Photographer:Fotograaf: Julia Reinhardt
Home Sweet Home
“Sorry, I haven’t vacuumed in a week. My mom would probably freak out!” Liza Hazenberg, the present ‘day in the life of’ student room candidate apologetically opens the door to her 18m2 territory. Her mom, she jokingly declares, “can be a real piece of work“ and worries a lot. It is rather unclear why, though: her daughter has impeccable manners. Welcoming and talkative, she immediately prepares a drink and opens a batch of cookies. Two candles flicker invitingly on the table and spread a warm light across the room. Check!
Liza is a first-year Medicine student, only just settling into the student lifestyle. Coming from a village with no more than 1,500 souls, located in the rural part of Dutch province Noord-Brabant, Maastricht is the jackpot she has been waiting to hit. „I wanted to get out of there, I hated it, and most of my friends are now finally close by.” Lengthy travelling for short visits, tiring nocturnal drives to go out? No more. In fact, Liza seems to have turned the tables: it is now her who is a rather popular stopover location for her entourage to visit. Next to a few self-explanatory bottles, a mattress is lying in the middle of her room. “It’s for my best childhood friend”, Liza explains. “She lives across the street at home and doesn’t have a room in Maastricht yet, so I accommodate her quite often.”
The mattress is a cue to look around. Hidden to the viewer at first, Liza has stored a few books behind her sofa: mostly non-fiction and travel stories, she particularly likes Kader Abdolah’s books. They recount the experiences of Persian and Syrian immigrants in the Netherlands. “The Messenger is my favourite, I can only recommend it.” When in a less serious mood, she also loves watching TV series. “Modern Family is great!” she laughs. Mostly, however, she claims to frequent the kitchen table. It is the place to ‘eat, work, study’ - the popular mantra of many a student today.
Popular also among students is an unruly mess. Liza’s room, however, is simple and tidy. In fact, the walls are blatantly empty! Why? “I like the ‘modern vibe’ that this emptiness emanates”, she says. The white space “makes it seem clean”. The rest of her furniture she has carefully matched in white and blue. White bed, blue sheets. White chairs, blue cloths. Fancy that, she’s even wearing blue! “I think it matches well”, she grins. Next to her bed, a white nightstand that her beloved grandfather painted for her completes the picture. Only some overdue Christmas decoration that has survived the merry season disrupts the immaculate colour palette.
Liza laughs when she is finally quizzed about having had mice before. Gruesome stories currently circulate among students and it seemed appropriate to ask. “Indeed”, she says, “there has been a case of mice, but long before my time”. In a rather bizarre way, their disappearance seems understandable. They must feel like a furry intruder in the middle of a perfectly matched white and blue furniture magazine ad. The cookies, however, would probably still be tempting.