Home sweet home
Name: Sofia Carvalho (23) from Porto (Portugal), master European Studies (third track: Europe in a globalizing world)
Size: "my bedroom has about 20 square meters"
Monthly rent: € 425,-
“Sorry for the stairs”, Sofia Carvalho says with a sardonic undertone in her voice which implies the opposite. The apartment which she shares with two other students is situated on the fourth floor of the building. “At least they make for a good exercise”.
The apartment is comprised of three bedrooms and a shared living room, bathroom and kitchen. While sitting down in the living room, she reminisces of moving in a month ago. “It was really hard to get all the furniture upstairs during the heatwave. Luckily I got some help from my roommate Zach.” Carvalho is quite happy with the place. The view is nice, there’s lots of daylight falling in through the large windows and it’s a little bit cheaper than her previous accommodations in Maastricht. “Two years ago I also lived in Maastricht while I took a minor in European Studies during my bachelor in Languages and International Relations (at the University of Porto). I had a room in Wyck and also lived at the Tongersestraat for a little while.”
There are little surrealist art pieces on the wall of the living room. “Margritte”, Carvalho says. “Those are leaflets from a calendar. I thought some art would be a good idea. The wall would have been so plain without it.” When asked if there’s an art form about which she’s particularly passionate, Carvalho responds enthusiastically: “Photography and dance. Especially being a photographer would be my dream job. I’ve had some jobs taking photos of parties at the Muziekgieterij and of a wedding back home.” The photography books on the shelf in the living room, however, are not hers. “They’re Zach’s. The only thing on that shelf which is mine is that card game. Cards against Humanity. It has very nasty, dark humour and I find it really funny.”
In the bedroom as well, the predominant eye catchers are on the wall: photographs, mandalas, colouring pictures, and inspirational quotes. “All the pictures have been taken during the last two years. My sister, my parents, other family members, friends and my bellydancing group are on them.” There’s also two postcards from her native city. “Homesick? No not yet, but that will certainly happen at some point.” When asked about her favourite inspirational quote, Carvalho hesitates for a moment and then chooses “Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring. So I go back to being me”. “I very much have my own sense of humour; direct, observing and always a bit teasing. Sometimes people seem to take offence from that, but that’s definitely not my intention.”
In a niche in the bedroom stands a purple orchid. “I just bought a new one this morning. We have lots of them at home as my mother loves these flowers. When I was in Maastricht two years ago I bought one as well because it makes me think of her. She got very emotional when I showed it to her while we were talking on Skype. I have a very good relationship with both of my parents. My mother’s personality is quite similar to my own; we’re both very caring. I think my father used to be a bit more emotionally distant. He shows his love by worrying about us, but he’s opening up a lot more often since me and my sister went abroad.”
Carvalho’s wardrobe is well prepared for the upcoming winter with plenty of coats and wool sweaters. “I’m not ready to feel the cold though. On the other hand, I’m really looking forward to snow. Two years ago I saw snow for the first time in my life here in Maastricht. It was so beautiful and white, so peaceful. The world looked as if I was living in a fairy tale. I was actually crying at some point. When snow falls, I won’t be studying. Instead I might well be building a snow man, like we did back then.”