Purple Walls and Built-in Closets: Life beyond Campus

Eugenia Melissen Ferrer

For the French writer Xavier de Maistre, a voyage around his bedroom proved to be far more interesting than, say, a journey to the equinoctial regions of the New Continent.  He even ended up undertaking a second expedition, which he called: Nocturnal Expedition around My Bedroom. Although many students could argue that their daily voyages around campus are very satisfactory, some long for more. I interviewed third-years living off-campus: is the world really that different out there?

Freshly baked croissants for breakfast, eccentrically painted walls and frantic cycling: campus suddenly got a lot more mundane.

For Mikael Eriksson, the main reason for bursting the bubble is to experience living in Holland and to see more of Utrecht. Apart from the freedom and the fact that it’s cheaper, he enjoys simple things like biking through town on a daily basis or doing groceries at the supermarket. Despite his changed location, Mikael has kept his campus friends. At the mention of not depending on Dining Hall, a grin appears on his face, which basically says it all.

On to Daniel Craanen. Daniel has a few interesting theories about UCU; the kind I imagine will appear in his autobiography several years from now. First of all, he compares UCU to an animal farm (George Orwell successor, anyone?), and the students in it to “paralyzed animals who don’t know what to do when the gate before them is opened.”

Daniel believes we’re being kept “horribly small” here and likes having a broader spectrum of things to visit. “People have the idea that campus is the world – they always talk about the world but they never get off-campus.” He is doubtful as to how such a mindset is encouraging the formation of so-called world leaders at UCU.

Another student who burst the bubble is Philène Moquette. For her, being able to separate her spaces and “go home” at the end of the day is a huge bonus. She presents a rosy picture of off-campus life and encourages pangs of jealousy at the mention of her “purple walls”, “built-in closet” and “a landlord allowing test-runs with guinea pigs”.

Although she considers UCU a nice environment on many levels, she admits that we are very much pampered. It is nice to have more control over her life.

Her identity as a student is a bit messed up, Philène explains, although she doesn’t view this as a bad thing.  She doesn’t identify herself as a normal Dutch student, yet she is sharing in the experience of what other Dutch people do by living off-campus.

But beware: if this article had you frantically nodding in agreement, leaving campus is only possible in your third year. Until then, perhaps we should combine our passion for the comfortable and safe with a curiosity for what happens outside our gates.

Photo courtesy of inidtd.org
Life beyond the gates?
(Photo courtesy of inidtd.org)

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