Photographer:Fotograaf: Cristina Lopez-Perea
Home Sweet Home
Monique Bren (19, Spanish/Dutch), a second year Liberal Arts and Sciences, pays 570 euro per month for an 18 m2 room near the Markt
Multiculturalism is a term frequently used when describing Maastricht University and Monique Bren represents the full dimension of the word. Half Dutch half Spanish, and fluent in five languages, she lived her whole life in-between Brussels, Spain and Germany, where her family resides.
Which nationality could she identify most with? With a cup of hot tea in her hands and a soft smile, she shrugs her shoulders, “none, really” she replies “I was born and raised in Belgium and even if I did travel to the Netherlands and Spain, I still sometimes feel like a tourist in my ‘own’ country”. When asked how does it feel to be living in The Netherlands for the first time. Bren takes her time to answer. “I don’t think it was a cultural clash… I guess it was more like a cultural discovery of how it is to live in the country I have a passport from”. But, she emphasises, that it did not make her feel much more Dutch.
Her answer matches the style of her room. The walls are covered with pictures and postcards she brought from her different trips around the world. “I don’t think you could guess my nationality from looking around” she points out “the pictures are just good memories of days or trips”. One picture catches the eye: a big black-and-white framed poster of Yoko Ono. She takes it off the wall and hands it to me. She doesn’t need to explain she cares about it; it is obvious from the way she looks at it. “My former roommate gave it to me when well all moved out last year” she explains “I saw it every day in my other house and now too”. The Beatles is not her favourite band, nor the type of music she would listen to. Bren declares herself a fan of Spanish music and commercial pop and admits that, besides some of the most famous songs, she is not well-versed on the group, The Yoko Ono poster means more than just an expression of her personal taste. It embodies stability; represents ‘home’ for her, for the girl from three different countries… and from none at the same time.