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dreams - fulfilled or not

“I bought a one-way ticket to Sydney and took off”

“I bought a one-way ticket to Sydney and took off”

International Business alumnus Arjan Tiessen This interview with wine importer Arjan Tiessen (37) has been about a year and a half in the making. It all started when Arjan, who lives in Tanzania, replied to my request for an interview on Facebook Messenger. “I’d love to, man! That article from sixteen years ago, I still think about i...

“I don’t have stage fright. I just prefer to let other people shine”

“I don’t have stage fright. I just prefer to let other people shine”

“I wouldn’t want to go back to my student days. I was so insecure back then. I didn’t live life to the fullest”, says Arts and Sciences alumna Tineke Oosterloo (49). She works as a journalist and has two sons with her husband, Raymond. “I’m no longer standing on the sidelines. I’m actively involved in the g...
“Every morning between 5 and 7 a.m., I wrote two pages of my dissertation”

“Every morning between 5 and 7 a.m., I wrote two pages of my dissertation”

When he was in his first year at University College Maastricht, then twenty-year-old Jeroen Janssens dreamed big dreams. He wanted to be an astronaut. “Lots of freedom, far away from home. And it’ll make me famous, I’d love that.” After his time in space, he would retire to a farm. He never claimed to have green fingers, tho...
“I love Limburg, but I also really wanted to leave”

“I love Limburg, but I also really wanted to leave”

When he was 18 years old, Jean Dohmen wanted to go to university in Groningen or Amsterdam. He liked the idea of being far away from Heerlen, where he grew up. He ended up going to Maastricht, only 25 kilometres away from his hometown. “I never regretted that decision.” Choosing between the busy Randstad and Limburg is a recurring theme...
“More than ever before, I’ve found my place”

“More than ever before, I’ve found my place”

Somewhere deep down inside, Lieke van den Krommenacker (39) always knew what she wanted to do with her life. But more than once, she let herself be swayed by… well, by what, exactly? Following other people’s dreams and expectations? Making the kinds of decisions she thought an adult should make? The point is: more than once, she went d...
“I only got four hours of sleep, which may affect the quality of my answers”

“I only got four hours of sleep, which may affect the quality of my answers”

We’re walking through Utrecht Science Park, hunched into our coats to protect ourselves from the fierce wind whipping around the dreary buildings. One of the massive concrete structures is covered in green scaffold netting, not because it’s under construction but to prevent debris from falling down and killing people. It’s not exa...
She got the job she wanted, but she didn’t like it: “It was a complete let-down”

She got the job she wanted, but she didn’t like it: “It was a complete let-down”

She was only seventeen years old when she came to Maastricht University to study Arts and Sciences in 1994. Very young, Ariane Hendriks (43) thinks, looking back now – especially because she went straight from living with her parents in Veenendaal, a town in the centre of the Netherlands, to living in Maastricht, almost two hundred kilometres...
“Maastricht was a perfect stepping stone to a future in London”

“Maastricht was a perfect stepping stone to a future in London”

Six months ago, Kate Surala (26) started writing a book. Where does she find the time? It’s a fair question as she spends already plenty hours a week as a partner and chief compliance officer at a London-based equity research firm. But she loves writing and she’s a good one, as evidenced by the weekly series of restaurant reviews she wr...
“It’s easy to underestimate the complexities of living abroad”

“It’s easy to underestimate the complexities of living abroad”

The first time she visited Jordan, UCM alumna Floortje Rawee (28) already loved the country. But she never expected that, by 2020, she would’ve been calling it home for three years and counting. Her internship at the Dutch embassy in Amman led to a job. In September, she started working at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palest...
“Suddenly, you have a family of your own”

“Suddenly, you have a family of your own”

From Hollandaise sauce to Indian dal, UCM student Tim Aretz included many different recipes in Eat, drink and be merry, his weekly series of food articles for Observant. He came very close to opening his own restaurant when he was in his thirties – in Canada, no less. But life had something else in store for him.
“You need luck to make it in academia”

“You need luck to make it in academia”

It’s 9.00 a.m. on a Monday morning in mid-December. Jan Machielsen (35), senior lecturer in history at Cardiff University in Wales, is still in his Paris hotel. After our telephone interview, he’ll head for the library to continue working on his research. “On foot. There’s another strike going on. Public transport, including...
"In a pub quiz, we’d be the perfect team”

"In a pub quiz, we’d be the perfect team”

Knowledge Engineering alumnus Frans van Egdom After being buzzed into the building where Frans van Egdom (34) lives, I almost trip over a large bookcase filled with second-hand books and DVDs for communal use. A notice board in the entrance hall invites me to the daily ‘coffee with the neighbourhood’ moment. “It’s an atte...
“I’d hop on a plane to go interview Sylvester Stallone”

“I’d hop on a plane to go interview Sylvester Stallone”

He didn’t really have big dreams for his future, so he didn’t try to pursue anything in particular. “I was never working towards a specific goal. One thing just led to another,” says Eugène Baak (51). His career in journalism began when he was a student at Observant. He later interviewed film stars like Sylvester Stallone an...
“I wasn’t in a relationship and I didn’t feel the need to be”

“I wasn’t in a relationship and I didn’t feel the need to be”

She thought she might get a serious job in the legal profession – a lawyer working from the Amsterdam business district Zuidas, for example. “There was something romantic about the idea. Work hard, play hard, something like that. Work your tail off, but go skiing together, too. That sense of community appealed to me,” says Europea...
“I was in hospital and I thought: this is fun, too”

“I was in hospital and I thought: this is fun, too”

He always wrote long articles, filling entire pages with them. “You paid us per word, that’s why,” laughs Marc Bonten (1964), who worked as a student freelancer for Observant between 1987 and 1989. His writing was great, but his future wouldn’t be in journalism. He was studying medicine, but did he want to be a doctor? He wa...
“I have to get reacquainted with Dutch culture”

“I have to get reacquainted with Dutch culture”

Marie Zwetsloot (30) has only just returned to the Netherlands. She spent seven years in the US as a Fulbright and Huygens scholar, obtaining a research master’s degree in soil science and writing her PhD thesis on the influence of roots on belowground carbon in the context of climate change. None of this is what she planned to do when she ca...
IB alumnus Maarten Scholts: “I excelled at doing nothing”

IB alumnus Maarten Scholts: “I excelled at doing nothing”

His 2003 interview revolved around one thing and one thing only: cars. He wanted to become CEO of Ferrari and would personally save the brand from a takeover by Mercedes or Volkswagen. His house would also have to be big enough to accommodate his fleet of vehicles, which was to consist of five shiny red Italian sports cars for Sunday afternoon driv...
Madrid, Paris, Afghanistan, Uganda, and now Mexico

Madrid, Paris, Afghanistan, Uganda, and now Mexico

Living a grand and exciting life, writing, and exploring the world. Those were the dreams alumna Judith Maas had for her future back when she was a student. They both did and didn’t come true. Her career as a diplomat – she’s currently deputy ambassador in Mexico – took her to many continents, but she didn’t end up fol...
 “Studying kind of felt like a necessary evil to me”

“Studying kind of felt like a necessary evil to me”

“Are you happy with the way you look? Well, I’d rather be 10cm taller and/or 5 kilos lighter, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I think I’m hideous… Do you want children? ‘That’s just about the last thing I want to think about’ isn’t included as an option on this dating site. Do you smoke? S...
Alumna Inge van Kan: “He’d sown his wild oats and was ready to settle”

Alumna Inge van Kan: “He’d sown his wild oats and was ready to settle”

Château Neercanne, 5 September 2015. “Max, maybe you think you were the one who came up with the idea of buying that house the two of you bought in Sint Pieter last month. But it couldn’t be less true. You’ve been manipulated. You were set up.” Inge’s wedding witness produces a yellowed copy of Observant from...
“I had to be in enough pain to start doing things differently”

“I had to be in enough pain to start doing things differently”

Life has calmed down for her. Working as a programme manager at a coaching business, being with Onno (“I met him at the pub on my 31st birthday”): the past years have been the happiest of Jorien Knevel’s life. Getting there wasn’t smooth sailing, though. She enjoyed studying and working well enough, but she lacked a sen...
“As it turned out, I liked neither reading nor writing”

“As it turned out, I liked neither reading nor writing”

The Bonnefanten Convent was the domain of the Sisters of the Holy Sepulchre until 1789 and of the Bonnefanten Museum from 1952 to 1979. Maastricht University has owned it for almost forty years now. There’s a bookcase in the attic; the top shelf holds books entitled I can do it and I’ll get through this. The shelves below...
“If you spend too much time thinking about the future, you don’t live in the moment”

“If you spend too much time thinking about the future, you don’t live in the moment”

No trains are running between Sittard and Maastricht this week. I’m at the mercy of a small local bus. It drops me off in Bunde, a village where you could hear a pin drop. I ring the doorbell of a terraced house across from a playground. My interviewee’s boyfriend opens the door. “She’s just getting a pie from the bakery rou...
“I was terrified, but I had to get out of the jungle. There was no time to feel fear”

“I was terrified, but I had to get out of the jungle. There was no time to feel fear”

In July 2017, on her first trip as a war correspondent, she was shot at. Lisa Dupuy (28), a University College Maastricht graduate, fell into an ambush in the jungle of eastern Congo. “We were in the middle of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve when we were attacked by a gang of criminals. They were looking for gold and didn’t want any prying e...
Former Health student Marjolijne van der Stoep: “How can you promise to love someone forever?”

Former Health student Marjolijne van der Stoep: “How can you promise to love someone forever?”

Having children was not in the cards for her. According to then 23-year-old Marjolijne van der Stoep, now almost forty, people should spend a little more time thinking before deciding to have children. Not everyone, she said, is fit to be a parent – herself included. She thought she’d be a terrible mother, a pushover with no a...
Former student of Law Hans Wassink: “I had a great time, but I ended up losing myself”

Former student of Law Hans Wassink: “I had a great time, but I ended up losing myself”

“I owe my current life to the interview in Observant!” Hans Wassink (37) still has a tendency to exaggerate things. Of all the alumni we interviewed about their dreams for the future, the then 22-year-old fourth-year student of Dutch Law was by far the most outspoken one. His dream for the future was to become a decadent prick. He ...
Former Arts and Culture student Frouke Verhagen: delivering 265 babies in seven years

Former Arts and Culture student Frouke Verhagen: delivering 265 babies in seven years

She was eighteen years old, a first-year student of Arts and Culture and already quite domestically inclined, by her own account. “A white-picket-fence kind of person.” She wasn’t overly ambitious and she wouldn’t mind becoming a housewife, provided that her husband earned enough money to support their family. Fifteen years ...
Law alumnus Niels van der Laan: “I thought it was just a fling, but she became the love of my life”

Law alumnus Niels van der Laan: “I thought it was just a fling, but she became the love of my life”

In 2003 we asked UM students about their dreams for the future. Now, in 2019, it’s time to check in with them and see where they’re at. They’re about forty years old now. Did their dreams end up coming true? We’ll use this special year (Observant is celebrating its 40th birthday!) as an opportunity to find out. In ...