Reflections by Shihaam Barnes
My desire is to travel and visit each and every country A-Z. I did not think that at the age of 22 years and at this period of my studies, that I would get an opportunity to travel to Europe (definitely a must see destination) and gain new knowledge and insight as well. I couldn’t have asked for anything better- a woman’s dream came true. It still feels unreal, even on day 9; it is as if I’m dreaming. I am extremely grateful to be granted this opportunity to come to Belgium.
Though it was a long flight from Cape Town to Belgium, it was worth every second. Flying via Turkish airlines was a rather pleasant experience as it was my first time flying. The only unfortunate thing was that I really didn’t enjoy the food (I’m actually a really picky eater). Upon arrival at Istanbul Airport, I was dumb struck by its beauty and its difference from Cape Town International Airport. The change in the weather temperature got me with a bang, it was extremely, icy cold, and I could not feel my face. My colleagues and I were waiting for our next flight, estimated at 3 hours. We used this time to walk through the airport and to view its attractions. One thing that I can say is that it did not feel like I was in an airport. It felt like I was in a shopping mall. When we arrived at Brussels airport we were collected by one of the Karel de Grote Hogeschool lecturer’s (Steff Janssens).
He welcomed us with open arms. As we traveled to Brasschaats to spend our weekend, the first thing that came to mind was there is a lot of greenery in Belgium and it is was extremely beautiful. I was quite excited to be in another country, no words can explain how I felt at that exact moment. Day 2 in Brasschaats: We had a huge brunch at the Janssens’ family home, they couldn’t stop feeding us. It was a feast; I’m not complaining it was amazing. We had a warm drink, I had some kaneel tea. There were different types of bread, rolls and freshly baked croissants that had the most delectable aroma and taste! There were many different things to add on the breads, ranging from all sorts of cheese, hummus spread, chicken spread and pasta salads. One thing that we were told that is common in Belgium; is to have something sweet with their coffee or tea and it is called a koffiekoeken (multi-layered pastry filled with delicious tastes!). After brunch we went to the City Centre of Antwerp.
We visited the best known building in Antwerp the City Hall. It has a beautiful historic centre that was so captivating. My colleagues and I had the opportunity to write a little note in a book which is placed inside the City Hall, which is read by the mayor. The places that we visited were; the old market square which is by the City Hall, MAS (Museum aan de Stroom). You can visit the museum for free and you can go right to the rooftop. We had a breath-taking view of the city Antwerp although it was raining at that moment we could still see it’s hidden beauty. We also visited the ‘hidden street’ Vlaeykensgang-it is really a hidden street! In-between there are small houses and little restaurants. The architecture in Antwerp is magnificent, one is drawn by its beauty and the people are welcoming as ever. We also had a peak at the pedestrian tunnel which was very quiet and calm compared to being in the middle of the City, I had a wonderful tour in Antwerp all thanks to our personal tour guide Steff Janssens.
It was then time to leave Antwerp and go to Melderen Village, where we were welcomed by another KdG lecturer (Veronique Fromont). She will be hosting me and my colleagues for the duration of our stay in Belgium.