Mauritius… A Dolphins Delight!

The second weekend in Mauritius was absolutely one of the greatest ever! Not only did I experience an amazing boat trip, I also snorkeled with wild dolphins in the open sea, barbecued on a small island called Île aux Benitiers and enjoyed a lot of sunshine with the coolest anthropology students! Just NOT too good to be true, because it was real and yes, every once in a while in life a dream comes true…

Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true? Yes, of course! I did pay to get access to this piece of paradise, but this boat trip actually only costed +/- 35 USD so not to bad at all for a heavenly experience! If you ever visit Mauritius, don’t forget to check out this amazing area called Le Morne (where you find the biggest cliffs), Île aux Benitiers (and its blue waters surrounding it), and the wild dolphins of course! But let me talk to you about my trip first to make you feel excited for it as well!

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Speed boats near Le Morne

Rule number 1: if you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up. And sometimes that means early! Especially when you want to see wild dolphins. Apparently they hang around the coast early in the morning, so our boat trip had to start at 8AM, and so we took a bus ride from Pointe aux Piments to La Gaulette, 55 km further on the west coast, so good for an hour and a half driving.

Rule number 2: if you want to spot wild dolphins, you better take a speed boat in stead of a catamaran, as it is much easier to spot the dolphins as they move fast, and you can follow them better. But… You have to be patient and lucky anyway, because nothing guarantees you that you will actually see them as they are wild dolphins, and Mauritius is not SeaWorld! 😉

It is indeed a very unique experience to spot these magnificent marine mammals in their natural habitat in Mauritius, especially in this wonderful scenery with great landscapes! And I must admit, I was very excited about this trip, but also a little bit stressed at the beginning, as I really hoped to see the dolphins, but it took about 3 times to jump in the water and snorkel while looking for them, before actually seeing one. But the fourth time our boat stopped and the captain shouted: “JUMP!” I saw not one dolphin passing by just underneath me, but at least twenty! I could not believe my eyes (my snorkels)… This marine underwater world was too remarkable and coming face to face with this wild dolphins was absolutely striking.

Of course it was difficult to focus both on photographing as on jumping in the water to swim with them, so I do not have good images of it. I did find a Youtube video about people who had a very similar experience during such a boat trip in the same area in Mauritius, and I must say that this video explains better than any of my stories how it felt to swim with those dolphins. Just watch it, and imagine you were there, because I wish you would have been… ❤

Oh my god… I still get goosebumps everytime I think about this unbelievable dolphin experience… But mostly because of a little crazy spiritual superstitious experience of myself… Well, a few years ago I had a dream. I was standing on a cliff near the sea, and I jumped a lot of meters down into the water. Of course, that would mean suicide in the real world, but in my dream I survived. Moreover, as soon as I was under water, my human body was gone, and my soul transformed its physical appearance in a dolphin. I started swimming very fast, I had never felt so free before in my entire life… Suddenly, I was swimming together with many other beautiful dolphins who looked just as happy as me, and I could feel how my whole body was full of energy, and how powerful my tale was while I was reaching a high level of speed in the ocean.

There came no end to the unlimited capacity of water, and so on. This dream was by far the greatest dream in my life, because it felt so real and natural, but at the same time it supposed to be very surreal, right? Well, the feeling that overwhelmed while I jumped off the boat and while I was swimming with those wild dolphins in Mauritius, was somehow familiar, as if I was coming home to dream I was dreaming years ago already. As if I had been here, doing this before already. Almost as if I was one of them, and my human body was trying to become one again, but my long capacity, and the limitations of my human legs brought me back to reality fast. In this life, I am not a dolphin! I am Julie! #expectation #reality

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Me, surrounded by blue water near the Crystal Rock

After snorkeling and swimming some more near the spectacular reefs of Mauritius, having some unforgettable views over Le Morne Mountain, and visiting the Chrystal Rock, it was noon fast, and time to head of to Île aux Benitiers, where a BBQ and wonderful meals were prepared by our boat staff ‘à la minute’ while we were enjoying some relaxation time: tanning on the beach, having a fresh coconut with rum, buying some souvenirs, and walking around the endless beach of this small island…

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The beach at Île aux Benitiers & magnificent view on the Le Morne Mountain

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Making friends with a Local Beach Hat Vendor

After spending more than 2 hours chilling and eating at the islet, we went for another few snorkel stops in a magnificent lagoon with shallow water. Did I mention already that Mauritius is almost entirely encircled by a coral reef? Well, then I don’t have to explain you why it is a superb snorkelling destination with many top spots to swim around! With a water temperature between 21 and 28°C, this island is a paradise for snorkellers and divers! And the waters around Le Morne offer some excellent visibility. However, I must admit that I was too tipsy from all those coconut-rums to focus on recognizing all the various species of fish, but hanging around the boat was a lot of fun!

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One of the Anthropology students found a Sea Urchin!

Well, and to all good things comes an end at a certain point, and so it did to this amazing excursion. In the late afternoon our boat returned to La Gaulette, where we spent the last hour at the beach before heading home for sunset. What can I say? This day was absolutely perfect! There was no where else in this world I wished to be, with no one else to have as companion, and even though I did not have everything, I felt the richest person on earth. Because yes, I can’t emphasize it enough: look at all this beauty… And confirm it: travel is the only thing that you can buy that makes you richer! ❤ And most importantly… Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true! So live simply, dream big, be grateful, give love, laugh lots… And I am sure that good things will come your way. So yes, some might say that karma is a bitch, but only if you are too! So be good, and good things will come your way…

x Carpe Diem x

From Julie with Love

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From Ecuador to Cambodia .with Love.

Quite a lot of things have changed since my last update from Ecuador. I am currently 18.500 km further, literally on the other side of the world, and a lot has happened in the last few weeks and days, wherefore I didn’t manage to structure some nice blog posts. So for all of the ones who cannot follow (I can’t follow myself sometimes anymore), here’s a short update of a long journey to a new life in Cambodia.

I returned from Quito (Ecuador) to Brussels (Belgium) the 20th of June, had a only a full 3 days there to meet up with my family and friends, and left again the 24th of June towards Bangkok (Thailand), from where I would take a long distance bus crossing the border to Siem Reap (Cambodia), my new hometown for the next two months. Taking The Leap again for the Summer Program was the most crazy and impulsive decision I’ve probably made in my entire life, as it meant I would be tour leading again for two months… I was also absolutely NOT prepared for this one (as it would be my first time in Asia!), but I switched OFF the ‘think’-button and ON the ‘do’-button. Trust was the new keyword in my life, after many crazy experiences, and I was sure this would be another great time abroad.

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I decided to do this job for many reasons: first of all because it was LIVING THE DREAM, an amazing chance I had to take, and travelling for a long time abroad had done something with the person I was and the life I lived… I was questioning all aspects in life: my studies, my job, my home, my boyfriend, my friends, my lifestyle, … In Ecuador I had learned that gap years are all about finding yourself, but when you find yourself, the reality just does not make sense anymore. And I felt like I could use the time to overthink life some more and have a better perspective on things when I would return the end of August.

Every end is a new beginning, and all great changes are proceeded by chaos… With these new quotes I left for a 9 hours flight to Mumbai (India) where I had a stopover for my flight to Bangkok (Thailand). During that time in the airport and on the flight, I got to taste a little of the Indian culture and I can ensure you: this country is on my wishlist even more now: lovely people, a special culture and delicious food! Then I flew another 4 hours further, arriving in Bangkok (Thailand) where I would spend 1 night before crossing the border to Cambodia.

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Me hanging around the Buddhist temples of Bangkok

It was my first time in Asia, and I expected to have a serious culture shock again, but I guess I was getting used to travelling and getting lost in a new city. I was simply amazed by all the cultural differences: how a city can be so busy and chaotic from the ‘outside’, but as soon as you enter a temple (the ‘inside), you feel Buddha’s everlasting peacefulness… I also loved the fact that they all walked barefoot in temples 😛 Add up the amazing Thai food to that, and you’ll understand why I enjoyed Bangkok so much. Love at first sight, and definetely ready to return in August for another overnight stop before flying back to Belgium!

A few tuk tuk and Sky train rides, and 500 questions about finding my way later, I was on my way to Cambodia. The border crossing experience was “something else” (as Kevin Hart would say it), with the usual chaos and visa procedures, but I kept calm and arrived safe but sweaty in Siem Reap, a 9 hour bus route from Bangkok.

The first thing I noticed was the amazing hospitality of the Cambodian people, who seem to live to serve others. An amazing feeling that sometimes overwhelmes me too much, coming from a rough and tough culture in South America where hospitality is not even mentioned in the Spanish dictionnary… I also felt safe, very very safe, even in all this tuk tuk and motorcycle chaos.

I got a room in ‘Angkor Boutique Villa’, where I met my new boss upon arrival. He was the owner of the hotel and he told me I would stay in this place during my whole time with The Leap in Siem Reap. That ment: airconditioning, a mini-fridge, a hot shower and room cleaning service all the time. This was such a blessing!

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A room at Angkor Boutique Villa, this is HOME.

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We also had a 4-course dinner with the group leading team. I felt like I was the only one talking on the table, which made me feel quite stupid. But I immediately realised: these people are just so ZEN and stress is a word that they didn’t seem to know. So frustrating, haha! Who am I going to share my dramaqueen-moments with now?? 😉 No, seriously, the people are shy, open to listen but they obviously think twice before they speak. They are so well mannered that sometimes it feels artificial and as if they studied what they supposed to say. I definetely have culture shock with that part, and have to get used to dealing with the locals in a proper way…

Also, the weather is hot and humid, more than anywhere in Ecuador and I had no idea how I would ever be able to work here. God bless the A/C in my room! The food is nice, less spicy than in Thailand and of course every day twice rice, but they use curries, basil and lemongrass a lot. Hmm, I love Khmer cuisine!

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Khmer Amok – A typical curry dish

Friday was my first day of work, again it surprised me how relaxed everyone was working (barefoot) in the office. I felt welcomed and they already asked me to stay working after one day for a longer period. Guess they liked me!

I felt quite privileged having my boss, a busy man running 2 travel agencies and 1 hotel, all for myself on a few private tours, introducing me to the volunteer projects around Siem Reap. Honestly, it was all way too overwhelming and too much information to absorb in only two days, but I just went along with it and let it all happen to me. Trying not to stress out was definetely easier with calm people around me. God, I need to learn how to meditate…

It were also very emotional days, going directly to the poorest areas where hundreds of poor kids lived in bad conditions, and on the other hand realizing I really did it. I left Belgium again for 2 months and I started to realize it for real now! But luckily, there was not much time to think…

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Mother and child in a local community, Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Saturday evening I had a business dinner with the company I worked for (Indochina Adventures, the local agent for The Leap in Cambodia). I didn’t understand much of the Khmer conversations they were having (and it’s hopeless to start studying this difficult language). Also, I wasn’t prepared with my adventurous backpack clothes to participate in this ‘beau monde’ life. And I had difficulties being served with another 4-course dinner while the same day children on the street were begging me for money and food a few blocks away from that same restaurant. What a shocking contrast!

Siem Reap was one big tourist resort, in my eyes, where one can find every Western product wished for. Made in China, low prices and happy hours everywhere… I could see a Leap group having the time of their lives here soon… Whether I honestly liked it, is something else, because I lacked authenticity and I wasn’t used to having such a big offer in comfort food and products anymore, after living in Ecuador anymore. I missed my ‘back to basics’ life!!!

Early in the morning on Sunday, I left Siem Reap to Pnomh Penh and Sihanouk Ville to visit the volunteer projects there. They bought me first class VIP bus tickets and my gave me $100 cash to pay my hotel and eat 2 days. I felt treathed like a princess, being picked up at the hotel entrance and given a packed breakfast box for on the way. This was too much!! Such a big contrast from where I came from and I wondered why I was being treathed so well here. But I could find a reasonable answer and decided to believe I deserved all of this after 4 months in Ecuador and I would give the best of myself of work, that was the only thing I could do in return and a good motivation to start of with!

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Sunset in Sihanouk Ville

It were 7,5 hours to Pnomh Penh (the capital city of Cambodia) and another 6 hours to Sihanouk Ville (beach alarm!), so it was too much time to think for me on the bus, and arriving in another tourism paradise like this on my own was hard and confrontating. I felt lonely and lost in this paradise, had too much time for myself – being here to work and “change the world” – not to enjoy really, but I kept strong thinking about the great times that would come once the group arrived and then I didn’t have to be lonely anymore, being able to start doing what I loved to do: group leading, volunteer coordinating, working hard on the projects and party even harder. (HELLO GOD? IS THERE A WAY TO SIGN A CONTRACT FOR LIFE TO DO THIS DREAM JOB?)

I just hated this random days before / between a new phase in life, when you don’t know what to do with yourself. You’re preparing and preparing, but in the same time you know you’ll never feel prepared enough, so sometimes in life (no, most of the times in life) you just have to stop thinking and start doing! And that’s exactly what I did when I decided to go from Ecuador to Cambodia, and the reason why good things happen!

Take The Leap, Take The Risk. Take The Chance.

It might be worth it! ❤

Julie

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Finding “My inner compass”

There is only one month left in Spain. Time flies and my brains are working overtime to keep up all those beautiful memories. But unfortunately only photos can be so precise that they will not fade away … There have been too many great moments to remember them all, but the whole idea and overall feeling, I cherish. And I have a full backpack that I can take back home with me, I know that already. A both physical and psychological backpack, you know….

Er is nog maar één maand over in Spanje. De tijd vliegt en mijn hersenen draaien overuren om al die mooie herinneringen bij te houden. Maar helaas zijn enkel foto’s zo nauwkeurig dat ze niet vervagen… Er zijn te veel mooie momenten geweest om ze allemaal te kunnen onthouden, maar het hele idee en algehele gevoel koester ik. En ik heb een volle rugzak die ik terug mee naar huis kan nemen, dat weet ik nu al. Een zowel fysische als psychologische rugzak, weet je wel….

I just wonder what I will do with it. One thing is already certain: Erasmus has changed me. Maybe not so much that first layer of my personality that is on the surface, and which is rather superficial, but it certainly has touched something deep inside me. It has put my world upside down, and I am still blown away by it. This is a dream from which I do not want wake up, I want to do everything to give. the life I lead now here an extension. I want this to be my new way of life.

Ik vraag me alleen af wat ik ermee zal doen. Eén ding is nu al zeker: Erasmus heeft mij veranderd. Misschien niet zo zeer die eerste laag van mijn persoonlijkheid die aan het oppervlak ligt, en nogal oppervlakkig is, maar zeker heeft het iets diep in me geraakt. Het heeft mijn wereld op zijn kop gezet, en ik ben er tot op heden nog steeds ondersteboven van. Dit is een droom waaruit ik niet wakker wil worden, ik wil er alles aan doen om het leven dat ik nu leid een extensie te geven. Ik wil dat dit mijn nieuwe manier van leven wordt.

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And that’s really what this is all about: all my previous principles and worldviews have been given another dimension. As you already could read before I have wild plans to continue studying, doing an internship abroad and yes, I’m young and reckless: I have those sneaky dream to improve the world. Well, tourism continues to excite me … I know that.

En dat is eigenlijk waarover dit allemaal gaat: al mijn voorgaande principes en wereldbeelden hebben een andere dimensie gekregen. Zoals jullie eerder al konden lezen, heb ik wilde plannen om verder te studeren, een buitenlandse stage te doen en jawel hoor, ik ben jong en roekeloos: heb die stiekeme droom om de wereld te verbeteren. Nu ja, het toerisme blijft me prikkelen… Dat weet ik wel.

In recent months I have experienced a whole new way of studying in Spain, not only in terms of “strategy”, but also the approach to tourism here is completely different. There is more emphasis on Destination Management, Political Policy and Conservation of our Heritage. It fascinates me all so much more than what we learn in Belgium on tourism classes: business travel, cruises, aviation, travel agencies, … I don’t know if you can feel the difference between the purely economical side and what feels more as ‘the foundation’ of tourism to me. The basis of tourism is a good policy. The vision and real ‘caring’ about what contains our beautiful world. That is quite different from the continuous selling of mass and luxury products to customers who only care about their annual holiday! Well, I’ve found my passion. I’m sure now!

In de afgelopen maanden heb ik in Spanje een hele nieuwe manier van studeren ervaren, niet alleen qua ‘strategie’, maar ook de benadering van het toerisme is hier helemaal anders. Er wordt meer nadruk gelegd op Destination Management, het Politieke Beleid en de Conservatie van ons Erfgoed. Het boeit me allemaal zoveel meer dan wat we in België leren over toerisme: zakenreizen, cruises, luchtvaart, reisbureaus, … Ik weet niet of jullie het verschil kunnen voelen tussen het puur economische en wat voor mij meer als ‘de fundering’ van het toerisme aanvoelt. De basis van het toerisme is een goed beleid. De visie en het werkelijk ‘zorgen’ om wat onze mooie wereld bevat. Dat is toch heel wat anders dan het continu verkopen van massa- en luxeproducten aan klanten die enkel geven om hun jaarlijkse vakantieperiode?! Nu ja, ik heb mijn passie gevonden. Dat weet ik zeker nu!

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So I’m sure I want to go further than the direction I was sent in with my Bachelor of Tourism and Recreation Management, and that is super good! I am very grateful for that! But apart from that study thing, I also started thinking about going home….

Dus ik ben ook zeker dat ik verder wil gaan dan de richting die ik met mijn Bachelor in Toerisme- en Recreatie Management wordt opgestuurd, en dat is super goed! Ik ben er erg dankbaar voor! Maar los van dat studiegebeuren, begin ik stilletjes aan ook aan het naar huis gaan te denken….

I’m not homesick, at all… I cherish every moment more and more, and I realize that every day is one day less in Spain, and therefore one day to enjoy EXTRA and to be grateful for the beach that is just 25 footsteps from my apartment, for the sun which always shines and the eternal carefree Spanish lifestyle. I will miss it enormously!

Ik heb geen heimwee, integendeel… Ik koester elk moment meer en meer, en besef dat elke dag een dag minder in Spanje is, en daardoor een dag meer om EXTRA te genieten en dankbaar te zijn voor het strand dat hier op amper 25 voetstappen van mijn flat ligt, de zon die altijd schijnt en de eeuwig onbezorgde Spaanse levensstijl. Ik zal het enorm missen!

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But then I think of my home. I ask myself more and more the question of what my life in Belgium represents, or rather: my life in Belgium should be the reflection of my personality and it is not. You know, I wonder where I’ve been sending myself to and where I thought that I was going to? I had the steering wheel in my  hands and drove at random. It’s not that I regret it, because without the path I have traveled this far, of course I had not end up here. I just wonder whether it is not better to take my steering wheel firmer in the hands now that I know what direction I want to go out …

Maar ik denk dus aan mijn thuis. Ik stel mezelf meer en meer de vraag wat mijn leven in België voorstelt, of beter gezegd: mijn leven in België zou de weerspiegeling van mijn persoonlijkheid moeten zijn, en dat is het niet. Weet je, ik vraag me af waar ik mezelf heb heen gestuurd en waar ik dacht heen te gaan? Ik had het stuur in de handen en reed in het wilde weg. Ik heb er geen spijt van, want zonder het pad dat ik tot hier heb afgelegd, had ik hier natuurlijk niet geraakt. Ik vraag me alleen af of het niet beter is om het stuur wat steviger in handen te nemen nu ik weet welke richting ik uit wens te gaan…

I do not know the destination yet, but I have a feeling that I found the “compass of life”: knowing where the north is, is enough for now. And let us say that the north (or south or whatever you want to call it), is my heart feeling. I know which direction I should follow to follow my heart. I want to listen to my inner compass.

Ik ken de bestemming nog niet, maar ik heb het gevoel dat ik zopas het “kompas van het leven” heb gevonden: weten waar het noorden ligt, is voorlopig al voldoende. En laat ons bij deze dan maar zeggen, dat het noorden (of het zuiden of hoe je het ook wil noemen), mijn hartsgevoel is. Ik weet welke richting ik moet volgen om mijn hart te volgen. Ik wil luisteren naar mijn innerlijke kompas.

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If I’m back in Belgium in July, my life will be back to normal very soon. I already know that now. And to avoid getting back into the old routine, I need to analyze properly what needs to change. And exactly that is what has I have kept me busy in my head the past few weeks…

Als ik in juli daar terug in België ben, zal mijn leven heel snel terug bij het oude zijn. Dat weet ik nu al. En om te voorkomen dat ik terug in de oude sleur herval, moet ik nu goed analyseren wat er moet veranderen. En precies daarmee heb ik mij de afgelopen weken in mijn hoofd bezig gehouden…

I study and that is neat, keep it that way. I work in a travel agency, and that is good as long as I study. But I have to avoid that the security will hold me there. I need time to dare to let go and to choose for the uncertainty of something new, but it does not have to be now. I rent an apartment in a neighborhood where I actually do not know anybody; I have really nothing that could hold me there, because I need to spend several hours every day on the road towards my school. There’s the rub, and so I began to ask myself why I live there? Why it suddenly feels like my own home is my ivory tower? I have the most beautiful apartment that a 21-year-old could imagine, and the price is relatively okay, but it’s lonely and empty. I have cats and they make the atmosphere, along with the decoration. But are cats and decoration a reason to stay where you don’t belong? They are both movable, so I wonder if I’d better not move from house again.

Ik studeer en dat is netjes, houden zo. Ik werk in een reisbureau, en ook dat is goed, zolang ik studeer. Maar ik moet vermijden dat de zekerheid me daar zal vasthouden. Ik moet op tijd durven los te laten en voor de onzekerheid van iets nieuws te kiezen, maar dat hoeft nu nog niet te zijn. Ik huur een appartement in een buurt waar ik eigenlijk niemand ken, waar ik eigenlijk niets te zoeken heb, want ik moet elke dag meerdere uren onderweg spenderen richting mijn school. Daar wringt het schoentje, en zo begon ik mezelf af te vragen: waarom woon ik daar? Waarom voelt het plots alsof mijn eigen huis mijn ivoren toren is? Ik heb het mooiste appartement dat een 21-jarige zich kan inbeelden, en de prijs is relatief oké, maar het is eenzaam en leeg. Ik heb katten en die maken de sfeer, samen met de decoratie. Maar zijn katten en decoratie een reden om ergens te blijven waar je niet op je plaats zit? Ze zijn beiden verplaatsbaar, dus vraag ik me af of ik niet beter opnieuw zou verhuizen.

1357836831576439Moreover, the idea of ​​loneliness bubbled up in me when I began to think about living on my own again … I’ve lived here for 4 months with two girls together in an apartment, which is about the same size than my apartment in Belgium. It certainly did not go smoothly, that living together, but even the unpleasant part I start to like. It begins to change me, I am very dutifully and normally everything needs to go according to a certain structure, everything should be neat, and everything has a fixed position and I have a fixed cleaning day. Here everything is different: we hardly clean, there is anything but structure and regularity, and to be honest: it goes really well.

Bovendien is de idee over eenzaamheid in me opgeborreld toen ik begon te denken aan het terug alleen wonen… Ik woon hier nu al 4 maandenlang met 2 meiden samen in één appartement, dat ongeveer dezelfde grootte heeft dan mijn appartement in België. Het is zeker niet op rolletjes gelopen, dat samenleven, maar zelfs het onaangename begin ik leuk te vinden. Het begint me te veranderen: ik ben heel plichtsbewust en normaalgezien moet alles volgens een bepaalde structuur verlopen, moet alles netjes zijn, en heeft alles een vaste plaats en een vaste poetsdag. Hier is alles anders: er wordt amper gepoetst, is allesbehalve structuur en regelmaat en het loopt eigenlijk prima.

I feel that because of the chaos there comes more tranquility in my life. A very strange but innovative experience! And also: even though we do not talk all the time, and we are certainly not the best friends in the world … I’m never alone. There is always someone at home when I get home, and there is always some movement and impulse around me. I’m going to miss that, I will need more of that. I feel that it is good for me. I always thought it would make me nervous and that it would bring me out of balance. And I thought I would long for a night alone on the sofa to be able to read a book quietly … But nothing less is true! I fooled myself.

Ik voel dat er door de chaos meer rust in mijn leven komt. Een heel vreemde maar vernieuwende ervaring! En bovendien:  ook al praten we niet altijd, en zijn we zeker niet de beste vriendinnen ter wereld… Ik ben nooit alleen. Er is altijd iemand thuis als ik thuis kom, en er is altijd wat beweging en impuls rondom me heen. Dat ga ik missen, dat ga ik meer nodig hebben. Ik voel dat het goed voor me is. Ik dacht altijd dat het me zenuwachtig zou maken en uit balans zou brengen. En ik dacht dat ik zou verlangen naar een avondje alleen op de sofa om rustig een boek te kunnen lezen… Maar niets is minder waar! Ik heb mezelf voor de gek gehouden.

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I lived the life of a lonely woman, not the life of a busy student. I feel I’m ready for the real student life: surrounded by equal-minded people from the same age with vision and dreams, and not by plants and cats that bring “tranquility” in my life. So I have to re-organize some things in my life, once I’m back in Belgium … And how I will do that exactly, I have no idea yet. Miracles, I cannot do of course, and unfortunately magic is not an option. And the reality is the reality, and I have to think rationally, instead of only sitting there daydreaming … But I do know that I will make work of this visions!

Ik leefde het leven van een eenzame vrouw, niet van een bezige student. Ik voel dat ik klaar ben voor het echte studentenleven: omsingeld door gelijkgezinde leeftijdsgenoten met visie en dromen, en niet door planten en katten die “rust” brengen in mijn leven. Ik moet dus het een en ander op zijn plaats verschuiven, eens ik terug in België ben… En hoe ik dat precies zal doen, daar heb ik nog geen idee van. Wonderen kan ik natuurlijk niet doen, en toveren al helemaal niet. En de realiteit is de realiteit, en ik moet ook rationeel denken, in plaats van enkel maar te dagdromen… Maar ik weet wel dat ik van dit inzicht werk zal maken!

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Back in Belgium a new challenge is waiting for me: transforming my old life to my new world perspective!

Eens terug in België staat me dus een nieuwe uitdaging te wachten: mijn oude leven transformeren naar mijn nieuwe wereldbeeld!

I will go for my driving license (finally!), work hard all summer, follow my heart, finish my studies and apply for a new degree, search for a way out of my current lifestyle and go on an internship. And study hard: improve my Spanish and (academic) English skills! And I cannot forget about implementing the secret of the Spanish lifestyle in my Belgian existence: always “Tranquila”, or how we say in Flanders: “Hurry and rush is rarely good!”

Ik zal voor mijn rijbewijs gaan (eindelijk!), een zomer lang hard werken, mijn hart volgen, mijn studie afmaken en voor een nieuwe studie kandidatuur stellen, een uitweg in mijn huidige levenssituatie zoeken en op stage gaan. En hard studeren: mijn Spaans en (academisch) Engels moet verbeteren! En ik mag vooral niet vergeten om het geheim van de Spaanse levensstijl mee te nemen in mijn Belgische bestaan: altijd “Tranquila”, of op zijn Vlaams gezegd: “Haast en spoed, is zelden goed!”

There’s a lot to do for me so! And the thoughts in my mind grow bigger….

Er staat me heel wat te doen dus! En de hersenspinsels groeien verder….

More about it later..  😉

Dreaming. Why not?

The further away from home, the more home I feel.
Am I escaping reality, or am I just chasing dreams?
My life isn’t about destinations, it’s about the journeys.
I’m ready for the next step, not willing to settle. At all.

Julie

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***

Many of our dreams have been crushed

Through all the negativity and what society breeds in us

We’ve all asked our self can I become?

But if the question or dream seems to big to someone else

They tell you that it can’t be done

You must be joking that’s impossible

That only happens to the lucky few

But why can’t the lucky be you

So many people like to bring up the negative

But why don’t they take out the positive

When everyone says no

You must start to say yes

Whatever you believe

Then I’m 100% sure you will achieve

Whatever you want to be, ask yourself, can I?

My answer will always be why not

(Liam Francis)

***

dream-quotes4Because the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams….

god has a bigger plan

  • 2012-2013: Studying Tourism in Belgium + Erasmus Spain
  • 2013-2014: Studying Tourism in Belgium + Internship South America + Graduating (Bachelor Degree)
  • 2014-2016: Erasmus Mundus EMTM: “European Master in Tourism Management”

2 years, 4 semesters, 4 universities, 4 destinations !!!

  1. Denmark, Kolding
  2. Slovenia, Ljubljana
  3. Spain, Gerona
  4. Denmark/Slovenia/Spain/China: Writing a Thesis

AND of course… A scholarship!!!  EMTM > more info

“All our dreams can come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.”

(Walt Disney)

With a friend in Valencia

2013-02-21 >>> 2013-02-25

Karine (my friend) came to visit me. >>> Karine (mijn vriendin) bracht me een bezoekje. Karine Thursday >>> Donderdag

Today Karine would fly with Iberia to Valencia to visit me, but there was a strike at Iberia’s company and so we didn’t know if she would make it here. I believe our wishful thinking helped, because she didn’t notice anything about the strike when she was checking in and flying… She arrived right on time and I picked her up at the trainstation of Gandia after school.

Vandaag zou Karine met Iberia richting Valencia vliegen om me een bezoekje te brengen, maar Iberia staakte deze week en dus bleef het in spanning afwachten of ze wel zou komen. Ik geloof dat ons positief denken een beetje geholpen moet hebben, want van staking was er blijkbaar bijna niets te merken. Ze landde dus mooi op tijd en ik pikte haar na school op in het treinstation van Gandia.

We took the bus home and dropped her luggage. She also brought me a small suitcase with some stuff that I missed here, some summer clothes (that I cannot wear yet unfortunately). After that I had to go quickly back to school to return my books to the library. I was late! Excellent moment to show my friend our beautiful “Universitat Politecnica de Valencia Campus Gandia”!

We namen de bus naar me thuis en dropten haar valies. Ze had ook een klein koffertje bij met allerlei spullen die ik nog ontbrak hier, onder andere heel wat zomerse kledij (die ik helaas nog niet kan dragen nu). Daarna moest ik even naar school om mijn boeken in de bibliotheek terug te gaan brengen. Ik was al te laat! Goede gelegenheid dus om mijn vriendin ook eens te laten zien hoe prachtig en modern de “Universitat Politecnica de Valencia Campus Gandia” wel niet is! Enjoying Gandia Life 012 After that we ate an Ensaimada (sort of sweet cookie from Mallorca) on a terrace and we enjoyed the beautiful spring sun. We bought some bottles of wine in Carrefour for the night and some things from breakfast the other day. Andrea promised us to cook something Spanish for all of us. How sweet!

Daarna aten we een Ensaimada (soort van Mallorcaanse koffiekoek) op een terrasje en genoten we van het heerlijke lentezonnetje. We kochten nog enkele flessen wijn in Carrefour voor vanavond en wat ontbijt voor de dag erop. Andrea had beloofd iets Spaans te koken voor ons allen. Wat lief!

Once “home” in our appartment here, I joked that Karine has actually already seen my whole neighborhood because there was not more than this school, the bakery and the Carrefour because it’s still winter. Hahaha!

Eens “thuis” in mijn appartementje hier, grapte ik dat Karine eigenlijk al heel mijn dagelijkse leefomgeving had gezien want veel meer dan de school, het bakkertje en de Carrefour is er niet echt open in de winter. Hahaha!

By the time it was 9 o’clock in the evening, we were hungry and Andrea showed us some of her cooking talents. This time she didn’t make paella but “Fideua”, similar but with small pasta in it and it turned out to be the specialty of Gandia. We’re learning something every day! As an apetizer Andrea made some real, authentic “tortilla de patatas” and that was almost even more delicious than the Fideua itself. It became a very cosy and nice evening with Katy (roommate), Anne (neighbor), Andrea (chef of the kitchen / roommate) and our guest Karine.

Tegen 21u was het etenstijd en had Andrea dus haar kook-toverkunsten nog eens bovengehaald. Dit keer maakte ze geen paëlla maar “Fideua”, gelijkaardig maar met kleine pasta’s en blijkbaar dé specialiteit van Gandia. We leren dus elke dag iets bij! Als aperitief maakte Andrea bovendien ook nog een échte, authentieke “tortilla de patatas” en die was bijna nóg lekkerder dan de Fideua. Het werd dus  een gezellige avond met Katy (kamergenoot), Anne (buurmeisje), Andrea (kokin van dienst / kamergenoot) en onze genodigde Karine.

Friday >>> Vrijdag

The next morning we woke up early to go discovering Gandia, before I would have to go to school at 3PM. It’s so cool that classes start so late here, than you can really do something during the day!

De volgende ochtend stonden we op tijd op om Gandia verder te gaan verkennen, alvorens ik naar school moest om 15u. Best wel handig dat de lessen hier vaak zo laat beginnen, dan heb je nog iets aan je dag! Karine 014 We walked via the beach to the peer and the yacht port, and made some tourist-pictures at the Buddha-monuments on the beach. I sent Karine a message before she came, with one of these Buddha’s on the picture, and as text: “Gandia is waiting for you. Namasté”. And finally she was here!

We wandelden via het strand naar de pier en de jachthaven, en maakten even nog wat toeristen-kiekjes bij dé Boeddha-beelden op het strand. Ik had Karine al een berichtje gestuurd met één van die Boeddha-beelden op de foto, met als tekst: “Gandia is waiting for you. Namasté”. Eindelijk was het dus zover! Karine 024 We walked al the way down to the end of the peer, and that was also my first time to do that. It kept on going, this road, because you are litteraly walking into the sea, which causes a lot of strong breeze, but once you reach the end, you have this amazing view and a feeling of being in the middle of the ocean… Oooh, God, life can be good here!

We wandelden helemaal tot het einde van de pier, en dat was voor mij ook de eerste keer. Het bleef maar duren en je wandelt letterlijk recht de zee in, waardoor er plots wel een ongewoon sterke wind opsteekt maar eens je op het einde bent en dat prachtige uitzicht hebt, aangevuld met het gevoel van letterlijk middenin de zee te belanden… Ooooh, tsjonge, wat kan het hier toch zalig zijn! Karine 049 Karine 065 Karine 070 Karine 097 Karine 076 With a strong breeze in our back we walked back to the civilised world, where we wandered via some shops looking for a good terrace to lunch. Again on a terrace… That’s how it goes here! Oooh, God, I repeat it, life can be good here! Hihihi…

Goed uitgewaaid wandelden we terug tot de bewoonde badplaats-wereld, wandelden we nog even langs wat winkeljes en zochten we een terrasje waar we zouden lunchen. Opnieuw op een terrasje… Zo hoort dat hier! Oooohh, ik herhaal het, wat kan het hier toch zalig zijn! Hihihi… Karine 113 Unfortunately than came the sadder part of the story: I had to go to school, and so I picked up my stuff at home and went to the course of 3PM. I gave the key of my flat to Karine so she could do whatever she liked… At 7PM my classes would be finished. So while I was learning more Spanish in French course than French, she was reading a book on the beach! And while I was listening to a seminary about “gestión publica” in Oliva, Karine discovered the city of Gandia, where she bought a pair of shoes for €10 on sale. Yeah! That’s life I suppose… 😉

Helaas kwam dan het minder leuke stukje: ik moest naar school vertrekken, en dus pikte ik mijn schooltasje op thuis en ging ik omstreeks 15u naar de les. Ik gaf Karine mijn sleutel even zodat zij kon kiezen wat ze terwijl deed… Om 19u zouden mijn lessen gedaan zijn. Terwijl ik dus in de Franse les weeral meer Spaans dan Frans bijleerde, zat Karine een boek te lezen op het strand! En terwijl ik luisterde naar een seminarie over de “gestión publica” in Oliva, ging Karine op verkenning in het stadje van Gandia, waar ze een paar schoenen voor €10 in de solden op de kop tikte. Tsjah! Dat is het leven zeker. 😉 Karine 114 After school I saw her back in the appartment and we made ourselves ready to go for dinner outside. I hadn’t done that a lot since I was here so I asked my Polish friend Ula for advice. She would go with us for dinner, so that way my friends get to know each other too, in stead of hearing about eachother all the time…

’s Avonds zagen we mekaar terug in het appartement en maakten we ons klaar voor een etentje buitenshuis. Dat had ik zelf ook nog niet vaak gedaan hier dus vroeg ik mijn Poolse vriendin Ula om raad. Zij zou ons dan ook vergezellen zodat mijn twee vriendinnen mekaar ook eens leerden kennen, in plaats van altijd over mekaar te horen vertellen…  Karine 127 We ended up in a supernice fish restaurant near the port and probably we had some of the best paellas in Valencia and surroundings, and we enjoyed the good life and a bottle of Cava. Oooh, I repeat it, life can be good here!!! 😉

We eindigden in een supergoed visrestaurantje nabij de haven waar ze hoogstwaarschijnlijk één van de beste paëlla’s in Valencia en omstreken maken, en genoten van het goede leven en een flesje Cava. Oooh, ik herhaal het, wat kan het hier toch zalig zijn! 😉 Karine 129 After dinner we decided to drink a coffee at Ula’s place, but on our way we bumped into a spontanuous party on a terrace with great atmosphere and silly music: we decided to stay and drink something here, and enjoyed the presence of some weird but funny people that danced around all the time. Very nice to end the day like this!

Na het diner besloten we om bij Ula thuis een koffietje te gaan drinken, maar onderweg naar haar thuis stuitten we op een terrasje met een super-sfeer en live muziek: we besloten om dus hier maar iets te drinken en genoten van de aanwezigheid van enkele goedgeluimde dorpszotten die hier hun energie openlijk weg wisten te dansen. Heerlijk om naar te kijken en de perfecte afsluiter van een geslaagde dag! Karine 130 (I’m sorry my friend but I had to post this picture on my blog. Hahahahaaha, couldn’t stand the feeling… 😉 )

Saturday >>> Zaterdag

Logically as it is, the morning went slow and difficult after going out that late on friday, and the weather was not helping us either. It was almost storming with strong breeze and tick raindrops. Good that we went to Valencia today, Karine and I. Hopefully the weather was better there! We took the train that brought us in 55 minutes to the center of Valencia.

Logischerwijs verliep de ochtend wat moeizamer na een laat avondje uit op vrijdag, en ook het weer wilde niet echt mee. Het stormde als het ware met sterke windstoten en dikke regendruppels tot gevolg. Goed maar dat we richting Valencia vertrokken, Karine en ik. Hopelijk was het daar beter weer! We namen de trein die ons in 55 minuten in de kern van het historische stadscentrum bracht. Karine 133 Around noon we walked with our luggage through the center, in search of our hotel where we would stay 2 nights. We drank some coffee, and ate “Churros con Chocolate”. That couldn’t be missing on our trip! And I found it funny how the most tourists don’t like to drink this tick chocolate milk because it is too strong, but I just love it! Just as the mopping in the house here, I like to clean this way more than our silly Belgian way! Hahaha, Viva España!

Omstreeks 12 uur ’s middags wandelden we dus met onze bagage door het centrum, op zoek naar het hotelletje dat we voor 2 nachten hadden geboekt hier. We dronken nog een koffietje, en aten – op mijn aandringen – nog ergens “Churros con Chocolate”. Dat mocht niet ontbreken op deze trip! En ik blijf het grappig vinden hoe de meeste niet-Spanjaarden de dikke chocoladepap weigeren op te drinken omdat het veel te sterk is, maar ik vind het heerlijk! Net zoals dweilen met de Spaanse mopper-stok (hoe noem je dat eigenlijk deftig?): ik vind dat véél beter en aangenamer dan onze Belgische dweil rond een aftrekker. Misschien was ik wel een Spaanse in een vorig leven ofzo?! Hahaha. Viva España! Karine 136 Next we walked further to our hotel, where we were very suprised to have a balconny too. Beautiful building, not supercheap but very nice to stay in a princess-bed again: giant, fluffy, soft, good bottom, a lot of pillows and extremely white sheets. Hmmm!

Vervolgens liepen we richting hotel, waar we zeer blij waren met onze kamer mét balkonnetje. Prachtig gebouw, niet supergoedkoop maar wel leuk om nog eens in een prinsessenbed te kunnen slapen: groot, heel donzig en zacht, goede matras, veel kussens en krakende witte lakens. Hmmm! Karine 138 After checking in and looking at our pretty hotel room in hotel ‘Ad Hoc Monumental’ it was time to explore the city: we only had 2 days to see Valencia and so we were planning to see the historical part today + doing some shopping, and on sunday we would see the modern part and do some terraces and relax.

Na dat inchecken en bewonderen van ons charme-hotel “Ad Hoc Monumental” was het tijd voor dé grote City-Tour: we hadden maar 2 dagen om Valencia te zien en dus was het plan min of meer om vandaag het historische stadscentrum te zien + een beetje te gaan shoppen, en morgen (zondag) het moderne gedeelte te bezoeken en wat te terrassen.

Karine 171

We walked first back to Plaza de la Virgen, where we took a look at the Cathedral. After that we wanted to lunch and so we ate a perfect pasta for €8 somewhere near the cathedral, and again: on a terrace. The weather was different fortunately in Valencia, but the temperatures were still very low comparing to other days.

We wandelden dus eerst terug naar Plaza de la Virgen, waar de een kijkje namen in de Kathedraal. Daarna beseften we dat we wel eerst moesten lunchen en aten we een ongelooflijk pasta’tje voor €8 met zicht op de kathedraal, en wederom: op een terrasje. Het weer was dus gelukkig wat beter in Valencia, maar de temperaturen waren wel aanzienlijk gezakt tegenover de vorige dagen.

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After lunch we headed for Mercado Central, a big marketplace where everything is sold in the ‘authentic way’… But unfortunately it was closed at this time of the day (it was 2.30PM already) and the market was during the morning.

Na de lunch trokken we richting Mercado Central, een grootse overdekte markt met alle mogelijke koopwaren die er verhandeld worden op “authentieke wijze”… Maar helaas was het handelen op dit uur al afgelopen (het was al 14.30u ofzo) en de markt was ’s ochtends.

Karine 202

On the opposite site of the street we visited La Lonja, a very important silk house in history of Spain, I suppose. It is also one of the better examples of gothic architecture in Europe.

Aan de overkant van de straat bezochten we La Lonja, een belangrijk zijdehuis uit de geschiedenis. Het is tevens een van de mooiste voorbeelden in Europa van gotische architectuur.

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Our trip continued with a walk via the more busy are around Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where we saw the cityhall.

Onze tocht vervolgde met een bewondering van het drukkere Plaza del Ayuntamiento, waar we het stadshuis bewonderden.

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After some searching and discussing where we had to go, we finally found the Ceramic Museum, with a very special frontdoor. We took a look inside this baroque palace and continued the citytour.

Daarna was het even zoeken en overleggen, waar we net heen moesten… Maar we vonden uiteindelijk toch vrij eenvoudig het Keramiekmuseum, met een wel heel speciale gevel. We namen een kijkje binnenin dit barokke paleis en zetten vervolgens onze tocht verder.

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Now that we had seen all the important highlights, it was time for shopping! Herefor, we headed to the neighborhood around Mercado de Colon, also a very nice building.

Nu we alle belangrijke highlights hadden gezien, was het tijd voor shopping! Hiervoor trokken we naar de buurt rond de Mercado de Colon, ook nog een heel mooi gebouw.

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After all that shopping, and not too many purchases (good for my budget!), we were exhausted. We walked back to the hotel for a late siesta and a refreshing shower.

Na heel wat gewinkel, en al bij al weinig aankopen (goed voor mijn budget!), waren we uitgeteld. We wandelden terug naar het hotel voor een late siësta en een verkwikkende douche.

But that last topic got a different effect: when Karine stepped out of the shower, some water flowed to the river and she slipped. She felt forward and couldn’t grip to anything, and so she felt on her cheek. First I kind of laughed with it, because it looked so dumb and silly?! But after less than 5 minutes her cheek got very tick, it was a bump I had never seen before… And so I asked the receptionist to call a doctor for us. But they took it seriously and send us an ambulance, which made us end up in the hospital of Valencia. They decided there to make some photos of her hand, cheek and neck. And they controled if she didn’t have a concussion. The conclusion was that she should go to the hospital in Belgium as soon as she got back to do further tests on this cheek, because they couldn’t see it really, but they thought it was not broken. She just got a lot of medicins to stop the pain and stuff, and every 10 minutes she had to put ice on it. And she had to rest a lot of course!

Dat laatste kreeg een andere uitwerking: toen Karine uit de douche stapte, was er water langs het douchegordijn naar de marmeren vloer gestroomd en schoof ze uit over deze vloer. Ze viel naar voren omdat ze haar niet meer kon vastgrijpen, en viel recht op haar kaak. Eerst lachtte ik het een beetje weg, want ja, dat is grappig en dom gedaan, toch?! Maar na amper 5 minuten werd de kaak ongelooflijk dik, het was een bult die ik nog nooit had gezien… En dus vroeg ik aan de receptie om een dokter te sturen. Maar die namen het ernstig en zenden ons een ambulance, waardoor we nog geen half uur later in het ziekenhuis van Valencia op de spoedafdeling belandden. Men besloot er om platen te nemen van haar verstuikte hand, dikke kaak en geraakte nek. En ze controleerden ook uitvoerig of ze zeker geen hersenschudding had. Het verdict luidde dat ze in België zo snel mogelijk terug naar het ziekenhuis zou gaan voor verder onderzoek van die kaak, omdat ze dat niet konden zien, maar ze dachten dat het niet gebroken was. Ze kreeg nog veel pijnstillers en moest elke 10 minuten ijs op haar verdikte kaak houden. En goed rusten natuurlijk!

That was inmediatelly the end of the night, and all the pleasure seemed to be really far that moment. It became a long, sleepless and sad night, with a lot of ice…

Dat was meteen het einde van de avond, en heel wat plezierige gevoelens smelten als ijs voor de zon. Het werd een lange, slapeloze en droevige nacht, met veel ijs enzovoorts.

SUNDAY >>> ZONDAG

Fortunately Karine felt a little bit better, and we could enjoy the breakfast in the hotel. We were very hungry after this last evening without dinner. After breakfast Karine rested some more, and I saw how every hour of the day the color of her cheek changed from blue, to purple, to brown, to … We slept some more until 3PM. I have to say that I used this ocassion to sleep and rest a lot too, because it had been busy times since I was here. In that way, it was like an opportunity to me.

Gelukkig voelde Karine zich een beetje bekomen van het ongeval, en konden we samen van het heerlijke ontbijtje gaan genieten in het hotel. We hadden wel honger na een avond zonder diner. Na het ontbijt rustte Karine opnieuw wat verder, en ik keek toe hoe elk uur van de dag de kleur van haar kaak veranderde van blauw, naar paars, naar bruin, naar … We sliepen dus maar wat verder tot ongeveer 15u. Ik moet zeggen dat ik van deze gelegenheid ook wel genoot om eens bij te slapen en uit te rusten, want het waren al drukke tijden geweest sinds ik hier was. Ik had er dus al bij al “geluk bij een ongeluk” door.

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After al this resting, and talking in bed, we decided to take a break and go to the modern part of the city. We should take the bus uptil there, and if Karine felt very bad suddenly, we would take the taxi back. Good plan! We walked relaxed through “La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” where we looked at the marvelous buildings. And we took a lot of photos.

Na al het gerust, en gebabbel in bed, besloten we om even naar het moderne stadsdeel te gaan. We zouden de bus nemen tot daar, en als Karine zich plots heel slecht voelde, zouden we de taxi terug nemen. Goed plan! We wandelden dus op het gemak door “La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” met allerlei prachtige gebouwen. En we namen heel wat foto’s.

Karine 307

I also took photos from Karine in a way you could not really see that she had something going on at her cheek-area, because she was wearing big sunglasses so people would not be scared of her. Hahaha, she looked like a victim of domestic violence!

Ik nam ook foto’s van Karine op zo’n manier dat je bijna niet kon zien dat er iets aan haar kaak / oog was, want ze had ook een zonnebril opgezet om de mensen niet af te schrikken. Hahaha, ze leek wel een slachtoffer van huiselijk geweld!

Karine 375 Karine 397 Karine 406 Karine 402

The sun was shining and it was enjoying. Karine felt a little bit better and we didn’t have to take the taxi back. On the contrary: we took the bus back towards the historical part of town and had lunch in a local tapabar! With sunglasses on, the whole time… 😉

Het zonnetje scheen en het was genieten. Karine voelde zich een beetje beter en we hoefden zelfs geen taxi terug te nemen. Integendeel: we namen de bus terug richting historisch stadscentrum en lunchten in een plaatselijke tapabar! Mét zonnebril op, de hele tijd… 😉

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When we walked back to the hotel there were a lot of people on the street, and apparently today was the beginning of “Las Fallas”, which supposed to start somewhere in March…? But anyway, from our balcony I could enjoy music, firework and festivities while Karine rested some more. Around 9PM we went to another tapabar in town, a little bit hidden in a small street but really worth searching for it: La Bodeguilla del Gato. And it became a late night with too much food, drinks and deep conversations, like only Karine and I can hold them together. Even on our way back to the hotel and in our pyjama’s in bed we kept on talking, until we finally felt asleep at 2AM in the night…

Toen we terug naar het hotel wandelden waren er heel wat mensen op de straat te bespeuren, en blijkbaar was vandaag al een startfeest van de befaamde “Fallas”, die normaal gezien ergens in maart plaatsvinden. Vanop mijn balkon genoot ik dus van muziek, vuurwerk en feestgevier terwijl Karine nog wat verder ruste. Omstreeks 21u trokken we naar wellicht een van de beste tapabars in de stad, een beetje verdoken in een steegje maar écht wel de moeite: La Bodeguilla del Gato. En het werd een avond met veel te veel eten, drinken en diepgaande gesprekken, zoals alleen Karine en ik die samen kunnen voeren. Zelfs op weg naar het hotel terug en in onze pyjama’s in bed bleven we praten, tot uiteindelijk om 2u ’s nachts ons lichtje uitging…

MONDAY >>> MAANDAG

Around 10AM I had to say goodbye to Karine. We had to take each our own way: I had to go to Gandia and she to Belgium. And I was thinking that not only these roads went in opposite directions. Miles between persons shouldn’t make difference in friendship or soulmate-relationships, but the story and the history we would be writing, was totally different from now on. And that’s a good thing, because every person has its own path with its own lessons to learn. And we both know: this is only the beginning, there will happen a lot of things in the next 4 months that we won’t see each other. Time will fly anyway and we still have Skype to talk, but anyway…

Om 10 uur ’s ochtends nam ik afscheid van Karine. We moesten elk onze eigen weg op: ik richting Gandia en zij richting België. En ik bedacht me dat het ook figuurlijk een andere weg was die we namen. Kilometers tussen beiden maken geen verschil in vriendschap of zielsverwantschap, maar het verhaal en de geschiedenis die we gaan schrijven, lopen wel uit mekaar. En dat is goed, want ieder mens heeft zijn eigen pad met zijn eigen lessen om te leren. En we weten allebei: dit is nog maar het begin, er zal veel gebeuren in de 4 maanden die we mekaar niet zullen zien, al zal het natuurlijk wel voorbij vliegen en is er ook nog Skype om te babbelen. Maar toch…

We are curious and impatient, but also full of trust and thankfulness: because what will come next, is very promising and powerful. I know that I won’t be the same person anymore when I will return to Belgium. And for the first time here and now, I realised that by saying goodbye to my friend…

We zijn nieuwsgierig en vol ongeduld, maar ook vol met vertrouwen en dankbaarheid: want wat nog komen zal, is veelbelovend en krachtig. Ik weet dat ik niet dezelfde persoon zal zijn dan die ik was voor ik vertrek. En voor het eerst besefte ik dat hier en nu, door mijn beste vriendin vaarwel te zeggen…

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Friendship has limitations too, not only geographical. It is time now to develop myself in a way that will effect our friendship too. And that is exciting, also a little bit scarrying. But it must and will happen, because Erasmus to means a lit bittle living on the edge. Learning to experience and play with my personal boundaries, how to expand and broaden them. There is a quote that is really one of my favourites and it describes it so well in just one sentence: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.

Vriendschap heeft ook grenzen, niet alleen geografische. Het is nu tijd om mijzelf verder te ontplooien op een manier die ook onze vriendschap zal beïnvloeden. En dat is spannend, een beetje beangstigend. Maar het moet en zal gebeuren, want Erasmus is voor mij een beetje leven op de grens. Leren aftasten waar mijn persoonlijke grenzen liggen, hoe ik ze kan verruimen en verbreden. Zoals één van mijn favoriete uitspraken luidt en zo mooi beschrijft in slechts één zin: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Het leven begint bij het einde van je comfort-zone.)

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And it is so true! Belgium and my whole life up there was my comfort zone, my regular excistence with my familiar friends and places. Here every day brings something new and challenging, every moment gives opportunities and chances that sometimes seem to be treaths, but every day I grow as a person. I grow, I change, I am happy, I laugh and I am thankful… Thankful to the European Union to give me Erasmus! 🙂

Dat klopt! België en mijn leven daar was mijn comfortabele zone, mijn vertrouwd bestaan met mijn bekende vrienden en plaatsen. Hier is elke dag iets nieuws en uitdagend, elke moment geeft kansen die soms ook bedreigend lijken, maar elke dag groei ik als mens. Ik groei, ik verander, ik ben blij, ik lach en  ik ben dankbaar… Dank u Europese Unie, dank u Erasmus! 🙂

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Namasté

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

I have found this amazingly interesting book, called “The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide” from Ted Zeff.

If you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP), you’re in good company. HSP’s make up some 20 percent of the population, individuals like you who both enjoy and wrestle with a finely tuned nervous system. You often sense things that others ignore such as strong smells, bright lights, and the crush of crowds. Even the presence of strangers in your immediate vicinity can cause you considerable distraction. You already know that this condition can be a gift, but, until you learn to master your sensitive nervous system, you might be operating in a constant state of overstimulation.

As an HSP, the most important thing you can learn is how to manage your increased sensitivity to both physical and emotional stimulation. This accessible, practical guide contains strategies to help you master this critical skill. Build your coping skills by exploring the books engaging exercises. Then, keep the book by your side, a constant companion as you make your way through your vibrant and highly stimulating world.

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?

  • I seem to be aware of subteties in my environment.
  • I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.
  • Other people’s moods affect me.
  • I tend to be very sensitive to pain.
  • I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
  • I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
  • I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by.
  • I have a rich, complex inner life.
  • I am made uncomfortable by loud noises.
  • I am deeply moved by the arts or music.
  • My nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to go off by myself.
  • I am consientious.
  • I startle easily.
  • I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
  • When people are uncomfortable ini a physical environment I tend to know what needs to be done to make it more comfortable (like changing the lightning or the seating).
  • I am annoved when people try to get me to do too many things at once.
  • I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.
  • I make a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.
  • I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around me.
  • Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.
  • Changes in my life shake me up.
  • I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.
  • I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.
  • I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.
  • I am bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes.
  • When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.
  • When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.

If you could answer more than 12 quotes with ‘true’, you are probably highly sensitive. (Test by Elaine Aaron, 1996.)

Find out more about this subject:

About the Highly Sensitive Person (YOUTUBE)

Slow down Society

Did you ever stop and stand still? While the world is the hunter, chasing all of us. Following us with what they call evolution and progress…

“This is not a race. You don’t have to run. You might even slow it down, take a look around, in stead of chasing everyone…”

I noticed that if I let the hunted feeling go, that I can ‘unpower’ the world, that I ‘overpower’ it. Because whenever the world stops influencing you, only if it is for a few hours or a day. There is space to make personal evolution. And there is time to make up a balance for yourself.

Yesterday, I took a bus and I walked through the city. Never before had I been looking so different to things and people. It was a long time ago since I was there. I saw that a lot of old stores were gone and a lot of new, fancy ones had appeared. They were obviously better, nicer and cooler than the previous ones. When I tried to remember which store that has been there before, I could not even remember. That’s how we, humans, are. Out of the eye, out of the heart. Admit it or not.

If we can replace something or someone for the better than we are like whatever. Whatever for that lost thing or lost person. Is that honest? What happened to the other person, to that other thing? We just forget and by forgetting it seems that there is not an issue anymore. I call it ignoring.

I think the world is moving too fast and I feel like I cannot withhold the world from doing that. But I do feel that I don’t have to follow. I feel like one of the chosen ones to argue with trends, new cellphones, cars, … The world offers you to do things, to have things, to buy things and even to be a kind of person, but the world, the society will never be able to force me, right?

And by that position I’m in, I create a distance. A distance between myself and the society I live in. It feels as if I’m not part of it sometimes. Because it is ought to have a driver’s license at my age and to go to all festivals in summer and to wear fashion clothes etcetera. You know, I would love to be part of something, I even long to it. Belonging somewhere to someone. But if it is this way, I rather am alone. Lost in society. The outsider. For the good, waiting for better. Only willing to change for the best. And then I conclude, I am not like the rest.

What about you? Are you like the rest? Why?