Ik Student
Universiteit Amsterdam
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‘I don’t expect much of people’


‘The last time I went on holiday, I took my course book with me to study for the resit, without even knowing whether I would need to take the resit: just in case.’

Lower IQ

‘Sometimes I think my IQ might be below average.’

‘Studying at a university of applied sciences is quite hard’, says Hoesem (23). His studies are very important to him and he denies himself a lot for them. But he finds it hard to concentrate, suffers from stress and doesn’t sleep well. ‘When I read something I forget it again in seconds.’

Hoesem went from senior secondary vocational education to the university of applied sciences. He is now in his second year of commercial economics. Studying at a university of applied sciences is quite different to senior secondary vocational education. ‘I didn’t suffer many symptoms there, the study load wasn’t high there. Now it’s less easy. Even though I’m not behind on my work, I still experience more stress and a higher work load.’

Hoesem finds studying at the university of applied sciences particularly hard, because he has concentration problems and suffers from stress. ‘After ten or twenty minutes of studying my mind wanders. Then I have to take a break, go for a walk, have a cigarette. During exam periods I smoke much more: a pack a day. That’s a lot. At times like that I try to be more disciplined, but I usually fail. Work piles up and it becomes total chaos.’ He suffers from a sleeping disorder and from forgetfulness. ‘I simply forget certain things, when I’m reading for instance. I don’t remember what I’ve been reading about. I can’t reproduce it. When I get home I’m always very tired. I have to lie down for a while or else I’ll be sleepwalking all day.’

His studies are very important to Hoesem. He doesn’t want to fall behind at all, not even by six months. This is often at the expense of his social life. ‘Because studying takes up a lot of my time, I put everything aside during exam periods. My social life and my job, lose their importance to me.’ None of his friends are in school anymore. ‘If they have time off work, they simply want to have fun. I used to be sorely tempted to go out with them at times like that. But then you get stuck. No, I don’t do that anymore. My education comes first for me. My friends understand that and don’t phone me so often. Life’s all about making choices.’

Lazy brain
Hoesem regularly checks the health websites for information on forgetfulness. ‘It’s a matter of finding topics which interest you and clicking on them and clicking again and again and so on. I might be looking for something about IQ and concentration problems, for instance. How does your brain work? How do you deal with it? That’s the sort of stuff I read about. Sometimes I think my IQ might be below average. That’s why I take IQ tests: to train my brain. Perhaps my brain has become lazy, or it works slower, because I don’t use it enough. It’s possible, I’ve read about that on those websites.’

Keep going
To deal with the stress better, Hoesem tries to introduce routine into his life. ‘Now I take my time to study. I also make sure I am physically well rested.’ He doesn’t like to talk to others about his problems. ‘I don’t really talk about stress. I’ve accepted it, it’s a part of life. The only thing I can do is keep going. Over the course of my studies I have learned that you must do everything yourself and not expect too much from other people, it prevents disappointment.’

Hoesem’s story: ‘I don’t expect much of people’
Ida’s story: ‘As long as I don’t attempt suicide, I’m all right’
Mary’s story: ‘I think about literally everything’
Marco’s story: ‘Typical for me is that I lose friends along the way’
Marianne’s story: ‘Now I will persevere, even if it takes another 20 years’
Simon’s story: ‘If you don’t live in Amsterdam, you do not really belong’

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