Be All There

Travel
IMG_5433.jpg

Grote Kerk, Breda, The Netherlands (July 2016)

“Wherever you are, be all there.”
– Jim Elliot

I have been fascinated by the beautiful church of Breda since I first saw it. It is stunning at all times of day and night. It stands proudly in the bright sun and even on gloomy, cloud filled days. I can even see from the window of my flat which is a treat. Today, I finally climbed to the top of the tower of Grote Kerk. I have been meaning to do this for many months, and I was waiting for the perfect day; though with a lack of time and a lack of sunny afternoons, now proved to be a good as time as any.

The tower is 320 feet in height and it is the fifth tallest church tower of the Netherlands. It was built in the late-gothic style as a church and city tower between 1468 and 1509. The main purposes of the tower in this time were to indicate special moments and events for the church through bell ringing, indicate the time, and give alarm in times of fire and war to citizens of the area. There are 287 steps up to the look out point. In clear weather, one can see as far as Antwerp and Rotterdam.

The views from the look out gallery were stunning. It was great to see my beautiful city of Breda from another angle. I’m still very in love with this quaint, Dutch town and I will be sad to say goodbye when the time comes.

(For those who may be wondering, it costs five euros for a guided tour to climb the tower. For more information, click here.)

Life Is A One Time Offer

Inspiration, Travel
IMG_5172

Netherlands-Belgium Border (July 2016)

“Life is a one time offer. Use it well.” 
– Unknown

This weekend, I was able to check another item off my bucket list! I cycled from my city to a small village in Belgium called Meers. The round trip was close to 40 kilometres and I completed this in just a few hours. Best of all, the weather has been finally looking up as it did not rain all afternoon.

The Grand Finale

Study Abroad
IMG_5087

ITMC Graduation @ NHTV Breda University Of Applied Sciences (July 2016)

My year of studying abroad at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences has been one filled with many firsts. Along with making new friends, exploring new campuses, and cycling to university as a daily routine, I learned so many new concepts and valuable lessons. My academic focus was mostly on international marketing, customer relationship management, travel photography, arts based tourism, and different perspectives of the tourism industry.

I am excited to announce that I received the best grades of my academic career while studying here, with a 3.9 of 4.0 GPA and a weighted average of 8.8. In addition, my independent undergraduate research about mapping the street art culture of Amsterdam has received a lot of attention. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, focused on International Tourism Management and Consultancy on July 1st, 2016. As my family couldn’t be present, some of my great friends came to support me which made me very happy. I have been lucky to be surrounded by some pretty amazing people this year.

IMG_5077

ITMC Graduation @ NHTV Breda University Of Applied Sciences (July 2016)

I am very grateful and honoured to have been the first student from Thompson Rivers University to take place in the new double degree program with this internationally acclaimed Dutch university. I have nothing but great things to say about my experiences here, and I am looking forward to meeting the Dutch exchange students in the coming years, as well as following future TRU students’ journeys exploring this beautiful city.

In the future, I will be spending my summer here in Breda and travelling through the Netherlands and Belgium. After my return to Canada, I will be travelling throughout Vancouver Island with my parents before finishing my last year of my Bachelor of Tourism Management degree at Thompson Rivers University.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this academic journey. You are truly the best!

Drum Roll, Please…

Study Abroad
IMG_4996

NHTV Breda University Of Applied Sciences (June 2016)

I am delighted to announce that this afternoon I completed the final step in my undergraduate thesis research. I defended my thesis in a room with two external examiners present and my supervisor with whom I have worked closely on this project with. I was nothing short of nervous, and I had been stressing over this presentation for some time, however, I received very positive outcomes on this project. With one of the top marks, my written work was given a grade of 9.5 and my oral presentation was given a grade of 9, which averaged out to a solid 9. This is considered to be very high, as an average grade is a 7, and 10’s are extremely rare. I was in shock with a huge smile on my face when my supervisor told me this news! (The smile is permanently glued to my face now, of course!) All of the comments were very good and it was commented that my excitement for my topic really shined through in every word. That’s such a lovely compliment. Wow!

Overall, this has been a fascinating process for me, to independently research and make so many connections in Amsterdam’s underground realm of street art. I have not spent this much time (nearly six months) focusing on one project, but it was worth every moment of it. I could not have done this without the help of supportive friends and family members, and all of the incredible contacts I have met throughout my research.

I will post my thesis online in the near future, after one last final review, so that everyone may have a chance to download and read it. Many celebrations will be had throughout this week, including a graduation ceremony with my fellow International Tourism Management & Consultancy classmates. Exciting times are ahead!

Growth Happens In The Valleys

Inspiration, Study Abroad, Travel
IMG_4456

Eygelshoven, The Netherlands (June 2016)

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” 
– Robin Sharma

Change is a beautiful thing. Really, it was a scary thing for me when I boarded a plane and moved to a country that I’ve never been to by myself last August. As my time is slowly winding down here, I can see such dramatic changes in who I am right now compared to who I was. It is a beautiful transformation to reflect upon. Now, not only am I totally content to not bathe for three days and go camping with people I’ve only just met… (see the post camping/music festival selfie from above), but I have learned how to love myself, make healthy choices in my lifestyle, find balance, look at everything from different points of view, and thrive in saying yes to new experiences. I’ve travelled, mostly alone, to ten different countries in the past ten months. I’ve seen beautiful works of art, both in museums and in the natural world, experienced many other cultures through food, language, art, landscapes, and mostly importantly, by meeting new people. When I first arrived in Amsterdam, I had never stayed in a hostel before. Looking back, I had no expectations on what was to come, but I am grateful for every moment and I wouldn’t change a single thing. Change, it’s a crazy, beautiful thing.

Happy Birthday To Me!

News, Study Abroad
IMG_4574

Birthday Girls! (Breda, The Netherlands, June 2016)

It was a great experience to celebrate my birthday abroad with friends from around the world. I felt the love from my friends and family back home, and I know that I’m simply blessed to know so many incredible human beings. My friend, Dominika, who is from Poland, also celebrated her birthday in the same week as I did. In this photo, we are holding gifts that we received. Each is a bottle of wine with glitter in it to look like a magical potion. I’m pretty sure it’s too beautiful (and fun to play with) to consume. This past year abroad has been the best I’ve ever had, and while I am grateful for all of the good times and bad times, I know that my twenty seventh year on this planet will have even more adventures, laughter, smiles, tough lessons, and hopefully, a few surprises as well.

Video Blog – May 2016

Inspiration, Study Abroad, Travel

Instead of uploading photos and telling you about what I’ve been up to, I thought this time I would show you. In three minutes and forty two seconds, you will glimpse into a month of my adventures in Breda, Tilburg, Utrecht, Eindhoven, Den Hague, Kinderdijk, Gouda, Brussels, Sliema, Gozo, Valletta, Mdina, Rabat… and maybe a few other destinations.

“I had a dream so big and loud.
I jumped so high I touched the clouds.
I stretched my hands out to the sky.
We danced with monsters through the night.

I’m never going to look back. 
Whoa, I’m never going to give it up. 
No, please don’t wake me now.
This is going to be the best day of my life.”

When This Adventure Ends

Study Abroad, Travel

Hallo vrienden!

I was inspired to make a short film about my life here in the Netherlands. You can see a bit about what my every day looks like, from my friends, to transportation, to festivals, studying, arts and culture, and other activities. Most of the footage used is from the city where I live (Breda), Amsterdam, Den Hague, Utrecht, and Den Bosch. Genieten!

“When this adventure ends, your next one will begin.”

Kings Day. Best Day.

Events, Study Abroad, Travel

Kings Day is by far one of the best days to be in The Netherlands!

13091620_10156872116910215_1440828569_o

Kings Day (Breda, April 2016)

I was lucky and one of my very best friends surprised me with a gift for my first of hopefully many Kings Days to come. In the gift was assorted silly clothing to wear, all orange of course, orange tinted sunglasses, a crown, balloons, chalk, and tasty Dutch treats. For breakfast, we had a puff pasty filled with slaagroom called tompauce. These are decorated with orange icing especially for this holiday. Fun fact, there is a 600% increase in sales of tompauce on this holiday compared to any other day. I shared much of my candy and sweets with my room mates as well, and we decorated our flat with orange balloons.

The holiday is a celebration for the Kings Birthday, and all throughout the country there are city wide parties with a sea of people dressed in orange. As I mentioned before, I went to the 538 KoningsDag festival which amazing beyond my expectations. But in the city centre there were multiple free stages that people could enjoy and the terraces of many restaurants were open.

13120844_10156872116525215_1822113062_o

Sunset Over Eva Simon’s Set (Breda, April 2016)

The weather was not the best, with some rain, some hail, and some cold wind. But that didn’t stop anyone from having an amazing time! I had so much fun spending time with my friends and dancing the entire day away. Artists like Martin Garrix, Tiesto, and Hardwell perform all over the country with multiple shows. Martin Garrix performed around one o’clock, and unfortunately we missed him as we were waiting in line. After his set, he was off into his helicopter for another set in Amsterdam. Unreal!

I was the most excited to see Armin Van Burren during this festival as I had not seen him before. His music was great, and he played one of my favourite songs by Alan Walker called Faded. The ultimate highlight was seeing Tiesto and Hardwell (both Breda born Djs) perform at the same time during a rainstorm. Easily 20,000 people dressed in orange were moshing and thrashing to heavy beats, and cheering in the rain. Seriously, that’s a moment to remember! I am so grateful to be living in a country where there is such a prominent festival and electronic dance music culture. This REALLY is my kind of place!

There truly is no party like a Kings Day party!

 

Drink It All In…

Events, Study Abroad, Travel

As I wrote about before, Carnaval is celebrated all across the south of the Netherlands in early February. It is such a fun time for all ages! In each city, I think the celebration looks a little bit different and I’m told that the farther south one goes, the more intense the celebrations become.

On the last day of Carnaval in Breda, the Prince of Carnaval returned “the key to the city” to the mayor, and everyone celebrated by listening to the Carnaval music one last time in the main market square. There is a fun song and dance called the Polonaise which looks like the Conga to me. Every time this song played every single person, literally hundreds of people, started dancing in a conga line and singing along. Afterwards, the giant paper dolls were taken down from their perch at the top of city hall and hoisted upon a wooden bed. The wooden bed was paraded through the city centre with a marching band that played a light, fun version of the death march. Once the parade reached the harbour, the wooden dolls were attached to a floating crane and set afire. After a few minutes, fireworks exploded over the nearby castle. And that my friends, was how I spent the last wonderful day of Carnaval!

And here is some more footage from Carnaval. The costumes, the music, the language, the cultural shifts, the atmosphere… Drink it all in, ’cause it’s really amazing to experience!  And as is said for five days a year, here in this lovely country, ALAAF!

Ultimate Guide To Celebrating Dutch Carnaval

Events, Study Abroad, Travel

Guys, you have probably heard of the carnival that is celebrated in Brazil every year. Well, just in case you haven’t heard… The Netherlands also is known to celebrate this holiday! And it’s like North America’s Halloween mixed with Dutch music, Thanksgiving and lots of partying. (Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this.)

Carnival in the Netherlands is called Carnaval, and its traditionally celebrated in the Catholic region of the Netherlands in the south around the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg. Carnaval starts on Sunday and follows through to Ash Wednesday. Although, most students use this holiday as a reason to party and will often party every single night of the year. In 2016, Carnaval falls on February 7th to 9th.

Everyone looks forward to Carnaval each year. There are some people who take a week off work and school simply to celebrate! Dutch Carnaval can be confusing for International students on exchange in the south of the Netherlands. It’s up to you to make this week incredible, by stepping up, committing to the Carnaval spirit and going all out. By wanting to make it the best carnival of your life you will easily find other Dutchies also wanting to do the same. You can decide to remain clueless and remain in your home city, from the outside, you won’t “get it or “understand it”, but don’t be this person, jump in and embrace it!

So, here are some tips that I have learned from my Dutch friends on how to make the most of Carnaval.

  1. Embrace Dutch Music!
    I try to love Dutch music, I really do. But it’s hard when I can’t understand a lot of Dutch and some of the beats come across as very ‘cheesy’. Nonetheless, buck up, smile, and start listening to Carnaval music in advance. Try to learn some of the words. Get familiar with some of the songs. Every club, cafe, pub, and place you go during this week will be playing this kind of music. If you haven’t been able to learn Dutch yet this is this a fun time to learn some of the lyrics, the locals will happily translate them for you. They might go something like: “Have sex with a bald guy” or “There is a horse in the hallway”. Really random lyrics that are either dubbed over a recent chart song or a rip off of a German classic with a Dutch twist.
  2. Dress Up!
    Carnaval is just like Halloween. Do not be lame and say that you are not dressing up. Every single person dresses up every night with different costumes. Imagine going to a music festival like Burning Man, where people put a lot of effort into how they look. It’s like that – or even, like a Halloween party. There will be plenty of sugar skulls, pretend police officers, pirates, and other great costumes all throughout the city centre. A lot of people wear onesies. The whole point of Dutch carnival is to become someone else, let yourself go and have a great time. This is why all Dutch people during carnival will dress up in crazy costumes, the more creative and home made the better.

3. Do Not Wear Clothes You Love!
This is important. Do not wear shoes that you like. The floors of every cafe will be thick with gooey used drink cups. The coat check lines will be long. Keep it simple and wear a jacket that you can live without if its lost and prepare for alcohol to be split all over you in the heat of the moment. Go with the flow and accept that this might happen at least once.

4. Taste Local Beer and Cuisine!
Yes, local beer is delicious – like Heineken, Amstel, Hertog Jam, and Grosch. The craft beer selection in The Netherlands is even better. But don’t forget to stop and eat every once in a while. Dutch snacks are so greasy, salty, and mouthwatering. They are also quick, cheap, and easy to find. Sample a Frikandel XXL special, Kaassouffle, krokets, and hopefully you can find a loempia van for some authentic tasty spring rolls.

5. Buy A Dutch Carnaval Scarf
If you can find a shop that sells these orange and green scarves, pick one up. Often if a local cafe or club is really full, you can still be allowed in by the bouncers if you are wearing one of these.

6. Have Fun!
There is usually lots of great activities and events going on in each and every city in the South. Scout out what’s going on online or download the local city’s app with an agenda. There are often parades throughout the centre. Also, there is a ceremony where the Carnival celebrations start after the mayor symbolically hands over the key to the city to Prince Carnival. For three days, the Carnival Prince has control of the city and, together with his subjects, celebrates the temporary establishment of their Kingdom of Fools. Merrymakers make their way from pub to pub and greet Prince Carnival with three cheers of “Alaaf”. Also, it’s said that if you haven’t kissed at least one person during Carnaval then it wasn’t a Carnaval after all.

Two Degrees? Yes, Please!

Study Abroad
NHTV (2)

Attendees to the NHTV Double Degree Presentation on November 19th 2015

As you may know, I am studying in Breda for one year to obtain a double degree in International Tourism Management and Consultancy from NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences  (Netherlands) AND a Bachelor of Tourism Management degree from Thompson Rivers University (Canada). This is such an incredible opportunity to become a globally minded, academic professional with access to one of the largest tourism libraries on the world, internationally focused classrooms, and wide range of topics to study.

Last week, Dr. Scherf gave a presentation to seventeen interested leisure students from NHTV and I stopped by to help out. It was so great to visit with her and promote two places that I am very passionate about.

I am the first student representative from Kamloops, British Columbia to attend NHTV and I am what has been dubbed as the “guinea pig” of this new collaboration. If you attend NHTV or TRU and may be interested in this great opportunity to study abroad, please feel free to ask me any questions!  There is so much to do when preparing for this adventure, from visas and residency permits to financial planning and medical preparations. I am more than happy to share my personal experiences with you. Definitely check back here as well, as this blog is meant to be a way of sharing what I have been up to throughout my time in the Netherlands.

 If you would like to learn more about earning a double degree, see here.

Sinterklaas Parade

News, Travel
DSC_2329 (2)

The Arrival of Sinterklaas (Breda, The Netherlands, December 2015)

Sinterklaas is a tradition that the Dutch celebrate dating back hundreds of years. This is a holiday that is celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on December 5th (stay tuned for more!), which is also the night before Saint Nicholas Day. He is well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao.

Sinterklaas is very similar to Santa Claus in North America, although he has a different story. He is a bishop who arrives on a boat from Spain with his helpers, Zwarte Peites (or Black Petes). Together, they distribute gifts and kruidnoten, small ginger cookies that are also sometimes covered in chocolate, throughout the country to all of the good boys and girls.

Today, Sinterklaas arrived in Breda! A big parade was held in the centre of the city, with his big arrival at the harbour by boat. There was plenty of live music, dancing, free giveaways, and great atmosphere. It started to rain, but my friends and I still loved every moment of waiting for a glimpse of Sinterklaas riding in on his white stallion. The parade was great and Zwart Petes threw kruidnoten into the crowd. Many children were there dressed as bishops and black petes.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, the idea of black pete originates with the Dutch colonization in the Moors; however, this holiday tradition is not meant to be harmful to anyone in anyway. The United Nations even had a major discussion about in It is said that Sinterklaas’s helpers have black faces because they get so dirty while coming down the chimney. The holiday is full of good intentions, and while is a major topic of conversation for many, for me it’s just a different way of viewing North American Christmas traditions. When children grow up, Sinterklaas becomes a fictional character. One could truly argue that house elves, while fictional, also are slave labour after all! I feel that I am guest in this wonderful country and that it’s important to keep an open mind to new experiences. I definitely felt like a little kid again while enjoying this fun activity!

Read more here on this controversial topic if you are interested!

Intercultural Photography Seminar

Study Abroad

During the second to last week of October, I had my second seminar class called Intercultural Photography In India. This was a very neat overview of travel photography taught by Stuart Forster. He is a well known travel writer and photographer from North East England. You can check out this blog here.

I learned a lot about the basics of photography, how to set up the manual settings on a camera, and the industry of travel photography. Overall, this course was a neat opportunity to learn from a talented industry professional and to spend some time outdoors and be creative. For future students interested in studying at NHTV, I would highly recommend it.

For the final project, my task was to shot a series of photographs that could hypothetically used to market young Dutch students to the city of Breda. I have posted a few of the photos I used in my presentation, while I used some others that I have used previously in my blog – such as cuisine, and a few of street art in the area. I tried to be creative and photograph areas that Dutch students enjoy, including Valkenberg Park, clubs, shops and boutiques in the city, as well as major landmarks.

De Singelloop Breda

Study Abroad

De Singelloop Breda took place on Sunday, October 4th, 2015 in the city centrum. While I did not participate as a runner, I was able to watch from the sidelines. The marathon races took place throughout the entire centre and worked well with the existing infrastructure of following along the canals and streets. It felt like every one who lives in Breda was out cheering on the runners, and every street was filled with people. Some onlookers watched from cafes with breakfast or coffee, and others were right up against the fencing hollering and clapping.

The event was very similar to another annual race I have seen in Kamloops, called Boogie The Bridge. There was lots of community artwork to build a fun atmosphere, including many displays of yarn bombing. At many different pit stops, there were individual musicians performing, groups of drummers, and full bands on stages throughout the city. There were also different categories, including 5km, 10km, half marathon, and a family edition. One thing that I hadn’t seen at a marathon before was large scale screens promoting sponsors and participants who had finished the race with their numbers and times.

Check out the video below sourced from Bredase Singelloop’s website.

Graphic Design Festival Breda

Artwork, Exhibits, Travel
2015-10-04 04.30.53 (2)

Blind Walls Gallery In Mols Parking (October 2015)

From September 25th to October 25th, 2015, there is a festival across Breda focused around graphic design and digital art. Graphic Design Festival Breda is meant for contemporary creatives to allow one to view the world differently with a month of public interventions, exhibitions, talks, tours, and workshops in the city centre. This festival is offered every two years, and this is the fifth year that it has taken place.

 This past weekend, I signed up for a tour of some of the street art in the city centre. I still have yet to see all of the outdoor murals and pop up art exhibitions, so stay tuned for more photos. As part of the festival, many new murals have been added in the centre from international artists around the world. Several of these works shown above are from artists in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, including the same one who designed the famous Markthal in Rotterdam.

 I learned a lot about these murals, some of which I had already seen before, but now I have a deeper perspective on each one. For example, in the Mols Parking lot, this area has thousands of people buried below the concrete from the terror of the black plague in 1353. Much later on, a large circus was hosted here, with many exotic animals. This area is home to at least eight large scale murals. One of the murals (the one with the mice) focuses on a child’s perspective of the black death. Another has uses the subject of a circus theme to further develop a sense of place, and add to Breda’s unique history.

The orange one that features the words “Any day, Queens day” is a love letter from an American artist to the city of Breda. The smaller words across the wall are examples of why this artist loves this country, and shares a sense of pride for women, especially, whom at the time this mural was made, the Queen of The Netherlands. At present, King Williem-Alexander is the monarchical figurehead. There was originally another wall with more words, but the shop expanded a few years and had to remove a piece of the artwork.

There is another mural by an American artist, Mike Perry, in the same alleyway who uses a poem by Mike Nicolas as inspiration. The poem is a palindrome, so the mural can be read from left from right, or right to left, and have a different meaning. Very neat!

All of these murals that are outdoors and around the city centre are a part of the growing ‘Blind Walls Gallery’. From what I have learned, this gallery is building from the idea that Breda once had fortifying city walls, now fallen of course, and utilizes presently blank wall space to build up a new wall, new culture, and to bring new life to the city. I must also tell you about the Three Seconds Gallery, which is housed in an underground parking lot. In the entrance/exit of the lot, there are artworks lined up along the walls on both sides. Each individual piece of art has a motion sensor. As cars enter or exit, which in theory takes about three seconds, the artwork as a whole responds to the car’s movements. So innovative!

One of my personal favourites of the tour was enjoying the Open Submissions Gallery at Stadsgalerij, a pop up gallery for the festival. The title of this gallery is What Do You Do? All of the works featured here were sent in from artists and every day people around the world anonymously, and then selected to be put on display. The beauty of this, is that simply anyone, whether professional or not, could have their artwork featured here. The theme of the works was “What does a graphic designer do?”

One last neat thing I learned from this tour, that a fountain in Valkenberg Park I pass by often on my way to university has a special purpose. There are many famous people who have originated from Breda, and it is said that if one drinks from this fountain, they are destined to be famous. It is another way of looking at the saying, “There is something in the water.” I thought this was a neat tidbit of information that I otherwise would have not known.

For anyone currently reading this, I would highly recommend checking out at least one of the many events hosted by the Graphic Design Festival Breda. The tour I took is offered on Fridays and Sundays until the end of the festival and only cost five euros; which is very inexpensive considering the amount of information and the excellent experience I took away from this.

From an academic perspective, I am brainstorming ideas for my upcoming thesis project. I am thinking about using examples of street art to argue if this type of community can develop a destination. I’m still working on the final research topic, and if you, dear readers, have any insight, ideas on books to read, etc, please comment below.

Begijnof

Travel
DSC_0026 (2)

Begijnof, Breda, The Netherlands (September 2015)

Breda’s Begijnhof is a complex surrounded by walls consisting of houses and a small church in the center of Breda. The twenty nine houses are divided into two courtyards are grouped around a herb garden. Here is also a statuette of two beguines in conversation. It is located close to the Valkenberg Park.

The beguines lived here since the late 12th century as a movement of Catholic women who wanted to live a life of contemplation and prayer in chastity.

The beguinage established in 1267 on land that was donated by Henry, the lord of Breda. The beguines were mostly of noble birth. This first Beguinage was located at the present Castle Square in the Castle of Breda current Royal Military Academy. The foundations of which were laid bare in the late nineties and studied.

In 1525, Count Henry III of Nassau-Breda, Lord of Breda, decided to expand the Castle of Breda into a Renaissance palace. The Beguine had to vacate. In 1535, the beguines moved to its current location on Catherine Street. Here they were provided with the St. Wendelinus Chapel. Most of the houses were replaced in the 17th century.

Because of links with the house of Orange-Nassau enjoyed the Beguine after the Reformation protection of the Oranges making it the only Catholic institution in the city might persist. However, in 1590 the chapel was confiscated and converted into a Walloon church. This feature retains the building up to now. The beguines founded following two houses on the north side of the Beguine in the church. Only in 1837, the beguines could again have a real church, a small building in neoclassical style.

There is a museum near by that showcases more information about the nunnery. I enjoyed about a half an hour in this pretty little garden. Autumn is quickly coming and I embraced such a beautiful, warm day by spending it outdoors.

Sunday Funday

Study Abroad, Travel
2015-09-21 02.59.53

Mediterranean Dinner (Breda, The Netherlands, September 2015)

 The term ‘sunday funday’ rang true today, as after a relaxing morning, I joined my friend at a festival in Valkenberg Park. The entire park was transformed with a “grassroots” kind of atmosphere. The layout, stage design, and co-creation based artwork. This was the second day of the festival. Last night as I was coming home from the train station, I saw many boats in the canal as a form of a parade. It was quite dark out and the boats were illuminated with colourful lights and energetic people dancing to a different beat upon each boat. There were hundreds of people wrapped around the canals watching, dancing, and participating in the fun. Today, I had a chance to walk around the festival grounds and listen to a variety of music. Most of the music was in the Dutch dialect, but I enjoyed an energetic punk rock band call The Deaf. They are a self proclaimed speed beat band from Den Hague and were a lot of fun! There was another stage themed after the board game Candy Land with DJs playing electronic dance music and another stage in the centre of the park with more of a low key rock kind of groove. I heard from a friend that were was a silent disco party the night before as well. Maja and I tried a delicious treat called Poffertjes, which is like a small pancake with icing sugar and butter on it – YUM!

Later on, I joined many friends in the lounge of our building to cook a large, and very delicious, Mediterranean dinner. It was really lovely to spend time with friends, cooking (and dancing) in the communal kitchen together.

A Glimmer Into The Past

Inspiration, Travel

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”
– Anais Nin

Here are some historical photographs that I have found online of the streets here in Breda. It is incredible to think of the stories that these cobblestone streets could tell, if only they could speak. Or how many visitors may have passed through a door that would have lead to a cafe, a home, or even an inn over the years. Many of these streets I ride my bicycle along nearly every day on my way into the Centrum or to university.

Breda’s Love Locks

Inspiration, Travel
IMG_2820[1]

Breda, The Netherlands (September 2015)

“Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who isn’t from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.”
– Anonymous

In the photo above, you can see many locks on chainlink. I took this photo yesterday at the Breda main harbor, edging on the vast amount of bustling shops and moored vessels. I have seen this kind of activity before and I just had to capture it in a photograph.

In Paris, France, there is a bridge called Pont Des Arts. Tourists began putting locks on the bridge with their names inscribed or written on them as a sign of commitment to their lovers. The keys are thrown into the river below. This kind of activity began in late 2008, and has become very popular as thousands of locks are left here annually. Upon further research, I found images of love locks around the world. There is even several companies that inscribe specialty locks for this purpose. How fascinating! I also think this could be an interesting concept for further study in regards to environment and sustainability. It was so neat to see a small community movement similar to such a large French metropolitan city. This is just another amazing example of how awesome it is here in Breda!

HBO Intro Festival

Study Abroad, Travel
12003318_10156105073910215_2236896235913427462_n.jpg

Breda, The Netherlands (September 2015)

Well, I was told that the HBO Intro Festival would be great, but it certainly exceeded all of my expectations! For one night, the City of Breda and collective sponsors, host an annual open air music festival for all of the new (and returning) students during the first week of classes. There were four stages scattered throughout the centre with a variety of promotional businesses, food from local restaurants, and open bars. And the best part was that the entrance was completely free! Alcohol was flowing freely and guests were allowed to bring in their own drinks provided they put it in plastic containers at the security gates. The stages all closed by 23:00, as guests normally go to nearby clubs to continue the party. The festival even hosted five different after parties at popular clubs like De Boulevard, Proost, and Coyote Bar.

It was so much fun to listen to the awesome music and watch thousands of people having an incredible experience. I was lucky enough to meet a new friend who rents a flat above the Main Stage. The view from up there was incredible! I was thrilled to see the festival from awesome heights and sit in the window frame high above the action. During the last fifteen minutes of performances at the Main Stage, the famous DJ Hardwell made an appearance and everyone went absolutely wild! On my way home, I caught a few minutes of a video mapping project being projected upon Kasteel Van Breda. I must say, it is incredible to see so much arts, culture, and social experiences always available in such a beautiful city. I’m falling in love with Breda!

Exploring Historical Canals of Breda

Travel
IMG_2770[1]

Breda, The Netherlands (September 2015)

Yesterday afternoon, I joined some new friends on a canal tour of our lovely city. This was a great way to view the city centre from a different perspective. As with most cities in Holland, the canals surround the main city centre. Historically, Breda’s town limits used to exist within this area.

The vast history of Breda is intensely intriguing. With the name itself being derived from Brede Aa which refers to the confluence of the rivers Mark and Aa, this fortified city was a strategic military location and politically significant township. Throughout history Breda has been a fortified city and is named after the confluence of the two rivers flowing through the town. It has spent time under the direction of the Holy Roman Empire and in 1327 was sold to John III, Duke of Brabant. Following a string of exchanges the city of Breda came under the ownership of the House of Nassau. During the 1500’s the alliance with the House of orange saw the city develop into a major residential area for the wealthy.

Many nobles moved to Breda with the Orange-Nassau Alliance and build fine homes and gardens. In 1530, a fire destroyed 90 per cent of the city. During the Eighty Years War in 1581 Breda was captured by the Spanish who took out their anger on the residents. Over 500 citizens were killed during Haultpenne’s Fury. The Dutch reclaimed the city in 1591, however it fell under Spanish rule again in 1624, and this was immortalised in a painting by Diego Velasquez. During the English Civil War, Charles II of England spent much of his time in exile in Breda as his sister was the widow of William of Orange. The Treaty of Breda was signed in the town in 1667 which ended the Anglo Dutch War. Breda was taken by French Revolutionary troops in 1795.

In the Second World War, Breda was occupied by the German forces before being liberated by the Polish Army in 1944. To this day the event is commemorated and the Polish forces are remembered. Breda is rich in history and has many stories from its past to discover and any visitor to the city will find lots of interesting facts to discover. Learn more from this source.

Nowadays, it appears the canals are used for storage of privately owned boats and house boats, as well as fishing and recreational activities. For the next week, there is a sail in movie being hosted nightly at the harbour. The tour was hosted by a student club called UNICEF Studententeam Breda. This club mainly hosts events and experiences for students to raise awareness of the international humanitarian organization UNICEF.

Kasteel Bouvigne

Travel
image

Breda, The Netherlands (2015)

Kasteel Bouvigne is only fifteen minute by bike from my flat. I ventured here today and was happy to find the surrounding parks.

This area has a long history, although it is not possible to note how old the castle is and what it originally looked like. In 1554, it was mentioned for the first time in an official document: the will of the former owner, Jacob van Brecht. Until 1802, this area was called Boeve Rows. Historians believe this to be a derivative from the Latin word ‘boveria’, meaning low meadow. There are many buildings in the area, including the chapel, the coach, and the headquarters of Brabantse Delta Water. Visitors are only able to enter the gardens. I’m told that I will get over the novelty of old buildings, however, I find this hard to believe. I love learning about the history of an area and imagining what life could have been like.

Day Two

Study Abroad, Travel
IMG_2298

My First Purchase… Groceries!

Today was a day full of learning and patience. I knew I was going to have to be patient in learning a new language, the layout of a new city, and those every day tasks that one would normally not bash an eyelash at. I have now learned that I can be even more patient than I ever thought I could be, and even more grateful for the kindness of strangers.

For example, when I took the train in from Amsterdam to Breda, I had purchased the wrong kind of ticket. Instead of asking me to leave the train, the ticket checker guided me through the steps to get a new ticket at the next stop. When I was rushing to catch a train with two bags of luggage and a coffee in hand, a stranger helped me take a bag down three flights of stairs. The escalator was broken at the time and my bags kept falling down everywhere in frustration. I figured out how to use the city bus service in Breda, only because a kind bus driver pointed out the stops and let me know which stop is closest to my apartment. I found my way into the city with the guidance of a generous new friend who walked with me to my destination. I also was given a lift by a family from Luxembourg to my new apartment after picking up my keys. Without this random act of kindness, it would have been an hour and a half walk with my luggage.

If there is one thing I learned today, it is to remain calm and when opportunities present themselves, to say thank you! It was very rainy here in Breda. I achieved some big accomplishments, including grocery shopping, unpacking my room, signing my  apartment lease, visiting the student service desk at my school (yay, money!) and finding my way into the city centre for the first time. Tomorrow will consist of trying to find the nearest Ikea for household supplies and purchasing a bicycle… and exploring this new, wonderful city.

Every moment so far, I have found amazement by how big and beautiful our world is. And the Netherlands is so small… even smaller than I imagined. Today, every second was an adventure – no  matter how little the task.