When I tell you what caught my attention on the University of Antwerp in the first place you are going to laugh or shake your head. I took a gap year after my previous studies which I spent mostly in the UK doing an internship. There I realised that it was also time for me to make my education more international and I started looking for an English taught programme abroad that was related to my Finance studies in Italy.
And there I came across pictures of UAntwerp and I was just like wow, that’s where I want to study. And so I did. Of course I got some more information beforehand but my decision was basically based on some pictures and my first impression. So I enrolled for the one year master programme in Business Economics with a major in European Business and Management.
What I really like about studying here is the international environment, my fellow students come from all over the world, that’s something you just don’t find in Italy. Maybe it’s because Belgium is more central and the programmes and also the faculties themselves here are well organised and therefore attract a lot of students. Besides the better organisation, the biggest difference is probably the practical approach to my field of study which I consider as a real preparation for the working life.
I also like the huge library, the possibility to bring your laptop or to use the computer rooms. That’s definitely something that’s special from my Italian point of view. Also the teachers are always available, either physically or via email. I am even writing my thesis now under supervision of a teacher who's currently somewhere between Singapore and Melbourne and he’s usually getting back to me within a few hours.
The level of teaching is very high and the professors are always well prepared. What I always find astonishing is how young these people actually are considering their amount of degrees. I found Belgians to be really pragmatic, helpful, open minded people with whom you can get along with easily but who are also not so easy to get to know closer. But that is just something cultural and the global mindset is probably something essential when you live in such a diverse country as Belgium.
I also followed a language course at the university’s language center Linguapolis and it was honestly one of the best language courses I’ve ever attended. Of course my Dutch is not really good, but I consider it as a survival course that allowed me to handle basic situations. And after all language is the best way to get into a culture. Even though English is widely spoken how would one hope to integrate well or even find a job here without having at least an idea of the language?
Many sport facilities
The city itself was actually something I discovered while running . Not only the inner city is nice but also the surrounding. There are also a lot of other sport facilities around who have decent pricing for students. And if you are looking for nightlife, then you can find tons of pubs and bars all over the city. Other things you should definitely see are the MAS Museum - you can actually go to the top for free - but also Linkeroever, the part of the city on the left bank of the river Schelde is worth a visit.
The most popular way of getting around the city is by bike. Since I fully relied on my car back home I had to get used to biking again, but the conditions for that are great, there are bike paths everywhere. I haven’t bought my own bike , but am using the 'Velo city bikes' you can find all over the city. For as little as 36 euro you can get a yearly pass, which allows you to use it for short rides, for example from home to school. But the best thing is probably that you don’t need to worry about things like theft or maintenance. I could really imagine to stay here in Belgium and by now I can definitely say that if I had known before, I would have enrolled before.