This Monday marks the beginning of the International Student Week. A perhaps strange concept, celebrating the strangers of this city. I look back upon my first months in the city of EIndhoven, when I really felt like an outsider and how today it feels like I have built a life for myself amidst the chaos.
Experiencing GLOW last week, showing the city to new friends, it was surprising to me how quickly this city has become home. How I know the busiest hours, the shortcuts to get somewhere, the best places to get sushi. When I got here, four years ago as an international student, I had no sense of direction, the spoken language and the numerous peculiarities of this city. Yet today, walking through the city center feels like coming home.
Most international students, much like myself, enter this city with an unfamiliarity. The bowling pins next to the station, the never-ending bike paths and of course the crowd of students passing each day through the Centraal Station.
The first month it felt like everything was mocking me, reminding me that I was not from here. It was all so overwhelming, yet we find our feet, walking the same route every day. We watch the Dommel over the bridge and learn the bike routes. Before we know it, we are exchanging pleasantries in Dutch to the bus drivers and at the local Albert Heijn. Before we know it, this city starts to feel like home.
During this week, I would invite everyone to celebrate that strangeness, that unfamiliarity you feel as an international student. I promise you, very soon this place will feel like home. You will begin to adore all the peculiarities of the culture here. Until all that is left of being ‘international’ is that you were not born here. But perhaps that is what we ought to celebrate this week, the immense ability of the students to acclimate. To realize that just because we are alone, does not mean we cannot make it a home.
Rina Manjrekar (22) is a previous student Mechatronics at Fontys School of Engineering. After graduating cum laude last summer, she now tries to find her way in the 'real' world. Here you can find her earlier columns for Bron.