The Netherlands Journey

Bee COINs: Financial Education Debunked was a 10-day youth exchange that took place in The Netherlands from 24 April till 5 May 2017. It gathered 42 participants from 7 different countries and empowered them to learn from each other about financial education. The project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the EU.

Sebastian and Witek wrote this article which was published in the newspaper ”Głos Ludu” ( issued for the Polish minority in Czech Republic)

On 22nd April in the night we went by a train to Václav Havel Airport. Our plane took off at 10:15 and landed at 11:30 in Eindhoven Airport., There came the first troubles. The Netherland’s train system is a chaos. To travel without ‚‚problems‘‘ you should buy an OV-chipkaart. We bought this at the airport.  A stupid thing is that you have to put your card on some machine in your first destination and in the final destination and it takes you a lot of money.

Next place was Rotterdam. Streets there are wonderful. The architecture is really nice. Our stops was a football stadium, Cubic Houses, harbor. We returned back to the train station and went to Den Haag. Den Haag is a very beautiful city with skyscrapers, beach and lovely streets. The government is in this city and the royal family lives there. I fell in love with Den Haag when I saw this beach. Afterwards we travelled back to Rotterdam. After arrival I asked a man at the information centre, how can we get to Woerden (teraz czytaj Łerden). He had any idea what we were talking about. Sebastian had to write in the mobile phone the words ‚‚Woerden‘‘ and showed it to him and the guy was like: ‚‚Woerden‘‘(teraz czytaj Łurdn). He finally showed us the way. The train arrived there at 9 in the evening, Ad and Hank were waiting for us with sings ‚‚Witek‘‘. They took us to their home. Their home is in part of the city, where houses look completely the same, but these houses look really modern, expensive and luxuriously. There were waiting for us Ad and Hank’s wives, Gerrie and Joké.

Next morning, 23rd of April, they offered us an opportunity that we can go to Amsterdam, leave our luggage at home and return there again and they will take us to Ommen. We enthusiastically took it, because it was such a relief for our budget. They took us to the train station and we went to Amsterdam. Our stops was Bijlmer Arena, a football stadium of Ajax Amsterdam, canals, Marienbrug bridge, Anne Frank statue, famous letters ‚‚I amsterdam‘‘, roof of the big NEMO Science Museum. In the evening we went back to Woerden. Ad took us again to their home. We packed our things, gave them gifts from my parents and said the last goodbye to Gerrie and Joké. Ad and Hank brought us to Ommen.

The way lasted something around one hour and half. When we arrived to Olde Vechte (there was this project), we were kinda confused where to go, because no one was waiting for us. Project starts at 24th, so we had to sleep in a small house with volunteers. We met 4 volunteers but one of them, Dainius (he is from Latvia) got into our minds. His English is unforgettable, his passion for Germany. Dani is a really unique and weird boy. He woke us up really early, so we had few hours before the beginning of the project. Volunteers rent us bikes and we started to explore Ommen.

After returning back we met the first participant, Alex, a tall guy from Thessaloniki. Next we met an organizer Ilyana. Later arrived two girls from Czech group and one of them was Barbora. Rest of the participants came until the night. Everybody introduced themselves to each other and talked about random stuff. In the morning was an absolute start of the project. Participants were from Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Czech Republic and Italy.

Every workshop, trips and ‚‚plays‘‘ were about making it in small groups of 6-7 people. I have met there 3 amazing people: Dimitra, crazy girl from Athens, she’s my soulmate. She has really odd and funny laughter. Later there are two guys from Lithuania who changed my life. Marius was kind, balanced and smart. These things influenced me. The last person, Matas, he told me these words: ‚‚You are smart boy, but you just need a bit more confidence and the world is yours‘‘ I will never forget this. I will really miss these 3 amazing people.  When time was passing by, everybody get used to each other. We had a lot of fun, especially when we had ‚‚theatres‘‘.

In the middle of the youth exchange we had an opportunity  to choose groupmates, city, where we wanna go and make interviews about the topic which your group picked. I chose the group with Dimitra, Matas, Marius, Alina, Alina, Vania, Corina and Christina, our destination was Utrecht and topic was job opportunities and scholarships for people from abroad. Utrecht is a beautiful city with one main canal called Oudegracht (czytaj Ołdechracht). We took some photos, record interviews and returned back to Ommen. We had to make a video about the whole trip. Next morning we showed it to everybody and everybody did it the same about their trips.

When we reached the end of the project, everybody was so sad. I had no problems with anybody. I just loved these guys. Matas and Marius were the first ones who left. Me and Sebastian we were the first ones who came to Olde Vechte and last ones who left it. Basia was with us, but she doesn’t count (with laughter). Before the end, everybody got the train ticket to their final destinations. We walked to the train station and there were Dimitra, her sister Elena and my roommate Gio. Together we travelled to Zwolle. It was the last time we saw each other, the last goodbye to them. It was kinda depressing.

After I went with Sebastian to Utrecht, then to Maastricht and later to Liége in Belgium. We put some money on our OV-cheapkaart and travelled to Maastricht, but tickets were only to Eindhoven. We thought that is enough to have some money on these cards. However, it didn’t work this way. How I said, you have to put your card on this stupid machine in the beginning and in the end. We had to leave the train in Eindhoven, put cards on this bloody machine and catch the other train to Maastricht. We didn’t do it. When train passed Eindhoven a conductor came to us, asked about tickets. We gave him these tickets and gave him our cards, so he can take money from them, but instead he took our identity cards, threw us out of the train and wrote fines. The fine was in the amount of 50 € for each of us and 16,80 € for the ticket from Eindhoven – Maastricht.

Next train to Maastricht arrived in half an hour. At the train station we bought tickets to Liége. The way there lasted one hour. I thought that in Belgium the English is on the same level like in The Netherlands, but it wasn’t like that. Everybody speaks French. We just wanted to visit Belgium, for me nothing is interesting in Liége, but I can be proud of myself that I was in Belgium.

In the evening we returned back to The Netherlands, continued to Eindhoven and slept in front of the train station. Nothing, absolutely nothing is interesting in Eindhoven, only Philips Museum and Philips Stadium. In the evening we went by bus to the airport and waited there until the midnight. After the midnight security told us they’re closing, so we had to find some place to sleep. I found some bush behind some near company and Sebastian agreed. After 4 tough hours we left our ‚‚hotel‘‘ and went to the airport. Unfortunately it was still closed, but in one hour they opened. Finally we could leave. Our plane left at 7 a.m. and landed in Prague at 8.

This is how our journey ended.

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