Just arrived in Antwerp and a little overwhelmed? Not to worry, dear international students, because we gathered the best tips for surviving your first weeks in Antwerp. Check it out!
So, you’ve landed in beautiful Belgium, found your way to Antwerp and maybe already even found a room to stay during your international experience. If you haven’t found a house to call your new home: no worries! There are lots of dorms available for students. You can check out websites such as Kotweb.be (also available in English) where tenants or your future roommates offer student rooms. When you’ve found a dorm, it’s time to make it official. Yes, Facebook official by changing your residential city, but also to make it official for the council of Antwerp. You can find out how to do so at GATE15 or the website of your university.
So far, so good!
Now that you’ve found a place where WiFi connects automatically, it’s time to discover all the precious places your new hometown has to offer. Pick up your free Student Guide at GATE15 and get to know the best of the city in 225 pages. Antwerp isn’t that big, so most highlights you can reach by walking or otherwise by bus or tram. But you know what they say: when in Antwerp, do how the Antwerpenaren do, so get yourself a bike as quickly as possible. For short distances you can use the public Velo you can find on almost every corner of the street, but if you want to use a bike for longer daily rides it’s also possible to rent a bike at Levanto or Swapfiets.
Before the good stuff comes: first some basics.
You will first have to prepare for your classes at university or college. Don’t forget to pick up your courses.
To fill your fridge with snacks for house parties and Netflix binge watching, search for supermarkets like Albert Heijn, Delhaize or Carrefour. Just to warn you: don’t panic when you see the price for white (for residual waste) and blue (for plastic bottles, metal packaging and drink cartons) trash bags. It’s not an Erasmus fee; it’s just the price for all citizens to get your garbage picked up once a week.
Another option to get rid of your garbage is the underground collection system. To use these columns on the street (sorteerstraatjes), you don’t have to use the white and blue trash bags, but you’ll need a ‘prepaid’ card (sorteerpas), which is available at GATE15.
Ready for takeoff?
To become a local, you can make or get yourself some stoofvlees (typical Flemish stewed meat) with fries. But if you’re missing home and crave for some Mexican taco’s, Italian pizza or American burgers… We won’t let you starve! Your needs will absolutely be met. Just check out the Student Guide for the best hotspots.
In the Student Guide you will also find all kinds of activities you definitely can’t miss out on. For example, do you know who ‘the Antwerp six’ are? Find out at the Modemuseum. And did you know you could admire the world’s oldest printing press at the Museum Plantin-Moretus?
If you want to hear something different than the ‘boom boom’ dance hits playing on Friday and Saturday nights, you can enjoy some classical music at the Opera Vlaanderen or the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra. Too classy for you? At Trix or Arenberg you can hear some more modern sounds played by pop, dance and rock artists.
Note: before buying your tickets, buy Cultuurcheques! For just 10 euros you will receive 7 vouchers you can use at one of the locations mentioned above for theatre, movies, (classical) music and dance performances.
Been there, done that?
For visiting cities like Brussel, Bruges and Ghent we wouldn’t recommend using a bike. City trips within Belgium can easily be done by train. If you’re planning on using the train a lot, it’s probably best to buy a Go Pass. You’ll pay only 5,30 euros for a ticket each way. When you know Belgium like the back of your hand, Flixbus is a cheap option to travel around to neighboring countries. The city d’amour is just around the corner, and there’s definitely more to do in Munich than just Oktoberfest.
In Antwerp we say ‘amai’ and I think that’s beautiful
Just to get you started, these are some useful Flemish expressions:
Twee pintjes alstublieft. – Two beers, please.
Amai, wat zot! – Wow, that’s crazy!
Ik kan niet naar de les komen, want ik heb een kater. – I can’t come to class, because I am hungover.
Komt dit op het examen? – Will this be on the exam?
Salukes! – Bye!
Do you really want to develop your Flemish skills? Linguapolis is your place to be for a language course.
One day it will be time to leave Antwerp and continue your academic career in another part of the world. You’ll probably have tons of good stories to tell your friends and family and hopefully look back with a smile on your time in the city of Rubens. Get yourself a Belgian beer and some Antwerpse handjes and remember those good times. The beer and cookies will be gone, but the memories will last forever!
We hope you will revisit us one day or even never leave Antwerp, because you can’t get enough of the city and want to stay forever to develop your career and build a future here.