Independent journalism about VU Amsterdam | Since 1953
18 April 2024

Column
& Blog

USR / USC Universitaire Studentenraad / University Student Council

Explore who you are

I was never the easiest student to teach. I was always off doing something other than my homework. I was hardly ever present in my Latin classes for example. And in one of the rare occasions where I was present I would be painting, or researching a new project.

Anything to avoid actually studying it seemed like. Still, with some well-deserved exam-stress and long nights studying I managed to pass my exams. In the 6 years I spent at my high school I was active in several associations, I worked on events, coached track and tried many different sports.

I am not telling you all this to impress you. No, I want to show you that I found who I am because of all of these extracurricular activities. I made friends for life, I laid the groundwork for the career I’m now embarking on. And most of all, I wasn’t thinking about the future, nor building a CV. I was given the chance to explore who I was and took it.

Starting as a student at VU Amsterdam I noticed that student life often does not leave this room. My friends and fellow students had to struggle just to get by, working 30 hours a week to pay rent and expenses, with incredible pressure to get high grades and the need to ‘profile oneself’. All the while being told by family and friends ‘not to let student life pass them by’.

The room to have fun and explore different options I had had seems wholly absent. Instead, students become walking CVs, any free time is turned into ‘valuable experience’, meeting friends and fellow students becomes ‘networking’ and all the while the student’s mental health deteriorates.

This is quite a harsh scenario, but not entirely unrealistic. The cost of living has skyrocketed, students are more than ever expected to finish their studies in 3-4 years and student wellbeing has taken a hit in the aftermath of Covid. More and more students, especially those with less fortunate backgrounds don’t have the opportunity to explore.

Among other things, the University Student Council will fight to give us students the room to have fun and explore who we are again. There’s eleven dedicated students working to represent you, this means we are always open to questions, suggestions or even just a conversation. Reach us through our Instagram @vu.usr, our email usr@vu.nl or tag me in the hallways.

We will fight to give us students the room to have fun

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