New in Nijmegen (1): Maxime Djani

30 Aug 2019

Last week, a lot of international students arrived in Nijmegen for their orientation week. Maxime Djani from France is one of them. 'Coming to Nijmegen, I am especially happy about the biking.'

Maxime Djani (23) holds a big lump of buttery dough in his hands, rolling it between his fingers into a smooth ball. He explains, apologetically: ‘Apple pie, for my mentors. I had to make something of where I’m from.’

After he washes his hands he sits down behind a pile of utensils and red apples. Djani’s last name is from his Algerian grandfather. He himself is from France and lives 60 kilometers outside of Paris.

When he arrived in the Netherlands on orientation week Sunday, it was too late to take part in the registration at the university. Arriving late was not a mistake, but part of a deliberate scheme to save some money. A low-budget bus company drove him to the village of Berg en Dal, about four kilometers from the center of Nijmegen. ‘I stayed in a hotel there,’ Djani says. ‘The next morning I could not see the reason in paying for the relatively expensive local bus. Instead, I walked to Nijmegen, one big piece of luggage in each hand and a third strapped over my shoulder.’

Creative arts

He is clearly taking care of his personal economy, and will continue to do so during his exchange year in Nijmegen. ‘I have enough to live, but I do want to try and get a part-time job.’ He has previously worked as a babysitter, in a restaurant, and delivering food, so fussiness should not be a problem.

Djani has actually come here to study a variety of courses, piecing different subjects together so they fit with his BA at home: English, Spanish and Business. ‘I was interested in a few other schools, one in Edinburgh and another one I forgot, but the point was to discover someplace new and to take some political courses.’

It turns out Djani also has an interest in creative arts, particularly film, and says he might consider starting some project while here – if he finds the time.

Butter dough

‘Coming to Nijmegen, I am especially happy about the biking. I already bought a bike of my own.’ When asked if he thinks he’ll learn Dutch, he replies that it’s always useful. ‘However, a few people have told me that I shouldn’t be bothered because the Dutch are rude. My Dutch mentor said this. But I’d like to form my own opinion about that.’

Towards the end of our talk Djani has to go back to baking. His mentors and fellow students are waiting, and the next programme on the week’s hectic agenda is approaching.  ‘It’s been a long week,’ he confides tiringly, while he smiles for the picture with the ball of butter dough in his hands.

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