Qendresa Rexhepi (24), who lived in Germany most of her life, moved to Utrecht two and a half years ago to study Creative Business at Hogeschool Utrecht. ‘My parents immigrated from Kosovo to Germany, now 25 years ago. I was born in a refugee camp, where we lived for almost six years. The important lesson I have learnt is that the most essential thing in life is human affection, regardless of where you were raised.’ Qendresa feels at home in Utrecht. ‘I like to observe everything that happens in the street: how people move, and how they interact. I absorb all the tiny details and sounds. In these rapidly changing times, we sometimes forget to take our time to look around and be aware of all the amazing things surrounding us.’
Full of surprises
‘I live in Lombok, which also happens to be my favourite neighbourhood. There always seems to be a new surprise around the corner, waiting to be discovered. Molen de Ster (Molenpark 3) is one of my go-to places. It’s a beautiful mill in a tranquil park, where you can spot the laziest pigs ever. I don’t think I have ever seen them move. The terrace of Café Kanaalzicht (Keulsekade 23) is an excellent spot for drinking a cold beer whilst watching the world go by. And if you’re looking for fresh and cheap veggies, you should definitely head to Bendi Food Center (Damstraat 58).’
‘You probably wouldn’t expect it at first, but there’s lots to do in the area next to Zuilen train station. For example, you can watch free movies – often with English subtitles – at Filmcafé (CAB-Rondom 90A). Afterwards, you can stick around for drinks and dancing.’
‘I like going to Karibu Café (Oudenoord 330) for coffee and breakfast. It’s located in one of the buildings that used to house Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. It now affords workplaces for small start-ups. The café is also a good place if you like playing board games. Another great spot is Waku Waku (formerly called SNCKBR, Vredenburg 28), the first 100% vegan restaurant in Utrecht.’
Take a break
‘Boulderhal Sterk (Koningin Wilhelminalaan 4) is like a small community: you can climb the wall on your own, but you’re always next to someone else. This makes it an excellent place to start a conversation. So it’s not only good for your health, but also great to meet new people. Whenever I feel like taking a break from city life, I head to the forest behind Utrecht Science Park. I also find the beautiful bike ride to De Haar Castle (Kasteellaan 1, Haarzuilens) very relaxing.’
Qendresa is one of the ambassadors of Thirty030, with which Utrecht shows its young, creative side: 30 enthusiastic ambassadors under the age of 30 will be representing the city together.