Two months in and going home for a few weeks

I realised I haven’t written anything for a while.

Reason being there really isn’t that much to talk about, haha!

It’s been relatively calmΒ here at the university, I’ve been attending classes and wrote a few small essays, did a presentation with Ilonka on the Netherlands and we also represented the Netherlands in our international market last Thursday!

The idea behind this market was that the students who are in one of the Erasmus courses would set up an international market with as many tables with different countries as possible. We had the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Pakistan, Hungary, Czech Republic, Belgium and probably a few others that slip my mind at this time! There were games and you could try food native to that country at some of the tables.

Ilonka and I had to leave early though because we had to go to class. Children’s Literature! I can say that this class is hands down my favourite. The teacher is so nice and very enthusiastic and she listens to our own ideas and input for the class. We had to read a ‘classic’ novel as homework (Well, “homework” πŸ˜‰ ) and I read the Hobbit. I have seen the movies before but I wanted to read the book as well because I find that you will get some more in depth information about the world and story. We had to talk about the book we read and it was pretty fun. The rest of the class we had a look at picture books. Jane (our teacher) has really made me open my eyes and look at picture books in a different way. Everything about it tells a story, the shapes, the position of the pictures, where the text is placed, etcetera. It’s really fascinating.

I also tried the local fish and chips shop a while ago. One thing I’ve learned in the UK is that a large portion is a … VERY VERY VERY large portion. I got about a kilo worth of fries for two pounds, haha! It’s a shame they weren’t very good though, this particular shop prepares their fries beforehand and puts them in a bin so they can scoop them out later. I didn’t like it very much, it was very different compared to the fish and chips I had a few weeks ago at the international evening. So the search for a good fish and chips shop continues!

Other than that, I met a few people with the same interests (drawing/popular culture) and it’s been fun. I really appreciate having the Erasmus students around as well. It’s not always that easy here. I was feeling really down a few weeks ago but they pulled me through it, Ilonka especially. And I’m thankful for that.

In other news; I will be going back to the Netherlands for a few weeks starting tomorrow! My flight leaves relatively early (9:25) but I will have to leave my room early because it takes around an hour and a half to get to the airport. Who would’ve thought that despite it “only” being 11 something miles away, it still takes such a long time. But that’s okay!

I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends again, and this weekend I’ll be away with friends at a small convention! I’ll be preparing 160 wraps for the people there as lunch, so wish me luck..!

I will be updating my blog again once I am back from my little “vacation” πŸ™‚

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Two weeks in

So here we are, two weeks in.

Our introduction went just fine and I started my first weekend here. I had neglected properly settling in for the first few days because I was really tired (which seems to be a returning thing lately, I feel tired a lot more) but I spent Saturday cleaning up all my things, properly putting away my clothes and other belongings and installing my Cintiq (my drawing tablet) on my laptop.

The weekend went by rather quietly and calmly, I met with some other Erasmus students on Saturday evening and we played some card games in the Senses bar.

On Monday we had no classes so I decided to catch up with some art that I owed.

Tuesday was our first class, Short Fiction and it was really interesting. We have to read a lot of short stories but they’re all no more than a few pages long so that’s doable. πŸ™‚ Sadly our teacher was ill and by the time the class ended she pretty much lost her voice, so our afternoon session was cancelled. Ilonka and I decided to go to the ASDA (a large supermarket nearby). We found out later that it was actually storming. Something that I’ve really noticed when I first got here that there’s a lot of rubbish everywhere, you see plastic bags, bottles and cans all over the place and nobody bothers to clean it up.

Speaking of other British things, when we were in the ASDA we were kind of goofing around and playing tourist looking at all the food things available. One thing that stuck out to me was the fact that the British really like their baked beans.

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There was even more. I hate baked beans. :’)

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We also found haggis in a can. That was rather… interesting.

But the best part was that I found my favorite flavour of Bulmer’s cider, red berries and lime! ❀

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On Wednesday we had the day off, Ilonka told me that the other Erasmus students had planned to watch the first Harry Potter movie in the library together, so I joined in on that. We are free to use the classrooms whenever they’re not in use, so it was a nice opportunity to watch a movie together πŸ™‚

Our first Children’s Literature class was on Thursday and despite it being 3 hours long it was a pretty enjoyable session and class in general. The teacher is very enthusiastic and nice and we were told that we are allowed to pick our own title for our essay, so that’s awesome!

That evening was the fish and chips night, which was awesome! I quite like fish and chips. The British really have a talent for taking something so healthy and turning it into something so bad for you!

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Friday was our first Art class, but Ilonka and I soon figured out that the class wasn’t for us and so we decided to opt out of it and join one of the Erasmus language courses to keep our own English skills sharp. It gives us a good opportunity to practice our writing since we have to take an exam on it in June.

In the evening there was a Harry Potter themed themed party. I joined the quiz with Ann (my neighbour, she’s from Germany), Ilonka and Misha (An Erasmus student from the Czech Republic). Unfortunately we didn’t win the quiz but it was fun nonetheless. I chatted with some people at the party, watched Ilonka play Potions Pong (Beer pong but harry potter themed) and had an apple cider. I really like the fact that we have a bar here and that there’s so many events organised by the student’s union. There’s a lot to do and you don’t really have to feel lonely if you are willing to put yourself out there.

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I left at around 10:30 PM because I had something fun planned for the next day.

Exploring London

And so we get to Saturday, it’s 6:30AM and I am standing outside at the bus stop waiting for a bus to take me to Birmingham New Street. Here I took the 7:54 train to London. I was so nervous about this whole trip that I actually didn’t sleep much, if at all the night before!

Once I got on the train I found myself a quiet spot, put my stuff away and tried to get a little bit of rest. Alas, a group of ladies joined me and I was once again reminded of the fact that the British like to chat. A lot. I didn’t really mind though because they were nice ladies. One thing that you really start noticing is that the British use terms of endearment a lot. “Are you alright, love?” for example. It seems a bit strange to me and yet it feels reassuring. I rested my eyes for a little bit so I wasn’t too tired by the time I arrived at London Euston station.

In London I met up with a friend of mine, Kevin, that I’ve known on the internet for a few years now. He took me under his wing and showed me how the tube system works in London. It’s relatively simple once you understand how it is, despite it being a tangled spaghetti mess of tubes as Kevin so eloquently put it πŸ˜›

We had a cup of coffee and a snack at a Whetherspoons at Victoria station before he took me to St Paul’s church. I snapped a few pics of it at night, it’s an awesome sight!2016-02-06 17.48.23.jpg2016-02-06 17.45.58.jpg

I met up with another friend of mine from Norway who is also studying in the UK and the three of us went out for dinner. Kevin suggested we try out Pho, which is a Vietnamese dish. Basically it’s a broth soup with noodles and they fill it with all sorts of good stuff. It sounds a little boring but it’s really good! I can recommend it!

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Next time we’re in London, I’m definitely up for going back there! πŸ™‚

After dinner we went back to Oxford Circus and I said goodbye to my friend before heading off back to Euston station. The train ride home was pretty uneventful besides a few guys who were obviously football fans sitting close to me, and later on some ladies who looked like they were headed to a party got on the train. But other than that my trip went by smooth. I got home around midnight due to me not being able to find the bus stop home (it was a level above me which I didn’t realise at first) but I got home safe and sound. I dropped my things, skyped with Maikel for a little bit and then crashed in my bed and slept for a good twelve hours.

Today (Sunday) Ilonka and I went to the Aldi, it was kind of cool being in a place that’s so familiar to us! We made a pasta bake when we got home (which was really good!) and after that I played some online boardgames with Maikel and some other friends.

I’m settling in well here and finding my place, I was right when I said I had to actually make the step and go here. Some may know that I had a hard time leaving but now that I’m here it’s not so bad. I’m looking forward to seeing Maikel again in two weeks and in March I will be going home for a good two and a half/three weeks. I am looking forward to it already πŸ™‚

 

Introduction and the first few days in Birmingham

Hello everyone!

I’m Janneke and I’m a third year student at the HAN in the Netherlands. As a part of my teacher training course I have to spend a semester in an English speaking country.

I chose Birmingham as my destination, I will be studying at Newman University for one semester together with my classmate Ilonka. We travelled here together and so far everything is going fine.

If you’re interested in reading up on what I’m up to, feel free to follow this blog!

But first things first, a report on the past few days!

Day 1: our arrival

We got into a very packed car at 05:00 in the morning and left my home town of Veenendaal to drive down to Calais where a train was waiting for us to take us through the Eurotunnel. My boyfriend’s father graciously offered to drive Ilonka and I over to Birmingham, despite this taking him an entire day and of course my boyfriend, Maikel, tagged along as well!

We got on the train at 09:20 and we left at 09:50 only to arrive in the UK at 09:20. Weird, isn’t it? But then again the UK is an hour ‘behind’ πŸ˜‰

We arrived at Newman University around 1PM and got our rooms sorted quickly, dragging everything upstairs. Ilonka and I unpacked our things and quickly after that set out to explore the area to try and find a supermarket and getting lost in the process. We managed to find it in the end after walking for 6 kilometers! But it’s good for our health at least πŸ˜‰

I went to bed after Maikel called me around 22:30 telling me he got home safely.

Day 2: exploring Birmingham

The second day Ilonka and I decided to explore Birmingham’s inner city, I had read about the Bull ring shopping centre so we got on a bus and headed downtown. We quickly found the Disney store and the Build-a-bear workshop as well as Waterstones, which is a biiiiiig book store!

We had fish and chips for lunch which actually tasted really good! (Sorry, the Oxford fish and chips from our trip last year just can’t compare.)

I picked up three comics for Maikel (Blacksad) and got myself a Zootopia mug from the Disney store as well as bought a few gifts here and there. We got back to our dorm around 7PM and didn’t eat until later because we were both still full from our fish and chips lunch.

Day 3: introduction

Today we had our introduction at Birmingham and we met the other Erasmus students, a lot of students from all over Europe. Germany, Belgium, Austria, Spain and even a student from Japan!

A lot of information was given today, and even more tomorrow and the day after! We finished around 16:00 and I got some information about travelling around the UK. I’ve been considering visiting London while I am here.

Anyway, with this I will sign off. I’ll write another blog post when I have more to write about!

Cheers!

Janneke