‘Dreamnight’ in Olmense Zoo voor zorgbehoevende kinderen

De Olmense Zoo organiseerde op 2 juni naar jaarlijkse gewoonte ‘Dreamnight’. Dit is een evenement in de zoo voor alle kinderen tot en met 21 jaar die kampen met een fysieke of mentale beperking. Kinderen met een chronische ziekte waren ook welkom. Het park was toegankelijk van 18 tot 22 uur.


Exclusief bezoekje

Samen met hun gezin en eventuele verpleeghulp kregen ze de mogelijkheid om een avondje in de zoo te beleven, dat op dat moment enkel toegankelijk is voor hun. Hierdoor kregen de kinderen de kans om van een exclusief bezoek te genieten. “Dit evenement vindt jaarlijks plaats en wordt nu al jaren georganiseerd”, zegt Marie-Josee Hopmans, gids in Olmense zoo. “Vroeger was dit enkel voor gehandicapten, nu is het voor kinderen met een beperking.”

Gidsen en standjes                               

Vorige jaren werden begeleiders aan groepen toegekend. Dit jaar hebben ze besloten om gidsen te gebruiken. “Mensen kunnen bij ons terecht met vragen, een eventuele rondleiding of meer informatie”, zegt Marie-Josee. “We hebben nu ook verschillende standjes zoals een dinostand en grimmage-sessies.” Er was de mogelijkheid om naar de gratis animatieshow te kijken en iedereen kon ook een hapje en een drankje krijgen.

This is no goodbye, it’s see you later

I’m only three weeks away from leaving the UK and ending my Erasmus-exchange experience. The feeling I had in January about leaving my family and friends is coming back, as I’m now leaving the beautiful friendships I built here. Plymouth is a city that will always be in my heart.

Out of sight, not out of mind

Waking up to the sound of seagulls, having walks down the Plymouth Hoe and late night chats with my housemates. I will cherish the amazing memories for the rest of my life. I will miss everything I experienced here, even the lectures. They were so different compared to the Belgian ones, but yet so interesting.

Improving in language

I’ve learned a lot and it made me wiser, both the educational part as the language part. My friends noticed that my English improved and to be honest, I can feel it as well. Where I was nervous to start a conversation because I was scared to fail the language, I’m now much more confident and sometimes when I talk to my family through the phone, I tend to talk in English.


It’s been an eventful semester. Lots of laughs, tears and friendships. I met so many people and discovered a lot. Thanks to everyone who made this experience a time I won’t forget. My friends, my lecturers and most of all my mom, who supported me to go on an exchange.


Award-winning photographer Steve McCurry has got exhibition in Prague

Steve McCurry, known from the ‘Afghan Girl’, shows his photographs in Galerie Ambit, in Prague. Everyone can visit and see 107 large-scale photos and get to know him a bit more by information on the walls.

McCurry is known as one of the most iconic figures of contemporary photography. After publishing ‘Afghan Girl’ on the cover of National Geographic magazine, it became the most recognized photograph of that time and it won several awards. This photo is the largest shown in his exhibition.

Steve went to a lot of war areas such as former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. It was after several months of travel that he crossed the border into Pakistan. There he met a group of Afghan refugees. Emerging in traditional clothes, Steve made is way over the border. His images were among the first to show the world the brutality of the Russian invasion. He made his way over the six continents just to take photographs.

The exhibition can be visited until 28th May 2017.

When in Prague: first hostel-experience

Entering a room at night and already a few people are asleep. As my first time in a hostel I was quite surprised! I went on a media trip to Prague with some fellow students and we stayed in a hostel. This is what my experience was like.

New cultures

A hostel is the ideal place to meet new people, other countries, other stories. We met a married couple from Los Angeles, a backpacking girl from Australia and a French man who was there to celebrate his friends’ stag party. In the communal room we had loads of conversations and got to know each other’s stories. Meeting new people is not something you do when you stay in a hotel.

Although I slept in a bedroom for twelve persons, there is also the option to book a single or double bedroom with more privacy. I would recommend to stay in a room with other people, only then you have a true hostel-experience. We could store our valuables in a safe or luggage room.


The owners of the hostel organized several activities, from cooking to beer tasting. Again it’s an opportunity to get to know other people. Even though we went out for dinner every night, since it’s so cheap in Prague, there was also the option to use the communal kitchen. Once you get to know the other residents better you can start making plans together, especially when you travel alone.

Less privacy

When you need a lot of privacy, hostels are nothing for you. You need to be open and know that you are sharing a bathroom with a whole floor. People could literally see you taking a shower as the glass was transparent. No worries, men and women have separate bathrooms.

Although it’s a completely different way of residence than hotels, I would definitely do it again. Not only because of all the above, but because you can save a lot of money as well!

Innovative possibilities in Prague for deaf people

People on city trips are likely to do a guided tour, just to get more information and background. But what if you’re deaf or hearing impaired? Does that mean you aren’t allowed to receive the same advantages as people who can hear? Not in Prague, Czech Republic, as they do among other things tours for the deaf.

On the streets, at historical monuments, on boats,… It’s nothing new. A group of people guided by someone who does sign language. Not only guided tours, but also cafes for and by deaf or hearing impaired persons can be find in Prague. Ticha Kavarna, is doing a project called the ‘Quiet Café’, where all the staff are Deaf.

Quiet Cafe is a space where they can work hard and use their skills and evidence for themselves and for others. It also serves as a training environment, and provides support to graduates and graduates of colleges for their professional start.

They also offer space for deaf and hearing impaired artists to organize exhibitions, concerts and other cultural and educational events. The issue of the deaf employment in the Czech Republic is a very hot topic. Although the offer of academic and professional courses for deaf comparison with previous years is very extensive and diverse, only a few graduates find application in the open labor market.

London in all its glory

Being a Belgian exchange student in Plymouth finally gave me the opportunity to go to London real quick. Well, at least if you don’t travel by coach… It took me six hours to get there, even though London isn’t that far from the southwest. It was my first time in UK’s capital city, and this is my opinion.



As soon as we entered the city, it got busier and busier. More cars, more trains, more buses, more smell. In the beginning I thought the ‘city smell’ was only temporarily and in some bits of the city, but I discovered quite fast that it was everywhere. After an hour in London, I started sneezing and coughing. A lot. I never sneezed so much at once. This took the whole three days I’ve been there and it stopped from the moment I got back to Plymouth. I realized that the unhealthy air was the reason of my sneezing and coughing. I literally wouldn’t survive as a habitant in London because of all the air pollution.

Hurry, hurry, hurry

In contrast to Plymouth, everyone was rushed. Either they had to go to work, to get their kids from crèches or they just don’t like to waste their time. You couldn’t walk somewhere without being pushed or without being surrounded by calling, rushed people. In the underground everyone was hurrying up the stairs, running to catch their train in time, even though the trains are there every three minutes.


Where are the Brits?

Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely no racist. But on day one I discovered that my English was even better than the average employee in London. There were more foreigners than Brits and it was even exceptional when you saw some. I thought the employees in London were quite rude in general. And no, this has nothing to do with the fact that they were mostly foreign, but it’s just something that struck me. Even the employees in our hotel were rude in every way.

Gorgeous London

You might think I don’t like London, after you read the above. But you are wrong. Despite my previous irritations, the UK’s capital city is definitely a beautiful city. It’s absolutely a must when you are into city trips. Even though the city is quite expensive, there are some things you need to see when you are there. Westminster Abby, the London Eye, a boat tour on river Thames, the Big Ben, The Harrods,… These are only a few of London’s breathtaking attractions. So if you like a city trip and don’t mind my irritations such as the smell, this city should be on your travel list!


Animal Aid advocates veganism and animal rights

“Do as little harm as possible”

Close to Piccadilly circus in London, Leah promotes veganism and animal rights. Working for Animal Aid, she talks to people to convince them that animals have the same feelings as humans. She gives away flyers and makes clear that we should be more aware of animals’ feelings. “Animals need more rights, we forget that we are actually animals as well.”

Animal Aid

As the UK’s largest group, Animal Aid is also the longest established in the world. They campaign peacefully against all forms of animal abuse and promote cruelty-free living. Also, they investigate and expose animal cruelty.

According to Animal Aid, animals do not need the same rights as people. “The rights that should be accorded non-human animals are the rights not to be killed by people, except in their self-defence or to end severe suffering that would otherwise continue.” They think that freedom from torture and exploitation are other basic rights that should be extended to all those species. “While some animals kill others to survive, we don’t need to. There is no other species that has our capacity for grandly choreographed, industrialised destruction.”

Unfair treatment

“Defending animals does not mean caring about them more than about people,” says Leah. “It’s about protecting other species from cruelty and unfair treatment, and not causing them any harm.” There are several practical steps for everyone. “We can cut out animal products from out diet, buying clothing and footwear that use non-animal alternatives to leather and wool, avoiding products that have been tested on animals, boycotting zoos and circuses with animals and many more.”

Animal Aid promotes ways of living that reject using or consuming the flesh, milk eggs and skins of animals. They oppose the trade in pets and oppose leisure pursuits that depend on chasing, bullying, demeaning and killing other species. “While it is impossible in this world to live a perfect life, we believe that the first principle should be: do as little harm as possible.”

Don’t cause deliberate harm

Dogs and cats yelp by everything that hurts them. Animal Aid says that whether in your home, on a farm, in a laboratory or in the wild, animals experience pain and fear and will try to protect themselves from being hurt. Leah adds something as well. “This is the same for fish as it is for people. Fish all have nerve chemicals and cell receptors necessary to experience pain and stress,” say Leah. “Even where we cannot be certain of their experience of pain, for example in the case of insects, we should give them the benefit of the doubt and not cause deliberate harm.”

Free-range is not free

On many free-range farms, hens are still crowded into sheds with limited outside access. “Free-range birds are usually the same highly bred type as the ones who are raised in factory farms,” says Leah. “The birds that don’t reach the outside often have diseases, which makes them die early.” A lot of people think that organic food is a good option if you want to eat cruelty-free food. But this is actually not true. Hens can still be housed in groups of up to 3000 and may only have access to the outside for as little as a third of their lives. No matter how they are kept, the short lives of all egg-laying hens end with a traumatic journey to the slaughterhouse. “They are only 72 weeks old, when they are no longer able to produce the amount of eggs demanded,” says Leah. “They are slaughtered and made into cheap meat products.”

Animal Aid also gives guides to go veggie or vegan. It contains some recipes, and gives information about how to animal

Differences between Marjon University and Belgian Universities

With only the sea in between, Belgium and Britain are so close to each other. Yet there are quite some differences. On the one hand when it comes to cultural aspects and on the other hand the education. Let’s compare Thomas More Mechelen and University of St. Mark & St. John, Plymouth.


Hours of lecture
In Belgium, the average number of hours of lecture are about 20 hours a week. Students there have about ten different modules, which means they have to go to lectures each day. At Marjon there are only three modules, three hours each. Sounds good for students who want to do a job. But having so little lecture, means that there is less time to socialize, which is an important thing especially for Journalism students. But a big difference is that you have to do more work experience at Marjon, as in Belgium you only have an internship in your third year.

Belgian education is much cheaper than the British system. Students pay around €900 a year, which is often paid by their parents. In Britain the fees are up to £9000 a year, paid by students who have to repay a student loan for several years after they graduate. This is one of the biggest differences and it makes people wonder why they have so little lecture, but still pay such high fees. The loans causes debts and that’s one of the reasons why there is so many poverty in Britain.


Uni life
For British students, Marjon seems like a very small university. Not for Belgians, as their campuses are way smaller, with less facilities. At Marjon there is the village, a housing complex where you can live with a few people in your ‘own’ house and the halls, some sort of apartment buildings. In Belgium students just have student rooms in the city their uni is and they don’t have accommodation on campus.


Sea The Difference to think about environment

The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is hosting an event called ‘Sea The Difference’ during the Easter break. About 1000 people a day are visiting the Eddystone tank, where the event is being held. About 14 different organisations are coming over on different days and show what they do. Today on the 5th of April, 8 people are in.


There is the Shark Trust, the Marine Biological Association, they have a stand themselves, the community Seagrass Initiative, the RSPB, Wembury Marine Center and the Plymouth University Marine Institute. Paul Botterill, host supervisor at the National Marine Aquarium is proud of the event being held. “It’s a really nice way to connect with local people and with all the good work that has been going on,” says Botterill. “Everyone does something slightly different, but with the same in mind: the environment.” There are also a couple of different shows going on, which start at 1 o’clock each day.

Environment vs locked up fish

The National Marine Aquarium is really caring about the environment and with the well-being of the fish. But we hear more and more that locking these fish up in ’cages’ is animal cruelty. Paul makes sure that there is no need to worry. “We have a huge amount of care, ethics and we would never keep a fish in our aquarium that isn’t going to be okay in our tanks. We have a lot of monitoring that makes sure that they are stress-free, healthy and that they are well-fed.”

They are busy doing trainings and playing and also doing research to find out which species go along together and which ones they can keep together for their entire life. “It would be wonderful if every aquarium would take care of it and thought about the environment the way we do,” says Paul. “The Eddystone tank is the largest native offering in Britain, it contains 500.000 litres of water. This is giant.


We need to be aware that we are also doing progress with saving the environment. Since the rule of 5p charge on plastic bags came in, just the UK has used 7 billion less plastic bags, that’s an 80% reduction. “It’s huge and it doesn’t only come from the awareness of the problem, but the connection to the animals,” says Botterill. “This is why we are here and why we are doing it. Everything that we do is with the environment in mind. Everyone who works here is a big fish- and nature lover.”



We are forgetting about seagrass

Seagrass plays an important role for both humans and sea creatures. Despite, it’s currently under enormous threat. Even though people are aware of the ocean being contaminated, not everyone knows about these secret gardens under the sea. The Seagrass Initiative is doing ‘Project Seagrass’ and during the Easter break they have a stand on an event called ‘Sea The Difference’, which will take place in the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.

Seagrass can provide a natural sea defence by trapping sediment and slowing down currents and waves. It is a home for sea creatures such as seahorse, pipefish, anemones and more and it increases biodiversity by providing food and shelter for other important marine life. 40 times more animals live in seagrass beds than the surrounding bare sand. Seagrass is not only necessarily for sea creatures, but also for humans as it produces the oxygen we breathe.

The secret gardens under the sea are one of the fastest disappearing habitats on Earth with a decrease of 7% per year worldwide. “Even though it’s not on purpose, it’s us who are destroying it. Anchors are a big cause, they can rip up seagrass along with their vast roots. Walking over the seagrass can break it and damage the fragile leaves and they can also get cut by propellers on high speed boats,” says Paul Botterill, host supervisor at the National Marine Aquarium. “Waste can smother the plants and reduce their growth.”

Best foot forward
By making some small changes in our pattern of life, we can help saving the seagrass and the ocean. Cleaning products with high phosphate levels can increase nutrients and cause marine algae to grow. Using eco-friendly cleaning products is a big step forward. Also eating organic might help. Avoid buying bottom trawled and dredged seafood, these fishing methods can physically damage seagrass.