My Name is Maximilian, first-year student of UCG. My studies have started since I moved here from Vienna this summer. I enjoyed many classes and activities in the city of Groningen. I’ve met many people – professors and students alike- with interesting knowledge and stories. The greatest experience that I’ve had so far, and still ongoing, is living internationally.
What do I mean by this? In the first year of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Programme, all first-year students live in a student house. It is as exiting and annoying as it sounds – 88 adolescent people living together for the first time. Thankfully, we are divided into units, up to 10 people, where we share a kitchen and a bathroom. So, when I talk about living internationally, I talk about my flatmates, who came together from all the corners of the earth: Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Canada, South Africa, Vietnam, and of course Austria. We all come from different places, different backgrounds, cultures, and societies; and yet we live, study, struggle and celebrate together. At the beginning, we had our usual struggles – who keeps laying their dirty dishes around? Who leaves their hair in the shower drain? Why is there still so much noise so late at night? After some talking and compromises, agreements were made. Yet, our real bond started at the international dinner – where we each presented our favoured national dishes – Wentelteefjes, Pasta, Pierogi, Sweet Potatoes with maple syrup, Milk cake, Summer rolls, and Kaiserschmarrn. We started to exchange about our cultures and our customs and started to get to know each other better.
Soon, we would start our programme, leaving for class, and returning. We would exchange about our subjects, and at the same time bring in perspectives about our respective backgrounds. Then the first exams came in – we spent nights in the kitchen trying to memorize the study material, helping, and motivating each other. With great results came great relief, and soon we would meet to just enjoy a nice evening after a stressful day, exchange stories over a dinner that has been prepared together. Or call to a game of cards that would extend throughout the night, especially after the first beer or wine bottles have been opened.
It feels good, coming home, and being greeted, asked how one’s day was. There is always someone to talk about a frustrating class, a big success, or just to share a newly invented pun with. If somebody’s missing milk, some veggies or salt for their dish, someone was always there to hand them some with a smile – knowing they will do the same in return one day. And throughout all of this we learn about each other and start to appreciate the unity through diversity. Truly, we grew together as a family.
Now, with each block, everyone goes their own academic way -, some chose economics, other the humanities, whereas others want to focus on natural sciences. However, we still support each other. At the end of the first year, we will have to move out, and probably never be together in this constellation again. I know for sure that I will miss those days. But for now, I will enjoy the moment while it lasts.