Traveling Season

Hey, it’s me again!

Since my previous blog, I traveled to the Hague, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Gent, Kinderdijk, Luxembourg, and Efteling Theme Park. I would say Period 1 ended on a good note!

For the first time in my life, I traveled solo. I went to Rotterdam and Kinderdijk in the Netherlands, and Gent and Antwerp in Belgium(cheers to Maastricht’s convenient geographical location). It was truly a wonderful experience and I highly encourage everyone to go on a solo trip at least some point in their exchange.

Maybe it is just me, but not having a travel partner for the first time was exciting and a bit of stress! My apprehension before the trip mainly was due to how forgetful of a person I am. I was worried about leaving my passport in the hostel, missing the train, forgetting my charger and so on. Also, because I go to SBE, I did not have reflection week after my final, which was scheduled on the Friday two days before period 2. I could not go anywhere too far and the hostel was more expensive in the weekend, so I decided to visit somewhere in the Netherlands and Belgium that I haven’t been before two days before taking my final.

I did not plan a concrete itinerary and google “must-sees in…” like I would when traveling with others. Instead, I wandered in these cities at my natural pace and tried to let them lead my way. I did miss a bus, haha, and I almost lost my OV chipkaart at the train station, but I made it. It was a feeling that I had never felt before. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to go abroad and see the world. More importantly, I am grateful for myself for seizing this opportunity to make the most of my time here. I was a bit down when I got my final schedule, thinking that I would be stuck in my dorm studying while my friends go on fun adventures in Santorini and Rome. But it turned out great! 🙂

After final, my friend Janice and I went to the Efteling Theme Park for our birthday celebration. Our birthdays are only 5 days apart and we decided to do something fun together! The next day, we went to the Hague with 2 other friends because our friend Tamar, who is from there, offered to tour us around. Having a local guide to show us around is so great! The city was really beautiful and serene which I loved. Though some of the architecture resembled the ones in Maastricht, the Hague was more modern and energetic to me and I could see myself living there.

 

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The Hague

The following weekend, I went to Luxembourg with a couple of friends. This time my friend Jo who lives there offered to be our tour guide and host for dinner, and we could not thank her enough for that! Her family is the most loving and amazing host: Jo’s mom prepared a great dinner for us, and her dad drove us to the Vianden Castle the next day. We wouldn’t have been able to go there without a car because we had to catch the flixbus at 3pm. Plus, both Jo and her dad were awesome tour guides who explained the history and stories of the site very well. They made our trip incredibly fun and memorable. Sidenote: We all were so excited to visit a local’s home in Europe and even felt a bit homesick when we got there because we had not been in a house for months!

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Dinner at my friend’s house in Luxembourg
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Vianden Castle in Luxembourg

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This is a wrap for the blog this month. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I will be heading to Prague with ESN next week and I can’t wait to see the Xmas market there! I will also be going to Poland so stay tuned for more travel photos!

 

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A Traveller’s Food Guide

I don’t know if my food obsession came across enough in my previous blog post, but I thought that it deserved a post of its own. One thing that I am passionate about besides travelling and exploring is food. It has been my mission to ensure that I had a taste of the local foods at every city and country I visited. I truly believe in the importance of food tourism. It’s another way to learn and experience the culture and habits of the people (while also filling your belly).

It has been two months into my exchange experience and things keep getting exciting. I have been able to visit Liege, Antwerp, Bruges and Gent in Belgium, Cologne and Munich in Germany, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I ensured to make a list of tourist spots and food locations to check out at every location. This post is going to have a lot of drool-worthy pictures depicting my journey to possibly expanding my waistline (fingers crossed), so be prepared.

Belgium

 

I was under the impression that Belgian Waffles were just the ordinary waffles you would get at a diner, but I was wrong. So the first kind of waffle is called the “Liege Waffle” and it has a thick and fudgy texture. Its usually served with cinnamon and sugar and it is very filling. The other kind is called the “Brussels Waffle” that I ate in Antwerp (Brussels is yet to be visited). It was lighter and fluffier than the Liege Waffle and not at all filling. My friend and I had decided to eat that for dinner but we ended up going to McDonald’s (the obvious cheap option) right after since we were still hungry.

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The fairytale city of Bruges was filled with multiple Belgian Chocolate stores, and entering a store and not buying something seemed rude to do. So obviously, I got myself a good bag of Belgian Chocolates and Truffles to please the Chocolate Lords.

Germany

 

Germany is known for their style of cooking sausages. Bratwurst is a type of German sausage made from veal, beef, pork or chicken. They usually serve it as a hotdog in bread with a sauce of your choice (as in the first picture) or chopped up in a dish called Currywurst with fries and curry sauce. During my travels, I have come to learn that the Belgians, Germans and Dutch really like their fries and they usually sell them with a variety of sauces.

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The warm day in Cologne called for ice cream so we made a stop for gelato at one of the most popular spots in the city. Dulce Ice cream had a wide variety of flavours to pick from but I decided on getting a scoop of raspberry and hazelnut because two scoops are better than one.

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I couldn’t have gone to Oktoberfest and not got myself the typical German beer snack. The Brezel or Pretzel was the perfect match to the ginormous jugs of beer we were all consuming. It was soft, fresh and delicious, although the pretzel was way too big and my friend and I could barely finish it up.

Netherlands

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The Dutch Fries were highly recommended to me by the people at my hostel and they did not fail to live up to their expectations. The line for the place was huge, and even though I spent about 30 minutes waiting for the fries, they were worth it. They were warm, crunchy and comforting and put the McDonald’s fries to shame.

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The Poffertjes are a traditional Dutch batter treat. They resembled small, fluffy pancakes, but they had a light and spongy texture. I went for the classic version of these with butter and icing sugar and they were heavenly. My plate came with almost 20 of the mini pancakes and I was close to exploding after my 12th piece, but I somehow managed to finish it all up (yes, I’m a bit of a beast when it comes to food).

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I could not have left Amsterdam without trying out the best fresh stroopwafels of the city. The stall was in the Albert Cuyp market and they have been listed in multiple food blogs and magazines for their ever famous stroopwafels. I got mine with chocolate and it was warm and not excessively sweet. I absolutely loved it and I almost bought a second one, but I held back on my gluttonous impulses.

My food obsession has most probably come across as very gluttonous and insane but I enjoy experiencing new places through their food too. My upcoming travels have more promising local treats and I cannot wait to talk about them in my next post.

The one with the turism

Hello again! 2 months and a half have passed since I’m living in this incredible city. Since the last time I did my exam at Meec which was quite terrifying because the place where you do the exam is huge and could fit i think almost 600 people at the same time, but if you are prepared it will be fine 🙂

My boyfriend came to vistit so I decided to be a turist in my own city and went to visit the Fort Sin Pierre and the caves in Maastricht. It costs around 10 euros and I think is is worth the visit, not only because it’s beautiful, but also because you get to know a part of the history of Maastricht.

I also went to London to watch a football game of my team in Portugal, Sporting CP, that played against Arsenal, in the Emirates. I went with some friends and it was so much fun! The flights are cheap from Cologne and from Eindhoven so if you have the opportunity visit this city!

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I visited Cologne when I went there to catch my flight to London and I think the city is nice and has a beautiful cathedral but it´s quite small.

20181107_161604_resizedToday is 11 of November and it´s the day Maastricht celebrates the first day of carnival!

Everyone goes to the Vrijthof and dances, eats and drinks. If you are in Maastricht in this day don´t miss this event!

See you in the next post! 🙂

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Europe, a Foodies Paradise

Dear Readers,

Hello Again! It’s hard to believe the semester is more than halfway over, and in just a little over a month I will be flying back home to Chicago. Since my last blog, my daily life here in Maastricht has changed a bit. My classes have changed and I think these courses are going to me much easier than my last courses, but I think anything will be easier than my Finance and Accounting course from last period. Anyone coming to Maastricht on exchange, I highly recommend not taking that course. It was extremely difficult and not worth the stress while I was trying to enjoy my short time here in Europe. I am currently taking Global Supply Chain Management and Marketing Management, and I think both of these courses have been very interesting so far. As a bonus the Global Supply Chain course doesn’t have an exam!

After the exam week last period I met my parents in Amsterdam for a couple of days, and then we traveled to Barcelona for a few days before coming back to Maastricht. It was really nice to see my parents and travel with them. It was hard to say goodbye, but I know it won’t be long before I’m back home.

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My mom and I in Barcelona

One of my favorite parts about living here in Maastricht, and having the opportunity to see many different parts of Europe, has been trying all the different, amazing food! I enjoy trying new things and eating local dishes from everywhere I’ve been.  The food my parents and I had in Barcelona was amazing! Everyday we ate patatas bravas, paella, croissants, churros, café con leche, and sangria, everything was amazing! In addition to the delicious food in Barcelona, we ate at il bacaro here in Maastricht. This Italian restaurant was a little pricy, but if you want to treat yourself you definitely won’t be disappointed! It is a tapas themed Italian restaurant and the pasta and seafood was amazing. My mom thought since we’d been eating tapas all week we might as well continue here in Maastricht, and il bacaro did not disappoint!

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Churros 
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Paella and Pizza 

It has also been fun cooking for myself and sharing the kitchen with others to see what everyone else is making for dinner. Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Europe, all of my friends here have never had a Thanksgiving dinner. So, in two weeks I will be preparing a Thanksgiving meal for everyone in my hall. I think it will be nice to share something from home with everyone here. As I’ve been planning what to make and when to make everything, I now realize why my mom was always so stressed leading up to the big day, this meal is a ton of work! Last week I practiced making an apple pie and it turned out okay, but it was very time consuming. For Thanksgiving I plan on making a pumpkin pie! I will take pictures of everything and post in on next months blog!

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Homemade Apple Pie

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My entire hall in the Guesthouse is full of amazing chefs, every night our kitchen looks like a gourmet restaurant. They have inspired me to make new things and I think that dinner time here is going to be one of the things I miss most. Last week I made an eggplant marinara bake, which was inspired by something I had in Barcelona. Our hall also had a traditional Spanish omelets dinner on Friday, the two Spanish girls in our hall prepared the omelets, sangria and rice pudding!

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Eggplant Marinara Bake
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Traditional Spanish Dinner
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Rice Pudding

The rest of the semester is going to move quickly! In a couple of weeks I’m going to visit my friend Alice, from home, in Brussels for the weekend. The first weekend in December I’m going to Luxembourg with some girls I met here in Maastricht and the weekend after that I’m visiting my friends Hannah and Maria, from home, in Madrid! Then it will be time for exams and then I’ll be taking my last train ride from Maastricht to Amsterdam to fly home. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my time here eating good food and spending time with friends!

Until next time,

Natalie

One day at FACTS

Belgium convention on Super Heroes (kind of comic con) with more Japanese style / atmosphere in it (it’s like Paris Manga if you know it).

FACTS took place in Gent, at Flanders Expo, on September 28/29th.

I chose to attend this event because JMO OMG.

Okay let’s do it from the start, I am a huge fan of Once Upon A Time! I’ve already met some actors of the show in 2 conventions in France.

But I didn’t get the chance yet to meet the actress who’s playing the main character, Emma Swan (played by Jennifer Morrison “JMo”).

And she actually attended this event!

She’s also attending the Comic Con in Netherlands, in Utrech on November 24/25th (TO CHECK) and I was not sure on which one to attend.

EDIT: She canceled the Dutch Comic Con, Rebecca Madder (the Wicked Witch) is going at her place!

I finally chose FACTS because it was sooner, so of course more guests were announced, I had nothing schedule for this weekend and the entrance ticker was cheaper! (Especially when you wear a cosplay, which I did).

Also few weeks before I found out that Tom Felton was also attending the event 😍 (aka Draco Malefoy in… you know right? 🐍)

I’ve met him already, years ago at the very first Harry Potter convention in France, back in 2010. At the time his extras weren’t that expensive! So I chose not to take extra with him and just assit to his Q&A panel.

(For those who don’t know what a convention is; it’s an event organize by an organization, usually around a film or show like Harry Potter, Lords of the Ring, Once Upon A Time, Arrow, Flash, Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries and all those things… The event lasts 2/3 days in a location, usually in a hotel. During this event, actors of the movie / shows are invited, sometime producers / scenarists as well, and also French voices. You can buy photo shoots and autographs with your favorite guests, of all of them! Different passes are available to attend a con(vention), obviously the cheapest one includes nearly no extra and the most expensive one is the one which includes the most (but not all). There’s also Questions & Answers (Q&A) session / panel with actors. Organisation try not to put any autograph / photoshoot sessions at the same moment you everyone can assist to everything. During autograph / photoshoot sessions, they organise activities like cosplay competition, singing competition, quizz etc …

Some cons also offer Meet & Greet (M&G) where, as mentioned, you meet your idol for 20/30 min in a small group (around 20 people max)

Some other cons also offer other kind of activities like this like dinner meet & greet, big meet and greet with all actors with selfies possible etc …

I know it could sound completely weirdo to do that and could be seen as a waste of time and money but I am into it! And honestly, I am definitely not part of those you buy several autographs / photoshoot with the same guest several years in a row with M&G and so on…)

FACTS is not a convention in that way. It’s just a big event around super heroes, as mentioned in the beginning or my article 🙂

I attended this event on Saturday! Here are some pictures:

 

SPORTS AT UM SPORTS

Hoi!

First of all, I swear I am not receiving anything from UM Sports to promote them! 😂 But they do deserve some promotion!

So far I’ve been enjoying doing a bit of sport almost everyday!

For those who don’t know, there are 3 kinds of membership at UM Sports:

  • Basic, access to all the walk in classes (on a first arrived, first served basis)
  • Sports, access to all the walk in and course classes (course class is a kind of extra class with an extra fee where you need to sign up, which means you always have your spot in the class) + the is the membership you need if you want to join a sport association / club
  • Gym, basically an access to the gym and to some classes reserved for the gym!

And Zuyd students are very welcomed! (However sports and gym memberships are more expensive for them as their school don’t pay anything to UM Sports)

As I don’t like training at the gym, I just have a sports membership!

When I arrived in Maastricht (for the 2nd time, after introduction days as I came back to Paris for my long weekend), I literally brought a bike few hours after my arrival, the same evening I was at the Krav Maga class with a friend! 🤼‍♀️

I hadn’t plan on buying a bike but didn’t realize that UM Sports is actually 1-hour walk from my place 🤔🙄 vs. 20 min bike (just because I am biking a bit slow…) 🚲

So let’s analyze all the classes I’ve tried so far! (I am going to either update this article or make a new one because I am definitively not going to stop there!)

Following classes are listed by order I’ve tried them:

Krav Maga, self defense class! 🤼‍♀️ I really enjoy this class, I always wanted to learn self defense because I don’t always feel comfortable walking in small streets in Paris being a girl… I’ve met more than one weirdo!

The most tiring part of the class: definitely the warm-up! The warm up at the 1st class was okay, at the 2nd one it was just freaking killing me!

EDIT: Actually the class itself is now really tiring as well ahah

The only one thing is from one week to another you tend to forget everything you’ve learnt 😕 So I asked the teacher if next time it is possible to repeat what we’ve learnt at the begging of each session of we remember!

Cheerleading try-out, the life of my life! I had to send my resume for the try-out, and learn a dance routine. Unfortunately I have not been chosen by the teams, essentially because I am here only half a year and they are looking for people who can contribute the whole year for the coming competitions and honestly, I suck at tremblings… Only learnt how to do a cartwheel 2 days before the try-out!

Salsa intermediate class (just after my cheerleading try-out, how fun!), as is was the free try-out, the room was really full of people! And as it was the 2nd class of the evening, the room was pretty sweaty as well… I like the class! But I think it was a bit too overcrowded…

Muay Thai

Boxing

Gymnastics with Saturnus! I’ve joined the association,

Hatcha Yoga (actually don’t remember when I tried this one exactly…)

Climbing (at UM Sports and IVY): I’ve joined MassSAC association, because I always wanted to get back to climbing. I’ve climbed for 2 years and a half in France, during high school and first year of University, I used to climb with my best friend but our schedules did not work anymore! I’m really happy to be able to practice it again. The walls are so nice at IVY gym (in Sittard)! Highest walls are 20 meters high, which is actually super high ahah!

Strength and conditioning

Body and mind mix

 

To come:

Power yoga

Box-it

Karate

And probably some fitness class (steps, core power etc…)

And that’s not it!

One of my thing is POLE DANCE (yeah the sexy thing with the barre)

I’ve started in Australia, in March, during my internship. I’ve been training quite a lot there, I would say 10h per week on average over the months… Started with 3 hours per week… Up to 25 hours when I was preparing my competition… 😬 (yeah I manage my internship + my pole training + my babysitting)

No pain, no gain! (And pole dance is actually really painful!)

Back to France I had to stop for a bit (summer holidays…), took some classes sometimes…

I was hoping to get back to it in Maastricht! Unfortunately the only place which offers pole dance class is in a fitness center.

I’ve done a trial there, I didn’t enjoy it… the class was not really well prepared, all the levels are a bit mixed, we are 2 to 3 per pole… we were a bit on our own to try to do the moves the teacher was showing… at this level, some moves  are a bit dangerous to try without someone to spot you… But the classes are very cheap so it can worth it in a sense.

However, I’ve decided to train on my own, because fortunately I have my own pole in my room!

And guess what, I’m also OFFERING INTRODUCTION AND BEGINNER POLE DANCE CLASSES! Contact me for more details 🙂

💪🏻🧗🏻‍♀️🤸🏻‍♀️🚴🏻‍♀️🧘🏻‍♀️🥊✨

The one with the trips and exams

Hi there!

1 month and a half have passed since I’m living in Maastricht! Since the last time I posted I went to the Oktoberfest in Munique, Aia and Amesterdam for my birthday! It has been an amazing journey and I’m learning so much!

I went to Oktoberfest in the last weekend of September. Me and my friends decided to rent a car in Aachen and drive for 5 hours to Munique since this option was the cheapest we could find 🙂 If you are studying in Maastricht or any place near Germany this is an experience you shouldn’t miss! It was a sunny day and the festival was crowded because of that and it took a lot of time to get into a tent to eat and taste the beer. But the atmosphere of the festival is really awesome! The fact that everyone is dressed properly it’s really fun! So my advice is if you have the opportunity go to the Oktoberfest you should go because probably is once in a lifetime!

 

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My parents decided to visit me for my Birthday so we went to Aia and Amsterdam! It was a really fun day and the weather was great! In Amesterdam we did a boat trip around the city that costs more or less 13 euros and I think it is worth it! We also wanted to go to Anne Frank museum but you need to book it with like one month in advance so Icouldn’t go.

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AIA

 

Now the travelling needs to stop for a while because this is exam week!

A month and a half gone and I feel like now I’m really used to the PBL and it’s getting easier to particpate and get better grades. The exams are coming and I’m a bit nervous because I chose a course that is doing exam for the first time (Operations Management) so I’m a little bit scared of what’s coming! Wish me luck!

If you want a spot to study in the library in the exam week you better wake up early and run because I’ve never seen a place to study so full!

I hope for the next post to have a lot more trips to share with you!

See you next time 🙂