“I used to go to church because my parents made me, but now I want to go”

“I used to go to church because my parents made me, but now I want to go”

A room of one’s own

27-03-2023 · Interview

Judith Pool (20, Dutch), a first-year bachelor’s student of Health Sciences, pays 350 euros per month for a 12 m2 room in Wittevrouwenveld, Maastricht.

They don’t really stand out among all the other photos and posters on the wall, but they are undeniably there – a cross and several images with Bible verses. Faith plays a significant role in Judith Pool’s life. “It’s a part of my everyday life. I pray before meals and before bed, but also before exams, for example. And it informs my personal beliefs and values.”

Pool was raised Christian, so she has been going to church every Sunday all her life. She used to go in Almelo, where she grew up, but now she frequents de Waalse kerk in Maastricht. “I used to go because my parents made me. Now, I go because I want to go. I never rebelled against the faith, but I did occasionally doubt His existence when I was about eighteen. Fortunately, my parents gave me the freedom to do so. I’m still looking for the denomination that is right for me, but I no longer doubt God’s existence.”

In her search, she feels supported by the conversations and discussions she has with her friends at Lux ad Mosam, the Christian student association in Maastricht. “We’re a tight-knit group of about forty people with many different views. We have Bible studies every other week, and we host ‘taboo-breaking’ discussion evenings to explore sensitive topics such as mental health and homosexuality.” It’s not all about religion, though. “We also organise typical student activities, like drinks, parties and weekend trips.”

Patients

She joined the association a few months before coming to Maastricht, and she’s very happy that she did. “It was nice to receive such a warm welcome. It can be lonely as a new student.” Was she afraid of that? “I did hesitate before making the switch to Maastricht. I didn’t know anyone here, and the journey home by public transport takes about four hours from door to door – barring strikes or delays, which happen all the time. But the nursing programme in Zwolle, which I was enrolled in at the time, was not quite the right fit for me. I was looking for more depth.”

Her hesitation soon proved unwarranted. “It already felt right during the introduction week. The city and its surroundings are beautiful, and the study programme has exceeded my expectations. I already have some experience working with patients, so I feel like I find some things easier to picture than my fellow students.” Does she miss Almelo? “I did at first, but now I feel at home here. I no longer go home every weekend, either. I enjoy the freedom of living on my own. I wouldn’t want to move back in with my parents.”

Ghetto

She found her room back in June, well before the programme began, “through my association’s room database. Members who are moving list their rooms there first.” There was a place available for Pool in a house with four other girls in Wittevrouwenveld, a residential neighbourhood. “Students call it Maastricht’s ghetto, as it’s not exactly a pretty neighbourhood. But it actually feels like home; Almelo is a rather run-down town as well”, she laughs.

The other people who live on her street are mostly families with children and older people. Is there ever any friction between them and the students? “Not really. We’re a pretty quiet house. We don’t have a shared living room, so we don’t throw house parties. We actually have a pretty good relationship with our neighbours. Our neighbour from across the street often helps us out with odd jobs around the house. He recently placed wooden planks in our kitchen to keep the rats out.”

André Rieu

Rats in the kitchen? Yes, sighs Pool, they don’t keep the house very clean. “I keep my own room clean, but the kitchen and the corridors are filthy, and the shower drain is often clogged. We have a cleaning rota for the communal areas, but no one really sticks to it. I’ve just accepted it. It’s part of living in a student house. Plus, it’s good to expose your immune system to germs”, she says with a laugh.

One of the photos on the wall shows Pool in a bright red suit. “It was taken at the André Rieu Christmas concerts in MECC Maastricht last December. I got a job as an usher there through Lux ad Mosam. The association took a small cut of the money, but I made a good bit of pocket change, too.” She doesn’t have time for another part-time job. “But that’s fine, as my rent isn’t very high.” Will she work at the concerts more often? “I hope so, this summer in Vrijthof square.”

Photo: Ellen Oosterhof

Categories: news_top, People
Tags: aroomofone'sown

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