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Talked to a Dutch student lately?

Talked to a Dutch student lately? Heike Seel, a third-year student at the University College Maastricht, looks a bit puzzled. Raised in Frankfurt, Germany, she is now sitting in the UCM’s common room. “Yes, yesterday”, she answers, still with a questioning look. Then, after another question: Of course she knows a lot Dutch people. “I live in a student house with two Dutch students and one German. And I have some Dutch friends.”

So you’re not a ‘Car German’? “A what? A Car German? Oh – Germans who study here but drive straight back to Germany after class. No, I’m not that kind of student.”

Heike Seel hates ‘drop’ and never eats herring. “I don’t like that either, but I don’t think it’s typically Dutch. In German we also have herring and liquorice.” She never watches Dutch television (“I hardly ever watch TV”), but her favourite favorite Dutch radio station is Arrow Jazz FM. And her favorite Maastricht hairdresser is Kinky Kappers. “It’s not cheap, but you can try different styles.”

Next question: Stel, je moet verplicht lid worden van een studentenvereniging, zou je dan nog steeds voor de UM kiezen? She laughs, having understood perfectly well (“I did some Dutch courses”), and answers in English: “Definitely not. First of all, you have to do all sorts of ridiculous things to prove you want to be a member of a student association. And for some other associations, as far as I know, you have to attend every week on a particular day. I can’t do that every week because of my studies. And besides that: I don’t want to be pushed. I pick out my friends at random, not because they are a member of an association. I like to have friends with different backgrounds.”

Do you consider yourself integrated in Maastricht? Confidently: “Yes. I feel Maastricht is my hometown now. And I’m comfortable enough with my Dutch to go shopping in the city and help people when they ask for directions.”

Any tips for newcomers who want to integrate? “Don’t stick to your own nationality. Be open, talk to everyone and learn Dutch! And last but not least: move to Maastricht.”

 

Riki Janssen

New series about German students and their level of integration

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