Back from the Brink
For a while now, I’ve fantasised about taking an ice-cold dip in the Hoornseplas. Something, anything out of the ordinary to break the drudgery of the ‘new normal’.
Groningen of old, that delightful pretzel of cobblestone, youth and rain, has all but faded into distant memory. Closing my eyes, I can almost see it.
Springing out of bed after the fourth alarm, joining the bicycled horde charging against the wind to make the 9 a.m., and putting in an honest afternoon’s toil, only to partake at day’s end in that ancient and noble tradition of sitting around aimlessly with friends.
Groningen now is to Groningen then what airplane food is to real food. Enough calories to keep you from starving, but none of the flavour to make it palatable. Rougher still, we’re expected to work at the usual pace while even the simplest of tasks now takes twice as long. Little wonder then, that there’s been a massive push from the GSb for compensation.
Groningen now is to Groningen then what airplane food is to real food
It’s deeper than that though. It’s this uneasy feeling of being left by the wayside, shunted from the table, and pacified with clichéd slogans. Whatever my concerns about the means, it was pretty refreshing to see students making themselves heard last week. Not whinging, but rather, simply sharing their story with their neighbours.
There’s been laudable efforts from the UG too. Halving the fees, upping seating at the UB, and plans for in-person activities come April are welcome measures. They’re also encouraging students to connect online, using apps like Discord and Gather. A neat idea, though perhaps a two-dimensional pixelated version of yourself desperately seeking out company hits too close to home.
Personally, I’d prefer my offline social interaction to extend beyond receiving change from the cashier at the Albert Heijn. I reckon that the Groningen of yore can still be found. I’ve been around long enough to know that a shoulder to lean on, a day out in the sun, or a warm room to spend an evening in can’t be more than a call away. Getting past pride is the tough bit.
In other news, the city’s birds seem to have returned just in time for election season, chirping away in strange tongues about the climate and healthcare. A tiny little blue one, however, has begun to whisper listlessly in my ear, ‘Two more weeks’.