helpen zodat zij zelfstandig kunnen ontwikkelen met behoud en bescherming van hun natuurlijke omgeving en hun cultureel erfgoed. Yanapuma helpt met technische hulp, ervaring, kennis en zowel nationale als internationale connecties om zo duurzaamheid in de toekomst te verzekeren in deze gemeenschappen. Men werkt rond verschillende thema’s: gezondheidszorg, criminologie, onderwijs, natuurbescherming, watervoorziening, landbouw,… en men is natuurlijk ook actief in het toerisme. “Community-based tourism” is een meer sociale vorm van ecotoerisme in lokale gemeenschappen en heeft als doel de gemeenschap en de toerist bewuster te maken van de natuurlijke en culturele waarde van het gebied (en de gemeenschap) en ervoor te zorgen dat de voordelen binnen de gemeenschap blijven.” http://www.yanapuma.org/

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Of course I hope to be selected for my first choice by my university, but I also selected a nice second choice: Het Andere Reizen (The Different Traveling) in Peru. Again, I quote here: “In Cusco you can go to a travel agency or a tour operator that focuses primarily on adventure travel. The travel agents are small in size and you will work with two or three other employees. Volunteers may travel guide, arrange airport pick ups, provide information or work in the marketing field. The tasks depend on the season. ” http://www.hetanderereizen.nl/latijns-amerika/peru/diverse-reisbureaus-en-touroperators

Uiteraard hoop ik voor mijn eerste keuze geselecteerd te worden door mijn universiteit, maar ik heb ook nog een leuke tweede keuze: Het Andere Reizen in Peru. Ook hiervoor citeer ik even: “In Cusco kun je terecht op een reisbureau of bij een touroperator die zich hoofdzakelijk richt op avontuurlijke reizen. De reisbureaus zijn klein van omvang en je zult met 2 of 3 andere medewerkers samenwerken. Vrijwilligers kunnen reizen begeleiden, airport pick ups regelen, informatie geven of werkzaam zijn in de marketing. De taken zijn afhankelijk van het seizoen.” http://www.hetanderereizen.nl/latijns-amerika/peru/diverse-reisbureaus-en-touroperators

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And as a third choice, I gave Living Stone Dialogue NGO. This organization’s mission is to use tourism as a tool for sustainable development. As an intern you will then go to the Via Via Travelers cafes. These are “meeting places for world travelers.” I quote: “You can go there to work with others and to rinse away the dust of your journey. Food and drink, music and art, artistic and cultural projects, trips and courses are bringing people and cultures together in a spirit of openness, respect and wonder. In most ViaVia’s you can also spend the night. ViaVia Joker Traveler cafés are oases of travel information. Through their local roots and involvement with the local environment, they add value to your discovery of country, culture and people. ViaVia encourages travel, explore and broaden your horizons ” The selection is done by JOKER TOURS, they send you – depending on your profile – to a destination. In my case, that will be a Spanish speaking country anyway, making these destinations options: Argentina (Buenos Aires), Chile (Valparaiso), Peru (Ayacucho), Ecuador (Tonsupa), Honduras (Copan) or Nicaragua (Leon). Read more: http://www.viaviacafe.com/

En als derde keuze, heb ik Living Stone Dialoog vzw opgegeven. Deze organisatie heeft als missie het inzetten van toerisme als hefboom voor duurzame ontwikkeling. Als stagiaire kom je dan terecht bij de Via Via reiscafés. Dit zijn “ ontmoetingsplaatsen voor wereldreizigers”. Ik citeer: “Je kan er terecht om samen met anderen het stof van je reis weg te spoelen. Eten en drinken, muziek en kunst, artisitieke en culturele projecten, trips en cursussen brengen er mensen en culturen samen in een geest van openheid, respect en verwondering. In de meeste ViaVia’s kan je ook overnachten. ViaVia Joker Reiscafés zijn oases van reisinformatie. Door hun lokale inbedding en betrokkenheid met de plaatselijke omgeving, zijn ze een meerwaarde bij je ontdekking van land, cultuur en bevolking. ViaVia zet aan tot reizen, ontdekken en het verruimen van je horizon.” De selectie gebeurt door JOKER REIZEN, zij sturen je – afhankelijk van je profiel naar een bestemming. In mijn geval zou dat sowieso Spaanstalig worden waardoor volgende bestemmingen opties zijn: Argentinië (Buenos Aires), Chile (Valparaíso), Peru (Ayacucho), Ecuador (Tonsupa), Honduras (Copán) of Nicaragua (León).  Meer lezen: http://www.viaviacafe.com

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Anyway, 2014 promises to be a spectacular year so… But there will be also hard work to be done: final projects and exams are also ahead! The purpose is to complete by the end of June the final stretch of the bachelor’s degree and then graduate to get the diploma. (I now realize that it is the first time that I think about it like that and describe it. Maybe that’s a good thing to do!).

Bon, 2014 belooft dus een spetterend jaar te worden… Maar er zal ook hard gewerkt moeten worden: afstudeerprojecten en eindexamens staan ook voor de boeg! De bedoeling is immers om eind juni de laatste loodjes van het bachelor-diploma te voltooien en vervolgens het diploma in handen te krijgen. (Ik besef nu dat het de eerste keer is dat ik dit zo uitvoerig bedenk en beschrijf. Misschien is dat wel goed om even te doen?!).

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Basically, I will be graduated from mid 2014, ready to revoke the wide world or in less philosophical terms: to sign a permanent contract and get to work. Forever. Until my retirement. And you hear it, that idea alone depresses me desperately! And I would not be me if I was not already dreaming about some other, new future perspectives … I explain it here: before my Erasmus period I secretly dreamed of starting a master study after the bachelor. For this I saw two possibilities: a Master in Tourism, or a Master in Anthropology.

In principe ben ik dus vanaf midden 2014 afgestudeerd, klaar om de weide wereld in te trekken, of minder filosofisch uitgedrukt: een vast contract te ondertekenen en aan het werk te gaan. Voor eeuwig. Tot het pensioen. En je hoort het al, dat idee alleen al deprimeert me mateloos! En ik zou ik niet zijn als ik alweer aan het dromen was over andere, nieuwe toekomstperspectieven… Ik leg het even uit: voor mijn Erasmus-periode droomde ik er stiekem van om na de bachelor een master-studie te beginnen. Hiervoor zag ik 2 mogelijkheden: een Master in Toerisme, of een Master in Antropologie.

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The Master in Tourism lasts one year, but requires a bridging semester, and takes place as well in Bruges as in Leuven. I could start with the program in September 2014 and thus ending around January 2016. I quote here: “The emphasis is on sector-specific marketing studies, including competitive analysis. Besides the economic aspect, however there are still many aspects that focus on the behavior and impacts on environment and society. This means that the social, geographical and cultural disciplines will enrich the offer into a coherent program that the multidimensional nature of tourism fully addresses and that the aspect of sustainability presupposes ” You can read more about it at: http://aow.kuleuven.be/geografie/masterinhettoerisme/index.html

De Master in Toerisme duurt 1 jaar, maar vereist een schakelprogramma van een semester, en gaat door in Brugge en Leuven. De opleiding zou ik kunnen starten in september 2014 en dus beëindigen rond januari 2016. Ik citeer ook hier even: “Het accent ligt op sectorspecifieke marketingstudies, inclusief concurrentieanalyses. Naast het economische zijn er echter nog vele aspecten die vooral gericht zijn op het gedragspatroon en de impacten op ruimte en samenleving. Dit betekent dat ook de sociale, geografische en culturele disciplines het aanbod komen verrijken in een coherent programma dat het multidimensionele karakter van toerisme ten volle aan bod laat komen en het aspect duurzaamheid voorop stelt.” Je kan er meer over lezen op: http://aow.kuleuven.be/geografie/masterinhettoerisme/index.html

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The Master in Social and Cultural Anthropology is a different kettle of fish, it would be throwing my whole career on a different track… Or at least highlight it from a different, new perspective: “Anthropology is the scientific study of human history in its biological, linguistic and social aspects “. I quote this as the K.U. Leuven describes the program: “What makes anthropology unique is not so much what she studies, but the way and the position from which she approaches the human condition. Anthropology focuses on what divides people as to what binds them.

De Master in de Sociale en Culturele Antropologie is een andere koek, het zou mijn hele carrière over een andere boeg gooien… Of op zijn minst vanuit een ander, nieuw perspectief belichten: “antropologie is de wetenschappelijke studie van de menselijke geschiedenis in haar biologische, taalkundige en sociale aspecten”. Ik citeer hiervoor even de K.U. Leuven om de opleiding te beschrijven: “Wat de antropologie uniek maakt, is niet zozeer wat ze bestudeert, maar de manier waarop en het standpunt van waaruit ze de menselijke conditie benadert. Daarbij richt de antropologie zich zowel op wat mensen verdeelt als op wat hen bindt.

As an anthropologist you study problems of identity, globalization, the relationship between man and nature, colonization or ethnicity. You do this from the perspective of those who are involved in it. The focus is on the experience of the ordinary man or woman. For example, given the political discourse on globalization, ecology or migration an extra dimension, which often yields surprising insights. ” This field of study actually excites me a lot, and would give my tourism-world a whole new digression to other domains. But the full course lasts 2 years, and there must be followed a bridging program of one year for bachelor students like me. In addition, you must be accepted for enrollment. As mentioned above, the program takes place in Leuven. Read more: http://www.kuleuven.be/toekomstigestudenten/studiekeuzebegeleiders/nwsbrf/0910/13/antropologie.html and http://onderwijsaanbod.kuleuven.be/opleidingen/n/CQ_50268970.htm

Als antropoloog bestudeer je problemen als identiteitsvorming, globalisering, de relatie mens-natuur, kolonisatie of etniciteit. Je doet dit vanuit het perspectief van de betrokkenen. De focus ligt hierbij op de ervaring van de gewone vrouw of man. Zo krijgt bijvoorbeeld het politieke discours over globalisering, ecologie of migratie een extra dimensie, wat vaak verrassende inzichten oplevert.” Dit studiedomein boeit me eigenlijk enorm, en zou mijn toerismewereld op haar manier een hele uitwijding geven naar andere domeinen. De volledige opleiding duurt wel 2 jaar, en er moet een schakelprogramma van 1 jaar gevolgd worden voor bachelor-studenten zoals ik. Bovendien moet je ook geaccepteerd worden om te kunnen inschrijven. Zoals hierboven vermeld, gaat de opleiding door in Leuven. Meer lezen: http://www.kuleuven.be/toekomstigestudenten/studiekeuzebegeleiders/nwsbrf/0910/13/antropologie.html en http://onderwijsaanbod.kuleuven.be/opleidingen/n/CQ_50268970.htm

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If I would pick the hard way, I would choose the Anthropology Master, but I also realize that it could be a disappointment, and that it will not be possible then to go back to the Master in Tourism. A safer choice would thus be Tourism, which program is also just half as long to complete. Of course this master is also less valuable than the Anthropology one, but on the other hand the tourism industry offers more jobs … On the other hand it is often said that Masters degrees in Tourism do not earn more than Bachelor degrees in Tourism, so it raises the question whether it is really worth the investment to take the Master if you stay in the tourism industry anyway? Many question marks in the head so …

Als ik voor de moeilijke weg ging, zou ik voor de Antropologie kiezen, maar ik besef ook dat het wel eens zou kunnen tegenvallen, en dat er dan moeilijk nog een weg terug is naar de Master in Toerisme. Een veiligere keuze zou dus Toerisme zijn, welke opleiding ook maar half zo lang in beslag neemt. Uiteraard is ze ook wel minder waardevol dan de antropologie, maar toerisme biedt dan weer meer werkgelegenheid… Anderzijds wordt er vaak gezegd dat Masters in Toerisme niet meer verdienen dan Bachelors in Toerisme, dus is het dan ook de vraag of het werkelijk de investering waard is om die master te volgen als je toch besluit binnen de toeristische sector te blijven? Veel vraagtekens in het hoofd dus…

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And then there was ERASMUS! Some time for not too much thinking about this, and to lead the good life and to be inspired by the multiculturalism and so on, as previously mentioned. And how could it be otherwise, I really do not believe in “coincidence”, ERASMUS MUNDUS became discussed, here in Gandia one day. I had previously never heard of it, but it did immediately ring a bell in my head. Ahaa!

Erasmus Mundus is a program of the European Commission. The aim is to increase higher education level, promote it around the world and cooperate with non-EU countries. Some European higher education institutions give an Erasmus Mundus Masters Course form and go into partnership with institutions in the rest of the world. Students from the rest of the world then come to study at such a master by at least three European institutions ” Read more: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus_mundus/

En toen was er ERASMUS! Even tijd om daar niet teveel aan te denken, en om het goede leven te leiden, en om zoals eerder al gezegd, geïnspireerd te worden door de multiculturaliteit enzovoorts. En hoe kan het ook anders, ik geloof echt niet in “toeval”, kwam ERASMUS MUNDUS op een dag ter sprake, hier in Gandia. Ik had hier voorheen nog nooit van gehoord, maar het deed meteen een belletje rinkelen in mijn hoofd. Ahaa!

Erasmus Mundus is een programma van de Europese Commissie. Doel is de kwaliteit van het Europese hoger onderwijs te bevorderen, het over de gehele wereld te promoten en de samenwerking met landen buiten de EU te bevorderen. Enkele Europese hogeronderwijsinstellingen geven een Erasmus Mundusmasteropleiding vorm en gaan een partnerschap aan met instellingen in de rest van de wereld. Studenten uit de rest van de wereld kunnen zo in Europa studeren aan zo’n masteropleiding die door minstens drie Europese instellingen samen wordt vormgegeven.” Meer lezen: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus_mundus/

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As soon as I heard this, I quickly searched which ones were the different masters offered, and unbelievable but true: “European Master in Tourism Management” consists in the list of master programs! The program takes two years to complete: there are thus four semesters: the first semester takes place in Denmark, the second in Slovenia, the third in Spain and the fourth – last – semester is dedicated to writing the master’s thesis, and you choose one of these three destinations / universities for this last semester. Good to know is that each university has its own specialty, for example, focus on economy, sustainability, policy, … So you get offered within a program “the best of both worlds”. This degree, I do not have to tell you, is one of the best degrees you can find. Cost? Well, IF you are selected and IF you get a scholarship, nothing … How do you get accepted? With a bachelor’s degree in which you obtained at least 70%, so if you graduate with distinction. Of course I just counted how far I am in my second year, and yes, I got so far 77% on average. It may therefore still be possible! I also have to be able to submit proof of English language proficiency at the excellence level because the master courses are offered in English. For this, I could take evening courses and I could do an examination at an official institution. Just another challenge! Furthermore, there are some other requirements, too many to mention here. Read it yourself if you want at: http://www.emtmmaster.net/

Zo gauw ik dit vernam, zocht ik de verschillende mogelijke masteropleidingen op, en jawel hoor: “European Master in Tourism Management” bestaat hierin! De opleiding neemt 2 jaar in beslag: er zijn dus 4 semesters: de eerste semester gaat door in Denemarken, de tweede in Slovenië, de derde in Spanje en de vierde – laatste – semester wordt gewijd aan het schrijven van de master-thesis, en daarvoor kies je één van deze drie bestemmingen/universiteiten. Goed om weten is ook dat elke universiteit zijn eigen specialiteit heeft, bijvoorbeeld focus op economie, duurzaamheid, beleid, … Zo krijg je binnen één opleiding “the best of both worlds” aangeboden. Deze opleiding, ik hoef het je niet te vertellen, is één van de beste opleidingen die je kan vinden. Kostprijs? Wel, ALS je geselecteerd wordt en ALS je een beurs te pakken krijgt, niets… Hoe geraak je er binnen? Met een bachelor-diploma waarin je minimum 70% behaalde, onderscheiding dus. Heb ik natuurlijk even gerekend hoever ik nu zit in mijn tweede jaar, en jawel, ik behaalde tot nu toe 77% gemiddeld. Het kan dus nog! Ook moet ik een bewijs van Engelse taalvaardigheid op excellentie-niveau kunnen voorleggen, de master is uiteraard in het Engels aangeboden. Hiervoor zou ik avondschool kunnen volgen en een examen kunnen afleggen aan een officiële instelling. Slechts een uitdaging! Voorts zijn er nog enkele andere vereisten, te veel om hier op te noemen. Lees het zelf maar even na op: http://www.emtmmaster.net/

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So, now there are thus three possibilities to continue studying and I have a good view on it. I believe in it! And no, you do not hear me speaking about quitting studies soon. The student life is way too good for that! I think I will go to work the day I’m tired of studying, or the day that I ‘bump into’ the job of my life: something with travel, tourism, culture, writing, photography, … I’m not there yet, but as I said, I do not worry about that job, practice makes perfect. And I enjoy my “journey” …

Zo, inmiddels zijn er dus 3 mogelijkheden om verder te studeren en ik heb er een goed oog op. Ik geloof erin! En nee, je hoort mij nog niet snel over ophouden met studeren spreken. Het studentenleven is daar veel te goed voor! Ik denk dat ik zal gaan werken de dag dat ik het studeren moe ben, of de dag dat de job van mijn leven mij ‘overvalt’: iets met reizen, toerisme, culturen, schrijven, fotograferen, … Ik ben er nog niet uit, maar zoals ik al zei: ik maar me er niet druk om, al doende leert men. En ik geniet van mijn “journey”…

beauty-dreams-future-quote-text-Favim.com-355712And oh yes … For those for whom it all seems a bit much: if I have completed the bachelor and master, I will be about 25 years. So eventually… all not so bad, right?! Enough time to settle down, LATER ……;-)

En oh ja… Voor diegenen voor wie het allemaal wat veel lijkt: als ik de bachelor en de master voltooid heb, zal ik ongeveer 25 jaar zijn. Dus helemaal nog niet zo slecht, toch?! Tijd genoeg om te settelen, LATER…… 😉

20121012-210008So to conclude this whole story… For now…. A GOOD MOTIVATION!!!  😉

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