As a student from Northern Ireland, the decision to move to Luxembourg was, I will admit, a random one. Having completed a BA in languages and spent an Erasmus year in Madrid, the thought of remaining in my home country was not an option for me. I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere I could practise my language skills and perhaps even learn a new one. Enter Luxembourg, a small country nestled between France, Germany and Belgium- three countries which I had all considered moving to before a representative of the University of Luxembourg, at a European Study Fair in Brussels, convinced me to study a History masters in Luxembourg.
A random and rather spontaneous move it was indeed, especially since I knew very little about Luxembourg, but it was the best decision I ever made. Studying and living in Luxembourg is like stepping into another universe compared to back home. Classes in every degree path are multilingual by nature with students given the opportunity to present their oral and written works in one of the university’s three official languages: French, German or English. Indeed, student life could be described as a microcosm of life in Luxembourg in general in this respect, since everywhere you go, especially in Luxembourg City, you are immersed in a multilingual, multicultural world listening to passers-by and shop assistants speak Luxembourgish, Portuguese, English, French to name but a few. Perhaps the most impressive is hearing someone switch almost effortlessly between several languages. Add to this the fact that Luxembourg has three official languages (Luxembourgish, German and French) and it is not hard to see that the Grand Duchy is truly a language lover’s dream!
Returning to student life, of the some 4,000 students at the University of Luxembourg, roughly half come from outside of the Grand Duchy. Again, this mirrors the country itself where foreigners make up almost half of the population. These demographics make both studying and living in Luxembourg a wonderfully multicultural experience, not least for someone coming from a predominantly monolingual society.
Extracurricular Activities and Social Life
Regarding activities and social life outside of the university, it is true that compared to larger countries and indeed cities there are fewer student-related things to do in Luxembourg. Indeed, there are many nights of the week when Luxembourg City is almost completely empty, mainly as its large portion of cross-border workers return home. However, this is not necessarily a disadvantage as less busy bars mean that those willing to head out to experience Luxembourgish nightlife can normally do so without struggling to find a table to eat or drink with friends. Of course, there are some exceptions when the capital is overflowing with people, such as at the National Holiday celebrations, the Schueberfouer or the Christmas Markets and these occasions also add to the little country’s charm.
In any case, students in Luxembourg can take advantage of the vast array of (normally) affordable concerts held at the Rockhal in Belval-Esch (where most of us are based), regular house parties organised by students for students, reduced-price language courses with the INL and, for the sportier among us, the various free sports classes offered by the university every day of the week. Moreover, students are offered free public transport all over the country, so we can explore every corner of Luxembourg- transport routes permitting, of course.
A Young but Ever-Developing University
Perhaps the only disadvantages of studying in Luxembourg are the size of the facilities on campus, especially in Belval, with an often-overflowing canteen- but one that offers pretty good food for an even better price- and a small library with limited opening hours, which is especially frustrating around exam time. Moreover, whilst the university boasts of its large offer of student residences, many are quite expensive, perhaps not for Luxembourg-standards but certainly for students, some of whom even with a student job find it difficult to afford. Personally, I was lucky in getting placed in one of the cheaper rooms, only a 15-minute walk from where I have classes.
Indeed, these issues are mainly related to the fact that the university and particularly the Belval campus are quite young and still growing. Indeed, a new bigger library is planned to open in the next few years and there is discussion of the construction of a new canteen, too. Add to this the emergence of an increasing number of student clubs and associations and increased investment in the university and student accommodation and I have no doubt that student life will continue to improve for Luxembourg’s ever-expanding and evermore multicultural student body.
All things considered, choosing to study in Luxembourg was the best decision I ever made and living in such a diverse country with many opportunities for foreigners has convinced me that I never want to leave.