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.
This time we visit an Italian Erasmus student, who lives just a couple of blocks away from the Stadscampus. Her name is Valentina. She studies languages at the University of Catania, in Sicily, and aims to obtain her master’s degree in Antwerp. “Last year I applied to go on Erasmus in Spain, but I didn’t make the shortlist by just one spot. I was really sad about it, but I’m here now and being in Antwerp is my destiny, I believe.”
She seems to love every square meter of the city. The city centre, the Grote Markt and walks along the Schelde are all amazing, but the Meir is special to her: “Because I’m obsessed with shopping.”
Only one month into her exchange, she’s already had an unforgettably weird experience. “I went to an Irish pub near the Grote Markt. This old man dressed up like Elvis, with the typical haircut, stood up from his seat, came over to my table and said something in Dutch, that I didn’t understand.” She thought she understood his intentions and tried to be somewhat polite in rejecting him. “All I thought was: ‘Oh my god, no. Go away. I don’t speak your language!’ It was really strange, because an old man in Italy would just mind his own business.”
For someone used to the Mediterranean sun, the Belgian weather is quite a shock. One day, when it was about 10°C, she saw a guy wearing just a T-shirt. “I was like: ‘It’s so cold! Why are you wearing a T-shirt?’ For me, it’s really cold here. Not extremely cold, but not the weather to only wear a T-shirt!”
Apart from the weather, Valentina doesn’t dislike anything about Antwerp. She even likes the Belgian bureaucracy and the university’s organization. “Once I got lost in the R-building, so I went to the main entrance and I asked someone to help me, and they were very friendly in helping me find the right classroom for my courses. I really like that kind of mentality.” She talks about the situation at Italian universities where a lot of students might have the same (simple) question, but it usually takes a couple of days for the staff members to answer it.
While she’s eagerly talking, I wonder if all Italian girls are as talkative as she is. She says she doesn’t think so and actually considers herself to be quite shy. “It depends on the situation. I think I’m shy, but when I meet someone I really like, I quickly feel at ease.” Maybe that’s just the effect dwars has on people.