Matthias Schmidtblaicher, a first-year student of economics, saw (and heard) some of the performances of the Eurovision song contest last weekend. “It wasn’t voluntary, but I did see five performances, including Germany’s.”
Are you proud your country won?
“Actually, no. It’s a good question. I would be proud if the German football team was winning. But I can’t identify with the German song.”
Who’s going to win the world championship in Africa?
Without hesitation: “Spain. They have the best team, the best players and they’ve been playing together quite a long time. They deserve it.”
What about Germany?
And the Dutch?
“Quarter finals. I like the Dutch team. They’re always amazing in the first round. But after that …”
Do you feel integrated in Maastricht?
“It depends. I don’t feel integrated into the Dutch population. Students live more or less in their own world. But I don’t feel integrated with the Dutch students of my faculty either.”
Why is that?
“There’s the difference in age. Most Dutch people are 18 when they start studying. I’m 21, I went to high school until I was 19 – like every German student – and I did one year of military service. Second point: There’s the different way people see their studies. German students are more serious, they want to get good grades. Most of the Dutch students are away from home for the first time. They want to party and enjoy themselves.”
Are you member of a studentenvereniging?
“I’m member of Kinran, the student karate club. We speak Dutch and English. I can speak Dutch; I did two Dutch language courses.”
Why? You’re studying in English.
“It’s a matter of politeness that you speak the language of the country where you live. Even if it’s only for three of four years.”
You’re not staying after your studies?
“I don’t know at this stage. But from a career perspective it’s likely I’ll move to another country.”
What do you think is typically Dutch?
“The Dutch are more focused on the group. Everybody joins a student association. Germans are more individualistic.”
Your favourite Dutch meal?
Big smile – he knows it isn’t healthy: “Frites.”
Your favourite friture?
“Friture De Kommel. I live with two German girls in the apartment above it. When I don’t have much time – when I have exams, like this week – I’ll go to the friture.”
Have you passed all your exams so far?
That’s typically German.