By Maddy Slot
As you see the sun set in Middelburg while you stroll around the city, you wonder how people who have lived here all their lives see it. You wonder whether they, too, think of Middelburg as a bubble, a city in the middle of nowhere. The students of UCR only see a glimpse of what it is like to live in Middelburg, as our time here spans over only three years, but what would someone who has lived here for sixteen years think of it? Johan Marsman, former citizen of Middelburg, has lived here for sixteen years before moving to Tilburg to further his studies in pedagogy.
Growing up in Middelburg meant a lot of adventures, and with adventures Johan means biking around Middelburg and discovering new spaces. “I remember one day we passed a sign that said that we were leaving Middelburg, and we were all excited because we were ‘out of the city’ all by ourselves.” Escaping the Middelburg bubble is quite exciting for the typical UCR student, but it seems it was even exciting to a young child. Middelburg, a great place for adventures, either on bike or by foot. There are so many streets and squares that lay unexplored, and it only takes a walk around town to discover these gems.
This bubble, which we call our home for three years, may not be as active as other student cities, but it offers something more important than that. “I guess Middelburg taught me to enjoy new things; new music, new people, new ways of thinking.” It offers open-mindedness, it offers the freedom to do what you want, and it offers personal development.
This ‘Middelburg mindset’ has had an influence on Johan, as it made him want to pursue his dreams of turning his hobby into his job and working in the music industry. Growing up in Middelburg meant a lot of nights listening to music at local bars and cafés, for example at Kaffee ‘t Hof, Seventy-Seven, and de Spot. These less hidden gems have inspired Johan to get involved in the music industry. Visiting these places for a chat, a beer, and good music is not unlike how UCR students pass their time. Not only are they great places to meet up with friends from Middelburg, Johan also thinks of them as part of the defining characteristic of Middelburg: cosiness. The small cafés, the cobbled streets, the adventures of walking around the city, the people, and the general atmosphere all have this one word in common.
This cosiness is also what he misses most when living in Tilburg. When you have spent a summer or winter break away from Middelburg, the differences in atmosphere between your hometown and Middelburg seem clear. With events that bring together locals and UCR students such as ‘Nacht van de Nacht’ and concerts in De Spot, the atmosphere in Middelburg is one of warmth and kindness.
Maddy Slot, class of 2016, is an Art History and Literature major from Eindhoven, The Netherlands