Humboldt University at Unter den Linden in Berlin, Germany: the location of the latest conference I went to in March of this year.
Contrary to what one might think, the best thing about conferences is not the exchange of knowledge. The best thing is meeting new people and catching up with old friends.
I once heard say that the whole idea of attending conferences is old-fashioned. Most companies have long ago decided conference calls are much more efficient, cheaper and faster. Since a couple of years, the internet has taken over, Skype is a wonderful thing, TED-talks inspire people all over the world.
So scholars who still travel around the globe to listen to a paper they might just as well read at home, are apparently completely out of date. Although I personally do feel we might want to “update” the whole conference experience a little bit, people who think the concept is obsolete simply do not get it.
The procession in honour of Our-Lady-of-Hanswijk in Mechlin
Going to see processions might be an unlikely travel tip. However, if you want to get to know the ‘real’ culture of Belgium, it’s not enough to eat chocolate and drink beer. No matter how secularised Belgian society might seem today, religion still plays an important, albeit somewhat hidden, role. Alright, I’ll be completely honest, at the ‘kermesse’ following these processions we do drink a lot of beer, and eat fries, and drink some more, and eat some chocolate…
A few weeks ago on 10 May I went to see the Hanswijk procession in the city of Mechlin (Mechelen in Dutch or Malines in French). The Hanswijk procession, or Procession in the honour of Our-Lady-of-Hanswijk, is reported to be the eldest procession in Belgium, dating from the 13th century.
Hanami at the Ueno Park in Tokyo (2012). Cherry Blossom fun in the Ueno Park in Tokyo where crowds gathered to celebrate Hanami.
A recent blogpost by Thewallinna and other creatures about how she misses Hanami in springtime Japan, reminded me about my own fascination with all things Japanese. I don’t exactly know where it comes from, but even as a child I was incredibly curious about faraway Japan. In 2012 I had the immense pleasure of finally travelling to Tokyo.
So living in Japan is on my bucket list. Would I like to stay in Japan indefinitely? I don’t think so. But for a year or thereabouts, I would really like to experience its culture a bit more profoundly than I did in 2012. I only stayed for a week, but it’s left a huge impression. The sentiment that stayed with me most is admiration. And what I admire most about the Japanese is their elegance.
I’m going to dive right into this, and continue with the next 5 tips!
- Take some toys with you
I’m probably stating the obvious when I say: never leave the house without a toy, a book or whatever else that makes your child happy. I could personally live in a museum, but every now and then everyone just needs to play.
If your child has a favourite doll or teddy bear, why not play a new game: “toy museum guide” 😉 Ask your son or daughter what Teddy, Barbie (or whatever) would like to see and suggest it explains things for it. It’s basically role playing, and I don’t know a lot of kids that don’t like role playing!
When you’ve finished visiting the museum, you can ask your child how Teddy felt about the visit. It’s an indirect, and probably easier, way for your offspring to communicate if it actually appreciated the visit. I’m not saying you will necessarily appreciate the answer 😉