Facebook MySpace Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Google Bookmarks 
Home Blog
Studying Chinese at Hutong School E-mail
28 March 2013

Christiaan van der Blij, The Netherlands

Intensive Chinese program

As I was impressed with the abundant information on the Hutong School's website (I found them on the search for "cost of living in Beijing") and the personal touch to it, I decided to quit my job and fly to Beijing and take a 3 months crash course Chinese at the Hutong School. A decision I havent regretted either during, nor after my time there. I have studied in several countries around the world and the people running Hutong school are honestly always there to support you in daily things and help you out, even with matters that do not directly affect their responsibilities.

Learning Chinese is a whole different thing, since youll have to cross a cultural border; not only to understand the language and its structure, but also to cope with the Chinese written and edited books, as well as the educational structure, which is inextricably connected to the culture and the language. Classes are relaxed (unless you join your group a week late and have to catch up lost time... ) and the apartments are comfortable and ranging from more than okay to excellent, depending on your location. In a better location, the appartment will be less luxurious. I lived in a hutong close to the school, which greatly contributed to the authenticity of my experience.

I can recommend anyone to do as I did. Not only is it the only right way to learn Chinese (i.e. IN China), it is also a fun thing to do with lot's of great opportunities to discover the country and the culture. Besided that, the people from all over the world you are going to meet, might turn out to be friends for life, or valuable business contacts later on.

Interested in doing something similar? Just drop me a line through the contact form on this website and I'll be pleased to share my experience with you.

Europe... the other side E-mail
02 March 2011

Europe... the other side of an extensively travelled continent

Are you planning a trip to Europe and don't know where to go? You might ofcourse take the throdden path and visit Rome, Milano, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and maybe even Prague. But why not do something completely different?

Even to Europeans, Europe has a great deal of hardly known destinations that are at least as worthwile and often even more worth a visit than the standard destinations on a trip through Europe. Whereas some Europeans have discovered some Eastern European countries in the past decade, many still don't look beyond France, Germany or Italy for their summer holidays. But there is much more Europe has to offer!

Mentioning Albania, many people will have no clue where it is, and indeed, it is not too big. Others will associate it with drug- and women-trafficking, or with the country being an important link in trade in stolen cars. Neither of these aspects I can denial, but travelling through Albania, you will encounter none of these practices in the open. You will, in fact, encounter one of the most hospitable people in Europe that welcome you to their country, show genuine interest in you and will do their very best to make your stay comfortable. Visiting the Roman ruins of Butrint, just south of Sarande, you will encounter a peace and serenity that you can only dream of at such sites in e.g. Italy.

In the beautifully restored city of Kotor, Montenegro, you will find a great deal of tourists: but non from western Europe! They are mostly local tourists from the former Yugoslavia area that are used to spend their holidays on the Adriatic coast and especially in Montenegro. On top of the hill in Kotor you will find an old castle, throning high over the picturesque city. Climbing it at night will make you feel king of the castle.

Europe is full of surprises. The best way to find them, as anywhere in the world, is to go off the beaten path. Although travel guides can be very usefull tools in getting around your destination, keep in mind that everybody has them. Don't hesitate to take other people's suggestions or simply go somewhere random. You'll be surprised!

New developments on vanderblij.NET E-mail
12 January 2011

Welcome to vanderblij.NET! A great site to travel the world from your chair at home.

Don't we all have the same problem? When you're young you have the time, but you don't have the money. Then, when you grow older and have a job, you start to have the money, but now you lack the time. And then, once you're retired, with all the time in the world and a nice amount of money in your bank account from years of saving, guess what? Your health admits you to grow some potatoes in your garden, bring your wife or husband a cup of tea, or drive your car to the car wash. But you are not able to travel any more (apart from hanging around on a cruise-ship of course), let alone on the adventurous side.

From the time I realized travelling was fun, I wound myself in any direction to combine things and go abroad: studying Spanish in Spain, doing a semester outside of Europe in Argentina, an internship in Germany, erasmus studies in Italy, a gap-semester working full-time in Chile and Argentina and a thesis in Sweden. These have been decisions I have never regretted and never will. Of course there have been moments in which I didn't appreciate the whole experience that much, but seeing the greater picture, you'll soon realize that you're not too bad off in the end anyway.

In the past years I have encouraged many people to go abroad for any reason they can find. I've set up a partnership between Stenden University (at the time Hogeschool Drenthe) in Emmen, The Netherlands and Instituto Picasso in Mlaga, Spain in order to encourage students to take Spanish courses there. Also individual people I have encouraged, supported and advised in their ambitions to see more of all this world has to offer. And through this website I would like to keep doing so, also on the web.

On this site you'll find an overview of 95% of the destinations I have been to in the world, either browsable through the chronological trail I leave on the front page every time I visit some place new, or browsable by continent and country. Whatever you prefer!

In the future you can expect regular updates of this blog. Sometimes with short messages only that came to mind. Sometimes with more extensive advices maybe. Anyhow, keep yourself posted up on all new photos and stories. From the latest big trip I've made overland from China to Iran, I only made it photo-wise to Tibet until today, so you can expect spectacular photos of Nepal, India, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran in the time coming up.


Christiaan van der Blij