Uden in Sobreda
Monday, 10th January, 4.00 pm – everything was set: our students were anxiously waiting to meet their partners and begin a whole new experience that would challenge them in various aspects, including a better understanding of themselves and other people. First contacts, great expectations, not much talking – but a nice-filled-with-goodies table makes wonders when it comes to breaking the ice! And there they were, chatting and already making all the arrangements to meet after dinner. And that was the beginning… Tuesday was the chosen day to go to Sintra. Starting in the historic town centre, we visited the Paço Real – a mediaeval royal palace. After some shopping in the local gifts shops, we headed to a Donkey Shelter (Abrigo do Jumento), which was founded by Burricadas as a rescue centre for old, abandoned or ill-treated donkeys. In this shelter, these animals receive all the necessary care and for many it represents a well-deserved retirement. After an introductory explanation about the animals, it was time for a very funny donkey riding. The following day was spent in Lisbon. The first stop after stepping off the tram was Pastéis de Belém, to taste the famous and delicious custard tarts. The next visit was the 16th-century building Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, which exemplifies Manueline architecture, a unique style of architecture prevalent in Lisbon during its maritime years. Before lunch we visited some art exhibions at Centro Cultural de Belém. In the afternoon we went to the heart of the city: Baixa, the shopping area built on the ruins of the old town destroyed by the earthquake in 1755. Just before leaving the capital city, we had a quick look at MUDE – a museum of fashion and design. Heading to Sesimbra, we started our journey on thursday with a stunning view from the highest part of Serra da Arrábida to the coastline, which was amazingly covered by a thick “blanket” of clouds. In Palmela, we visited its castle, of Arab origin, and it was really a pity that it was so cloudy, otherwise we would have the chance to see a unique view over the whole region of Setúbal’s peninsula, Lisbon and the Atlantic Ocean. Being the region also famous for its fine vineyards, it was a “must” to pay a visit to the world famous “Quinta da Bacalhôa”. At the end of the tour, we took the opportunity to taste a very well-known sweet wine – the moscatel. The highlight of the day at school was definitely the dinner with the parents. After a hard working day writing reports, going to classes and playing football and volleyball, all the students were eager to eat all the specialities of the Portuguese cuisine brought by the parents. It was a really good meal and a very special moment. On Saturday, each family took charge and provided a nice programme for their guests. We are aware that no effort was spared in making the Dutch students feel comfortable and welcomed. So we truly thank all the parents for their contribution in the success of this exchange.
Sunday, 16 January, 5.30 am – a very early “goodbye” after a late farewell dinner on the previous day…And we’ll meet again in about a month – See you soon!
Sobreda in Uden
The day of the departure dawned under stormy weather. Everybody managed to arrive on time at the airport though, and by the time the plane took off the rain had fortunately quieted as well as everybody’s anxiety.
After a quiet flight we landed in Brussels on a cold sunny day and, as planned, drove straight to Grand Place, where we could enjoy a bit of the Belgian atmosphere, take some pictures and buy some souvenirs.
At about five we were welcomed at Uden’s College by the Dutch partners and teachers with a tasty pie reception. Our students’ enthusiasm culminated with their first-sight enchantment by the extraordinary school conditions, wishing they could ever be able to attend such a school.
The next day the director of Udens College, Mr Hans Oltshoorn, welcomed us and to everybody’s surprise he had prepared a text in Portuguese, which he read with a perfect accent! A guided tour and a visit to some classes followed, and then it was time to pick up the bikes and ride through the countryside to breathe the rural Dutch air.
After a few kilometres through a beautiful landscape, we were friendly received at Mr Biggelaar’s farm. Here students could experience real farm life and enjoy some enjoyable activities followed by a cow painting and a sports programme back in school.
Friday was spent at the largest theme park in the Netherlands – Efteling – inspired by the creations of the Dutch artist Anton Piek as can be seen in the designs of the Fairy Tale Forrest. For the students a single day wasn’t enough to enjoy the variety of amusement rides: the roller coasters, the ice skating, the sleigh rides, and so on…
The highlight of the programme was Amsterdam. There we had a full-time programme, starting with a visit to the Rijksmuseum with audio tour, followed by a city walk and a canal tour. Then, after a rush to shop for souvenirs, it was time to visit Anne Frank’s house where our students could testimony some heritage of the Second World War and the Holocaust as well as feel the claustrophobic atmosphere in the cramped rooms of the house.
The long day in Amsterdam finally ended with a nice dinner at the World Bazar restaurant in Albert Cuyp.
Sunday was family day and most families took their guests out, so that they could enjoy a little more the Dutch culture and way of life.
On Monday we headed to ‘Liberty Park’, in Overloon. It was here that the greatest tank battle in Dutch history took place in the autumn of 1944. It is now the location of the Dutch National War and Resistance Museum which presents the history of the Second World War and how the oppressed population managed to cope with the restrictions and shortages in a resourceful way. Next to it, the Marshall Museum where, within a space of 10,000 square metres, more than 150 military vehicles, vessels and aircraft are displayed, which provide an excellent overview of the military efforts during the Second World War.
After experiencing this amazing historical heritage, students had also time to ‘play’ science by building a manual rocket and launching it.
Back in Uden there was still time to do the last minute shopping.
As it was the last day, dinner took place at school with all the families who provided a variety of specialities and desserts including a Portuguese plate – “Bacalhau à Brás”, showing their dedication and warm hospitality. Special thanks!
Holding tears on a freezing Tuesday morning and wishing to stay longer, students were still pleased to have gone through this enriching experience, which contributed to widen their horizons in a way that they will never forget.
Prof.ª Lurdes de Jesus