Month: May 2017

Why you’ll definitely fall in love with Ghent (part 1)

Ghent, Belgium. 9000. “Negen duust”, like we call it. 257.000 awesome people, which makes it the second biggest city in Belgium (after Antwerp) in terms of inhabitants. As you might have guessed, I am of course one of them! I was born in Ghent and always came back to it growing up. Since the start of my psychology studies, I’ve lived alone (four years with my awesome, old cat though) in one of the most central parts of the city. Be aware, central doesn’t mean nice or very safe. Did you know Ghent has a red light district? You’ve guessed it right, welcome to my neighborhood! Still, I’ve loved all five years here. After I graduate, I have to figure out what I want to do and where I want to go. I might be ready for a new city, maybe even a new country. This doesn’t mean I don’t love Ghent anymore and in this series of blog posts I am going to give a few of the many, many reasons why this city should be on top of your wishlist!

I could give you a history lesson and tell you all about the origins and how there are archaeological remains that indicate the presence of a city going back to the Stone Age. Or I could just tell you it’s an amazing, pretty city with a long and rich past, a vibrant present and an exciting future. You can read all about the typical tips and tricks in other blogpost. In this post, I’ll try to give you some insight into the (sometimes small) reasons that make Ghent so great for me.

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Fear Of Missing Out: are you travelling for the right reasons?

That fear of missing out on things makes you miss out on everything.
-Etty Hillesum 

In my blogpost about Porto, I mentioned I have some sort of fear of missing out. This fear is defined as a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent and is characterized by the desire to stay constantly connected with what others are doing. Another source defines it as the fear of regret, which I think is more in line with what I’m experiencing. I choose not to use the abbreviation FOMO because it makes me think of Yolo and then I just can’t take it serious anymore.

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My 5 favorites of Porto

In this short blogpost, I’ll cover my 5 favorite things in Porto. I have to warn you, this won’t suffice as a guide for your next trip to the city. It will just give you some targets to look out for while visiting, backed up by some crappy smartphone pictures. I already described here (click it, you can do it!) why I felt the need to write about the place that brought us Porto wine. Basically, it stole my heart. Now, let’s get started with the 5 specific things I still dream about weeks later.

1. CHEAP ASS, HUGE DRINKS (and where to find them)

I knew Porto was cheap but I never expected to it be an inexpensive heaven. If you’re an alcoholic. Or just really enjoy a drink from time to time, like I do. As in most touristic cities, the prices vary from area to area and even from bar to bar. In the square I’m describing next, you can find cocktails starting from 3 euros. It’s no Brazilian 1 euro caipirinhas but still… We went out in popular, touristic places on our second night but were craving the more local atmosphere we found the night before. Praça Parada Leitão is the place we ended up, again. This is a square next to a university building, which explains the amount of Portuguese students around. I can’t promise you won’t stumble into some foreigners but you’ll mostly find young, local people. The area is also referred to as the Piolho area, named after the famous bar located there and which apparently also means lice. Don’t ask me why. Next to the square is a park. It might be nice during the day but keep in mind that everybody (I mean: EVERYBODY) goes out there at night to pee. 

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An ode to Porto

This is going to be a completely different blogpost than the last one. Like I previously said, I recently went to Porto for 3 days and I wanted to share my experience here! This isn’t going to be a typical, touristic resume of all the places I went to or the must see attractions. I traveled to Porto without any expectations. I didn’t look up anything beforehand and had no idea what to expect. The only thing I knew was that it was a 2,5 hour flight from Brussels (which would probably get a delay, which it did), the sun would be shining and I could use some of the Portuguese I learned in Brazil. I was kind of counting on my Brazilian friend (who had been to Porto before) to be our guide and just enjoy the adventure as it comes. I feel like this mindset has brought me more of an authentic experience in a new city than being fixed on an agenda and on a certain idea of how the weekend should look like.

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Beyond Borders – Make me a travel blogger!

Moest je me leren kennen via mijn blog, zou je al snel merken dat er twee constanten in mijn leven zijn:

  • Ik ben altijd op zoek naar een nieuw avontuur.
  • Ik ben altijd blut.

En volgens mij is er een duidelijk oorzakelijke relatie tussen de twee. Ondertussen heb ik al veel trial-and-errors achter de rug en ben ik er nog niet in geslaagd rijker van een reis terug te keren. Rijker in de letterlijke zin van het woord weliswaar. We weten allemaal dat hetgeen je terug brengt na een tijd in een ander land, niet te meten valt in euro’s. Of dollars. Of ponden. Of real. Of pesos. Of welke vreemde munteenheid je deze keer ook hebt moeten uitpluizen. Iedereen die al een tijdje op reis is geweest, door een land heeft getrokken of een uitwisselingsproject achter de rug heeft, weet dat de ervaring het geld zeker waard is.

Maar wat als ik voor een keer helemaal geen geld hoef neer te leggen voor een fantastisch avontuur? Ik zou wel gek zijn om die kans niet met beide handen te grijpen. Daarom neem ik met deze blogpost deel aan de wedstrijd om als travel blogger mee te gaan met Beyond Borders op roadtrip door Zwitserland en Italië! Het moet nu net lukken dat ik deze week mijn rijbewijs heb behaald! It’s obviously meant to be!

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But what is it, travel psychology?

Welcome (back)!

Maybe I started a bit too excited with my introduction and first blogpost. I decided to dive right in instead of thinking it through a bit further and providing you with additional background information. Because that is me; spontaneous. Sometimes a bit impulsive. That’s why you might find some spelling mistakes from time to time (yes, I can use this personality trait as an excuse!) But it’s truly how I am though. If a new, adventurous opportunity arises, I would grab it with both hands the minute it does… And then I’ll start to think about it and realize maybe it’s not such a great idea…
I experience this in every aspect of my life. When I see something tasty to eat, I can’t control myself. When I see somebody juggling or slacklining, I want to learn it too! These two last things are two examples of things I did stick with. Most of the time, I get excited for a few moments, maybe days and then I rationalize it and put the enthusiasm aside. I can’t seem to find the time and courage to actually go through with it. So while I am impulsive in my reactions, I overthink everything. And in the end, I take very little action and sometimes end up regretting this.

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l’appel du vide – the attraction to and fear of high places. And falling from them.

Here we go with the first real post!

A few weeks ago, I went to Porto with my best friend to meet up with a Brazilian guy we hadn’t seen since our adventure in Recife last summer. I will cover this short trip in another blogpost but a conversation I had on the last night got me thinking.

I was standing on the Ponte Dom Luiz at night, looking out over the stars, the lights all around and the river far below us. Our dancing, Uruguayan guide (who didn’t know his way around btw) told us he couldn’t look up at the stars. He said that it would make him dizzy and there was a chance he would fall, a feeling he described as ‘vertigo’. The word sounded vaguely familiar and after looking it up, it means a sense of dizziness and the feeling that your surroundings are whirling around you. The guy linked it to an attraction to and at the same time a fear of heights, in particular falling from high places. It’s the feeling you get when standing at the edge of a cliff or on top of a tall building, suddenly getting the urge to just leap over. You’d think the internet can give an answer to everything but somehow it couldn’t really reveal a link between vertigo and this feeling. It did lead me to “l’appel du vide”, a French term that can be translated to “the call of the void”. The sensation the guy was talking about, could be described as the simultaneous desire to move towards and away from the void.

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Welcome to un(t)raveling the mind!

Well hello there! You’re the first people who wandered into my blog!
I’m very curious which magic way led you to this moment…

But first: welcome, welcome to the next chapter of my life!
I am Renate, 22 years old and living in Belgium (some people refer to it as a city but it really is a country! A tiny one, that’s true). I am currently finishing my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and just ended my internship in a special youth care facility. This means that in a few months, I’ll officially be a psychologist! This also means I have some big decisions ahead and I have no idea what I’m going to do or where I am going to end up. The only thing I know is that I love two things: the human mind and traveling. Okay no, it would be quite sad to only love two things. Maybe writing too. And music. And food, lots of food. And staying up with random people, talking about the meaning of life and suddenly realizing it’s morning. And stars. And nature. And singing along with very bad songs. But mostly the first two. So I figured; what better way than to combine my two passions into a blog?!

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