The World is not (a) Pangaea!

In this second installment of Universitour, Audrey observes the lonely international students, people in dire need of free coffee and study space, and amateur singers who need to belt out the newest Måneskin songs, all who are huddled up in a place called Pangaea

“The world is not (a) Pangaea, Drey. Not everyone is a nice person.”

Said Fabio on our little IISMA KU Leuven excursion to Maasmechelen, Belgium. During this trip, the seven of us somehow took the wrong bus stop and ended up stuck in the middle of Flemish nowhere. It was daunting, and I, being the naïve self of a person I was, thought it would be a good idea to ask the local people how to get to our destination. On the other hand, Fabio thought it was a bad idea as it serves as the perfect chance for someone to manipulate a group of non-Dutch speaking students who knew little to nothing about the area, throwing us into horrible turmoil (excessive, I know). Either way, he had a great point, hence the accepted cold reply.

         The story of Maasmechelen is not what this writing is about. It is about the place that Fabio said – Pangaea. Out of all the things that Fabio has said to me during our six months in Leuven, that one particular sentence is the only one that I still remember word-by-word to this day. And so, this story is about a wondrous place called Pangaea.

         Pangaea is a bar within KU Leuven (KUL) perimeters that prides itself on being the institution’s hub for international students. The place was originally built to be a meeting space for students, specifically international students, who may not have had any friends in Belgium prior to their time at KUL. The place is very cosy and vibrant in colour, with earth-toned furniture and big windows that could let all the shy Belgian sun rays in. It is jam-packed with students most of the time, with people using the space to hang out and befriend new people, or for more formal agendas such as club meetings and special events. You can even find students coming in for simple (or rigorous) studying sessions during certain days of the week. Basically, Pangaea can be anything you want it to be – and the people who work there (who are all still active students) can help make it happen.

Udin and Eagan, the two people that we met at Pangaea and ended up being our best friends throughout the semester!

        Deducing Fabio’s statement, it is safe to say that people in Pangaea are mostly very nice individuals. I must admit that most of my friends in Leuven were the ones I made during my many visits to Pangaea. I think that people there are nice because everyone is, blatantly speaking, quite lonely. They come to Pangaea to hang out and meet new people, meaning that everyone is open to interacting with each other in various ways. Pangaea is not an upscale bar where people only hang out with their peer groups – it is a place where people mingle and create intersections amongst their friend collectives. And due to this little agenda that everyone has, people become so warm and cordial to each other since everyone in that area may just be your newest best friend.

People from the Asian Student Association - Leuven that helped promote our Youth Pledge event

Should one take a glimpse into my gallery, they will find that I have made most of my happiest Leuven moments in Pangaea. For starters, IISMA KUL held our Indonesian Youth Pledge event at Pangaea. We were lucky enough to have help from some of our Erasmus Student Network and Asian Student Association friends that we met at Pangaea. They spread the word about our event and made it an interesting get-together consisting of intercultural audiences screaming along to Tara Basro’s shrieks (we did a horror-movie screening) and munching on bakso kuah. It was also the place where I first had my Halloween party.

Zanna and Indah, my two friends from Pangaea, during Pangaea’s Halloween party. They were the ones screaming along to High School Musical.

Pangaea played so many bangers, and I have never seen a room filled with so many people screaming along to High School Musical and Måneskin. Speaking of singing-along, Pangaea is very famous for its karaoke nights. Due to health restrictions, bars around Leuven were not operating during our time there. And since the nearest karaoke joint was miles away in Brussels, people could only resort to Pangaea to strain their vocal cords with a bunch of strangers. You surely will not be able to find an empty table within the Pangaea quarters during karaoke night, and that gives you a perfect reason to walk around and jump from one random conversation to the next whilst the entire room screams along to Mr Brightside by The Killers.

 Our first ever 2 AM walk back home from Pangaea, coincidently our first week in Leuven.

        I do not regret spending most of my IISMA time at Pangaea. I’d like to believe that all the late night 2 AM walks back home from Pangaea were some of my most treasured moments from Leuven. Being in Pangaea meant that you were free to reinvent and be your truest self – no one would judge. Because at the end of the day, people come by to mingle and meet new personalities to be around with. Pangaea is constantly a warm community – and it is not due to the warm beverages they give out freely to members. It is because of the little yelps that the Colombian man lets out when someone reads his arm during an intense card game. It is the confident bartenders that step in directly when they see shady individuals towering over innocent newbies. It is the Indian bar manager who shuts your laptop and throws you to the dancefloor if you are still studying after 8 PM on a Saturday. It is the kind and lovely people who want you to be a wonderful student, all whilst still experiencing life to its fullest. 

        The world is no longer a Pangaea. But I sure do hope that it can one day be like Pangaea.

Created by : Brianna Ruth Audrey

Audrey is a senior at Universitas Indonesia’s International Relations program. She did her IISMA term at KU Leuven, Belgium, where she spent most of her time taking intercity trains and going to old book shops. Has an affinity for karaoke parties.

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