We asked Rachel a British VXM / ICTV representative about the aptly named ‘Belgium Adventure’
When did you go to Belgium and how long for?
We went to Belgium on the 26th October 2012 for 5 days.
Why did you go?
We went to experience and get a feel of what our Belgium partners; H30, Villa Bota ,Project Wolf and Het Entrepot are offering their young people and also what they have been up to since the launch of Villa Cross Media (VXM) in July 2011
Who did you go to Belgium on behalf of?
We went on behalf of VXM a youth engagement project that gives a voice to young people and empowers them.
We also represented Ipswich Community Television (ICTV) a project that offers the community a voice and the opportunity to develop skills in television and video production and CSV Media Ipswich a digital multimedia centre that provides work based training in media and ICT to improve employability and increase diversity in the media.
How did you travel to and around Belgium?
We took the Euro star from London St Pancras to Brussels. Once in Belgium we started off traveling by taxi or train to the places where we would be staying however by the third day we were walking everywhere!
What was the accommodation like?
We stayed in two different accommodations, the first two nights we stayed at a beautiful house in the woods called Roosendaal in Walem. The girls and guys had individual dorms that slept 10 and also separate showers. There weren’t that many girls so we had plenty of room compared with the guys. We had a living room, kitchen and dining room just for our group so it was just like being at a residential.
We then stayed at Snuffle Hostel in Bruges; being a hostel everything was communal. We girls were very lucky to have a room to ourselves, unlike some of the members from our group who ended up sharing rooms with other people visiting the city.
What type of person (age, gender) went to Belgium?
Mostly male and under the age of 18. A few girls did join us later on but they were also younger than us.
What were your first impressions of Belgium?
Rich! Loads of the houses had solar panels on them and large windows.
What did you do in Belgium?
Where to start? We did so much. It was a jam packed week full of different activities. We got to visit our partner’s projects and venues and find out what they do there.
We took part in creating a live TV show on Supo, I was the presenter therefore I had to research what I was going to say. It was not as easy as it looks, but at least now I can say I’ve experienced something new and I will admit that I did enjoy it!
I was also interviewed for a segment on Villa Bota radio which was really interesting as I’m usually the one doing the interviewing.
A lot of walking was done which i didn’t enjoy as much, but we got to really see the cities and get a feel for life in Belgium.
What do you think of the Belgium partners?
I think they are all lovely people. They have a passion for media and welcome new people with open arms.
How do the facilities of the Belgium partners compare to ours in the UK?
Our Belgium partners have more organisations that want to spend money on their young people and give them the opportunities of working and progressing in the media industry. So in turn they have more up to date facilities and access to more equipment than we do. I honestly felt a little jealous!
What did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed just being in Belgium. The people were nice, the sites stunning, especially at night and by the end of the week I wished we could have stayed for longer. But if I had to choose just one part it would be when we watched our TV show with everyone together and just laughing.
What didn’t you enjoy?
I didn’t enjoy all the walking we did, but I suppose it was a great way to actually see the sites of the city and also work off all the food I’d been eating! I also didn’t enjoy getting locked out of the hostel in the rain at midnight!! … That really wasn’t fun at all!
What was the food like?
The food was amazing! We didn’t have a lot of tradition Belgium food but there were plenty of new foods to try. The one traditional meal I had was a beef beer stew with chips, it was very rich and the meat was cooked to perfection. I couldn’t finish it. My favourite food is dessert so I was very happy when we had a trio of mini desserts; tiramisu, crème brulee, Belgium chocolate and ice cream. Beer seemed to be the norm to have with every meal but I mostly stuck to soft drinks that we also have in the UK; however there was one difference, in Belgium ice tea is fizzy.
Everyone talks about how great the Belgium chocolate is… So how was it?
AMAZING! I got to taste caramel infused milk chocolate; it was the best thing I’ve tasted in a long time! I actually can’t wait to go back next year to get some, so I’m going to order it online!
What do you remember most about the trip?
The last night in Bruges at Villa Bota, it was like our presentation evening as we had our live Vjing show in the town centre and also got to watch our TV show. I don’t think I laughed as much the whole trip as I did then. It was a really chilled evening with pizza and beer, something I’d do normally with friends back in the UK.
Would you go again?
Yes! I’d like to go back in August to Het Enterpot to volunteer at the festival they will be holding. If not just to go back on a holiday would be nice and get some more of that gorgeous caramel chocolate!