The homo sapiens studentus is a special species. Next to the typical activity of studying, the members of this species are known as real lovers of (night)life. But do they have other secrets to unfold? dwars finds out in their natural habitat, the student dorm.
William Sancroft (24) and Sean Davies (21) both study Journalism at the University of Southampton. This year they traded the rainy weather of the UK for Belgium’s sunny skies. They have been studying in Antwerp since September 2016. As they look back on their stay, it turns out Antwerp and its people have been nothing but great.
“We both really wanted to come to Belgium on Erasmus exchange. We can’t really explain why. Perhaps it’s not the most obvious choice. We didn’t have the ‘mainstream’ sun, beach, party type of Erasmus like you would have in the south of Europe. But we have met so many great people and we have seen a lot of great places. And even though we didn’t expect to have a culture shock, since Belgium is so close to the UK, we kind of did.”
“The first time I went to the supermarket,” William continues, “I could not use my Visa card. In the United Kingdom it’s all we use. I was really surprised to hear that you can almost never use American Express or Visa in a shop.”
“But the biggest adjustment I had to make was that everything here is closed on a Sunday and at night. We really had to learn how to live by the opening hours of shops (laughs). At home, shops are opened 24/7. Or at least some of them. And you can always, always order anything online. Any time of the day. We like to call it ‘instant gratification’. We order something online, and mostly within two hours, you have it delivered at home. We could easily stay in bed for three weeks and survive.” (laughs)
But Antwerp has surprised the guys in many ways. “So many different cultures come together in the city, and it works wonderfully. It’s only since we are here that we realise that in the UK we are actually quite conservative. I was sixteen when I first met someone of a different nationality! In a city like Antwerp that would never happen.”
“And of course there are more things we love about Antwerp. Number one is probably the Turkish bakery on Sint-Jansplein, the fries (of which we’ve learned the hard way that they are originally from Belgium and not from France) and Belgian beer. Duvel is definitely one of our favorites, and we love drinking one at the ‘Kassa’ (Ossenmarkt). It’s definitely our favorite bar in Antwerp. Perhaps even our favorite place of all.”