“Since I moved back, I’ve fallen in love with Maastricht”

“Since I moved back, I’ve fallen in love with Maastricht”

A room of one’s own

28-11-2022 · Interview

Sascha Zwietink (20, Dutch), a second-year bachelor’s student of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, pays 465 euro per month for a 26 m2 room in Scharn, Maastricht.

No, he can’t complain about his room, says Sascha Zwietink contentedly. Many students pay more for considerably less. It helped that he got in early – he moved in in May 2021. “There was a serious student housing shortage a few months later, but back then, there was still more supply than demand. I had plenty of choice.”

Why did he opt for a residential neighbourhood rather than the city centre, which is popular among students? “I like this location. It’s nice and quiet. The university and the city centre are a ten-minute bike ride away. I don’t mind that; from Eijsden, the village where my parents live, it took me thirty minutes to cycle to my secondary school in Maastricht. What I also really liked about the room was its size and the large windows. It has a lot of natural light and a beautiful view of the sunset”, he says, showing photos of a red sunset sky above Maastricht on his phone.

Gaming all day

There are three other student rooms and an apartment in the building. He doesn’t hang out with his housemates much. “I’m usually somewhere else – at university, with friends, or visiting my parents or grandma.”

He also works a lot, no less than four evenings per week. “I’ve been working as a bartender and server at a restaurant on Vrijthof square since spring 2021, when the long hospitality lockdown was lifted. I had a lot of spare time back then; I’d dropped out of my study programme in Eindhoven, as it wasn’t quite the right fit for me. I was getting bored at home. Gaming all day is not as much fun as it sounds.”

No student loans

Boredom is no longer a problem since he started studying at UM last year. Then why does he still work so much? “So that I don’t have to take out student loans. I can get by on the money I earn. It feels good to be able to pay for everything with my ‘own’ money. I’d rather avoid student debt. It could become a problem in the future – when applying for a mortgage, for example, or with rising interest rates. As long as it doesn’t affect my grades, I won’t take out any loans.”

But it also has its drawbacks. He often works evenings and weekends, which means he can go out less often himself. This was part of the reason why he left his student association, Circumflex, which expects its members to attend at regular intervals. “I just couldn’t make it work. I’m not sad about it, though. I don’t much like obligations. Besides, I also have fun with colleagues at work.”


He does try to go to parties more often now, “at least one per week”. The planned reinstatement of the free basic student grant next year will be a nice bonus for him. “It will put a little more fun money in my budget for things like weekends away with friends. To Barcelona, for example, where a good friend of mine lives and studies. It’s important to take the time to enjoy life every once in a while.”

He doesn’t leave work at the door when he gets home. In fact, his room boasts an actual cocktail bar, with shakers and a sizeable alcohol collection. “In the restaurant, it’s all about working fast; here, I can experiment to my heart’s content. I like having friends over and mixing cocktails for them.”

Childhood memories

His friends come from all over the world. “I know a lot of Dutch people from my secondary school years and from work, but at university I only really hang out with internationals. I enjoy experiencing other cultures.” Then why did he decide to stay in Maastricht, the city where he lived as a child and later went to secondary school? “I just went with the study programme that appealed to me most. It happened to be here.”

He doesn’t regret his decision. “Since I moved back here, I’ve fallen in love with Maastricht. As a student, you get to know a completely different side of the city, like the nightlife. At the same time, everything feels very familiar – every street carries childhood memories. I’ve also grown to appreciate certain aspects more, like the international character of the city. Also, Maastricht is neither too busy nor too quiet. It’s just a great city.”

In the weekly series 'A room of one's own' Observant interviews students about their rooms, in their rooms. Are you interested to be interviewed for this series? Send a mail to [email protected]

Photo: Ellen Oosterhof

Categories: news_top, People
Tags: aroomofone'sown,study debt,work,students,instagram

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