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'UAntwerp looks lovely on the eye and makes an impression on the heart'

Marsida Bandilli

At the heart of the University of Antwerp, stand several research groups. It was exactly a year ago that I decided to join ACIM – the Antwerp Centre for Institutions and Multilevel Politics. And it was in the very first moment that ACIM provided not only a stimulating environment for acquiring academic knowledge, but also a welcoming atmosphere all thanks to its research community in Political Science. Although there might be plenty of us around the globe, not all of them are special as in Antwerp.

During my stay in Antwerp, I have learnt that the backbone of each institution lies in its people. I would have not experienced Antwerp the way I did. Through getting to know my colleagues at the Department of Political Science, meeting regularly with my supervisor and simultaneously taking ‘giant leaps’ on my PhD Research Project, celebrating  each of our personal achievements with ‘een pintje’, in addition to: ‘frietjes’ and the good treat of ‘the belgische chocolade’.  More than culture, it is the way we celebrate every small and big academic achievement, that actually makes my stay in Antwerp even more enjoyable.

My journey at University of Antwerp…
Last October, I received an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship to complete my PhD Studies at the University of Antwerp. I come from Albania, a small South-Eastern European country. My decision to move to Antwerp was challenging and inspiring at the same time. It was challenging because I was living by my own in a new country, so far away from home. For the same reason it was inspiring because it prepared me to be more eager to explore, to learn, to broaden my horizons and get acquired with new ideas, along with meeting people and exploring cultures.

I have developed a lot professionally as well. The international environment of the University of Antwerp, and the specific nature of pursuing a Doctorate Degree has enabled me to be very present and visible in international environments. Through participating in various academic-related events such as winter schools, conferences and so on, I have had a great opportunity to meet with scholars from all over the world. In addition, I could also learn and discuss recent developments in the field with some of my favorite scholars and political scientists.

While embracing new opportunities….
I have learnt to always embrace new opportunities. Whether it is exchanging a few words in the Dutch language with my new neighbour, engaging in sport activities with other PhD students just for the sake of supporting the team, or even taking the train to explore the next Belgian city. While being more open and ready to enjoy each moment of my stay in Antwerp, I have discovered more about myself. And indeed I have collected many memories from my Antwerpen experience…