Archive for the ‘Netherlands’ Category

looking back on the past year

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Over a year ago, in February 2011, I set out on a great adventure: for 6 months I was going to work and live in the Shelter, a Christian youth hostel in Amsterdam, and afterwards I would work and travel in the Americas for 6 months. It’s been over three months since it all ended, and I would like to share something about how I look back on my trip, and what I’ve learned during the past year. These are personal insights, but perhaps you can take something from them.

Highlights
Since my return, many people have asked: what was the most memorable part of your trip? (more…)

in between

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Ok, catching up!

My time in The Shelter ended with the end of August. I’ll write more about that another day, but to put it short: I had the time of my life.
The past few weeks I spent in Dordrecht with my parents. After a few days, Shelter-withdrawal set in and I felt a bit numb. There were also good things going on though, I got to hang out with a lot of people from home, went back to Amsterdam a few times, and had a new interesting experience: I went to my old highschool to teach some classes, as a part of a series on christianity.

But mostly I was occupied with preparing the next part of my adventure: my 6 month trip to Latin America! Tomorrow I am getting on the plane to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I will spend a few days Couchsurfing with some people. And then.. you’ll have to wait ’till my next update.

Next update will be from the Southern Hemisphere!

er op uit

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Weer even terug, naar eind april..

Het is leuk om te zien wat voor verschillende mensen er hier in het hostel verblijven. De meesten zijn jongeren, uit West- en Zuid-Europa, Noord- en Zuid-Amerika, Australië en het oosten van Azië. Maar bijvoorbeeld ook: een bejaarde Australiër, een Frans gezin met kleine kinderen, een groep Nederlandse meiden (voor een vrijgezellenfeest), en vluchtelingen, vooral uit Afrika en het Midden-Oosten. Deze worden bij ons geplaatst via andere organisaties, en we noemen ze dan ook ‘organisatiegasten’. Vaak zitten ze in een moeilijke situatie en wij kunnen dan veel voor ze betekenen door er gewoon voor hen te zijn. Soms kunnen we ook wat delen over ons geloof. Zo heb ik bijzondere ontmoetingen gehad met mensen uit o.a. Irak, Egypte, Liberia, Sierra Leone en Iran, en ik heb mogen zien dat het ze goed deed om bij ons te zijn.

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Koninginnedag/nacht hier was een gekkenhuis… (more…)

meer dan rozegeur en maneschijn

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

We gaan even terug naar begin april.. tijd voor een inhaalspurt!
Ik heb nog geen moment spijt gehad van mijn keuze om in The Shelter te gaan werken, het leven hier biedt veel mooie en goede dingen. Maar intussen ben ik er achter dat het niet alleen maar rozegeur en maneschijn is; er zijn ook minder leuke aspecten, en ook de nodige uitdagingen (maar daarvoor ben ik hier ook!). Natuurlijk heel logisch allemaal, maar ik moest het even ervaren, denk ik.

Ok, een paar toffe dingen waar ik mee bezig ben geweest! (more…)

het ‘echte werk’

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Vorige keer had ik het over de nieuwe comfort zone waar ik in zit, niet lang daarna werden me al een paar mogelijkheden aangereikt om eruit te stappen. Dus dat heb ik maar gedaan!
Het begon met een hele rustige shift ‘s middags, waar ik me even afvroeg of ik nog wel echt nuttig bezig was.

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een nieuwe comfort zone

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Het is een uitdaging om opeens met 40 mensen samen te wonen die je (nog) niet kent. Maar het went snel. Langzaamaan leer ik iedereen een beetje kennen en dan kom je erachter wat een toffe mensen het allemaal zijn. En dan blijkt het ongelooflijk cool te zijn om in zo’n gemeenschap te leven!

Eens kijken.. er gebeurt zoveel in The Shelter dat ik hier lang niet alles kan beschrijven, dus het zullen vooral fragmenten zijn.
Een van de programma’s die we hier organiseren voor gasten zijn film discussies. We hebben een selectie van films die we hiervoor kunnen gebruiken, gewone ‘seculiere’ films, met een boodschap die stof geeft tot nadenken en gesprek. Laatst heb ik er een meegemaakt; we keken Big Fish met een aantal gasten. Zeker een film waar een hoop over te zeggen valt. Na afloop was er ruimte voor iedereen om zijn gedachten over de film te delen. Twee stafleden die de avond hadden voorbereid legden vervolgens een aantal links met de bijbel. Een leuke en zinvolle avond!
Ik heb aangegeven dat ik dit ook graag wil doen, en de komende tijd zal ik hier een paar trainingen voor krijgen als onderdeel van ‘MTP’.

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eerste indrukken

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Ok folks, I don’t know how many non-Dutch speaking readers are reading this, but I’ve decided to write in Dutch for the next 6 months.

Ik loop nu al achter met bloggen, maar hier een indruk van de eerste drie dagen (maandag t/m woensdag). Foto’s heb ik nog niet gemaakt, maar anderen wel, dus die volgen hopelijk nog.

Onderweg in de trein naar Amsterdam. Eerder die ochtend voelde ik voor het eerst de zenuwen opkomen, maar nu waren ze eigenlijk alweer verdwenen. Een goed stukje muziek doet soms wonderen (evenals bidden). Zo kwam ik op een druilerige maandagochtend aan in het Community House van The Shelter, in de Jordaan in Amsterdam. Mijn woning voor de komende 6 maanden, en hopelijk ook mijn thuis.
Ik werd verwelkomd door Dennis, de ‘houseparent’ die de community hier runt. Een deel van de stafleden zat te lunchen en ik kon meteen aanschuiven. De meeste mensen komen uit Nederland, Duitsland en Amerika, verder zijn er een paar mensen uit Mexico, Zuid-Korea en nog wat Europese landen. In het begin was het wat onwennig, maar al snel had ik wat leuke contacten.

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starting a new adventure

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

One more day before I start my adventure. So how did I end up here?

After my trip to South America in 2009 I thought I was done making long trips for a while. It had been an amazing experience, but there had also been some downsides to it, and for some reason those seemed to matter more. Not sure why.
In the fall of 2009 a Couchsurfing friend from Switzerland visited me, and she told me about The Shelter, two Christian hostels in Amsterdam where you can work as a volunteer. I checked it out and it seemed like an awesome thing to do. Bad timing though; I had just started a new job. So I put the idea on the shelf.

I started analyzing my 2009 trip and I realised that there had been mostly good times, and if I’d tried a little harder, I probably could have avoided some of the bad times. So another long trip could be an option.
Also, the idea of working at The Shelter kept lingering in my head. And so I decided to combine these two ideas. Starting in March 2011 I would take a year off, work at The Shelter and live in Amsterdam for a half a year and then travel for another 6 months. I thought about the destination, and decided to return to South America, combined with Central America.

You might be wondering: what drives you to do something like this? Well, various things. On the one hand, there’s a desire for adventure and new experiences. I hope to learn from that and further develop myself as a person. On the other hand I want to set some time apart put my faith into practice, and do something for my (far away) neighbor.
Concerning the trip to Latin America; this is an area that I’ve visited twice now, and feel attracted to because of the culture, people, environment and language. I want to do more than “just” visit, I hope to do something meaningful for the countries/peoples as well. And so the idea to do some short volunteer projects came to mind.
I figured if I want to do it, I better do it now. No mortgage, no girlfriend, I guess this is the right time.

I quit my job a few weeks ago. It was flattering to hear that, if possible, they would like me to come back next year. The following week was both fun (because I stayed with some awesome friends) and stressful (because moving is just a heck of a job). Finally, last week I got to relax a bit while staying with my parents.

I guess I’m ready to go? Strangely enough, I’m quite calm about it. I’m still waiting for my nerves to show up. Not that I miss them or anything.

2011

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

So here we are, 2011. About to turn my life upside down this coming year. First, I’m giving up my job and apartment. Then, from March through August I am going work at The Shelter, a christian youth hostel in Amsterdam. After that, I’m planning to travel in Latin America for half a year, starting in Argentina and ending in Mexico.

I’ll tell you my story later..

summer vibes

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

I’ve been back home for over a month now, and it feels like my trips to South America and Florida were ages ago. It wasn’t that hard to get used to being back; I started working a couple of days after I got home from Florida, and before I knew it, I was back in the daily routine.

Fortunately, on the 15th I got myself another small break; I attended the 4-day Dour festival in the south of Belgium. It’s quite a big festival, with mostly underground music; anything from hardcore to ska to indie to electronic music. I went with Otto, Josse and… Tim! Who had surprised everyone by coming back a month earlier than he’d told us.

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Sitting by our tents singing songs

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“at a Frans Bauer show”

Fun festival! I hadn’t really thought about the fact that it was in French-speaking part of Belgium though. So every now and then I had to dig back into my highschool-acquired knowledge of French.. quite some time ago, but along the way it started coming back a bit. Sometimes however, when I wanted to say something in French, all that came out was Spanish.. haha. I saw some great bands like Isis and The Red Chord, though on the second day I didn’t see much because of a hospital adventure (this time it wasn’t me). And on Saturday, day 3, I already went back home, because I didn’t want to miss the Big Rivers festival in Dordrecht AND two Couchsurfing friends from Spain who would be there. They also stayed with me two years ago during Big Rivers, and liked it so much they wanted to come back.

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Desorden Publico playing at the “big church” stage

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with my CS friends from Spain

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crowd at Scheffersplein

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overview of Statenplein, while The Animals were playing

It turned out to be a good decision; it was fun to see my friends again, and the festival was just amazing. It’s become possibly my favorite festival over the years.. there is something about being able to see some great bands (anything from ska to blues to rock) on many different stages all throughout the old town of your city, accompanied by so many familiar faces. The festival was a bit smaller than last year, due the economical crisis, but still they managed to deliver a great line-up. Some of my favorites were Boo Boo Davis, The Upsessions, The Blackbirds (Beatles coverband from Hungary), The Toasters and Shiner Twins.

Besides that I’m trying to make something out of the summer, despite that I have to work. Ah, how I miss going to school and having a 8-week summer break.. haha. But it has worked pretty well so far. Of course there are the weekly concerts in the Wantijpark, always a fun place to hang out. Had a couple of barbecues with friends, visited some relatives, played a lot of music and biked to Rotterdam, where I visited some secondhand record stores and then took the Waterbus back.
I also had another Couchsurfer (from Austria/Italy) over earlier this week, and on Tuesday we set up our very own CS meeting, with about 15 people from Dordrecht, Rotterdam and Italy. It took place in one of the Irish pubs in Rotterdam. Great place, and they had this singer performing there, just with his acoustic guitar, playing Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Kinks.. all in his own kind of Irish folk style. He was amazing. What a night.

While browsing around in the Plaatboef in Rotterdam, I found this little vinyl gem:

The other night I was listening to it on my headphones and noticed how fine the production was. The compositions may not be as good as Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (though close), but it has an amazing sound I haven’t heard before on a jazz record. It’s just perfect.