Saving the Cents (Sense)

Now that De Alla is closed, it’s time to snap back to reality and grasp onto what remains of our dignity. While the mainstream nightclub was affordable for most, this is not the norm in Maastricht. When talking about the actual reason most of us sleep-deprived students make our way into this town, we often tend to forget to mention our aim; University, your study of choice, be it Business and Economics, UCM, or Arts and Culture, no judgment. Some of us go the more reasonable route and do the calculations. If we compare the typical German SBE student studying in Germany, versus the German SBE student studying in Maastricht, you can usually account for two things – Daddy’s Money and a steady financial future. And to you lovely UCM students out there, how is it possible to spend three years trying to find your true self, just to spend that cash money on another year of unfulfilled credits and study delay? Now that we’ve got your attention, let’s give way to the underlying intentions behind our cliched insults. While living in Maastricht often isn’t considered nobility, we would like to shed some light on the forgotten few, that aren’t able to partake in the for granted-seeming drinks at Zondag or the daily visit to the take-out menu.  

While it seems absurd to pay 10 euros to spend your evening in a broken-down, overcrowded warehouse an eternity from the city center, it is against humanity to pay 5 euros for one desperados at the Complex. But that does not even come close to the price you pay for the inflated 10 seconds of jumbling joy, not to mention the scale-down in your IQ. But if you are one of the fortunate ones that can afford this 5 euro headache, you most likely go shopping at Albert Heijn. We don’t want to cut too deep into the Albi vs. Aldi rivalry, but you are making a statement. Your lack of commitment to local farming is outweighed by the need to smoke a doobie, and slightly miss the 3pm market deadline. Don’t be fooled, we’ve all been there, but that doesn’t exclude the fact that we should at least reach the threshold of awareness.

Now, if your typical day to day shenanigans don’t include any of the above mentioned cliches (Bravo!), however, let’s dig a bit deeper. While Maastricht has a lot to offer, the overcrowding and vicious war amongst students on housing accommodations speaks for itself. While the majority of us privileged children are able to afford an apartment fairly central, we still insist on complaining about the fifteen minute walk from one end of the city to another. Laziness or convenience? Nonetheless, the housing prices and lack of affordable accommodation in Maastricht is gnarly, and having to cycle 15 minutes to Belgium due to housing prices, is not the end of the world, but we do make it seem like it is. At the start of every academic year, not only do you find yourself checking Pararius on a minutely-basis but the social media groups for rooms and apartments storm your social media page. But the catastrophe comes along with different stages. By the end of the academic year, all the former students want to get rid of their rooms. No questions asked, it might be worth it to pay two months for a place you haven’t seen yet, and which you won’t occupy until September, because at least it puts you on safe grounds. Or If you are lucky, you’ll be chosen by a lovely Daddy who was kind enough to save his son or daughter from this misery, and to buy him or her a modest 120m2 flat, which enables you to live in the shady little room that’s not occupied by his little prince or princess. Even the new Student Hotel which advocates for short term stays happens to be booked out months in advance. The horror stories that have come to our ears from other quickly and poorly built student quarters do not only question the pricing but also the actual living quality of these NYC wannabe lofts. Props to those who get those 20 minutes of exercise every morning. But shouldn’t there be an affordable place within the borders of the country you study in? Either way, it definitely does not justify the fact that in any other city these distances are very short and doable, and no complaints would be thrown back and forth when deciding if to go the extra steps to Tapijn to check out the food sharing to save a few bucks rather than spending an average of 10 euros on lunch at your Mainstream Vrijthof Cafes. Of course, indulgence every now and then is well deserved.

Some of you may, or may not have noticed that the tuition fees are on the rise. Generally, they appear to be a daring topic. Although we are of the opinion that knowledge should not be for sale, we acknowledge that the PBL system involves several factors, which go beyond the mere accessibility of the costly and seemingly truthful journals, we are instructed to read. Let’s begin with our first prey – Tutors. Here, the applause goes to the researchers who struggle everyday to find some pedagogical miracles of bringing us one step closer to the academic bubble, and especially to those who get us to understand how any of this matters in the real world. However, tuition fees come with a specific pressure. For those of us who have to watch their budget, very little failure is possible since a study delay is not an option. The university system is known for involving their students in a way that extracurricular activities and jobs often go hand in hand with a delay. However, the work most of the students do (usually not university offered jobs) are not meant to compensate for a possible study delay, but to cover one’s very imminent living costs, which you might have already figured are not necessarily the lowest. And believe us or not, there are students in this pretentious little town, who take five exams at the same time. Not because they just finally want enjoy the sunny beaches and binge drinking that the exchange life offers, but because every period added onto the extra three year bachelor will require extra financial means. While for some the unfairness of life and the usual Maastricht Burn-Out already brings us to the limits in our capacities, very few of us face additional monetary pressures that make life a lot harder.

We realize these realities may or may not be hard to hear and accept, specifically if you belong to the group of people with a hefty hedge fund. And while we bring a very pessimistic attitude towards this lovely city of ours, we know it’s not all bad.

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