Surrounded by piles of clothes and half-built furniture, I carefully sit on the blanket I placed on my mattress (I still have to wash the bedsheets) and look out of the window. The street seems suddenly quiet. No more big cars with boedelbakken (trailers) pull up the sidewalk, unloading box after box. No more students with backpacks bigger than themselves are walking through the front door they will walk through countless times in the upcoming weeks and months.
Instead, one Swapfiets after the other dashes by (reminding me that I still have to get a bike from somewhere). Students walk by crookedly, carrying the big books on their shoulders that they will have to learn by heart over the upcoming weeks (reminding me that I still need to buy my books). Faint conversations reach my window that talk about when the next deadline is (this week already?) that reassure me of who things: I'm back. And it has started again.
I look back down at my laptop. While my first course only starts tomorrow, I decided to be an exemplary student and read through all syllabi beforehand. Instead of making me feel assured and confident about the upcoming weeks and courses, however, I now feel like I'm already behind. Weekly assignments; online or offline; lectures on different platforms - it all seems to smother me. Day 1 hasn't even started yet, and I've already lost my appetite.
I sigh and smile. It truly feels good to be back. And I don't even mean that sarcastically in any way.
You feel the atmosphere lying in Maastricht. The bikers are dashing through the city because they know they are chasing their dreams. The heavier the book on your back the stronger the feeling that you will learn something remarkable. Every deadline gets you closer to your ultimate goal, whatever this may be. I click through all tutorials, lectures, and deadlines, eager to see what worlds of knowledge I will discover this period.
So, from the bottom of my heart, welcome (back) to Maastricht! You will be stressed out, you will feel lost, and maybe you will even want to disappear for a while. But you will also always find your way back, you will get a taste for being challenged and, in that, know your true strength. Trust me.
Jesler van Houdt