'Alstublieft'- that was the first Dutch word I learnt after my arrival here. It means 'please' and it’s something typical for the Belgian mentality I think. If there can be something like too much politeness, then the Belgians are close.
I always knew that I wanted to do my master studies abroad and after I did some research online I eventually decided on Antwerp because I was impressed by the study conditions here. Not only that they offered master programmes in English but also the laboratories are very modern and the programme also includes an internship, which I will now start at the end of my two years here.
Another thing which I liked a lot is the fact that besides the practical things there’s also a lot of emphasis put on theoretical knowledge, which is quite different to my university in Greece. Of course there are a few things that are run differently here, classes are a lot smaller for example ,therefore you have more personal contact with the teachers, who tend to be very supportive. Although my programme is taught in English, there are not so many international students yet and therefore are there still a few things that need some improvement regarding the needs of international students. But people here are very open-minded and more than willing to make it work for you.
As a student from Europe I pay the same study fee as Belgian students, about 620 euro per academic year, and the costs of everyday life are not much different from what I know from home. For me there is not such a big difference between Greece and life here in Belgium, even the weather is similar. I mean here you’ve got also sun, rain and wind. Ok maybe minus a few degrees and the fact that it can change within 5 minutes but in general it could be worse.
Between my acceptance and my arrival here in Antwerp lay only twenty days, so it was rather a last minute call and I had to find myself a flat once I arrived here. I stayed with a friend in Brussels and commuted for a few days to find a place here . Since Brussels is only half an hour away by train that wasn’t too bad and I finally found a flat in the city center. Since my campuses Drie Eiken and Middelheim are not in the city center I go there every day by bus. Not because it’s so far but because I am not a big fan of cycling.
People here are really open to foreigners and it’s not a big problem if you don’t speak Dutch. But of course people do appreciate it when you try to speak their language, therefore I followed a language course. You’ve actually many options here in Antwerp and you can choose according to your need. Such a class is always a great opportunity to learn not only the language but also about the country itself, which is with its three language areas pretty special.