Erasmus+ Project Meeting "Stand up!"
Diary of our visit to Alkmaar, Netherlands
Authors: Dennis Alexandrowitz, Anja Beer, Moritz Eder, Christina Frömmel, Michelle Hassler,
Friedrich Moisel, Sarah Sosinski, Melanie Standacher, Carolin Stötzer, Giuliana Renner
Friday, November 13th, 2015
We started our journey at 7:40 am at the train station in Augsburg. We were 12 people, 10 students and 2 teachers.
The first train to Düsseldorf left at 8:03 am. We took our seats and then it was a five hours ride.In Düsseldorf we had a 20 minutes stay and could buy some food and drinks. The next ride took about 2 hours across the border to the Netherlands. From that moment we had to shut off our internet connection as there was no wifi on the train. The worst case scenario for teenagers ;-) In Amsterdam we took a train to Alkmaar, which suddenly stopped and a man told us that something on the train was broken and we had to get off.
And there we were: 12 Germans in Zaandam waiting for the next train to come. But there was no train. The delay went on and on. When the train finally arrived after about 30 minutes, it was so crowded that there was not enough space for all of us. So, Miss Pratsch, Dennis and Melanie were forced to stay in Zaandam and wait for the next train. Luckily a lovely Dutch woman informed the three desperate Germans that there would be a train to Alkmaar in ten minutes. The next train was full, too, but they managed to get on. The ride took about 20 minutes and then finally they also arrived in Alkmaar and found the rest of our group. There was a young teacher from the Dutch school Willemblaeu and some other unknown faces.
One of those faces was my host Pip. She was taller than I thought and looked older than on her pictures on the Internet, but she was as friendly as she had been when we chatted on Facebook .
We shortly introduced ourselves and then went to her father's car. He was very likeable, too. The ride from the station in Alkmaar to Pip's house took about 20 minutes. The first thing I recognized when I left the car, was the wild wind, which would be blowing the whole evening and the next morning.
Right on the door I was warmly welcomed by my host mother, who looked very young, and their little dog.
Pip shortly showed me around and then we went into the living room and had dinner. Later the second daughter, Blue, came home from ballet. The whole family spoke English very well and also a few words of German, so it was easy to communicate.
We talked about my day on the train, Pip's math lessons and about Blue's ballet lessons. Then we watched the first part of "Back to the future", and then I understood why their English was so great: Everything on TV was in English with Dutch subtitles.
We couldn't finish the movie because we were all very tired. I had a room for myself and I just put my suitcase on the floor, went to the bathroom and then straight to my bed. It was very comfortable and I wondered if the afternoon had been as well for the rest of my group as it was for me.
When I arrived at the station in Alkmaar, I did not see the face of my host student, because she was waiting for me with the host student of Giuliana at school. The history teacher of the Dutch students drove Giuliana and me to school, where Mayra and her mother Mrs. Nagtzaam already waited with a cake for me. My guest student Mayra was a head taller than me, quite slim and had slightly reddish curls like her mother. Mayra, her mother and I went to their car. Mrs. Nagtzaam and I went by car to Mayra’s house and Mayra followed later on her bicycle. The ride from the school to Mayra's house took about 10 minutes. After we had got out of the car, I saw a wonderful old brick house with big windows, a decorated wooden door and a sweet small front garden. The name of Mayras brother is Hugo. He was sitting on the sofa and watching TV when we entered the living room. Mayra shortly showed me around and then we went into the living room and had dinner. For dinner there were spring rolls, fries and salad. We talked about my trip to Alkmaar, on the broken train in Zaandam and Mayra`s eight hours Maths test. After dinner Mayra and I sat on the sofa and played Mario Kart Wii. Later we watched the Dutch television series "The Voice of Holland ". When the series was over Mayra and I went to sleep to her room, because Mayra shared her room with me. Her room was furnished very passionately, with sweet details like small pictures, a coloured wooden wall and nice curtains. From her window you could look at a football field. I hoped that this day was as nice and exciting for all the others as it was for me.
Saturday, November 14th, 2015
Carolin and Friedrich:
We first had some free time with our hosts and the chance to have a lie-in. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast including the Dutch speciality “Hagerslag”. Around one o`clock we met in the city center of Alkmaar and saw the whole group for the first time. After this we joined the “Sinterklaas” parade, which is a typical Dutch tradition for children where Santa Claus arrives in the city on a boat. Afterwards hour host students gave us a guided city tour in groups. We tried tasty dishes at the food market of Alkmaar. Then we had dinner at different places. After dinner we went to our hosts and got ready for the bowling center as this is another typical Dutch tradition. We were invited to the bowling center and had a lot of fun. After the bowling we went home to our hosts and got ready for a party without the teachers. At the party we got to know everybody of the group better and we showed each other traditional party songs and ways of celebrating from our countries. For most of us it was the best day of the whole project.
Sunday, November 15th, 2015
On Sunday everyone of us just had the whole day off to spend time with the host families. The weather was typical Dutch for autumn-cloudy, windy, rainy and cold. My host family took me to Zaanse Schans. It is a windmill museum. We explored the cheese production and had an original Dutch hot chocolate. After that we went to the sea for a little walk and enjoy the last sunbeams. In the evening we went to a restaurant where we had a lot of excellent food. All in all it was a fantastic day and I really enjoyed getting to know my family.
According to our plan, we had free time on Sunday. Everyone had different plans for this day. My host Femke and I planned her birthday party because it had been her birthday the day we arried. All her relatives and friends came to her party, therefore I was really lucky because my German friend Anja also came with her host. Femke`s grandpa tried to speak German with us, which sounded really funny and we soon switched back to English. Some of the German guys went on a trip to Amsterdam with their hosts. They must have enjoyed it as they told us later that it was one of the best days for them. They went shopping and had some delicious Asian food. Some other people went to the beach and enjoyed the strong wind and the last sunbeams. I guess it had been fun for every single one of us!
Monday, November 16th 2015
Michelle and Christina:
Today we listened to some great presentations at the Wilhelm Bleau School about discrimination and how to prevent it. We were put in small groups consisting of students of all the participating countries. Each group got a classroom and there we presented each other what we had been working on. We got an interesting mixture of speeches, power point presentations, a role play and a group discussion.
At twelve o`clock we took a huge double decker to Amsterdam where we were split in two groups. One group went to the Sheepvart Museum where we learned a lot about the Dutch slave history and the other group visited the Anne Frank House which was really impressing. Afterwards we got a guided tour through the city in small groups and in the end we met everybody at the old market place again. Then we were given some free time for dinner and shopping. Some of us were rushing through all the gorgeous shops of Amsterdam, because we only had one hour and the others went to a restaurant and had dinner. At 7 o`clock we took our bus home to Alkmaar.
Tuesday, November 17th 2015
From 9 to 12 am we had more presentations at school. Furthermore, two members of LGBT came to the school and informed us about their work and played some games with us to show us how it feels like to be discriminated against or to be the odd one out in a group. We also had to reflect our visit to the museums the day before by sharing our impressions and emotions on a mood board. Last but not least, we watched the rather shocking “blue-eyes experiment” by Jane Elliott, which was followed by a discussion. After a short break we prepared our interview with the mayor of Alkmaar for the next day and at 3pm we were finally given some free time with our hosts.
Wednesday, November 18th 2015
Dennis and Moritz:
To kick things off, we had a meeting with the mayor of Alkmaar, Piet Bruinooge. In the interview with the mayor we found out that Alkmaar does its fair share when it comes to accommodating the refugees trying to find better lives in Europe. He later guided us around the impressive town hall which was built in 1509 and explained us a good bit about politics in the Netherlands in general, For example that most of the mayors are not elected but chosen by a council.
After that we had some spare time, during which everyone in the group tailored to their own desires. Some went shopping or sightseeing while others joined the German class in the Willem Bleau school to support the Dutch students with their German.
Later on all the Italian, Spanish and German students went to the local ice skating arena. Ice skating is one of the most popular sports in Holland. Dutch people are very proud of their ice skating success in the Olympic Games, cashing in several gold medals every year. So of course they wanted to share their tradition with the foreign students. Like toddlers learning to walk, some of us performed poorly and hit the ground on every occasion, but eventually improved and enjoyed this pleasant experience.
Now that ice skating was finished and spare time was over, it was time for the final dinner with all the participating students and teachers. After the starters everyone was down for the traditional Dutch Sinter Klaas game. You throw a dice and each side indicates an action which has to be performed with the small presents everyone had brought for the game. They get swapped and taken away throughout the game so everyone ends up with a random present. If you’re unlucky you could also go home empty handed.
Dinner was over, but the trip was not. A lot of students decided to spend their last hours as a group together in Alkmaar. We went to the city center to say goodbye. Later on we went home to get some well-deserved rest before our journey back home.