Before going abroad
The big decision
In my second year of school we had te choice to go study abroad. At first I thought 'O no, I would never live in another country for over three months'. But in the weeks after I started thinking about it. After that I decided to go studying abroad. My English is terrible so I couldn't go to English speaking coutries. Then I asked Harrie for some advice. He gave me the option of Vives in Bruges. That was an idea I really liked. So I decided to apply for this University College.
The University College
Vives is a University College in the beatiful city Bruges in West-Flanders. They have 13.000 students and 1250 staffmembers spread over 6 campusses. You can choose between 6 fields of studies. I have chosen for teacher training ofcourse. The international office here is leaded by Lien Grauwet (+32 50 30 52 33).
CC by Lotte Nieuwenhuis
Before I could start at this school I had to arrange some things. So I startet to fill in my application form. Here I had the opportunity to apply for a house too. I think this was the most easy way to find a 'kot' for €345,- each month. After filling in I had to sign, My home institution has to sign and than I could send it to Vives together with my registration of my home institution. After recieving Vives accepted my application form.
So the next step was to arrange my learning agreement. Not the most easy part. This had to be signed by myzelf, my home institution and my host institution. After a lot of emails it was good that I will follow the following courses:
1. Global issues and focus on Flanders and Europe (5 EC)
2. Social and intercultural competeces (5 EC)
3. A broad view on education in Flanders and Europe (4 EC)
4. Diversity in/and education (3 EC)
5. Digital media in the school (3 EC)
6. Practice in premary school (4 EC)
7. English (4 EC)
After this the next stap was to arrange the financial part. As a Erasmus student you are very lucky because you get a lot of money from the netional gouvernment and the European Union. This is €388,61 each month from the Dutch gouvernment and €840,- in total from the Erasmus+ project (EU). Aslo this was not easy to arrange. You had to fill in a lot of forms, a lot of signs and a lot of mails and changes in the DUO system. But when you do this correctly you get a lot of money.
After going abroad
I really liked the idea of going to University College in another country. What do they learn there? Is it different than at the KPZ? I think it is. But I followed an international programme (VICKIE), so this is not what the regulair students learn. But I liked it. We had a lot of free-time to explorer the country. In the courses we learned to work and discuss with people from another country. I didn't liked the content so much. This was a lot that I already learned in the KPZ.
The differences in culture between The Netherlands and Belgium are not so big. So culture was not the main obstacle. But there were a few differnces. For example the way that Belgians treat foreigns. They are not so open. I didn't felt so welcome. For example in my studenthouse. Luckyly I had some Erasums housmates, but the Belgians ignored us. They even spoke about us in Dutch while we were in the same room. Also in the shops they were not really welcoming. They were not friendly.
But luckyly I had a lot of Erasmus friends. The people that I liked the most came from Austria, Swisterland and Italy. We did a lot of things together. Such as visiting Gent, Brussels, Ieper (Flanders field), Blankenberge beach, Oostende beach, Hallerbos and so on. To meet people study is better I think. Because than you are in a class together with all people that are alone and want to meet new people. In the beging I was affraid that making friends would be difficult because you don't speak the same language, but afterwards I can say this was totally not an issue. Dutch people can speak English very well. And when you are not so good in English (such as me) you will learn it really fast!
On this picture you see me with my froreign friends (CC by Lotte N.)
Overall I learned a lot in this 4 months. Not only for being a teacher, improving my English or working in a Belgium school. But also for myself as a person in this world. I learned about making friends, living on my own and arrange things for myself. I went to Bruges as a teenager and came back as a grown up.
Benefits for my future teacher life
I think as a teacher it is imortant to go abroad. Than you can see how good the Dutch schoolsystem is. The differences between The Netherlands and the Belgian Freinetschools is not so big. But I heard about a lot of other systems. From Czech Republic till Sweden and from Spain till Hungary. And I think we don't have to complain. We get well payed and we have a good workcondition even we think we don't have it.
Changes in my future personal life
The biggest changes is for my personal life. I learend how to live on my own. I had to clean, cook, do the dishes, go to the washingsaloon, do the grocery. And everything by myself. When there was a problem, I had to solve it by myself. My perents were not there to help me. I also learned a lot for my social life. First I thought that it was difficult to make friends when you can only speak English, but as I said, you learn it really fast. And than it is easy to make friends, because everybody is there to meet new people.
Experiences in the practice
I also did one month of practice in Freinetschool De Tandem. This was a nice experience. It think the Feinetsystem is really simmilair to the Dutch Jenaplansystem. They work a lot together, planning is important and they also sit everyday in the cirkle. The big difference is the time that they learn outside the classroom. This were the things we did outside the classroom during my practice: biking on the playground, going to the libary, going to the swimmingpool, going on a camp, going to the glass-blower, receiving a correspondence class. A lot of thing as you can see. I learned that it not has to be so difficult to go somewhere. And the children really like it.
This is Freinetschool de Tandem (CC by Lotte Nieuwenhuis)
Things that you have to do in Bruges
Going out: Club Coulissen, Cafe Pick, Beercafe La Trappiste
Restaurants: Ribs & Beers, Ellis gourmet burger, Lilalou
History: Museum Historium, Minnewaterpark, Koningin Astrid park
Day trips: Gent, Brussel, Antwerpen, Hallerbos (in april), Blankenberge beach (by bike)
The beautiful Hallerbos (CC by Lotte Nieuwenhuis)
Now you have an impression about my 4 amazing months!
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