Thursday, 9 May 2019

Poetry.

“The world is full of poetry. The air living with its spirit; and the waves dance to its music of its melodies, and sparkle in its brightness.” 
– James Gates Percival

Whenever I’m not travelling I read. Or at least, I try to.

Looking at my Goodreads Challenge I see something interesting happening this year. I’ve been reading a lot of poetry. Now, I’ve never been someone who read a lot of poetry. I was highly against the mainstream authors who created these sort of books. And look at me now… falling completely in the pool of modern poems!

It all started when I bought the book The Princess Saves Herself in this One. I don’t know why I decided to add it to my shopping basket, but I did. I’m happy I did. I read it and loved it, but I didn’t feel the need for more poems. 

My second poetry-read was Pillow Talks. This was an accidental buy. My friends and I were going to do Secret Santa. As a little elf for my friend, I discovered that she loves modern poetry and didn’t hesitate to buy this one as her gift. Of course I quickly found out she already owned this little paperback so here I was with the leftover present… It didn’t take long for me to try to give it a go. I read it in one sitting and never felt so much resemblance with the words written on those pages. 

After these two discoveries it didn’t take long for me to start collecting poetry books. 

It’s a nice way for me to have an escape from all the stress and to see reality through someone else’s eyes. A grasp to see the world from a different perspective. You’ll learn stories you never knew or thought about before that are happening in this life. 

I don’t know what my aim was with this post, but I surely will start creating a lot more content on here. You can expect posts about my travels, my love for books and even little articles I have to write for school about my experiences being part of the International Student Organisation. 

Let’s hope I didn’t bore you. 

See you x Elke

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

New Chapter, New ISO-Member

Why did I decide to become a core member of the International Student Organization? Travel, culture and meeting new people.

But first, let me start with the beginning…
(Me on the island of Suomenlinna, a 15 minute boatride away from the coast from Helsinki)

7 months ago I left on an Erasmus exchange myself. Never had I ever been so excited and scared at the same time! For the first time I was completely independent, living in a country where I knew nobody and didn’t speak the language. A big challenge. Culture shocks, miscommunications and feeling lonely were most definitely experiences that I had. This is why I wanted to be part of ISO. Because I know what these exchange students go through and although going abroad is fun, it also can be hard.

When I was in Finland I had a buddy too. The start of my mobility was in the middle of August, but I was already contacted in June! He sent me a long e-mail talking about who he is, what he does and about all the important things I needed to know before coming to Helsinki. After that I saw him the first time when orientation started on the 15thof August. It was a funny thing, because you talk with each other and all of the sudden you get to see the person in real life and, in the beginning you don’t really know what’s going on. Luckily the buddies there did help a lot. They guided us with the ISP’s, the personal issues as phone numbers and public transport and also showed us around the campus. 

Another good thing Finland had was the ESN-organization, Erasmus Student Network. Now being part of ISO, I know we want to become a member of the organization and I can only support this decision! ESN organized a lot of social events where you got the chance to meet cool new people who were in the same situation as me. Further they also replied to all our questions and always tried to help you if life got a little difficult. They organized even trips I only could’ve dreamt of! I went to St. Petersburg and Lapland. The history geek in me was fangirling the entire time when I was walking around in the Hermitage where all the tsars used to live and, the biggest nature lover in me was also crying as I had the chance to see the Northern lights! ESN is definitely an amazing organization and gave me a lot of beautiful memories. I hope I can do the same with ISO for others here. 

Going abroad was an amazing experience. I grew as a person and learned how to take care of myself. It felt a little weird when I came back home, living with my parents. I was so used to being confronted with different nationalities and other languages. I missed being part of a multicultural community. Luckily a close friend of mine recommended to become part of ISO. So here I am now. 3 months back in Belgium and a proud communication manager of the core team. I expect this to be an awesome time for people who come to live in Belgium and to be part of an international group again.  

(The Hermitage on a sunny day in October)
(The inside of the Hermitage)
(Last but not least, the Northern lights... I can die in peace now...)

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Discovering Scandinavia

Hello lovely people who are reading this blogpost. It is already the 5th of December, and here I am, writing only my third post… Despite the fact that I am not good at keeping everyone back home up to date, I decided to write a long article here about all my travels I have done up till now.

Living in Helsinki has granted me a lot of opportunities to discover the Scandinavian countries. I have now been able to visit Tallinn, Stockholm again (twice even), St. Petersburg, Porvoo, Oslo and Lapland. I still have some places left to see in Finland itself and those will be visited in the last 4 days of my exchange here. Turku and Tampere, get ready!

Now, the first place I visited when I arrived in Finland was Tallinn. Some of my friends from Belgium decided to visit Helsinki for a couple of days and it seemed like a fun idea to take the boat and sail to the other side of the Baltic Sea. Now I say it seemed like a fun idea. In reality I was ill, lying in the toilet for almost 3/4rd of the ride. Big shout out to my amazing friends who didn’t get seasick and stuck at my side while I was emptying my stomach. I really love you guys! Once we survived the horrid boat trip, we arrived and got to land to see the beautiful medieval city, Tallinn.

It was a nice change from Finland as Helsinki is a pretty modern city compared to Tallinn. The little streets were cute and the city square really made me feel as if I travelled back in time for about 500 years. I loved it there. Here are some little pics I took together with my friends.
(Tallinn September 2018)

My second and third trip I took from Helsinki were again Stockholm. In a previous post I already exclaimed my love for the city. I visited my second time with Inez, a close friend of mine from the exchange. Together we saw again the same stuff I did the first time, but we went in to the Royal Palace. Here we saw the changing of the guard too, just like I did with my parents in Copenhagen. Inez and I slept in a hostel which was a boat and ate a lot of cheap hotdogs and chicken nuggets, like normal students should!

The third time going to the city was with my boyfriend. He had already been to the city too, so we decided to not visit the obvious places. I mean we still went to the Old Town, but this time we decided to take a bus and drive all the way to this big palace called ‘Drottningholm’. It was created for all the queens of Sweden. Paul and I took a guided tour there and it was interesting to learn a little bit about the dynasty of Sweden as we both didn’t know much about it.

Oh and by the way, the boatride to Stockholm didn’t feel like hell! I didn’t get sick, which was a big relief!
(Stockholm October 2018)

Being a student in Helsinki has a lot of perks because Finland is situated next to Russia. Why is this so interesting? Because when you take a boat to St. Petersburg you are allowed to stay there for 72h visa-free! Thanks to the ESN and TimeTravels organization a lot of students got to go there.

For me it has always been a dream to visit the city. I’m intrigued by the Russian history of the tsars, plus I love the movie Anastasia (which was also the name of the boat we took)! We got to see so many beautiful places such as the St. Isaacs Cathedrale, the Hermitage (Winter Palace where the tsars used to live), The church of Spilled Blood and many more. I even had the opportunity to see the Swan Lake ballet of Tchaikovsky in the theatre of the Hermitage! I am in love with this city. The thing I discovered about the country is that it is very expensive to get into and to get a visa for, but once you’re in, it’s super cheap. I really recommend trying to visit the city if you love learning about history as much as I do!
(St. Petersburg October 2018)

After the travel to Russia it was time to take a little break of the big travels and so my boyfriend and I decided to make a daytrip to Porvoo. About this town: it is old and beautiful, but after 3 hours you’ve seen already everything there.

It’s situated an hour away from the capital of Helsinki and it’s easy to reach by bus. It was cold and the sun was already setting at 15 o’clock, but sure worth a visit.
(Porvoo November 2018)

A week after the visit to the little town, Provoo, my boyfriend and I took a spontaneous flight to Oslo, Norway. Arriving there at the airport was interesting. I never have felt so welcome in a foreign country! The airport has parquet which makes it immediately feel cosy when walking around there. So the first impression of the country was good.

From the airport we took the train to the city centre and did some sightseeing there. We were welcomed by some beautiful light at the seaside where the Opera House is located. Despite the fact that it was cold, the sunrise sure was gorgeous. Every day we saw sunsets and sunrises as how they look in movies. So dreamy. I can 100% say that I’m in love with this city!

We saw places such as the Opera House, the palace, the Christmassy streets, the islands in front of the coast with nature, Langholmen and the statue park full of naked statues. Definitely one of my favourite cities I have ever been to!
(Oslo November 2018)

The last trip I took was again with ESN and TimeTravels. This time to Lapland! Now this trip was interesting as we had a long drive ahead of us. We left Helsinki at 22 in the evening and arrived around 12 o’clock the next day in Rovaniemi to visit Santa Claus Village (where the REAL Santa lives) to only leave at 14:30 again so we could arrive in Kilpisjärvi at 21 in the evening. As you can tell, it was the most exhausting travelling I’ve ever done.

The sun came up between 10-11 and went back down completely between 15-16 which was a crazy experience. My body was super confused and wanted to sleep the entire time. Luckily between those few hours of daylight we got to do some cool stuff such as learning Artic Skills (now I say learning… I still would die in that cold), driving a snowmobile (here again, I say driving… I let my boyfriend drive that machine after I almost killed both of us when I was at the steer) and visit Tromso in Norway.
(Kilpisjärvi December 2018)

The most amazing experience was seeing the northern lights. It has always been my dream to see them ever since I was little and saw Brother Bear. I was so happy we got to see them as they had been hiding the entire time behind clouds. Now, I can die in peace knowing I fulfilled this dream of mine!
(Somewhere in Norway December 2018)

As you can tell by this super long blogpost, I did not really have much time to write… So hopefully this makes up for it! I promise to update you about living in Helsinki and my future roadtrip once I’m back home in Belgium.


Thank you if you’ve read this entire book and are still here. I appreciate it!