Monday, December 6, 2010

Glory Days


I might look young, but I'm almost thirty (oh horror!), which gives me the privilege of looking back on my college days and thinking, "Man, those were some good times!" Of course, back then, I was probably wigging out on a constant basis, if my sister--who is now attending my alma mater--can be considered an accurate copy of me. I'm told we look alike, though she wears contacts and is decidedly allergic to cats.

College in the US is usually represented by The Dorm Room, a space just slightly too small where you have a bed that's slightly too long, and underwear that has gone slightly too many days without washing. Memorabilia of all sorts, be it the school sports team, newspaper clippings of important events, or just a pretty leaf, are Scotch-taped to the walls next to posters that seem "deep". If you're a geek like me, you'll be snowed under mounds of papers for lab reports and problem sets.

In the Netherlands, college is typically represented by the Student House, which is a house whereby the individual rooms are rented out to students on the cheap. The kitchen--usually stripped down to a minifridge and a stove--and bathrooms are typically shared, and cleaning (if it's done at all) is shared between the housemates. Supposedly there are such things as "house parties", where everybody and their grandmother cram themselves into a student house, play loud music, drink beer, and have sloppy make-out sessions in a stranger's bedroom. I know of this only from heresay. That's right. Uh-huh.

Fortunately for me, the student house where I rent a room in Maastricht is occupied by several other girls who are not prone to throwing such parties (attending them is a different matter). It's a pretty quiet house, in a pretty quiet neighborhood. Students get a small stipend from the government, and most of their bills are paid for by their parents, since you're only allowed to have one address in the Netherlands, and since you can't get a job (like waiting tables or the like) without being registered by the gemeente in most cities, which incurs fees and is therefore best avoided.

Living in a student house is not for everyone: you don't really have a say in your housemates, unless you get together with your friends and decide to rent a house together. Sometimes the landlords have funny rules--our landlady forbids us to use a deep-fryer, for instance (no patat frites!). And you need to figure out how to split things like trash bags and cleaning and the Internet bill.

Be that as it may, I kind of like it here. It's my own space, my own furniture--not much, and it's secondhand, but it's mine--my own sheets. I love my boyfriend and I miss our cats during the week, but every now and then, it's nice to have place to call your own. Even if you have to pick hair balls out of the shower every morning.

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