Tag Archives: Netherlands

Topic less with a little confession

As you can see on the website I didn’t post that many blogs lately, this is because I had the flew and stayed in bed for a good week.

During that week I was thinking about subjects for my future blogs. I could write something about the people here, my feelings, observations, stories that I’ve heard and trips that I’ve made. Even whit in this categories I could specialize more because I keep seeing new things that interest me so I’m observation the whole day.

Doing some more observation

Doing some more observation

For example when I’m walking down the street I notice the respect of the people for the pedestrians over here. The cars always stop for young and old crossing the street by foot, no matter how slow they walk they will wait.

In the Netherlands so many times when I was walking down the street or riding my bicycle (a very popular means of transportation the Netherlands) I almost got ran over by a bus or car. It’s like people are much more in a hurry in my country then over here and that is making them act very selfish, even in de traffic. They don’t care about damaging you, as long as they are ok and on time.

Well anyway, I could continue writing a full blog about a observation like this.

An other subject in the category people could of course be the Basque boys.. For sure before I go home on the 18th of December I have writing a blog about them because I have been doing some good observation on them the last months.

What also got into my mind yesterday while I was exercising at the gym is the difference about the importants of how people look over here and in the Netherlands. I could just walk back in my sport cloths without doing my hair or anything, nobody would care. I see people walking in their trousers on the streets over here all the time. In the Netherlands, and of course this also is a little personal, I would feel so ashamed walking down the street without paying attention to my appearance like that. People, especially the women, always check each other out on the streets and where ever in the Netherlands. Next to that I know I’m a little conceited because I like standing in front of the mirror in the morning putting up my make-up and dressing myself up before I go to a party. But over here.. It really feels like it doesn’t matter. Nobody cares and because of that I get more relaxed with not carring for my looks on the streets over here.

The same happens in the gym, in the Netherlands there are always a few persons (or `losers´ as I like to call them) who are showing off and want to be pretty even during excercise. Like `come on´! Over here people are just covered with sweat and look like a mess, me included. And I love it because everybody is just there for a good workout!

Another thing to write about is the differences that I can bump in to when I will return to the Netherlands. For example the view that I have here everywhere I look and while I’m looking true the bus window on my way to Bilbao. The beautiful mountains! I just love looking at them so much! In the summer and also now in the winter, when their tops are all nice and white covered with snow. Just looking at them gives me energie because they remember me of how beautifull the world and life can be.

And so I can continue writing about things that I’m going to miss or that will be different for me, like the outside views, I can keep boring you for blogs and blogs. But don’t worry I will maintain myself (For now).

Actually I have a little confession to make. In my study, journalism/communication, I never liked the writing parts that I had and still have to do. Thinking about a subject for a item, making sure that I have the right sources for my item, going out there to get the information, that are the things I love in my field. Especially when it includes a camera. Filming, editing, just the idea of it is exciting to me!
I really want to go into that direction.

In the first year of my study I had to write about so many uninteresting things and I had to write them by so many rules that I got really sick of writing actually. So when we came here and I heard about my job at the EITB for which I would have to write every week I wasn´t to trilled to be honest. Of course I loved the idea of working for a news station this big because in the Netherlands we don’t get a opportunity like this to often, but the writing part..aargh.. I wanted my camera.

(Let’s hope that my boss doesn’t fire me instantly after reading this little confession of mine)

Now why did I tell you all about it? It is to explain how surprised I am about me enjoying telling you about all my experiences here in by blogs. (No, for real!)
I think it’s because the Basque Country had been and still is one big adventure to me and I know nobody, except the other Erasmus students over here of course, that I can’t tell something new about the Country and my life in it. I just love sharing everything and it would be nice for people when they go and visit the Country that they will recognize a thing or two that I have mentioned in my blogs. My family that has visited me already did.

How’s that, Saskia telling that she likes writing. A good way of ending this topic less blog I guess;)!

Big worship for the little

Every Basque town or village has it’s own church or sanctuary and each of them has it’s own character. I’ve visited a lot of them in the last few months because I like old churches and monuments. They often have a nice story behind them, sometimes noticable by just the way in which it is build.

Last Teusday one of or teachers took us to Arantzazu to visit the church over there. We were very lucky because her uncle, who is a priest active at the other side of the country, traveled many hours to come and join us so that he could show us a thing or two in the church of Arantzazu.

A half hour drive from Arrasate, passing by Onati, lies Arantzazu. It is placed high between the mountains and therefore it was very cold making just six degrees. Unfortunately for us it was raining which made the temperature felt even worse.

Running towards the church in the hope to hear a good story there, and of course to find some shelter from the rain as well, I noticed that the entrance of it was considerably small while the church itself and everything around it where impressive big.

Going true the entrance it wasn´t the temperature that I felt rising, it was my curiosity.
Right in front of us where wooden benches, above us was a big platform with many seats for a big song chancel and right in front of us at the end of the church was the alter.

The alter was the one that rose my curiosity. It wasn’t a common one, on the contrary. In a oval shape with depth the alter was shaped. Up on the high wall was a big pies of art, made out of wood. The attention was drawn to the center of this pies of art. Up on a three stump, right there in the middle, a little figure was presented.

The virgin in Arantzazu

The virgin in Arantzazu

While we took place at the front row of the benches a priest of Arantzazu, who has been with it for fifty years and is a contact of the uncle of my teacher, starting telling us the history of the sanctuary. Soon it was clear that the little figure in the middle placed of a three stump played a big part in the historty of the church.

According to the tradition that the priest told us, the virgin, that is how the little figure is called, was found by a shepherd named Rodrigo de Balzategi. He found here in a hawthorn bush and asked her “Aranztan zu?”, which means “Is it you in the hawthorn?”. And that is how Arantzazu got its name.

In the continuance of the story the priest told us that at the time in which the virgin was found there were wars in the country during that period the country was suffering from a big dry. They al praided for hope. Then Rodrigo brought the virgin among the people and it suddenly started to rain. They saw this as a sing of the virgin being a saint and the country made peace.

I guess this story could also be the reason for the many rainfalls that the Basque Country still knows now a days..who knows?

What made a impression on me was the dedication of the priest for the sanctuary of Arantzazu. He had been with it for 50 years now and started there when he was 19th. The same goes for the uncle of my teacher, he also was around 20 when he decided to became a priest.

priest with the robes

priest with the robes

In the Netherlands people becoming a priest is almost a non-happening now a days. There are religious people and every town has it’s church but for real religion is not as big over there as it is over here. That is quit interesting to me. Especially because it seems like here in the country the religion makes the close communities over here even closer.

After we heard the story behind Arantzazu, what was wearth hearing, we got a tour true the church. We walked true the galleria of the sanctuary.  “A galleria in a sanctuary?”, whas the first thing that I thought. But yes it has one, a very unique one actually because there has been a contest about what the alter should look like and all the suggestions for it are exposed in the galleria.

There was a contest about the design of the alter because the original artist that was building it died of a stroke before he could finish it. There was decided to held a contest about how it should look like now the official creating could not me be performed any longer. From all over the world 41 artists turned in a piece of work that contained a suggestion for the looks of the alter.

The pieces of work in the galleria were all very unique in there kind. It was for sure that the people really felt like using the rebuilding of the sanctuary of Arantzazu as a oppertunity for expressing there feelings. All the paintings were really strong some spoke of freedom and others of hope.

We continued or tour to the basement of the church were the old alter that is still in use is kept. I was astonished by the sight of the room while I entered it. The walls of it where all covered with very strong colors of paint and behind the alter that was at the front of the room was drawn a blood-red priest rising his hands above him and looking with much anger towards us. I have never seen a alter like this, it expressed so many strong feelings in its paintings. It really felt like the painter of these drawings wanted to express anger and protest for the gaining of freedom. Even more surprising is that I saw this paintings in a sanctuary in the Basque Country, here were the people are known for being so shy and helt back.

The alter in the basement of Aratzazu

The alter in the basement of Aratzazu

The priest told us that people still get married in front of this alter. Personally I woudn’t feel comfortable by giving the ‘I Do’ in front of paintings looking quite angry at me.

I’m sure that by now it is clear that the uniqueness of the sanctuary interests me very much. But what maybe got my interest even more was the loyalty of the priest for it. He told me that when is was around 20 he decided to became a priest and he is with Arantzazu for 50 years now. The same age of becoming a priest goes for the uncle of my teacher. How dedicated they are..

In the Netherlands of course there are religious people but have the strong impression of way more Basque persons being religious. The communities that very tight over here seem to be drawn even closer by the religion.

We were very lucky with the contact of my teacher because our tour and guide were very good. The priest also took us op to the virgin. By stairs we could go up behind the alter, that is reversible in a way that she goes out of side in the front and appears at the back were she can be looked at very closely.

It turned out that the lady that is worshipped and loved by so many is a very small little lady! Usually she is dressed up in handmade robes that the priest showed us later. If the people from and around Arantzazu accepted that big of a influence from such a small woman then they must have been good people with a good will for trust.

Missing the Basque social being

Last week was the first time since two and a half months that I left the Basque Country. I went on a little trip to Italy!

When I booked my ticket I was already wondering about how it would be for me to leave the Country and go to again another culture then my own Dutch one.

Would I miss the Basque people, the country itself, the food and the way of living here? Or would I be glad to be away from it for a little while and start all over again with adjusting myself to another culture? Or would I, maybe, start to miss the Netherlands while I was there because I haven’t missed the Netherlands and my Dutch life yet.

The first impression of Italy was very positive. I went to different cities like Milan, Venetia, Bologna, Turin and all of them had a very nice charm. The cities are a mixture of old and new.

There are many buildings that reminded me of the old Roman style, which I adore, and while you go back in time at the same time new crosses your path. New in the shape of fashion. All over Italy you see the big brands like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior and more (what else could a twenty-year old girl want?). On the streets the high level of fashion is noticeable as well. People are all chic and dressed up. The feeling of walking between the Italian people is way different from the feeling that you get when you walk between Basques.

In the beginning I was amazed by al the dressed up people but after one week I noticed that the look of the persons is actually the best part of them. There personality is completely different then the ones of the Basques. Once you get to know the Italian on the street you still feel like being kept on a distant, they are not that welcoming and interested and friendly. It was only the outside that really mattered.

All adjusted

Saskia and Chiara

Saskia and Chiara

When I decided to go to the Basque Country last year I told all of my friends and family in the Netherlands that they would be more then welcome to visit me. And they still are but at the same time, and I feel bad while I am typing this, they aren’t..

After spending two months in the Basque Country I feel like I am having a life here, it is of course a different life compared to the one that I was used to in the Netherlands but it really feels like my life. And I really don’t want it to turn back into my old Dutch life any time soon.
I started to realize all of this when my family started to visit me. In a normal week here I go to school, have nice dinners and parties with my funny housemates and friends here or I just do whatever I feel like. But now people have started to visit me and with the knowledge that more are coming it feels like I don’t time enough anymore to just life my relaxed Basque life.

There aren’t many weeks left here in which nobody is visiting and I can just hang out with the locals or do things spontaneous. I love all my visitors for coming but at the same I’m looking forward to the day they are leaving because then I can just do my own thing again. That feels really rude and ungrateful to write down because after all they are coming here for me but I will try to explain..

When somebody is visiting me then of course I will do my best to show them the most interesting sides of the Country and life in it.

Patty and Saskia

Patty and Saskia

I want them to enjoy their little vacation here and in my opinion being a good host is important then. Because it is all new to my Dutch compatriots I’m afraid that they might miss out on very nice things here when I will just drag them into my daily routine. Also I can’t try to improve my Spanish or Basque on the streets because it is impolite to them to speak in a language that they don’t understand. So I automatically adjusted my own days and manners here to theirs while they are visiting and that slows me down a bit in exploring everything during my little four month adventure here.

The winter is coming over the Country now, that is really noticeable outside. For sure people will change their daily routines because they can’t be living on the streets all the time like they did the last sunny months.

Because I just arrived last September I only know the way of living here while the sun is making it nice and warm outside so being on the streets everyday is a pleasure. Now that it is winter I would love to get to know the way of living during the cold season as well. I can imagine people still meeting on the streets but now for going inside where it is warm and cozy. But I don’t want to just imagine it I want to be a part of it. So I hope that the few personal weeks that I have left here will be enough for that.

Next to that I’m far from done with meeting new people here, getting to know what keeps them busy and meeting their families and friends or going to there houses.

Tieme and me visiting Gorka and his family

Tieme and me visiting Gorka and his family

So the feeling about having visitors is a little bit strange and mixed, the only certain thing that I’ve realized now is that I’m all adjusted to a Basque life.

I like it.