Can you describe what you do?
I’m a 22 year old economics student, based in the southern part of Antwerp for nine years now. During the week, I spend most of my time working on SINC, a student organisation that promotes entrepreneurship in Antwerp. Besides that, I work as a student brand manager for Red Bull and I try to keep up with new technologies such as blockchain and IoT. Likewise, I truly enjoy spending time with friends and discussing ideas and future plans with a beer or two.
How do you perceive Antwerp?
I like to think of Antwerp as a global city in a small town. It’s very diverse and full of life, entertainment, history, cultures and nationalities in a small and dense space. It has everything you want a city to have. The centre is as cosy as Bruges, while the shopping facilities remind me of Milan, the nightlife scene is comparable to Berlin, and its history to Rome. That might be a little over the top, but we are proud to call ourselves Antwerpenaren.
For the last couple of years, Antwerp has been investing in its entrepreneurial image, which I can only encourage.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives?
I think Antwerp has always been known as a creative city. It’s famous for its historical buildings and architecture, its lively shopping and fashion cultures, and great artists such as Rubens and van Dyck. Nowadays there are a lot of initiatives to promote creativity in and around Antwerp. APBC, or Antwerp Powered by Creatives being a great example.
How would you say Antwerp has contributed to making you who you are today?
In my opinion Antwerp is a great city to grow up in. There is so much possible here, as long as you’re really committed. As a 16 year old youngster, I’d organise parties hosting international artists with some friends – an experience I could only dream of beforehand. I think such life events have a great impact on expanding your proactive mindset. Besides that, in the last couple of years, Antwerp is investing in its entrepreneurial image, which I can only encourage. Numerous incubators have recently emerged and lots of start-ups are beginning to find their way in such programs. Startit @ KBC for example is a real start-up hub that creates a lot of possibilities, even for us students, to continue chasing our (start-up) dreams.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more in the city?
I would love to see more citizens, and especially students, collaborate on all kind of projects. I think people in other countries are sometimes more social, friendly and tolerant than we are towards people we don’t yet know. I think it’s a typical Belgian mindset we should all work on. And be positive and happy – always.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? How would you guide tourists around?
I think Groenplaats would be a good place to start. It’s in the heart of Antwerp, you get in touch with local bars and students, the statue of Rubens represents the city’s history and you have a great view of our beautiful cathedral. Also, the Grote Markt is very close by and definitely worth visiting. It’s in the older part of the city with great places to eat, drink or just wander about and take pictures.
The first local legend that comes to mind, although he doesn’t live in Antwerp anymore, is Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal. The story of how he started coding as a student, and his game-changing open source software is very inspiring. Few people are aware of it, but we use sites organised by Dries’ software almost everyday. Thanks Dries.SINCantwerpen.be Photography Joke De Wilde