Ik Student
Universiteit Amsterdam
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‘I didn’t feel at home in that student scene’

Respectable people

‘My parents and my brother are respectable people. And all my friends are also respectable students doing what is expected of them: studying, working, playing hockey and going out to ‘Noodlanding’ in Paradiso. That’s all fine, but I want more than that. I’ve always enjoyed the alternative scene, but perhaps I lack the courage.’

Between two worlds

‘I always find myself between two worlds: on one hand there is student life and the sorority, on the other hand there is the alternative scene, with the trance parties at which they use drugs. That’s such a big contrast. I’ve been stuck in the middle of that since my secondary school exams. I find that very difficult.’

Tongue piercing

‘Four years ago I had my tongue pierced. My father was very upset. He wasn’t angry, he was disappointed. He then blamed my friends. They must have been the ones who had put me up to it. But it was entirely my own choice. It was mine. It’s always played a role in my life, being different, I mean.’

Economics student Rose (24) can’t seem to settle anywhere: ‘I’m in between two worlds: on one hand there is student life and the sorority, on the other hand there is the alternative scene, with the trance parties.’er last van dat ze nergens kan wortelen: ‘Ik zit tussen twee werelden in: aan de ene kant het studentenleven en het corps, aan de andere kant de alternatieve scene, met die trancefeestjes.’

When she left secondary school Rose wanted to travel. ‘I had just turned eighteen and I wanted to go to Australia and Thailand. But my parents wouldn’t let me.’
Instead of travelling she enrolled in economics, in Amsterdam. ‘That was tough. A whole new life: living in digs, student life and of course the degree course itself. In order to meet new people, I joined the sorority. I lived in a house with all girls. On the one hand that was great and super fun, particularly drinking beer and eating together. On the other hand it wasn’t free of obligations, because that sorority was very demanding. There was a lot of gossip and everybody was into your business. But sometimes I wanted to decide for myself when I wanted to go out and what I did.’

Alternative scene
Rose: ‘After my final exams I went to a trance party once with a friend and that’s when I used drugs for the first time. I always was open to new experiences. It was great fun. I particularly liked the people in that alternative scene: their experiences with drugs and all the travelling they had done.’
Her friends from university didn’t like that one bit. ‘Sometimes I would tell one of my friends what I had done over the weekend, but she would never understand. I even took a friend with me to one of those parties once. It was a mistake, she didn’t like it at all. They’re kind of hippies with dreadlocks and stuff.’
To reconnect with her studies, Rose joined rowing club Nereus in her third year. ‘I rowed and went jogging three times a week. Of course that comes with the obligatory drinks parties as well, but I became increasingly less interested in those. I began to realise I didn’t belong in that student scene.’

Lack of understanding
She’s also finding it hard to settle in the alternative scene. Being stuck between two worlds costs a lot of energy. That affects her studies. ‘Before, studying was never a problem, but now I sit down in the library and it takes me half an hour to concentrate. Once I’ve read a page, my mind has drifted off elsewhere.’
She doesn’t talk about this with her friends. ‘I do have a couple of good friends, but I can’t really talk to them. They don’t understand. We lead completely different lives. I haven’t made an effort to meet any new people either over the past year.’
There’s a lack of understanding from her family as well. ’My brother always puts things into perspective. He studied economics and joined a fraternity. He says: “Your life isn’t tough at all, you don’t have any problems, you’re still in university and you don’t have a mortgage or children.” He’s right in a way, but still it bothers me.

A big step
Rose has thought about seeing a psychologist. ‘But I think I ought to try to work my way out of this myself first. I just have to get through this. I’ve always suffered from stress, but I still feel this is a temporary thing. It may be better to talk to someone, but first I want to see how I go on my own.’
The other day I saw my ex boyfriend again. He was also depressed and he told me he had seen a psychologist. When I heard that, I thought that might be a good thing for me too, but it honestly is a big step to take.’

Give up or graduate
Rose is thinking about giving up her studies. Her family and friends think that is a bad idea. ‘In a way I agree with them. All that’s left is my internship and my thesis. I have already organised an internship with a large company. That will give me the opportunity to see whether economics is for me. Then at least I will have tried. To be honest, I just want to be done with studying. I’m fed up with it.’

Ashur’s story: ‘The last thing I want to do, is disappoint my father’
Lisa’s story: ‘If you don’t join until the master, you don’t know anyone’
Ruby’s story: ‘In the end love conquers all’
Rose’s story: ‘I didn’t feel at home in that student scene’

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