keskiviikko 6. helmikuuta 2013

garbled up thoughts about culture and Belgium

I'm a patriotic person. I'm always really proud when telling about my home country, especially Lapland and my hometown. Usually this is a good thing, but sometimes people might take it as if I thought everything is worse everywhere else. It's not the case. I've heard many people say how finnish people always talk about Finland. Still back at home everyone's whining about how bad they want to get out of this town or this country. I've always appreciated where I'm from, but to really understand my roots I had to go elsewhere first.

After spending these almost 6 months in Belgium, I've started to feel "patriotic" about this place too. When someone asks me what is this country like, I can't answer without tiring the other person to death.
Before I came here, the only things I knew were that they eat chocolate, they have a lot of beer and fucked up politics. Since then I've learned so many things about this country that on the map seems so small but holds in a huge culture of different people, languages, history, places and traditions. It feels overwhelming to get so deep into another country.

I come from a small city far away from, well, from anything. And I feel like the majority of people there are eager to see the world, to get out of the town and learn about new things. Here it's not the same. I'm not saying people don't want to travel or see places, sure they do, but they're happy in the places they live and they don't see the point in moving elsewhere. My hostsister said to me one day that I know Brussels and Liege a lot better than her. She's been living 20 minutes away from Liege her whole life but I know the city better after 5 months. For Belgians 20 minutes is quite far, and if you don't need anything special, why would you make the effort and go there? For this reason the small villages here are lively, and the culture is so variant. People create different cultural things inside small areas, and since not many of them move away, things stay the way they are. In contrast, all the small villages in Finland are dying from people's urge to move to bigger cities.

I don't know if it's because of the lively villages and varying culture that they don't feel the national pride so strongly, but belgians are not patriotic at all. They don't so much see themselves as a part of this country rather than a part of their city or village. Whereas when I compare things to Finland and sometimes think things are better at home, belgians in the same situation would say that well things are "nul" in belgium, everything's so much better abroad! They don't eagerly tell about the history of the country, they don't even know many things about other cities. Even in school they focus strongly on France in literature, history and art, not in their own country, even when they have to have some succesful authors and artists from here too! The most visible reason for this is the language of course, which strongly devides the country in two. Wallonians (french speaking belgians) talk about the flemish part almost as a different country and the two parts make mean jokes about one another. In people's minds the people of the two parts have the opposite natures and characteristics. It's still a mystery to me how they manage to live with the two languages in Brussels, where every street has two names and still everyone magically knows which language the shop assistant or the waiter speaks.

It's confusing, belgians are happy to live where they're born, but they're not patriotic as a nation, but in Finland it's the opposite. We are never happy with our hometowns but still really patriotic. This is of course only how I see things as a finnish person living in Belgium, and someone else could think the opposite. I'm really enjoying all this country has to offer to me, and by writing about it I'm just dealing with all the information and the things that I've noticed.

30 things

1. Eating belgian pralines with coffee
2. Going to the grocery store with my hostmom
3. Sitting in a car when it's dark outside and see the streetlights pass by
4. Seeing tourists and feeling like a local next to them
5. A long breakfast
6. coffee with cinnamon
7. Achieving your goals and noticing you can do even better
8. Days when school doesn't start early
9. Train rides
9. Cooking
10. Long conversations
11. How my family eats filet americain every sunday at noon
12. Making a good lunch to school
13. Knowing an answer in class (in french it doesn't happen often)
14. Getting packets from home
15. My cat's name (sock)
16. When the bus is on time (never.)
17. When it rains really bad and I don't have to go outside
18. Knowing the cities, and the ways to get to places by heart
19. Planning trips with friends
20. Having a lot of things in my calendar to look forward to
21. Online shopping (avoiding crowds)
22. Using a new toothpaste for the first time
23. Finding money from my bag
24. Burning candles
25. Drinking too much coffee (it can never be too much)
26. Only having morning classes on wednesdays
27. Planning stuff and writing to do -lists (read: having too much freetime)
28. Sticking on a budget
29. Carré (belgians will know)
30. The coffee they offer at the hairdresser which is always bad but tastes good because you're at the hairdresser

These are some of the things in my notebook. There are days that I rush through and don't notice how many little things I actually enjoy, that's why I write them down.
I hope everyone takes the time to stop and think what are your 30  things.

tiistai 5. helmikuuta 2013

Time flies by

Hei! En oikeen edes tiedä, miksi en oo kirjoittanut. Yritän nyt parantaa tapani ja kiristää tahtia. Viimeviikot on ollut ihan tavallisia ja silti täynnä kaikkea kivaa. Viikko sitten keskiviikkona meillä oli newie-carré Liegessä, oli mahtavaa tavata uudet vaihtarit ja samalla se pisti ajattelemaan kuinka nopeaa aika on oikeasti mennyt, ei enää edes viittä kuukautta jäljellä. Viime viikolla sain myös viimein mun belgialaisen henkilöllisyyskortin. Perjantaina oltiin meillä porukalla ja lauantaina en tehnyt yhtään mitään, hölläilin vaan. Sunnuntaina oltiin Sofien, Michellen ja Gregin kanssa Liegessä iltapäivä ja syötiin tapaksia. Tavattiin myös iso porukka erasmuksen yliopisto-vaihtareita ja vaihdettiin kokemuksia. 

Kuuden päivän päästä on lähtö Pariisiin! Odottavan aika on pitkä, tää viikko matelee enkä jaksais millään oottaa että pääsee reissuun. Kaikki jotka mut tuntee, tietää että oon suunnittelufriikki, ja nyt oon ihan hämmentyny kun meidän aikataulu on jo niin tarkka joka päivälle, enkä voi suunnitella muuta kuin että mitä otan matkaan. 

En vois olla onnellisempi mun hostperheestä, tunnen itseni osaksi tätä perhettä ja voin puhua mun perheelle melkein mistä vaan. Kun järjestö hankkii perheitä, perheille näytetään "profiilit" kaikista vaihto-oppilaista ja perhe saa itse valita omansa. Ongelma tässä on se ettei kenestäkään voi saada oikeaa kuvaa sen perusteella mitä harrastuksia tai kouluarvosanoja tällä on. Mun tapauksessa olin perheenvaihdon jälkeen vailla perhettä ja nämä ihmiset halusivat auttaa just mua, vaikka eivät olleet edes kuulleet mun järjestöstä. Enkä voi kuvitella mulle parempaa hostperhettä. 

Kielen kanssa menee hyvin, puhumisessa ei oo mitään ongelmia, mutta kirjoittaessa teen tosi paljon perus kielioppi-virheitä. Kun nään suomalaisia, suomen puhuminen tuntuu vähän aikaa tyhmältä ja kömpelöltä, ja varsinkin englantia puhuessa käytän automaattisesti ranskan rakenteita ja sanoja, koska en löydä jotain sanaa englanniksi. Frenglish. 

Nyt oon kotona, meen kouluun vasta ruokailun jälkeen. Tää päivä on vielä pitkä ja vastenmielinen, huomenna Liegeen ja saa ottaa vähän lunkimmin. Lauantaina suunnitelmissa on pakkailla aamulla, mennä Michellen luo ja tulla sunnuntai-iltana kotiin, Michellen kotikylässä on isot karnevaalit. Ne pidetään tähän aikaan vuodesta joka kylässä, ja mulla on suunnitelmissa osallistua ainakin kaksiin. 


Hi! I don't really even know why I haven't been writing lately. I'll try to do better now on. Last weeks have been really normal but still full of great things. Last wednesday we had newie-carré in Liege, it was awesome to meet all the newies, and at the same time it made me think how fast time has gone, less than five months left! I also finally got my belgian Id-card. On friday we were at my house with friends and on saturday I did absolutely nothing. On sunday we spent the afternoon in Liege with Sofie, Michelle and Greg. We had cocktails and ate tapas. We also bumbed into a group of erasmus exchange students.

Six days and we're off to Paris! Time goes slow when waiting, I feel like this week's not passing at all and I can't wait to get going! Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a planningfreak, but now I'm confused because our schedule is already so full that all I can plan is what I'm taking with me. 

I couldn't be happier about my hostfamily. I feel like a part of this family and I can talk to them about everything. When our organization chooses the families, they show a "profile" of each student to the families, from which they can choose theirs. The problem of this is that you can't get a good picture of anyone just by knowing whether they play guitar or football, or if they have good grades in school. In my case, I was without a family after changing from the first one, and these people genuinely wanted to help me after hearing about the situation. They had never volunteered to be a hostfamily, they had never even heard of my organization. And I couldn't imagine myself a better hostfamily. 

With the language I have no problems when I speak, I mean I can tell everything I want to say, but when I write I do a lot of basic grammar-mistakes. When I meet finnish people, it feels really weird and awkward to speak finnish at first, and especially when speaking english I automatically use french structures and words, because I can't find the word in english. Frenglish. 

Now I'm at home, I'm going to school after lunch break because I overslept and we have subjects that I don't really have to participate in. After I survive this day (if so), I can relax. Tomorrow I'll go to Liege and on thursday and friday I only have a couple of hours in school. On saturday I'm going to do packing for Paris and then head to Michelle's place until sunday evening. They have a big carneval in her town on sunday. They do it in every town this time of year in Belgium, and I'm planning to attend at least two of them. 

Liege railstation

On my way to town

Asked an old woman to take our picture...

Greg and Mathieu


Tapas

What do you mean narrow alleys in Europe?

Sofie and Michelle

More of my cat..

This was the best one I could find..