Hoe komt het dat je zo goed Nederlands spreekt?
“My grandmother was Dutch”, says Arian Meyer (22), a second-year European Studies student who was born in Hamburg. “My mother was raised bilingually. I picked up a lot from her. We had a holiday house in Terneuzen, Zeeuws Vlaanderen. So I’ve visited the Netherlands many times. And besides that, in June 2008 I started working for Q-Park, in the head office near the railway station. The call centre serves the Netherlands, Belgium, England, Scotland and Ireland.”
Belgium? The French and Flemish part?
“Yes. I also speak French. I learned it in school but I haven’t spoken it that much in the last two years. I need more practice. That’s why I’m going to Paris in September for my semester abroad. When I get calls in French, I answer the first few questions and then a colleague takes over.”
What do you like most here in Maastricht?
He laughs. “Travelling. Maastricht is in the heart of Europe. The only problem is how to get to Aachen or Brussels. Last summer I visited the Baltic states; at the end of January I’ll go to Berlin. I’ve also been to some conferences in Hamburg, London and Geneva.”
“I’m the vice president of the Maastricht United Nations Student Association (UNSA). We’re now busy organising the third EuroMUN from 5 to 9 May; an international student conference for 500 people from all over the world. We simulate the work of the UN. This year’s slogan is ‘Sustaining humanity – is nuclear technology the future or the past?’”
Have you met a Dutch student lately?
“Yes, five minutes ago. It was a friend of mine who also works for the UNSA. The organisation takes up a lot of time – I have to make some sacrifices. I have less time for my studies and my friends. And I don’t have much time for myself.”
Do you like Dutch television?
“I never watch television. Nothing really catches my attention. When I want to see a movie or a series I go to the cinema or watch something off the internet. For the news I turn to the internet too.”
What’s your favourite spot in Maastricht?
“The Hoge Fronten. It’s nice for a walk, you can really relax there.”
What about Dutch food?
“The Dutch aren’t famous for their haute cuisine. The French fries are from Belgium. I like Dutch cheese, of course, and I love fish. I like to taste different things; I like to explore. On holiday I try to eat the local foods as much as possible.”
Do you consider yourself integrated in Maastricht?
“As a student you live in the student-life bubble. In a bigger city it’s easier to integrate in the city because you’re not only connected to students.”
Later, when I’m grown-up …
“I’m really interested in the European Union in Brussels. We’ll see.”