Happy New Year!

Spring has got to be on its way! Days have gotten sunnier and I feel… happier!

Looking back at the New year’s resolutions and promises,  I can only agree they’ve been a big fail. I’ll probably fill in the exchange report after my time in the Netherlands as this blog simply does not serve the purpose at all…

I was on a good track though. I had listed a couple of things I wanted to mention here and had planned to write a new entry on my way back from France. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I was victimized by a terrible stomach flu the whole trip long, so no way I could write anything! Yeah, I puked like 7 times between home (France) and home (Holland); in the train, in the train station, in the bus… gross and embarrassing really, especially that the bags my mom had sent me on the road with had holes in them ….. 😀

Well, Christmas was great, I had a blast! Even though it wasn’t a white Christmas at all sadly, but grey and dark; electricity crashed a couple of times and I had to start cooking at the light of the candles.
New Year was even greater, having my Danish friend around was pure joy … and all that booze!

Shortly after they left, I finally adopted my long awaited kitten. Lilith is a silly, spirited 6 months kitten and since the 5th of January, my traveling companion and partner in crime 😉
(More pictures of Lilith in another post)

hehe IMG_20131228_181444 IMG_20140221_210033

My weeks have been quite busy after that with the deadlines and exams, and if after all the International Music Course was way different than what I thought, I can still say I learned something out of it, and I am satisfied with my grades.

Also after the exam week, the one semester exchange students left and with them my dear friends Jooyeon and Miriam. Had a little “down moment” after they left but Miriam promised to visit so I had something to look forward too. Now the newbies have arrived, they all seem great even though I haven’t had that much contact with them. I should probably get out of my cave sometime and go meet them.

The new course we’ve started here is called Events Production, and all I can say is that it started off quite intense! The main task is to organize a sustainable festival (on paper!) for about 50.000 attendants, and thanks to CE and festival experience most things seem quite obvious to me. Now the workload is absolutely huge, but my team is just amazing and everything goes on smooth and perfect! And thanks to that being all under control I can focus on searching for an internship, well searching has becoming waiting for replies now… and I’m feeling pretty much like this now 😀

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Haha, well thanks for reading and Goodbye for now,
Greetings from Haarlem X

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Late again…

Late again! Once more I didn’t write anything in a while and it seems all my good resolutions for next time crumble as soon as I finish a post. And as my notebooks fill with stories and adventures and memories, this blog remains empty. However I have been good at summing up long periods into short posts so here we are again.

After Gary disappeared it didn’t take long for Elliot to take his place as valiant, ô beloved ride. Elliot is a sparkly champagne colored bike, slightly smaller than Gary and shows regular city bike features rather than granny bike ones… Elliot is a bit fragile too but a real sweet-bike if you ask me!

School has been going just fine. The International Music Publishing course is interesting and the tasks are fun and have given me food for thought. I can finally say I am learning something useful for my future. Only there are a lot of copyright courses, and if I first was really excited about having those again I quickly realized they were a total bore. The teacher has kept on repeating things I already knew in a completely confusing and unstructured way. I too, had troubles seeing the interest in the research courses we have had, oh well. The class is a lot nicer than the previous one and well, it’s the winter break already so I’m all happy.

Let’s see, what else has put me in this irritating cheerful mood ? Well, another karaoke night with friends, an afternoon in Utrecht, doing lights for Mindshade, an improvised trip to a fantasy festival in Alphen aan den Rijn, my aunt’s visit, the idea of getting a cat, that I finally got to see The Hobbit (not quite as good as the first one but still a good entertainment), my frequent trips to Ikea, my amazing mexican wraps the other day, the random invitation for tea from THE green sorceress of Haarlem ( a lovely lady who owns a game and book shop and for whom I want to bake muffins after New Years!) …

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As I write I’m on my way to France again, to spend Christmas with my mom and brothers, and I keep my fingers and toes crossed for a white Normandy. A snowy Christmas… Oh how I wish a snowy Christmas, at least to balance my disappointment towards the Christmas culture in the Netherlands. It seems their hearts belong to Sinter Klaas and that grotesque Zwarte Piet, and my beloved Santa Claus is just another reason to feast. Alright, alright, I’ll agree that the Christmas market was okay-ish, but seriously people, it’s H*ly M*ther CHRISTMAS!!!

However, Haarlem has seen some pretty winter mornings in the past weeks and I have once more regretted I didn’t have my camera with me. The sun shining on the glittery frost running along the canals offered a dreamy vision. That added to my growing Christmas feeling was just magical. Still I miss Finland and I have hopelessly dreamt every morning, waking up to the silence of falling snow.
Will I be luckier in January? January is announced to be full of surprises and my new and hopefully efficient blog writing program will kick in then too. In the meantime, I promise a last post before the New Years.

Hihi

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Long Time, No See !

Yesterday Gary was taken away and I had to realize how much of a good companion he had been to me for the last three months. Driving me from A to B rain or shine, at anytime of the day or night, we had together, braved crowded roads, stormy winds and drunken wanders home. Gary was a faithful bike and he is already cruelly missed. May the thief be unlucky forever and burn in hell for that my feelings are truly hurt; I however wish it treats Gary well. Gary forever in my heart!

Hello there!

It is the tragic event of my stolen bike yesterday that made me look back in time and realize how late I am with keeping this blog. Over two months have passed since my last post and my first course at InHolland has started and ended without me even mentioning it. I will not lose my time searching for excuses and will in complete honesty admit that I have been really lazy with writing. Friends and family have heard of me enough and I didn’t feel like sharing on the Internet too much. However it is time to briefly sum up the last two months of my life in the Netherlands and elsewhere and seriously keep this blog up to date again.

The first weeks here have all been about registration at the City Hall, opening a bank account and making my way through town. If administration all went smoothly you need a lot of patience to get through those, just saying. I also had to make my room a cozy nest for myself to feel more comfortable in my new home. Erasmus life went on after the introduction week but I tried to go local more and more and met some nice people outside of the international crowd. Still I made some great pals among the exchange students and tried to keep up with the Finns of my class too. Because the Global Media Perspectives course had only one contact class per week I had to entertain myself not to be too bored. First I managed to keep busy meeting up with friends, going to the lake when the weather allowed it, going to gigs around town, work on personal projects etc. but even when the schoolwork kicked in I slowly started to get bored anyway and a bit homesick too. So I took advantage of being in “Europe” again to travel around. I have been to Brussels and Paris in September for gigs and to Copenhagen, Paris and home in Normandy in October.

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Presenting my idea of the Future of Product Placement to the class.

A word about school and the Global Media Perspectives course:
First of all I should mention the main difference between JAMK and InHolland; the teaching methods are really different. When JAMK is all about guiding its students all along the learning experience and that teachers are willing to help students with their concerns, InHolland advocates autonomy and “Google it!” seems to be the most common answer to students’ questions. It is a good a thing I guess but believe me, the “figure it out yourself” is slightly overused here and not at all practical as an exchange, when you are supposed to adapt to a whole different school system in record time. I have sometimes felt alone or lost at school, when I needed a quite place to work for instance and that booking a classroom is only possible via a teacher or that I needed help with the school online services.

However when it comes to the Global Media Perspectives course I can only feel content! Not getting too much into details; this course has been quite of an experience. The teacher was sweet and inspiring and his experimental teaching methods quite fun. I learned a lot about the media industry which I usually disregard in favor of the music business. In fact I ended up working in the TV related group and so caught up with new media trends and technologies. My team was great, our working atmosphere rocked, and if you’re interested in what type of stuff we’ve been working this link (http://issuu.com/remotevolution/docs/remotevolution_vfinal3) leads to the awesome E-magazine we had to create as an assignment.

Ezine Launch

The awesome TV team at our E-magazine; RemotEvolution launch.

Hum, so this was two months summed up in REALLY short… I just should be more regular with writing! And so you know what’s up with me right now:
Despite Gary disappeared I’m doing well. Today I started a new course, the International Music Publishing course and *cries of joy* I’m back on studying copyrights. Yeah Global Media Perspectives was awesome but I did miss music related business… On Thursday I’m going to see Kadavar for the first time, it’s a band I really adore and the hippie in me is already bouncing in excitement. I’ll also be working at the local venue Patronaat this month. I have about 4 gigs booked which means some looong hours to play with the Pearl.

Alright, I’ll be back soon,
Peace out & pray for Gary!

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Busy Week – Pt.2 – Punks in Finland look so much cuter!

Suite and end of this week.

Thursday school started at 11, with a presentation about the Dutch education system and how
students are supposed to work at InHolland. Iris the international coordinator wanted to have an “interactive” talk and I found this hour pleasant. Then the ESN buddies officially introduced themselves before taking us to a tour of the school, two buddies were missing but Nino, Bart and Ziye did a great job!!!
After lunch the whole group gathered on the field in front of school and played another get-to-know game. We then went for a walk at the national park. That park and the ‘t Wed lake are such a MUST SEE for who comes to Haarlem. If feels like a whole other country and the sudden change from the cute streets of Bloemendaal to the Kennemerduinen’s savannah is funny to experience. I can’t believe we missed this place with my mom and brother, we were staying at a camping a bit further down that very same road.
Whatever, the beach was pretty and we played some more games there before heading back to school.

I got home, made myself some dinner and rested a bit. That night I was to meet Marcel, my contact person at the local concert venue Patronaat where I applied to be a volunteer light engineer. Patronaat is a huge, superb place, and I nearly cried out of joy when I saw the gear they have there and felt so excited about learning how to use all that stuff. I don’t want to talk any more about it yet. I should only mention this one band which was playing there and totally blew my mind: http://etexploreme.bandcamp.com/

After my meeting at Patronaat I joined the ESN Pub Crawl which had already started. I found my fellow students at their fourth pub, an awesome jazz bar where a band was totally rockin’ the place!!!
We visited 3 other bars after that, having a lot of fun in all of them, dancing, drinking and socializing a lot!!! It was great! BUT of course shit always happens to me, and at some point after ordering what would be my last drink in that last bar I turned around realizing every one had left. EVERY ONE! but Bart who told me the others had gone to some club. As I said I didn’t want to go there, Bart offered me a ride home which was very welcome and I thought: best buddy ever!

Friday morning was time for me to do some paperwork and chill. And it’s only from 13.00 that I joined the ESN Hangover Brunch at DUWO. I had to laugh at those tired faces; I was just fine, but of course I hadn’t drink that much the night before. After the brunch the whole group went for a city visit. I was in Nino’s group and even before we started our tour we got stopped by some Dutch students asking our help to do some kind of Freshmen task for their study association, we had to pretend we were rowing a boat, which reminded me of this really awful Schlager video Bella had sent me once, and I felt really odd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ32tf0iIzU

After this really unexpected yet entertaining little parenthesis we went on on our tour where Nino showed us some awesome places I definitely will have to visit again sometime! When we came back to Grote Markt we were divided into other groups for a picture game; the purpose being to picture things that were on a list, we had an hour to gather those. We had the picture presentations and results at the sports’ bar, the team I was in won, so that made it even greater! The whole of us were pretty tired after that though and people just split into small groups to other bars, or just home. I went home!

That evening I cooked some gourmet food and left to some punk gig at the Patronaats Café. I met some really nice people there also the whole evening was pretty cool and I felt at ease. The bands were… okay; very generic punk I’d say, nothing like I had seen the night before. Only the audience surprised me, weird people!!! And I caught myself thinking; punkers in Finland look so much cuter 😀

Now this was it as brief as I could make it. Also I won’t be writing this much in the future, there is just no need for it, and also I like to keep some experiences for myself, but I’ll be back at it soon. In fact there are some big things coming up for me now and those would be worth to share. So thanks for reading and ’til next time!


Busy Week – Pt.1 – A bike called Gary!

It’s Saturday and looking back to the past few days I can hardly believe how rich they have been. I’m sitting in my living room sipping coffee and simply enjoying it! Since Monday things have been just great, I thought I should really share this week with you. I split the whole thing in two as I got carried away and wrote a lot..

As some of you may know I was able to move in my flat earlier than planned, so I was busy from Monday with it. Because my flatmate Murielle is in Austria at the moment, it was her best buddy Denny passing me the keys to my new “home”. We met at the flat sometime around 12, we went through the flat again and had a chat. When an hour later I was going back to Nienke’s place I was proudly shaking my booty to make the keys at my belt ring, I had a home again! Later in the afternoon, Nienke drove me to Ikea and then to the flat where we dropped all my stuff before having dinner at her parents’ place. I slept at Nienke’s that night again as my room was not ready to receive me yet… I woke up on time the next day and dropped by the flat to arrange things, clean a bit and fill my fridge with goodies. I could totally picture myself living here for the 10 next months and the feeling I had when closing the door behind me was great. I was going to spend one more night at Nienke’s for that we had a movie night planned with Miranda, and staying over night was probably the safest option for me as riding my bike at night is still quite of an adventure.

Wednesday was the first introduction day to InHolland. I was really nervous when I thanked and left Nienke and biked to school. I also got lost in the building!
It was about 9.50 when I arrived in front of the class G1.24 where a little group of students was already waiting, chatting. Students came in small groups and soon the corridor was packed with internationals. Meta and Iris; our international coordinators, welcomed us warmly and there are no words to describe how cute and caring they are!!! Before entering the class, we played a little get-to-know game; a nice twist to those really awful name games students are forced into. Anyways it already gave me an idea of how diverse our group is: Finnish, German, Korean, Italian, Moroccan, Turkish, Bulgarian, English, Welsh, American, a lot of French and Spanish (for a change) and I have probably forgotten some…

The Erasmus group at Mango's the beach bar!

The day went on with a couple of lectures or intro thingies, a lot shorter, faster and condensed then JAMK’s introduction lectures; for the best I must admit. And soon we were all off to the beach with Meta and ESN buddies Nino and Bart to have a BBQ at Mango’s; a cuban-feel beach bar with expensive beer but savory food. After dinner many students went to join another party further on the beach, I didn’t go. I was feeling really tired and wanted to be on my own again. I took the train back to InHolland and let myself sink into my thoughts while a bike called Gary was taking me home.

Read about Thursday and Friday here.


Look! Even baby pigeons Mikko and Antti don't have a home in Haarlem and have to live on my balcony, this is tragic!I should now briefly mention the housing situation here. Finding a flat or room to rent for an affordable price is nearly impossible in Haarlem. I have heard many other students or young people, international or Dutch struggling with flat searching. I rent a lovely room, in a big flat with balcony and living room, about 20 minutes from the center. Now from not living at the student’s residence DUWO, I might be missing on some of the Erasmus parties; in fact most of my Erasmus fellows are living there but when I heard them talk about their rent, I could only feel lucky for getting in touch with Murielle! DUWO tenants pay from 318 euros for a shared room up to 516 if they want their own room, however they still have to share their kitchen and other common spaces with up to 8 people…. How can a student housing company expect students to have so much money ? I don’t get it!  Look, even baby pigeons Mikko and Antti didn’t find a home in Haarlem and have to live on my balcony. This is tragic!

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Alanna.

The introduction days are over; but it is now that I want to introduce myself. For those of you who already know me, skip this post, for those of you who don’t know me that well, maybe this can help you discover who I am. Please keep in mind I kept this short so that we still have something left to talk about 🙂

“In brief!”
I am Alanna, a 20 year old, quiet but out-going young woman and even though it doesn’t seem like it; I am extremely shy. I used to do a lot of outdoor sports but haven’t done much these 2 past years so consider me out of shape. I am a literature freak, I read, write and “know” a lot, but sadly my cinematograhic culture sucks big time! Anyhow it is while cooking I feel the most at peace, and it’s in the kitchen I can gather my thoughts the best. But above all, if my friends and rocambolesque adventures are my fuel for life, music is the spark that takes it all off to a whole other level of awesomeness and makes me feel really lucky to be!

“Where are you from?”
Is probably the question that I hear the most, and dispise the most too, for that the answer is pretty long and complicated. Usually I would answer I am French, because that’s what my passport says, but I then feel like I’m leaving a huge part of me out. Basically I was born to a French father and a Dutch mother, on a French Island somewhere close to the Carribeans. After some travelling around, my parents have settled in France where I have lived 7 years of my life only… At the age of 18 I left home and flew to Finland where I spent the last 2 years enjoying every second of it! And if you believe in the say “home is where the heart is” then Scandinavia is the place for I have lost mine somewhere between Copenhagen and Jyväskylä, if it wasn’t Southern Sweden already….

“What am I doing in Haarlem ?”
I am a student in Music and Media Management from the JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland and I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I am spending my 3rd year of study as an exchange student in InHolland University of Applied Sciences in Haarlem in the Netherlands. I chose InHolland for that I was accepted as a full-time student here 2 years ago, but then flew to Finland instead, so I am curious to experience what being a student in InHolland feels like. I also wanted to come to the Netherlands to practice my Dutch and eventually broaden my network a bit..

“What else?”
I could tell you my favorite colors are deep purple and raspberry pink, that I’m a really bad bass player and suck at singing even worse, that I have unsuccessfully tried to be a vegetarian for 2 years, that my name was inspired by country/rock singer Alannah Myles and that I’m madly in love with my cat Reepicheep which is the one and only incarnation of the Devil… I could also say I don’t like bananas even though Alanna-Banana has been my nickname for quite a long time (but thanks Ninon; A-la-noix is so much better!), that I miss my 2 little brothers a lot every day, and that I don’t have a driving license because I’ve been lazy with it, I knit, and truly adore my new hobby of light engineering what I will write a full post about soon… Yeah I could talk about all that but now I’m really craving for a cup of coffee and a walk outside so I’ll drop the computer and wish you all a good weekend!

Rock on!

(Post about the introduction days should be posted sometime tonight!)


Good Morning Haarlem!

The smile on Dasha’s face this morning, when I handed her a to-go breakfast of raisin buns, croissant and a sadly lukewarm Starbucks latté was priceless! And totally worth the early trip to Schipol Airport. I am now back at Nienke’s flat and got myself to start writing this first blog entry; it was about time!

I arrived in Haarlem last Sunday and after a little holiday with my mom and brother, my mom dropped me at Nienke’s the next Saturday; I’ll be staying here until I can move to my own flat in the beginning of September. If things seem now to be quite easy, they haven’t always been.

When last May, paperwork and school related arrangements were about to be done I couldn’t feel otherwise than excited. Of course it is exciting to start over in a new city and I was finally going to reunite with a too often forgotten part of my culture (or blood to make it sound dramatic; my mom is 100% Dutch) and practice a language I have been mumbling since my early childhood. As it was already decided my mom, brother and I would get some holiday in North-Holland before I settle here, I had my transportation all covered; we would drive from France to Haarlem, so all I had left to do was find a place to stay.

I had decided to stay away from the organized Duwo flats (where all the exchange students usually live), for the simple reason I find them really expensive. Also I came to Holland to practice my Dutch so going local was a better option than sticking to the international places; school would already be in English. Well I would have never expected finding a flat in Haarlem would be so complicated, expensive and Dutch people so picky. To make a very long story short, after 2 months of unsuccessful flat searching my attitude towards the exchange changed from “Yeah, Holland, Holland, Holland!” to “I don’t want to go there anymore!”. Especially that I was having such a good time in Finland that the perspective of leaving my friends, band, flatmate, habits and very cherished room and flat behind felt terrible. No need to say that when I arrived in Haarlem a week ago without having a place to stay; I was feeling a bit down. Witnessing my despair my mother added some flat searching to the holiday program and surprisingly after 3 days of flat visiting along with camping and sight-seeing we managed to find really a cute place for me to spend my year here. So I can say it all turned out good in the end, as we even had some time left for family activities! 🙂

I woke at 7 this morning and without taking time for breakfast sneaked out Nienke’s flat (where I am temporarily staying). I hopped on my new-second hand purple “echte omafiets” and cycled to the center of Haarlem where I caught a bus to Schipol. My dear friend and classmate Dasha was landing this morning and I wanted to welcome her in Holland. After a short talk and redirecting her to the right train to Breda, I made my way back to Haarlem where I waited for the shops to open in a café on Grote Markt. I had a coffee, filled in a couple of postcards (it’s a fact I have been in Holland for a week but haven’t given much news to my friends.) and had another coffee. It was Monday morning, after the rain came the sun and Haarlem seemed to slowly wake…

 

As I failed to picture my coffee this morning, here’s a picture of my “omafiets” / granny bike taken just after I bought it, jeee!

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Stew : A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stew

This category will be a bit less informative and mostly for sharing random things with my readers.

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Welcome!

This blog will stand as some kind of informative diary of my stay in Haarlem, North Holland, and my experience at InHolland University of Applied Sciences. No need for following me, I’ll probably be spamming Facebook after posting a new entry, so be ready to hear about my One Year Wander Through Tulip Fields, or just through Haarlem’s streets!

 

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