Tag Archives: erasmus

WE are getting famous!!

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Now in EITB news portal they have photo and article about Erasmus student but also the same in a local newspaper. A lot of people recognise us on a street. One day Arwen with Denise (Erasmus student from Holland) were in a gym and one guy came to them and gave a press-cutting with article about us. Besides, Natalie (Erasmus student from Estonia)met a boy, who already knew her because of a newspaper. 

Everybody knows each other in Mondragon, so we are new faces here. It nice to catch attention of others, especially when these others are friendly to you. Basque people are very curious and want to know everything about you and country where you live. They introduce you to their friends and ask to join them. That happens because there not a lot of tourists or foreigners who stay in Arrasate. But some people from Europe come to visit caves and climb mountains. Our housekeeper is working as a guide in caves, so one day we will go there.

First night in Basque Country (BC)

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Well, I am studying in Basque Country as exchange student by Erasmus program. Never in my life I have thought to visit this beautiful land. BC is located on the north of Spain, so it is a part of it. But this small land (it is bigger than Estonia) is very different from the common Spain.  So now I am very happy that I have got here, otherwise I would never see it.

While sitting in a train for 6 hours (Madrid-Vitoria) I was looking out of the window . It is very different to I used to see. Everyway are mountains. I have never seen such huge mountains. So, I am going to live in Mondragon (Arrasate – the name in Basque language). It is a small city in a valley. 

At a very first night we were eating a potatoes pie. Our housekeeper Ander made it for us. And that was also the first time I have tryed it =)) I advice you all to try it once and you woun`t be dissapointed.

These are my first feeling and emocions about BC.

Bilbao 2.0

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After my Erasmus adventure last year, I knew I would someday go back to the Basque Country. The climate, the people, the food, the culture, the cities, the beach, … too many reasons not to come back. A training period at EiTB was the ideal solution to explore Euskal Herria some more.

Koen and I said Gipuzkoa goodbye and moved up north to the inner city of Bilbao (Bizkaia) in the Abando district. An opportunity to live the city life style to the fullest, while we are not restricted by long distances and bus lines (our last stay was in Bergara, approx. 50 km from Bilbao). Bilbao itself has enough to offer, as we knew already.

Tastebuds

Our apartment lies in Indautxu, one of the two neighbourhoods of Abando. It is ideally situated in the heart of the city with everything within walking distance.

Abando by night © Wiki

Abando by night © Wiki

Culturally and gastronomically this is going to be a welcome break from the everyday life back home. My first bite in a pintxo yesterday was a delight for my tastebuds. Don’t get me wrong, Belgium has some great dishes, especially in winter, but the Basques simply take cooking food to another level.

Last time my cultural visits in Bilbao were limited to the unavoidable Guggenheim. This time I’m going look for some alternatives like the Museum of Fine Arts (with a great permanent collection)  or the beautiful Teatro Arriaga. A music concert (Santana 27, Kafé Antzokia) here and there would be nice as well.

The inside of Teatro Arriaga © Astenagusia

The inside of Teatro Arriaga © Astenagusia

¿Que?

My Spanish language skills upgraded from ‘terrible’ to ‘understandable’ which eases social converse and brings with it the opportunity to connect a bit more with locals. But I have still a very long way to go until I can master the language.

Of course the climate is a positive change as well. Although there’s only a small difference of 5°C in comparison to Belgium you notice an immediate shift when you get of the plane. Not exactly Meditarianian but good enough for me.

We’ll see what this city has in store for me…

See you next time!

Agur!

Julia Barnes: ‘A trilingual Basque Country is perfectly possible’

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Julia Barnes aside the statue of Ken Follett in Vitoria-Gasteiz.So says University Lecturer at HUHEZI (Faculty of Humanities and Education) and Erasmus student coordinator, Julia Barnes. Born near Bristol, with her formative years spent in New Zealand, Julia talks to EITB about learning Basque, teaching English and rubbing shoulders with some of Spain’s most famous stars.

You are teaching on a course to Basque students called “Education in Europe and the Global World: Good practice” and all your teaching is in English. Tell us what that entails.

Julia Barnes: It’s a four-year teaching degree for students specializing in various subjects. We don’t actually teach English as such; what we try to do is activate the English the students have been learning since school; we teach topics such as Europe, Education in Wales, Christmas across Europe – all through the medium of English. So essentially they learn English by learning how to learn things in English!

In the third year some students do a two-month teaching practice in Welsh-speaking schools in North Wales and it’s very successful. Although sometimes it’s difficult because they don’t understand all the Welsh, it really gives them an opportunity to compare what happens in Wales with what happens here.

What are some of the key things about teaching people how to teach a second or third language?

Julia Barnes: If you can understand how you learned your first language or languages you’re halfway there. To the people here who are bilingual anyway, it makes sense to them.

You based your PhD on trilingualism, specifically your own children’s – How do you see the possibility of a trilingual Basque Country over the next couple of decades?

Julia Barnes: It’s perfectly possible to do. As soon as people here start being more exposed to English it will just take off. At the moment we’ve got a situation where we’re giving children exposure to English at an early age, but for a short time plus the teaching they’re exposed to is not always ideal as most nursery English teachers haven’t trained to teach English. A new degree we are giving in HUHEZI now will actually train people to be language teachers in infant education.

Tell us what first brought you to the Iberian Peninsular.

Julia Barnes: After A levels ( Bachiller), two friends and I decided to spend a year abroad so we went to Madrid; they came back and I stayed for four years teaching English. Around the same time Franco died: I remember people celebrating all the time. I got involved in the ‘movida madrileña’ and met people like (popular Spanish groups) Burning and Alaska. During the day I worked as an English teacher. But I don’t think I realized at the time just how exciting it was because everything was exciting to me then – I was 18 and I’d just left home.

You’ve lived in England, New Zealand, Madrid and here: What are the main differences between these cultures?

Julia: I tend to think I ended up here because NZ gave me a more relaxed view of life than England: Open air, love of the outside, the beach, the sea and the mountains. I was young at the time, but I have memories of doing things outside. England is more of an inside culture.

When did your Basque adventure start?

Julia: I started learning the language before I had any plans to come here. I was fascinated by it. As part of my studies at university I had to take an exotic language so I chose Basque! Then after passing my PGCE (British teaching certificate) I started working for Eurocentres who had a project with the cooperatives of Mondragon to bring teachers from England to teach English to their employees; I was part of that. I met my husband through it and ended up staying.

What needs to change to improve the possibilities of us becoming tri-lingual?

JB: I think it’s very important for people to realize that all three languages are to be equally valued for different reasons. At the moment, three languages are vying for space, but we’re certainly getting there.

So is there going to be a new generation of fluent English-speaking Basque people in the next ten or fifteen years?

JB: I think so; we are already seeing a huge improvement in the quality of English that students bring to their university studies as a result of the early English programmes, taught in the Basque Country since the nineties. On the other hand, we’re still dealing with Franco’s educational legacy and a generation of teachers educating in a very traditional way, especially in Secondary which is like the last bastion, although teachers are finally in there doing content-based teaching through a foreign language. Once the new multilingual teachers we train enter education I think we’re really going to start seeing a difference, but it’s not quite there yet.

So says University Lecturer at HUHEZI (Faculty of Humanities and Education) and Erasmus student coordinator Julia Barnes. Born near Bristol, with her formative years spent in New Zealand, Julia talks to EITB about learning Basque, teaching English and rubbing shoulders with some of Spain’s most famous stars.  
 
You are teaching on a course to Basque students called “Education in Europe and the Global World: Good practice" and all your teaching is in English. Tell us what that entails.
It’s a four-year teaching degree for students specializing in various subjects. We don’t actually teach English as such; what we try to do is activate the English the students have been learning since school; we teach topics such as Europe, Education in Wales, Christmas across Europe - all through the medium of English. So essentially they learn English by learning how to learn things in English!
 
In the third year some students to do a two-month teaching practice in Welsh-speaking schools in North Wales and it’s very successful. Although sometimes it’s difficult because they don’t understand all the Welsh, it really gives them an opportunity to compare what happens in Wales with what happens here. 
 
What are some of the key things about teaching people how to teach a second or third language?
If you can understand how you learned your first language or languages you’re halfway there. To the people here who are bilingual anyway, it makes sense to them.
 
You based your PhD on trilingualism, specifically your own children’s – How do you see the possibility of a trilingual Basque Country over the next couple of decades? 
It’s perfectly possible to do. As soon as people here start being more exposed to English it will just take off. At the moment we’ve got a situation where we’re giving children exposure to English at an early age, but for a short time plus the teaching they’re exposed to is not always ideal as most nursery English teachers haven’t trained to teach English. A new degree we are giving in HUHEZI now will actually train people to be language teachers in infant education.
 
Tell us what first brought you to the Iberian Peninsular
After A levels ( Bachiller) , two friends and I decided to spend a year abroad so we went to Madrid; they came back and I stayed for four years teaching English. Around the same time Franco died: I remember people celebrating all the time. I got involved in the ‘movida madrileña’ and met people like (popular Spanish groups) Burning and Alaska. During the day I worked as an English teacher. But I don’t think I realized at the time just how exciting it was because everything was exciting to me then – I was 18 and I’d just left home. 
 
You’ve lived in England, New Zealand, Madrid and here: What are the main differences between these cultures?
I tend to think I ended up here because NZ gave me a more relaxed view of life than England: Open air, love of the outside, the beach, the sea and the mountains. I was young at the time, but I have memories of doing things outside. England is more of an inside culture. 
 
When did your Basque adventure start?
I started learning the language before I had any plans to come here. I was fascinated by it. As part of my studies at university I had to take an exotic language so I chose Basque! Then after passing my PGCE (British teaching certificate) I started working for Eurocentres who had a project with the cooperatives of Mondragon to bring teachers from England to teach English to their employees; I was part of that. I met my husband through it and ended up staying.
 
What needs to change to improve the possibilities of us becoming tri-lingual?
I think it’s very important for people to realize that all three languages are to be equally valued for different reasons. At the moment, three languages are vying for space, but we’re certainly getting there. 
 
So is there going to be a new generation of fluent English-speaking Basque people in the next ten or fifteen years?
I think so; we are already seeing a huge improvement in the quality of English that students bring to their university studies as a result of the early English programmes, taught in the Basque Country since the nineties. On the other hand, we’re still dealing with Franco’s educational legacy and a generation of teachers educating in a very traditional way, especially in Secondary which is like the last bastion, although teachers are finally in there doing content-based teaching through a foreign language. Once the new multilingual teachers we train enter education I think we’re really going to start seeing a difference, but it’s not quite there yet.

The discovery of Azul Vergara

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This week, our Basque Culture class consisted of a seminar by a guest lecturer on Basque traditional clothing. The speaker, Ane Albisu, has written an important book on the evolution and historical context of dressing habits in Euskal Herria. Continue reading

Peuple en Marche

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My weekend has been quite interesting to say the least. I think this Saturday was the most eventful day since I’ve been in the Basque Country, which must count for something. Most of it consisted of miles and miles of walking, but the journeys and destinations were definitely worth it.

Nice image of the Bilbao riverfront to begin with. © SaJeh

Nice image of the Bilbao riverfront to begin with. © SaJeh

Continue reading

Start of the last month…

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Another week comes to an end and we’re starting to realize that there are only four of them left. Four weeks to enjoy every moment we have and meanwhile trying to obey our upcoming deadlines. This week didn’t really help doing that, since one of my best friends, Zahra, arrived on Wednesday and stayed until today. No complaints though, I really loved having her over! Continue reading

Enjoying Eskoriatza (no more rain!)

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I had to write you today because seeing the sun come out again, after the past weeks of rain, rain and more rain, has made me incredibly happy. Good timing too, since I had to do a photography project for school today and a lot of the locations were outside. Continue reading

November, month of visits and work

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Well, it has been quite a while since the last post, time to get back into the blog-vibe. Alas, the flu has caught me by surprise, leaving me sick in bed at the moment. On the bright side: my cousin Anniek, my mum, and her boyfriend Jos came to visit me this week, making me the guide for a few days. Continue reading

Concert night in Bilbao

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A summary of this weekend’s gains: the discovery of Kafe Antzokia – one of Bilbao’s coolest music venues, a fun and entertaining Teenagers-concert, an insane revelation named Crystal Fighters – electronic music combined with traditional Basque instruments, and the long-anticipated book The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave. Continue reading