Categorie archief: Opiniestuk

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.


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!

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!


Why can’t women have rights ánd be seen?

Emma Watson, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, has recently posed ‘topless’ for vanity fair. We can’t even say it’s topless, since she is just wearing a top without a bra underneath. After posting this photograph, Watson received loads of negative comments.

Beauty and the breasts

‘Beauty and the breasts’. One of the many critics Emma Watson got on her ‘topless’ photo. She hits back saying: “I don’t know what my tits have to do with feminism, it’s about giving women a choice.” I completely agree with her. Feminism is actually about being accepted the way they are. About being as free as men, so why shouldn’t women be free to show off their body? It doesn’t mean that they should hide themselves but that they should be proud of themselves.

Being equal

She also says feminism is about equality. So showing her breasts is actually showing that she is just the way all other females are. She probably didn’t even think about the link between women’s rights and doing a photoshoot where she shows a part of her breasts.

It made me so angry that people said that she is hypocrite and that she can’t be a feminist ánd have boobs. What on earth does she have to do? Getting her boobs removed? It’s just because she is feminine that she cán have boobs.

Emma Watson helped to launch UN women campaign ‘HeForShe’. A solidarity campaign that to engage men to advocate gender equality. It means that women really matter. And so do their bodies.


We are guided by overpowering fear

Isis has spread a new threatening video with footage of a jihadi wandering towards the train station of Antwerp in Belgium. Their message is ‘we are still here and planning to attack’. The police believes that everyone should take this very seriously and right after the release, measures were taken. Ever since the attacks in Brussels, almost a year ago, the bigger cities are full of military because of the terror threat. Home sweet home, but what to do if even home isn’t that sweet? Why are we guided by that overpowering fear?

What if?

Right before the attacks in a nightclub in Istanbul, Isis did something comparable. They also made a chilling video with the same music. Belgians now think that the same might happen in their country. “What if this is the same warning?”, “What if we don’t take this too serious?”, “What if something will happen while I’m in Antwerp next week?”
If we’d always think like that, we aren’t even safe to get out of our houses, while we could even die by falling in our showers.

I’ve noticed that the atmosphere changed since 22th of March, the day of the attacks in Brussels. As we are so proud of our free western society, we now see streets with policemen on the watch, heavily armed soldiers on each corner and security cameras at every square making our world less and less free. When you come in the train station of Antwerp and you pass a soldier, you feel so uncomfortable. You wonder if you should look at them, but then it feels like they will arrest you. When you look to the floor and try to avoid eye contact, you’re scared that they might think you’re suspicious. For commuters it became something ‘normal’. The fact that they think about them as something ‘normal’, means that the world is completely changing and not in a good way.

‘Je suis Belgique’

I do have a really strong opinion about the fact that we all have to change our profile picture on Facebook in a flag of the European country that got attacked, while people in Syria and around suffer every day and night. While everyday women and children are abused. This doesn’t mean I have something against people who want to show their compassion. I just think that we have to live with the fact that we will never live in a complete peaceful world. No one ever did and no one ever will. Changing our profile pictures will not save the world. The strongest signal against fear, is showing that we are moving on with our lives. We should not live the way they want us to live.



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.

Zijn we niet allemaal voorstander van gratis geld?

Velen worden dagelijks geconfronteerd met de angst om in armoede terecht te komen. We moeten harder en harder studeren om een fatsoenlijke job te kunnen krijgen, want zonder diploma of ervaring zijn er maar weinig jobs waar we nog aan de slag kunnen. Het pensioenprobleem, moeten we werken tot onze dood? Meer en meer mensen hebben last van burn-outs en depressies, hoe komt dit? Simpel: gelddruk. Volgens mij ligt de oplossing bij het basisloon.


Stel, vanaf het moment dat je volwassen bent krijg je een bepaald bedrag op je rekening, tot je sterft. Dit bedrag moet een basis vormen om te kunnen leven. Je beslist dan nog of je gaat bijwerken voor een beter loon of niet, maar dit zal zonder druk zijn en zonder stress, want je hebt al een zekerheid. Je denkt zelf na over sparen.


Een basisloon zou het leven voor veel mensen gemakkelijker maken. Het zou toch gewoon dé stap zijn om armoede uit ons land te krijgen? Geen gedoe meer met stakingen in verband met het pensioen. Neen, want je krijgt dat bepaald bedrag gewoon tot je sterft. Mooi, of niet? Ook voor mensen die niet de kans kregen om een hoger diploma te kunnen halen, is dit een oplossing. Het grote verschil met andere uitkeringen is dat het basisloon voor iedereen gelijk is, het is dus onvoorwaardelijk.

Goede oude tijd

We zouden ook een beetje het leven zoals vroeger terugkrijgen: als moeder tijd hebben voor de opvoeding van het kind. Tegenwoordig is het niet haalbaar als je niet met twee gaat werken. Zelfs halftijds werken zou niet voldoende zijn. Het kind, voor wie de moeder vroeger voor kon thuisblijven, moet nu naar de crèche. Ik vind het persoonlijk heel belangrijk om een groot deel uit te maken van de opvoeding van je kind, wat terug mogelijk zou zijn na de invoering van het basisloon.


Voor mij mag, zoals wel duidelijk is, het basisinkomen ingevoerd worden. In Zwitserland is hier reeds een referendum voor geweest. Het basisinkomen is er echter niet doorgeraakt maar toch stemde 23% van de bevolking vóór het idee. Mocht er in België ook zo’n referendum komen, dan hadden ze mijn stem in ieder geval al!