“I want to help people, not cut into them”

“I want to help people, not cut into them”

A room of one's own

30-01-2023 · Interview

Chantal van Binsbergen (20, Dutch), a third-year student of Health Sciences, lives in a 17 m2 room in Randwyck, near her faculty. She spends 340 euros per month on rent.

Chantal van Binsbergen’s room has two doors. One leads to the corridor and the other leads to the small kitchen that she shares with her neighbour. Her third roommate has their own kitchen. The three of them share the bathroom and the toilet.

Van Binsbergen has made clever use of space in her room. A cabinet separates her bed from a small corner sofa with a small table; her desk is placed against the wall on the other side of the room, creating a study area, a sitting area, and a sleeping area. She moved into the room in May of her first year at university. As most teaching was online during the pandemic, she’d initially continued to live at home with her parents in Best, North Brabant. “I was not in a hurry to move out, but when I saw this beautiful room advertised on Facebook, I just had to respond it.”

Grandma’s church music

The old vinyl records used as wall art are a real eye-catcher in the room. “All church music from my grandma”, she laughs. The centre parts of the discs – where you would normally find the song titles – have been covered with images of different artists, such as Queen’s A Night at the Opera. “We used to play it a lot at home; I grew up with their music.” There’s also a Harry Styles album, and an album by Panic! at the Disco. “I was a huge fan when I was in secondary school.”

Van Binsbergen is a musical person, too. “I’ve been playing guitar since I was eight years old. I was classically trained, so I played a lot of Spanish music back then.” She used to spend hours playing. A number of years ago, she exchanged her acoustic guitar for an electric one. She can now play songs from the albums on her wall as well. Music was also one of her elective subjects in secondary school. “In our final year, we were supposed to give a concert in our local theatre. We worked on it all year long, but it was cancelled two weeks before due to the pandemic.” She looks a bit sad, telling the story. “But at least I was on stage the year before, to help out during my friends’ concert.”

Gathering ski gear

Van Binsbergen is an active member of MSV Santé, the Health Sciences study association, which is reflected in her room. There is a tote bag printed with its logo on the coat rack; a sticker on the display shelf on the wall; a small plank saying ‘Ocie 2021-2022’ (short for ‘Education Committee’) above the desk; and a chic jacket on the clothes rack. “I joined a committee in my first year to challenge myself in addition to my studies.” In her second year, she became chairperson of a committee. This year, she is vicechair of the study association, spending about ten to fifteen hours per week on it. She enjoys it. “We have a lot of fun. I made most of my friends in Maastricht there.”

The association provides its 766 members not just with a discount on their textbooks and information sessions on topics such as the various specialisations within their degree programme, but also with a lot of social activities. “We organise parties, get-togethers and trips. I’m currently on a mission to gather ski gear. We’re going on a ski trip to the south of France in March.” She’s a bit nervous, as she has never gone skiing before. “I’ll be taking a lot of lessons the first few days.”


She has put up a lot of photos above her bed. “Most of them are pictures of my friends from Best”, says Van Binsbergen. “I rarely see them anymore. Most of them go to university in Tilburg or Utrecht and still live at home. Others didn’t go to university. I’m still close to some of them, but most of those friendships have faded”, she says matter-of-factly. Her life is in Maastricht now. She goes home about one weekend per month. 

There is also a photo of her with her parents and younger brother. She’s wearing a beautiful prom dress; the others are in everyday clothes. “It was taken when I went to sign my secondary school diploma. Our school prom was cancelled due to the pandemic, but our teacher brought everyone their diploma in a limousine. He really tried to make the most of it.”


She will likely move out of her room after completing her bachelor’s degree this year. Her plan is to get a master’s degree in neuropsychology from Utrecht University, followed by a two-year post-master’s programme to become a GZ psychologist, and then a four-year specialisation in clinical neuropsychology.

She has quite a bit of studying ahead of her, then. And to think that, after completing secondary school, she considered training as an optometrist to join the workforce early. “I wanted to help people, not cut into them.” Health Sciences was originally her back-up plan. That’s where she learnt about neuropsychology – a match made in heaven.

“I’m not looking forward to leaving Maastricht, but it’ll be exciting to start a new chapter in another city. And a lot of my friends are also planning to go to another university for their master’s degree.”

Author: Yuri Meesen

Photo: Ellen Oosterhof

Categories: news_top, People
Tags: a room of one's own,student house,instagram

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