Jussi vaihtoon

Waffles and fries in Antwerp, Belgium

First week at school

I was standing in the entrance hall of Karel de Grote-Hogeschool on Tuesday. I saw students entering the building. I looked at them and tried to find people like me. Foreign people. People in the corner, alone, also looking for someone. Some of them looked like they would be in this place for the first time, but after a while their friends stepped in from the street and together they walked away. ’Goeiemorgen’ just polishing my assumptions incorrect. It was 10 AM and I was waiting for someone to break the ice – calling for people like me. The exchange students.

Finnish people often tend to lie foreigners about our ability of being always on time. Well, this time the story was actually proven to be true, since the same time I saw my watch taking the last step towards the H-hour, I heard a Finnish guy asking someone next to him if he was about to attend the Dutch language course today. I turned around and saw a bald guy – very Finnish looking guy actually. He introduced himself using the name Mikko. ’A Finnish name’ I thought and decided to move closer. The icebreaker resulted a chain reaction mobilizing the people to leave the corners behind, and suspiciously approach towards the two talking boys. Unfortunately my camera was out of reach, since the approaching students looked quite similar to zombies. Reaching the target slowly, but conscius of having the right direction. Next thing I actually realized was series of handshakes and names everyone knew they wouldn’t remember. Then a man came and took us into a lounge room with free coffee and more students. The first school day was full of new faces with different nationalities and dialects of English. It was no big deal for me, since I’ve already studied almost three years with people from all over the world. The main point was that with these people we would share a semester of our lives. Something we will never forget.

The word to describe the start of our Dutch course is ’explosive’. The first week has been very busy with studying and arranging things. I am very overreactive when it comes to making sure everything goes well, which has had a negative effect on my sleeping during the week. The positive side of our tight schedule is of course the fact that the more we study the more we learn. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have imagined how much one can learn in four days when it comes to Dutch language. Hard work requires of course some celebration, and I guess the whole Erasmus reputation is more or less dominated by this theme. The first party was on the second day of our studies, and after that some of us has been celebrating every day. Even though the beer is very good in Belgium (even the cheapest ones beat the Finnish reindeer pee), I still try to keep my drinking under control. Training on my bike is so solid part of my rituals that since I’ve put a huge effort on getting my dear peace of aluminium here, I try to go ’fietsen’ every time it’s not raining like Amazon. On thursday I took a ride to the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom. The idea was to follow the same route home, since I didn’t want to get lost in a new territory. All the way to my destination was very enjoyable and especially DRY. Riding home was quite nice too, even though it started raining right after turning back. Tomorrow will be another day for fresh air and rotating legs. Our Dutch teacher is also a cyclist and she told me where to find nice cycling routes around here. I like these people, I like these students, I like the language, I like the beer, I haven’t had any waffles yet but I know they’re good, I don’t like the instant coffee at school but I like the crema from espresso.

Last but not least a photo from a visit to the city hall. This is hospitality, but something that should not be carried out in the presence of Erasmus students.

Antwerp city hall

Antwerp city hall