My student card entered its sixth year in service a couple weeks ago. It’s a milestone I have mixed feelings about.
The image in the card with the better hairline, less pudgy cheeks, brighter eyes and more naïve expression is a not entirely pleasant reminder that I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be here. I was ‘supposed’ to have moved on to bigger and better things by now, like most of my friends.
The university agrees with me. They even sent me a kindly worded letter offering me academic help to stop making a hash of it, and to correct the study delay that they made clear they didn’t blame me for. While I appreciate the gesture, I have to acknowledge that the buck squarely stops, and starts, with me.
The uni sent me a kindly worded letter offering me academic help to stop making a hash of it
Today’s wisdom, however, says that we aren’t ‘supposed’ to do anything. That the normative upward trajectory isn’t for everyone, and that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. While that might be the case for some, it might just be beneficial for the rest. Setting, striving for, and achieving high standards is commendable, and for good reason. It’s what made the city around you.
It isn’t self-flagellation I’m after. It has more to do with being pragmatic while not shirking responsibility. Truth is, the years spent at the university have been incredibly good for me. I’ve grown in more ways than I can count, both personally and in terms of new skills.
Having said that, it’d be rather foolish not to make best use of an extra year in the city. Groningen still has so much to offer – not just in terms of university courses, but also the wider community around it, full of associations and events. It has been, and I’m sure will continue to be more than worthwhile to explore the many options available to us.
The secret to Groningen’s charm is its wellspring of opportunity. It’s something to be excited about, whether you’re just starting out, or stranded by study delay.