Very often people ask me why I, a Dutch person, decided to do my Masters degree in Antwerp. I often reply by saying that I like the experience being in a new city and that it saves me a lot of money. The last bit, however, is somewhat sensitive. I don’t like Belgians to think of me as a greedy Dutch student whose only purpose is to get a degree at low costs and then leave again. Nevertheless, just like many other students I cannot deny that this is part of the truth.
Europe is terrified as the time is approaching for Greece to receive the new installment of the rescue package, fearing that Athens had failed to meet the reform commitments associated with the European loans. Non-compliance means refusing to award funds needed by the government to pay its debts, which may lead to bankruptcy, a repeated concern with each new installment.
Approximately half a year ago, I moved from Amsterdam to Brussels. My expectations were that it would involve limited bureaucratic procedures as a result of EU internal market freedoms, and that living in Brussels, living in Belgium would be similar to living in the Netherlands, only with different architecture and French as the main language. How wrong I was! EU mobility is still limited by differences in tax, pension, social security, and insurance systems. But more importantly, every day life is organized differently. Shortly after I arrived I felt like I moved to Cairo, not Brussels. As Belgium is one of the most developed countries in the world my expectations – including those of an efficient public transport system – were high.