Being an exchange student changes yourself

“Going on Erasmus should be on everyone’s bucketlist”

Being young, having a great family and friends, but still leaving your hometown for a half year to get an Erasmus-experience. I did that and I don’t regret it, even though I wiped away some tears the first day. Getting the opportunity to get to know a different culture, getting more experience and leave as a wiser woman are my goals. Here is what I’ve noticed and why I love this experience so much.

Remarkable differences

One of the differences I’ve noticed is the food. As a Belgian, I haven’t tasted the British kitchen before. Even though I heard a lot about it, I’m still shocked about how different it is to ours. I have to admit that I’m in love with the yorkshire puddings, but the British breakfast is just horrible. Beans, sausages and tomatoes for breakfast? Just give me a boiled egg and a croissant!

Also in our class are striking features. In Belgium, boys and girls just sit mixed together, while here we have one table in the front for the girls and a few tables in the back for the boys. I still don’t get that, since I like spending time with the guys as well.

People are so friendly over here. For example in the stores, when you go to the pay desk and give your purchases to the cashier, they often say: “Thank you my love” or “Have a nice day darling”. It’s the little nicknames that make it way more pleasant and that is something that Belgians don’t do. Even the cops are different. One of my friends even takes chats and selfies with them and they love it! The police in Belgium is very formal while the Brits know them by their names.

One month later

A month later, I wonder why I felt so depressed in the beginning. I love the city, made some great friends and never felt happier in my entire life. Being in Plymouth gave me more confidence. My English is improving and I’m less scared to ask people for help. I’m learning things that I wouldn’t have learned at school in Belgium.

Plymouth is definitely one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been. The coastline, Smeaton’s Tower, the Barbican,… Things I’ve never heard about before. I like the fact that this city is still noncommercial. You can enjoy the nature without thousands of people who are taking pictures of everything (even though that’s my guilty pleasure).

It’s shocking how fast the time is going. It feels like it was yesterday that I said goodbye to my family. Going on Erasmus gives me the opportunity to get way more experience than I would ever get in Belgium.

Not only means this exchange a lot for your CV and further career, it means a lot for who you actually are. You need to start over again. You are right at the start, to get to know new people, a new culture and most important: to get to know and discover yourself.

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5 of Plymouth’s famous places

Plymouth is already known as an important port and became as the second-largest city in the South-West a real tourist attraction. What not everybody realizes, is that the city actually became more famous through the years. And this is why.

  1. Dartmoor Zoo

In 2011, a movie shot in this zoo was released. The movie, starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, is called ‘We Bought A Zoo’ and is inspired by the book of Benjamin Mee, the owner of the zoo. Why don’t you go and see what it looks like in real life?

  1. Anthony House

The Anthony House in Torpoint, just west of Plymouth, was the filming location for Alice In Wonderland in 2010. The dock, from which Alice finally sails away, was filmed at the harbour of Charlestown, about 25 miles west of Plymouth. Let’s all feel the magic by getting a walk there!

  1. The Plymouth Hoe

This beautiful place right at the coast has been a very popular place for fans of the Beatles. There famous picture, which was shot there, is now able to be remade. By us! You can recreate the photograph, by sitting on copper moulds of the fab four’s bums.

  1. Plymouth Diving Club

The Plymouth Diving Club is the competitive arm of the ‘Everyone Active Diving Training Scheme’ and is based at the state of the art Plymouth Life Centre. The 22-year-old Tom Daley, is known as a British diver, who won loads of prizes and is popular with the girls because of his looks. The success of Tom Daley has led to a number of the country’s most promising young divers moving to his home pool in Plymouth to further their careers. So, let’s take a dip and maybe we’ll meet him!

  1. Palace theatre

The Palace Theatre is a disused theatre in Union Street. It was damaged by fire only three months after opening, and was re-opened in 1899 as the ‘New Palace Theatre of Varieties’. The theatre was built in the Flemish Renaissance style, with the interior in an Art Nouveau style, which is definitely worth a look. This isn’t the only reason why it should be seen as famous, since people as Harry Houdini, Laurel and Hardy and Harry Worth have performed here.

‘Ocean Messengers’ to educate and inspire school students

Plymouth – The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth has recently celebrated the launch of an international environmental arts collaboration between the UK and Taiwan. Scott Mann, MP for North Cornwall, has spearheaded the launch of the unique project with the Aquarium.

Ocean Messengers

The year-long project, titled ‘Ocean Messengers’, is designed to educate and inspire school students from both the UK and Taiwan to take an active role in protecting their coastal marine environments. Working with Cornish environmental artist, Sue Bamford, and in conjunction with the National Museum of Marine Science Technology in Taiwan, the National Marine Aquarium will be collaborating with schools around England to crochet a giant model of the British coastal ecosystem for exhibition to the public.

Students across Taiwan will be crocheting their own subtropical reef habitat, using the same techniques. The project will culminate in an exchange between the countries, with each artwork to then be exhibited in both countries. Aside from using art to raise awareness of the issues facing the global marine environment, it is hoped the project will build relationships between the marine research and business communities in the two countries.

An identity shaped by the ocean

Scott Mann, who sits on both the All Party Parliamentary Group for Taiwan and the Environmental Audit Committee at Westminster, says that together with their colleagues in Taiwan, he represents a community whose identity has been shaped by the ocean. “Yet the impact of changes in the coastal ecosystems threatens the livelihood of many in the fishing and tourism sectors in both countries. The threats facing coastal waters are often invisible from the headlands and coves of our coastline, and I am delighted to support a project which places the vital marine environment at centre stage.”

According to Stu Higgs, Schools Programme Manager at the National Marine Aquarium, is this the start of a hugely important project. “ It will not only build awareness of our oceanic environments at home, but also develop our relationship and understanding of coasts overseas,” he said. “We create a project which will create vital conversation around the rapidly changing sea environment and we hope it will inspire the younger generations to take a lead in preserving our ocean habitats.”

The collaboration officially starts in February with a three-month residency in Taiwan, before the focus shifts to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth with a series of events with schools and colleges across England and Wales.