Sunday, 1 December 2013


Dear readers,

Unfortunately my EVS Belgian adventure came to its end. Until this moment this blog had 1070 entries! Thank you for following me, it was my pleasure to be accompanied and to share impressions with you. This is my last post in this blog.
Dear Belgians, I will never forget how welcome I felt during living in your beautiful country.
Jullie waren mijn familie voor zes maanden. Bedankt voor al jullie glimlachende gezichten, jullie hulp en alles wat ik van jullie geleerd heb. Ik zal jullie nooit vergeten en ik zal zeker nog eens terug komen. Maar eerst zijn jullie welkom in Servie.
Dear international friends, you made my mind open to diversity of lives. I have never felt so rich as now after knowing you. Thank you for many unforgettable moments we shared. Wish to see you elsewhere again, hopefully in Serbia.

Love big like world from Maja

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Useful websites about living in Belgium

Let me make an interactive post, for a change. Your suggestions about interesting things to know, see or do in Belgium are more than welcome.

I have got this document in English language "Belgium at a glance" in Inburgering, an organisation which takes care of integration of immigrants. They provide them with language and culture (orientation) courses with the aim of finding a job as soon as possible. They send a letter of invitation to each person who registers his/her presence in the municipality, which I did immediately after arriving to the country. Due to the fact I came to Belgium as a volunteer for only 6 months long period of time, I didn`t get a right to take those courses but I got an interesting book about culture, famous people, art of Belgium.

This is where I found a lot of fun: a list of festivals. There are gratis ones too:

This is a website of the cultural center of Turnhout. It`s near and alive:

The theater at the sea:

A goat and cheese farm in the neighborhood

Funny pumpkin October in Kasterlee:

Don`t miss adventurous kayak in Kasterlee. Before you learn Dutch, ask friends for translations of this site:


Kinder yoga is a great mix of yoga poses, active exercises, dancing, singing, drawing accompanied by a story for kids and parents, who get the opportunity to connect in a special spiritual way. That was a pleasure to see: kids laughing while their parents stretch their body. My dear colleague Hanne is an yoga expert now: .

In this Belgian organisation people will welcome new, even international, volunteers You just have to show the interest and passion to science and nature. With dear Mr Sus and his dear colleagues I did glass engraving and spend a day in wonderful water paradise: Kids (and adults) can learn a lot about water while playing games and having pleasant time. 

Belgium organizes many country and project markets where youth can get an idea about mobility and opportunities for going abroad. On this one in Gent, I presented Serbia and met representatives from Chine, Ecuador, Mexico, Ghana, all Europe and more. It was a great exchange of information for everyone!

Belgium is flat with the highest point at 400 m. It is in Ardennes, Vallonia. Find a map of Hoge Venen and hike through the beautiful nature. In the end , take a drink in the neighborhood - German speaking part of Belgium. What a small country, what a great diversity of languages and nature beauties. 

Saturday, 28 September 2013


When you have to pack your suitcase for the period of six months and at least two seasons, you will have to think first. That is when I started my real investigation about the weather in Belgium. After I read about the average temperature in Belgium on Google, I started putting out my summer clothes. So, finally I could close my bag. :) But...
June was very nice, sunny with a bit of rain. July and August were so hot, up to 35 degrees that I even went to the nearest lake Lilse Bergen and swam. Thank God I brought the swimming suit, we all needed refreshments. So, yes, Belgium has a hot summer and you should bring your tiny summer stuff.
September started with raining every day and only 12 degrees, which was a huge difference. But still there were sunny warm days.
The real definition of the Belgian weather is that you never know how it is going to be. You have to be ready for everything: the raining (umbrella and rain coat always in your pocket although some Belgians do not wear them), wind (winter clothes) and hot sun (hat, shorts and swimming suit).

I am curious about the snow and how does the winter in Belgium look like. Anyway, it is coming soon... 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Nederlands les

Belgium is divided into 4 parts: Dutch speaking part (Flanders), French speaking part (Wallonia), German speaking part and the capital Brussels with 80% of non-Belgians residents. As an EVS volunteer I had to take a course of language and due to the fact I work in Flanders I learn Dutch. I took the intensive course which lasts almost 2 months, every week day for 2 h 45 minutes. Sometimes it was too intensive but after it I really understand the language more and I even speak Dutch. I can count, spell, present myself in details, I learnt how to fill the administrative documents (in the library, ambulance, police...), how to ask someone to go out with me, to say if I feel pain anywhere in my body, the names of the foodstuffs, right-left and other directions, days in the week, months in the year and much more...Tomorrow and the day after I have final exams and with 50% positive answers, I am getting a diploma. With it I can take another, higher level of the language course. The final exam contains: grammar, listening, writing and speaking. I am not scared about the results because we were practicing a lot and I had homework every day.
So, here is some Nederlands:
Ik woon al drie manden in Belgie.
Elke dag ga ik naar de school in Turnhout.
`s Middags werk ik met kinderen.
Ik leer graag Nederlands.

Besides learning the language I hear around me all the time, the language school was a place where I met some nice people from all over the world: Dominican Republic, Argentina, Poland, Czech Republic, Cape Verde, Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India, Taiwan. My class was multilingual which forced us to use Dutch to understand each others. I found out more about Islam religion, Taiwan letters - signs, Indian food, Iranian film, the life style in Argentina, fashion in Cape Verde and more. I will miss my class, dank u allen!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Belgian food

The healthy food is made by people who cook with passion and love. That is proven so many times here in the restaurant of de Hoge Rielen by guests` words of appreciation, children`s songs and drawings for the kitchen staff. 

Belgian food is lekker (tasty)!  Smakelijk (Bon appetit)! Proost (cheers)! 

Gentse waterzooi  

Its name derives from the Dutch term "zooien" meaning "to boil". It is sometimes called Gentse Waterzooi which refers to the Belgian town of Ghent where it originated (Ghent is also famous by the music festival in July Gentse Feesten). The original dish is often made of fish, either freshwater or sea. 


Blue mussels are filters and play a vital role in removing bacteria and toxins. It is very easy for preparation. 

Frieten (Belgian French Fries) 

Some Belgians believe that the term "French" was introduced when American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I and consequently tasted Belgian fries. They supposedly called them "French", as it was the official language of the Belgian Army at that time. The term "French fries" was growing popular but there is also a name Vlaamse frieten or Flemish fries.


Apple sauce is made of peeled or unpeeled apples and a variety of spices (cinnamon...) as well as sugar or honey. It usually accompanies fries. 

Frikadellen met krieken                   

Another  Belgian dish with contrasting tastes, the saltiness of the meatballs goes great with the tangy sweetness of the sour cherries! In the past, and also today, this was/is a dish eaten at festive occasions, town fairs, family parties... It can be a desert or the main course.

Pure chocolade                           

Belgian chocolate has been the food of champions, a lure for lovers, the indulgence of the rich and later, the favorite of the masses. Over 172,000 tons of chocolate is produced per year with more than 2,000 chocolate shops throughout Belgium.

Brusselse wafels  

‘’Wafla’’ means honeycomb or cake. It is cooked in a waffle iron patterned to give a characteristic size, shape and surface impression. There are many variations based on the type of iron and recipe used, with over a dozen regional varieties in Belgium. 

Pintje bier (Trappist, Dubbel, Pills...) 

There are approximately 178 breweries in Belgium, ranging from international giants to microbreweries. For a beer to qualify for Trappist certification, the brewery must be in a monastery, the monks must play a role in its production and the policies and the profits from the sale must be used to support the monastery and/or social programs outside. Beers vary from the strongest 11% alcohol ones to ladies fruit taste ones with 2 %.

                                                                      Dank u Hanne Jacobs, Kevin and Google.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Differences between Serbia and Belgium

The capital of European Union Brussels is mentioned too often in Serbian media because my country wants to become a member of EU too hard. We always compare ourselves with West European countries considering them to be our ideals, teachers, leaders. But unfortunately people rarely know much about my country Serbia. Belgians usually go to have a holiday in their neighbor countries (Germany, France, Netherlands), also sometimes to Slovenia and Croatia, which are ex Yugoslavia countries just like Serbia and very close to Serbia by language, mentality, temper...
Serbia is an Eastern European country, always in between East and West civilizations. After civil war in 1990-s and NATO bombing in 1999. Serbia is nowadays finally a safe country to visit. The capital Belgrade is 2 million people city on the confluence of the rivers Sava and Danube. There are opinions and marketing that Belgrade is one of the world`s top destinations by night life and parting. They say it is a city of kind people who want to help everyone, easily start communication and friendship with foreigners, like to drink traditional brandy "rakija" and in general don`t like to work as much as West Europeans.
Most of young people leave their smaller cities and villages toward bigger opportunities in the capital. So, it is not surprising that the rest of the country counts only 4-5 million other people. Majority of the population is Orthodox and write Serbian language using Cyrillic alphabet (ћирилично писмо). The weather is very hot during the summer (up to 35 and more degrees) and very cold during the winter with snow every year. 
The educational system is divided into 8 years of elementary school, 4 years of high school and later on the university with Bologna rules. Children start going to school at the age of 7 and spend first 4 years of obligatory education with one teacher. That is my job, when I get one, teaching in the first stage of education and I have to finish Master studies to be able to do it. Later on, pupils have different teachers for every subject. 
Kids can start going to kindergarten already as babies but obligatory is only one year of preschool education, when they are 6. Pupils can spend hole day in school (8-18 h) if their parents want it. There are classes half a day after which they can go home or stay in an after school club where another teacher helps them with homework and provides diverse leisure time. In Belgium, it is more common than in Serbia that kids go to kindergarten already at the age of 2,5 and spend all day having different classes. Obligatory school starts at the age of 6. They change teachers every year and go to elementary school for 6 years, after which is another 6 years period of high school education. After that is university period and teachers like me need only Bachelor degree to be able to get a job in school. 
Unfortunately, there are less kids than teachers in Serbia and unemployment of teachers is frustrating. The opposite, Belgium needs more teachers and I saw a lot of families have 3 or more kids. There is one disturbing question: how hard is it to work in international environment where some of your pupils don`t even speak Dutch or their parents don`t put enough effort to really integrate into Belgian culture. Serbian society doesn`t have numerous immigrants like Belgian, especially colored people are very rare. 
I will mention some of other differences between my country and Belgium: we learn in school the utility of selecting and recycling garbage but there are hardly anywhere containers for real usage of that knowledge. If you don`t select the garbage well in Belgium, you will pay the penalty. I saw people use solar and wind energy in Belgium, there are those special panels on the roofs of many houses and many big white windmills in passing. Bicycle riders are very respected in the traffic, there are paths for bicycles everywhere, public ones for renting, huge parking places only for bicycles, you can take your bike to the train, bus, metro. Cycling is the most popular sport, all generations do it for recreation. My colleagues even get bonus salary if they use a bicycle as a way of transportation to work. In my country all of this is just a fantasy but young fans of cycling are fighting for their rights bearing in minds what they have seen in Belgium and Netherlands. 


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

My free time

After 2,5 h by train from Antwerp I was in Amsterdam. Antwerp has the oldest and the most beautiful train station in Europe, you can get anywhere very fast and easy. 
Natives told me Amsterdam is European Las Vegas. So, here comes the famous citation: "What happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam." The right proof were crazy tourists wearing funny clothes and celebrating freedom in every sense. The smell of weed is all the way through the city and among tourists, businessmen, families, adults and youngsters. No taboos, no hidden desires, no fear on the streets of Amsterdam, easy going atmosphere cowers the main Dam square, more than 40 museums (Van Gog museum, Anna Frank house...), Red Light District, numerous channels with boats, colorful buildings, traffic jam with bicycle riders everywhere...

Also, I visited Cologne, one of the biggest cities in Germany. If you want to travel by car through all Europe and not to pay too much, register on this website Simply I found drivers who want to share expenses of the ride and it took us only 2 h and 15 e from Leuven to Cologne. The world becomes a small place and impossible seems achievable when you are in West Europe.
Cologne is university city with students sitting in front of magnificent cathedral Dom and around the big artificial lake, holding barbecues. The coast of Rhine river and Old part of the city were crowded by couples because it was a weekend of gay pride in Cologne. They told me this city welcomes gay people more than others. Compared to my country, which is quite conservative about homosexual marriage and kids adoption, this was completely new reality for me.

Brussels is a big urban city with less natives than people who came from all over the world. You can see Africans, Islamic women, Asians and find their quarters with restaurants and stores. Belgium is one of the top destinations for immigrants and rare place where you can find a well paid job and plan the future. The social system helps everyone and people are very kind.
The Grand Place (Grote Markt) is breath taking, especially during the night because of the light show on buildings. Peeing boy, Botanical Park, Atomium, Belgian chocolate are some of the things you have to see and do.

Gent is a mixture of music and history. It is known by jazz and music festivals. I will mention Gentsee Festeen, a free 10 days long music festival with street art in the very center of the city. Stages with musicians from all over the world and many tourists blocks your view on a beautiful old castles, churches and monuments. The atmosphere on the festival changed my perception of Belgians as people focused on work and only work. They can also party a lot, dance, flirt and drink a lot of bier.

If you want to see different shaped skyscrapers, go to Rotterdam. I had an impression of New York because of numerous English speaking workers (in hostels, bars, shops) and a magnificent view from Erasmus bridge. A great traveler of Europe, Erasmus, was born in Rotterdam and many places and events got the name by him. 


Scheveningen is a seaside part of Den Haag in The Netherlands. I also visited Oostende, a city on Belgian coast of North Sea. Both beaches are sandy and huge with kids playing with dragons, paragliders, swimmers, surfers, sailers in the crystal clear water. The amazing fact is that only some meters separate the modern architecture and touristic attractions from the endless sea. Tip: don`t feed the seagulls because of the penalty up to 250 e.

Paris! What can I say about that huge and so beautiful city of very kind and artistic people? It is so bright, looks Mediterranean a bit, young people are alive, friendly and pretty. Simply, I want to go again! The best thing is it is only 3 h by car from Brussels.

Bruges is a Belgian city with the highest number of buildings from the middle ages. It is romantic, bohemian and respectful. There is an English movie called "In Brugge" which presents beauty of the city although the movie is with murders and blood, weird romance and friendship...