A Travellerspoint blog

Another EiTB blog post

rain 20 °C
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On language and nightlife

There you go. I'll try to update this one soon!

Agur!

Posted by Sajeh 00:05 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

EiTB

sunny 26 °C
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Had my first day at EiTB today. It's huge and I will tell you more about it in my next post, but we already had to post an impression of our first weeks here.

You can find this here: http://www.blogseitb.us/

Also, on the EiTB site, they will frequently post links to our articles and blog.

Enjoy!

Posted by Sajeh 22:26 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

More arrivals and first classes

sunny 29 °C
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Epa!

Having two guys sitting next to us, playing football on the Xbox and not willing to go out tonight, Niké and I have decided to update our blog. In the past, I would've commented, no, sneered at the fact that they choose a video game over having a drink, but since a few days ago I won a game of NBA basketball from Koen (although half of the time I'm just pushing buttons at random) and I got all ecstatic, so I suppose I'm no longer in the position to ridicule their behaviour. Too bad.

So, last time I wrote, Michael and Niké hadn't even arrived yet and right now the apartment is already moaning due to their presence - just kidding.
They were supposed to arrive on Saturday evening, but they missed their bus from the airport in Santander to Bilbao - of course they did. When they finally got there, there were no more buses to get to Bergara so they had to stay the night in Bilbao. As if that wasn't enough, they also missed the first bus on Sunday and the next one left at 5 pm. So on Sunday, about 32 hours after they left home in Belgium, Koen and I got to welcome our two other roomies!

The apartment got a lot more crowded all of the sudden so to avoid the duties of tidying up, we headed for the Irish pub to introduce Niké and Michael to pinxtos and cheap wine. No better way to make someone feel at home right from the start! Afterwards we wandered the streets of Bergara until we bumped into a bar that has the potential of becoming a worthy favourite pub: pictures of David Bowie, The Clash, Bob Dylan and others on the wall and Delirium, Leffe and Duvel on the shelves. I'm all for trying as much of the local food and drinks as I can, but when it comes to beers, Belgium can't be topped.

Next morning: school! Oh yes, having spent a week in absolute peace I had almost forgotten that we are actually here for a reason. All of the sudden, there it is again: the alarm clock in the morning, going on and on until even snoozing won't shut it up anymore. Crawling out of bed, waiting for others to get out of the bathroom so you can throw some water in your face and stare in the mirror with the well-known 'dear-god-the-holidays-are-over' look in your eyes. Yippie-kay-yay.

Luckily, this first day of school was soothed by the slight excitement to meet our classmates. Only, there were none :-O. Ok, that's exaggerated; there are other Erasmus students, just none who study our program :). The only other Journalism student, a Norwegian girl, cancelled her stay at the very last moment.
But enough with the complaints, in total there are 14 Erasmus students - the others are all students of the education program. The first acquaintance was quite funny; it appeared that there are only three non-Dutch speaking students amongst us. There are four other Belgians (Jorge, Sanne, Evelien and Valérie), also from Hasselt but from a different school (KHLim), three students from the Netherlands (Corine, Nathalie and Dexter), a Danish guy (Morten), a Finnish girl (Tiina) and a Swedish girl (Feryal). It led to a lot of gibberish in Dutch, which is of course not fun at all for the other three and neither for me, because I really don't want to speak Dutch all day while I'm here.

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The Erasmus group (only Dexter and Nathalie are missing)

It's a fun group though, all very different characters, which is always interesting. The first day, we got a tour at school - an amazing building by the way; going back to Xios will be a major disappointment- and were introduced to some of our teachers.
Being a Journalism student has its advantages. These first two introduction weeks we have to get up early, but when they are over - I'm trying to withhold a giant grin - we only have to be at school at 12.30 pm every day, except for Fridays when we do our intern at EiTB. Then again, we can't complain about Fridays either, since we only have to begin at 11 am and - no more use in trying to withhold the grin, it's spreading from ear to ear - we get paid 300 euros a month!! That's a nice amount to save up for travelling next year :).
At noon, the four of us had lunch in Mondragon/Arrasate and I believe the guys - especially Koen - ate one of the most disgusting meat dishes of their lives - which made me feel all the better for being a veggie :). For more graphic and repulsive details you can turn to Niké :). In the afternoon, Joxe Aranzabal, our Media teacher, took us on a tour through the city.

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School building

Ok, to summarize the rest of the week: on Tuesday we had our first two real classes, on the Basque culture and afterwards the whole group was invited to have lunch at Nathalie and Dexter's place. Morten suggested to go surfing this weekend, so I think everyone will head to Zarautz beach on Saturday. In the evening I decided to cook and ended up spending about two hours in the kitchen making gratin dauphinois and fried egg plant and - yes mother, father, it's true - actually succeeded (apart from a hair that turned up in Michael's portion).
On Wednesday our schedule promised us a 'tour of the local beauty spots', so Joxe and Txema (the international coordinator) guided us through this area of the Basque Country and it was definitely worth it. Amazing views, warm weather, a beautiful lake - woot!
Michael had gotten sick though, so he couldn't join us for two days. Judging from the wild gestures and questionable sounds he was just making during his Xbox session, I'd say he feels a bit better now.

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Dinner's served!

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Today at school we had two more classes on Basque Media and Culture. The group had planned to meet up tonight for some pinxtos in Arrasate, but since we live in Bergara and don't have a car, we couldn't make it. Sleeping over was no option either; we have to get up pretty early to leave for Bilbao.
Koen, Niké and I went to Vitoria-Gasteiz this afternoon. It's the capital of Euskadi, which comprises the provinces Biskaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba. We were only there for a few hours but it seems like a very lively and beautiful city and we will go there again next week.

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Vitoria-Gasteiz

So, that was about it. I think I'm getting the hang of shortening my posts. Let's hope it stays that way :).

Till next time, aio!

Posted by Sajeh 22:12 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Bilbao - arrivals - San Sebastian - departures - quests

And pinxtos

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Woohoo our internet connection has finally been installed! Hurray!

I'm yawning as we speak and I'd like to just go to bed, but my motivation to write something always pops up late at night. I'd like to tell you I'm not going to write as much as last time, but we all know that's not very likely.

So, where was I...

Ah yes, day two in Bergara!
Tuesday morning, we left for Bilbao and we ended up driving for over an hour because on our way we picked up two German hitchhikers.
My dad pulled over at a gas station and I saw two young guys standing there with their backpacks, so I tried to convince my dad to take them with us. Of course, he wasn't all for the idea, but when he got out to fill the tank, he got to talking with one of the guys and apparently changed his mind.

They had to get to the other side of the freeway so they could head in the direction of Zaragoza. My dad agreed to take them there, which led us passed Bilbao to get to a gas station at the beginning of the freeway to Vitoria, from where it's easier to get to Zaragoza.

It was fun really; we spent some time talking about hitchhiking and the trips we each had made, the obstacles on the way, and such. One of them saw my copy of the book Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer and we started rambling on about the movie of the same name and did so for most of the ride.

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After dropping them, we headed for the centre of Bilbao, to see the Guggenheim museum. Close to it we found a vegetarian restaurant and to my surprise my dad wanted to have lunch there :). Ok, it wasn't your cosiest place ever, but it was decent food for a ridiculously low price. We had four courses, a salad, soup, main dish and a dessert, and a bottle of wine for about € 12,5 each.

So, off to the Guggenheim! There it was, looming up in front of me, Puppy by Jeff Koons! YOU GOTTA LOVE THE DOG! How long had I been waiting to see this! Recovering from the amazement, I walked towards the entrance of the building that is indeed one of the most fascinating museum buildings ever. You just can't wrap your head around the architecture, and each side offers another mind-boggling perspective.

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I'm not going to discuss the exhibits and the permanent collection - I'd go at it for the next few hours - but one of my absolute highlights was the work of Richard Serra. The man has got a whole wing of the museum for himself! I find his work incredible and since until now I'd only seen it in outdoor environments, it was dazzling to see it in a museum. Massive!

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The permanent collection includes works of a lot of my favourites, such as Kandinsky (which is also my dad's favourite painter), Tanguy, Gris, Chagall, Pollock, Picasso, and many more.

I think we spent about 3 hours in the museum. By then we were a bit tired so we went to have a cup of coffee, again surrounded by pinxtos (seriously, putting massive amounts of food on the counter for you to grab without even having to ask, it's just tormenting. It's like they're all screaming at the same time 'pick me pick me!').

So we didn't see a lot of Bilbao, but my first impression is a pretty good one. We'll be there at least once a week for the next months so there's lots of time to discover the city!
Back in Bergara, I turned in early for what I had thought was going to be a good night's sleep, but I started writing the last entry of this blog, which kept me going for a while.

Next day, my dad and I took a ride to Eskoriatza, to my faculty. Eskoriatza is a small village, nothing to see or do, but at least the school building was quite impressive. We drove back and passed through Mondragon, where the main university is located and thus also where we will go if we want to go out or meet other students.

In the afternoon my dad went cycling and I unloaded my stuff at the apartment. Koen would be arriving at 6 o'clock in the evening together with Oihana and Eneko, our Erasmus buddies. I went to pick them up at the bus stop and finally met with Eneko, with whom I'd had contact for the last two months through Facebook. Oihana and Eneko are great, it was fun getting to know them and I hope we will see them a lot while we're here. They're very hospitable and easygoing.

Oh: I've got a Spanish phone number now, so if you would like to reach me, you can call or text on +34 689 63 88 93.

When our buddies were gone, I went to have dinner with Koen and my dad. The two started talking about football and the whole Wasilewski/Witsel-drama, sharing their different points of view. I suppose that's what you get when you head to an Irish pub with two sports addicts. Luckily, this time I had enough background information to contribute in a small way to the discussion, yay!

I spent my first night at the apartment, which was surprisingly good! In the morning, the three of us went to San Sebastian - Donostia in Basque. We drove along the coastline; this may be the most beautiful European coast I've seen so far.

In San Sebastian, we walked through the small streets and alleys towards the beach. The weather wasn’t on our side, but even on a cloudy and rainy day, it's still amazing.

Afterwards we ended up in - what else - another pinxtos bar. To give you an idea of how tempting these places are, take a look (and ignore the disgusting hams):

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Getting hungry?

In the meantime it had started to rain, so it wasn't possible to stroll through town (at least if you didn't want to get soaked). We decided to get a cup of coffee and then left, back to Bergara. Nonetheless, I like San Sebastian, can't wait to go back when the weather's better, which shouldn't take long.

Back home, we spent my dad's last night here in - surprise surprise - the Irish pub. The guy has become a pinxtos-addict while he was here. He hasn't eaten anything else this week and when he's not eating pinxtos, he's very likely talking about them :). We all turned in pretty early, tired from driving around all day and walking through San Sebastian in the rain.

So this morning, my dad left for France. I got up early to say goodbye - I have a strong feeling he will come back in a few months just for those pinxtos.
Today I was pretty lazy. I read my book for most of the day, until they came to install our internet connection in the afternoon. Also, our fridge is broken and hopefully we will get a new one by Monday.

In the evening, Koen and I went for a walk. I spotted a fence a few meters above the ground and I saw an opportunity to get on up there. Koen however :) told me it was too high and that I couldn't make it. Today he learned that I'm easily challenged and so I proved him wrong by climbing up there. On the other side of the fence there was a path leading up the hills, so we started walking up for about half an hour. The view was definitely worth the effort. The regular path down was a bit boring so I found a way to descend that seemed more fun. But oh, was I wrong, it was steep and there were thorns everywhere!
Result: scratches and itchiness.

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Further down, we found the gates to a park or maybe a private domain, it was hard to see in the dark. The gates were closed, we thought about climbing the walls but a police car drove by. We decided our next quest is to get in there at night :).

There, that was about it. I suppose most of you haven't even bothered to read everything :). Niké and Michael will be arriving somewhere tomorrow evening. Monday morning: first day of school! I'll keep you posted!

Cheers!

Posted by Sajeh 00:16 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad Comments (2)

First days

overcast 22 °C
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Kaixo! Zer moduz?

I am writing you from my hotel room in Bergara!

It's getting late and our days have been quite busy so far, so I'm going to give you a brief summary of our arrival here.

My dad and I drove to Bordeaux on Sunday. We left home at about 8:30 and arrived in Bordeaux (almost 1000km from Bree) around 6 pm. After we checked in to our hotel, Le Chantry, we took a stroll and had dinner in a lovely vintage restaurant. Mental note: Bordeaux is insanely expensive! Beautiful city though, a lot of amazing architecture and the streets are very clean - too clean maybe, I couldn't help wondering how much the city spends on keeping everything so neat all the time!

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Anyway, we had a good night's rest and got up the next morning around 8:30, only to find that my headphones were broken - which, in my case, is almost a life threatening situation. Luckily, I have a father who shares a love for music and who understood the deep pain I was in, so the first thing we did after breakfast was go to the Virgin store and make sure I could continue the day in peace, knowing that all my favourite tunes were available to me at any given moment. It's strangely comforting; I don't care how materialistic it sounds.

So, we walked the streets of Bordeaux until noon and then we drove the last 300km to Bergara.
We arrived there around 4 pm and of course everything was closed, we forgot about the Spanish siesta :). To clarify: stores here open in the morning, close around 1 pm, then open again at 4 or 5, and close again around 8 pm. I could easily get used to this rhythm - I love powernaps during the day :).

First impression besides the very warm weather (yeuy!): Bergara is beautiful!! It's even a bit bigger than I expected. The ancient centre of the village is definitely worth a visit; it breathes authenticity, if that's even a plausible expression. And another plus: mountains!! I've already convinced Koen and Michael to do a hiking trip someday!

Upon arrival we found a pub and had a cool drink outside. Oh, just a quick remark: what the ef is up with Heineken? Wherever you ask for a tap beer over here, they serve Heineken. I can't help being a bit sceptical.
After we quenched our thirst we walked around for a bit and we found the apartment building that Niké, Koen, Michael and me will be staying in. It's next to the river that flows through the city, amazing. We couldn't enter yet, but my Erasmus buddy Eneko had informed me that the apartment's owner would meet us at 8 pm. So we went to the tourist office to check for a hotel nearby. It's quite funny to be here as a foreigner, since we only speak a few words of Spanish - for now - and people here speak almost no English. The Basque language is incomprehendible. Interesting to hear, but it has the same effect as someone jabbering on in Chinese. I will take a course in Basque though; I really want to learn the basics.

My dad and me ended up in hotel Ormazabal, a very authentic and small hotel that feels very familiar. Imagine old and crooked wooden floors, ditto doors and beds (check the photo!). I love it :). Funny thing is, amidst all this, they do have WiFi :).

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So at 8 pm we met with the apartment's owner, Maite, and her family. She and her husband have two adorable Ethiopian children of four years old, which they adopted six months ago. It's impossible not to smile when they're around you. They walked us around Bergara, showed us the bus stop, which is at about five minutes from the apartment. Each morning we have to take the bus there to go to our university in Eskoriatza.
Maite told me there is a vegetarian shop close to the bus stop, woohoo! I like Maite :), she's also a vegetarian, she also likes to paint, draw and write (poetry, scripts, short stories, …) and she told me about jazz gigs in town :).
Apparently there is a painter's association in Bergara, she advised me to contact them.

More on our neighbourhood: everything is nearby, there are some really cool shops, we've got a CD- and bookstore practically next door and I think I saw a DVD rental machine in our street.
Then, finally, we went to the apartment :D. And it's nice! A spacious kitchen, a washing machine (no dishwasher, alas ;)), storage room, living room with dinner table, couch and TV, ... Our new landlady had even been so kind to put some beer and eggs in the fridge and some bread and cornflakes in the cupboard. A poster of Frida Kahlo is on the wall at the entrance :). Love it.

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We dropped all of our stuff and went to the Irish pub (yes, even here) to have some dinner. Over here, tapas are called pinxtos and they are delicious and not too expensive. Imagine the excitement: small dishes of delicious food for merely € 1.60 a piece and a glass of white wine for - wait for it - € 0.95 (no, your eyes are NOT fooling you)!! I do have to admit that these prices are among the lowest you will find here :).

While I was talking to Maite (some weird mix of Spanish, English and sign language), her husband told my dad the best cycling routes in the region. After dinner, since it was time for the kids to go to sleep, they went home, but we will see them again soon.

So, it seems I can't limit myself to give a brief summary… I'm going to save the rest for tomorrow or the day after. To give you an idea: we went to Bilbao today, picked up two German hitchhikers on our way, went to the Guggenheim museum and ate some more pinxtos :).
Tomorrow we're going to Mondragón and Eskoriatza, to see where I'll be studying for the next four months. In the afternoon, my dad's going cycling and I'm going to prepare the apartment, since Koen will be arriving around 4 or 5 pm (I think).

Next update will follow soon!

Bihar arte!

Teaser for the next post :):
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Posted by Sajeh 02:44 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad Comments (4)

First entry

Almost leaving...


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Well... I've always hated the first entry in a diary, a blog or any other kind of medium that asks for a brief introduction on who I am and such..

So I'm just going to skip that part, since most of you probably know who I am.

By now, it's most likely that you're wondering why I'm addressing you in English. For a few very obvious reasons:

There are some people who will read this blog and who don't understand any Dutch, and I don't want to deprive them of the joy of reading the - without a doubt amazing :p - stories which I will post on a regular basis.

Also, I'm planning on taking a TOEFL-test (an English proficiency test, since I'll be applying to some foreign universities soon) in a few months and I will do anything to improve and practice my English in order to get a good score. (I'm quite sure I still make tons of mistakes)

For those among you that have some trouble understanding everything, I'm sorry and you can always e-mail me if there's really something you need to know :). And don't worry, a lot of you will get elaborate stories on msn and through e-mail :).

So, the main reason I'm starting this blog is because this Sunday, the 30th of August, I'll be leaving to the Basque Country for four months.

While I'm there, I'll be studying Journalism at Mondragon University. My faculty is located in Eskoriatza, a small village close to Mondragon (Arrasate in Basque language).

I'll be sharing an apartment with three other Journalism students: Niké, Koen and Michael. We all study Journalism at Xios Hogeschool in Hasselt. Our apartment is in Bergara, a town which lies about 10km from Mondragon.

It's not that far from San Sebastian (Donostia), about fourty minutes by bus. And this is why that makes me very, very, very happy:

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More excitement: every friday we will work as interns at EiTB, which is the leading media group in the Basque Country. And, it's in Bilbao :), the largest city of the region and about an hour away from Bergara.

So, now you know a bit about my whereabouts in the next four months, and I'll keep you posted on our experiences!

Yes, I know, I haven't really given a lot of information on how and why, but I'm sure those things will become quite clear as this blog progresses. This is just the start :).

Cheers!

Posted by Sajeh 01:06 Archived in Spain Tagged living_abroad Comments (5)

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