Tag Archives: blogging

Happy Holidays!

Dear readers,

As you may have already read, I’ve launched a new blog – Doctor Spaghetti. This means that the curtain is falling for the Small European Country blog. You are warmly welcome to follow my new blog, and the accompanying Twitter account @DocSpaghetti.

Thank you for reading and I wish you all Happy Holidays!


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A new begin in 2017

Some things change, some things stay the same… Only constant seems to be that things never turn out what you expected them to be. Enough philosophy. Having made this blog dormant a few months ago, I now wake it up again. No promises, just rolling with it and we’ll see where this all goed to.

Its not that I haven’t been busy all this time – on the contrary, I’ve been very industrious. I have a new job and a new house, and I’ll post some details about both soon. And I’ve also been doing some writing, too (besides job application letters, that is). I’ve published quite a successful article in Vers Beton (“Fresh Concrete”), which is an online magazine “for the hard-thinking Rotterdammers”. The article, titled Waarom de A16 Rotterdam er niet mag komen”, is in Dutch, and in it I tell why I object to the construction of a new highway in the area. For those of you who don’t read Dutch, basically, I think there’s already plenty of highways around here and precious little green open space. In my view, smashing one of the last open areas near the city for the sake of a highway that will not even solve the congestion problems is a bad, bad idea. As usual, the pictures tell a much better tale than me.


This is where the A16 highway is planned.


There’s really not that much of such landscape left around Rotterdam


The swan song of the classic Dutch views

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Small European Country is going dormant

Dear readers,

I thoroughly enjoyed writing for you. At this point, however, I need to concentrate on writing my thesis, rather than blogging. Therefore, this blog about the life of a Small European country is going dormant. I might post something every now and then, if I have anything exceptional to say. Perhaps I will even wake this project up with a kiss at a later stage, or start a new project and let you know about it, but for now – so long and thanks for the fish!

P. S. If you’d like to write a guest post for Small European Country, you’re still mostly welcome to do so – contact me here!


Filed under Small European things, Work

Guests welcome at Small European Country!

This week, I’ve welcomed my first guest contribution, titled “The music of Estonia“. And I will be pleased to host more guest contributions on Small European Country.

In general, short posts of 500 to 1000 words are welcome. I would prefer to host unique and personal contributions – that is, written from your personal experience and about specific things, rather than generalizing. So, writing “Last week I enjoyed the best wine I ever had in Chateau Migraine near Lyon” is better than saying “France has some great wines”.

If you’d like to share your experience travelling or living in a small European country, have ideas on what makes a country big or small, would like to debate the definitions of Europe, want to discuss the differences between small European and non-European countries, or have any other meaningful contribution to this blog, please send your contribution using the form below.

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So you wanna be a blogger?

So you’ve decided to start a blog. Congratulations. You and a zillion others. Might want to try and make yours attractive to read, otherwise what’s the purpose of writing one? But how to make a readable blog? There are no rules about what a blog should be, that’s part of the fun of blogging. What to do? Well, keep on reading this one, for starters.

While I have some writing experience and training, I am not claiming to be a Master Blogger. I do have a huge amount of reading experience so I am something of a Master Reader. Since its your blog we’re discussing, you’re the one who decides what it looks like, what you write about and how often (unless you maintain a company blog or something similar, in which case its a different story). So I won’t try and tell you what to do. I can, though, give a few tips that might be useful.

Firstly, the opening sentence of your posts needs to be catchy. It is surprising how many bloggers start each post with “So I went to Rome last weekend”, “So this is what I think about the dairy consumption in the Mid-West”, “So here is the final proof there’s life on Mars”. In all these sentences, “so” is absolutely unnecessary. Try reading them without the “so” – the meaning is still there. “So” is just an example of “burden words” people use. When used in speech they can be annoying enough (think about all those times you heard “like, you know”) but there is absolutely no excuse for using them in a written text.

Secondly, the length of your posts should be reasonable. Of course, nobody can tell you how long your blog posts should be. There is some common sense to it though. Personally, I prefer posts that are column-size, 300-800 words, readable in a couple of minutes. Doesn’t mean you can’t write shorter or longer posts, but if you always write a couple of sentences, why not stick to Twitter? And if you write posts of thousands words every other day, are you sure they are meant to be read and enjoyed by others and are not just a form of therapy? A bit of diversity in your post length is fine, but keep the readers (and their attention span) in mind.

Thirdly, you may want some pictures in your blog. Yes, the ones that mean a thousand words. A couple of well-chosen pictures can make a good post excellent. But putting dozens of photos in every post is just unnecessary – its a blog, not Instagram. And if you put up a picture a day with a few words – that’s Twitter stuff! Blogs are primarily reading material, so use pictures to illustrate your writing, not as core material. Unless you blog about photography, of course. Every now and then I submit a photo post myself, but I try not to make a habit out of it.

Fourthly, your blog should have a topic. Writing about whatever comes up in your head is fine, but to attract readers that would come back, its nice if they can follow a theme in your writing. Doesn’t matter what your topic is, as long as you write interestingly enough it can be as narrow as the genetic diversity of moths at the Isle of Skye or as the history of democracy in the Arab world. On the other hand, your topic can be as broad as marine biology or as small European countries. Just write with the (non-specialist) reader in mind, and try to transmit your enthusiasm about the topic!

Fifthly and last – post regularly. Personally, I am rather put off by bloggers that are posting daily. Partly its jealosy of them being able to write so frequently but partly because I don’t believe that one’s topic can be that inspiring day after day. Posting regularly does help gather followers. If I have to wait a month between posts, I lose track (and interest). Once per two weeks is the lowest acceptable frequency I would say. I try to write at least weekly, myself, and would be very happy if I could pull off two posts per week. Reminds readers you’re still alive.

And that’s what I can do for your blog. From now on you’re on your own. Happy blogging and remember:

  1. Don’t start every post with “so”
  2. Be brief, but not too brief
  3. Use pictures wisely
  4. Choose a topic you like
  5. And post regularly!

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A new (and a very small) European

This week, me and my wife made a new European. Her name is Noura and she is very, very small. Not too small though, she’s got all she needs and she’s doing just fine. In the coming weeks I will be focusing on growing and caring for my tiny piece of Europe, and blogging will be a lower priority. Hopefully you’ll stay with me until I get to writing again. In the meantime, I’ve got another diaper to attend to, the 4th this night. Ciao!

The best European ever

The best European ever

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The India experience

Guide books about India are full of stories of the weirdest touts that await the inexperienced traveller. So when an Indian fellow approached us in our hotel in Delhi with a request, we were a bit cautious. He was blind (dark glasses, walking stick, the whole nine yards) and he was wondering whether we would be so kind as to accompany him to the Swiss embassy the next day, to help arrange his visa. We bravely decided that in case of trouble the two of us can handle one old blind old guy, and the next morning we were waiting at the lobby at 7 am, still a bit surprised but very curious as to what the day shall bring.

Long story short, the blind man turned out to be a travelling yogi, a philosopher and a poet, who travels around the world giving lectures and workshops on the meaning of life, a man with a wonderful of sense of humour, of profound wisdom and of great depth. Less than 48 hours after arrival to India, we were right in a middle of what could be one of Rudyard Kypling’s novels – hanging out with a blind wandering guru.

This little episode demonstrates perfectly how India is… different. Different than anything you have seen, than everything you’ve been told about it, different than you’ve imagined. Every time I think about the month we’ve spent there, I am amazed how saturated our India experience has been. There is a million stories to tell about it, but India is a place you can’t describe. You need to experience it. Like we did:

P.S. So far I haven’t used any of the tags I’ve assigned to this post. India is different.

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Filed under Round-the-world trip, Travel