Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts
Prof. Tsjalling Swierstra shares a meal with the Maastricht Student Mountain Bike and Cycling Association Dutch Mountains
Two bicycles under the raised bed, chain wheels and sprockets on the wall and a row of tires under the window. Jesse Raas is obviously a cyclist. His room is the venue for this evening’s dinner with professor of Philosophy Tsjalling Swierstra and three other members of the student mountain bike and cycling association Dutch Mountains. Having just arrived, Swierstra’s eye is immediately drawn to the large grazes on Raas’ arms and legs. An accident during a competition, Raas explains. “I somersaulted seven times.” “Oh my word!” Swierstra exclaims. “You could have died three times over.” Later on, Raas tells that he had to stop studying for a year because of a previous fall that resulted in two brain haemorrhages. Swierstra once again: “Oh my word!” And after that: “The word tricycle comes to mind.”
A cheese fondue is being served with seasoned vegetables and French bread. Swierstra is impressed. “Who made the mushrooms? Very good.” When the photographer passes by, he picks up a bowl of vegetables. “Then my wife can see that I had a healthy meal.” “Do you like to eat healthy meals?” Raas asks. “My wife feels that I don’t like them as much as I should.”
The DM students, as its members refer to the Dutch Mountains, love to cook. There is a board in the corridor upon which housemates can indicate who will be there for dinner. “There are regularly seven or eight of us at the table,” says Koen Stroux. “There are five of us living here, but there are also members living next door and a little further along. This [Frankenstraat] is DM village.” Does eating together stimulate healthy eating, Swierstra wonders? Wieke Cosijnse thinks that it also has to do with interest. “I have a friend who knows nothing about cooking or healthy eating, and she is also a student.” “They are the ones who return from family visits with ten containers of food,” says Stroux.
They chat about the various studies and activities. “Are any of you politically active?” Swierstra wants to know. “If by that you mean voting, yes, otherwise no,” says Lars Quaedvlieg. “Why not?" "It is just endless bickering that never leads to anything,” says Stroux. The students also don’t see the point of joining a party. “There is no one party that I completely agree with,” says Quaedvlieg. Swierstra: “Well, it’s new to me that one should have to agree completely with all points taken by a party. It used to be that you said: I feel comfortable in this corner.” Cosijnse: “I voted for a party that was in favour of abolishing student grants because I felt that the other points were more important. I now regret having done that.”
Swierstra, clearly the philosopher and an experienced panel chairman, already has his next question ready. “How optimistic are you about the future? On a scale of 1 to 10.” “The world’s future or my own,” Quaedvlieg asks. “The world.” “A 3.” Others come up with 2.5 and 4. Cosijnse is the most positive one, with 5.5: “Oh dear, guys, this is not good.” Swierstra: “I had hoped for more youthful enthusiasm.” Fortunately they are a lot more optimistic about their own future. Stroux gives that 5.5, the rest hand out eights and nines. “A typical phenomenon,” Swierstra remarks. “The world is not doing good, but I’m doing quite alright. Whereas if things were really bad, it would of course also affect you.”
During the dessert of fresh figs with chocolate, the topic of discussion is about the different characteristics of cyclists and mountain bikers. It turns out that cyclists are more competitive and also more vain. “Unshaven legs just don’t look right,” cyclist Quaedvlieg laughs. Of course the mountain bikers tease them with that. The latter, in turn, get to hear that they are lazy, because they take a lift to the top of the mountain. “I could - if I wanted to - cycle up to the top, but there is no satisfaction in that. That only comes from the downhill part: will I dare to do it, can I take every small corner just right, that is where the kick comes from,” says Cosijnse.
Are there any characteristics that are useful in both cycling and studying, Swierstra inquires. The students have to think about that. “Perseverance,” says Quaedvlieg in the end. “He [pointing to Raas] has a lot of that. Even when he is injured, he continues his training sessions.” That reminds future physiotherapist Stroux of something. “Can you tape Jesse’s ankle tomorrow?” he asks medical student Cosijnse. She raises her eyebrows. “Ankle? You mean his wrist.” Swierstra, who had previously spoken of his admiration for physiotherapists (“One saved my life. I had back problems, which comes from being tall, and he straightened me out bit by bit.”): “You need to study some more before I put myself in your hands.”
Wieke Cosijnse * 22 * fourth-year medical student
Lars Quaedvlieg * 21 * master’s student of econometrics * chairman of Dutch Mountains
Jesse Raas * 21 * second-year student of health sciences * Dutch Mountains tournament official
Koen Stroux * 22 * second-year student of physiotherapy at Zuyd Hogeschool
Tsjalling Swierstra * 56 * professor of philosophy at Arts and Social Sciences * cohabits, no children * lives in Wijlre
Scores (up to 5 stars) given by the guest, professor Swierstra:
Food ***** “I had expected spaghetti with a dollop of indefinable sauce”