By Lucia Bertoldini
You might be a first or a sixth semester, but you have certainly heard of the UCR bubble, this fictitious bubble that haunts us from our very first moment in Middelburg. Ah yes, Middelburg- sometimes we even forget that we live here. It could be any other city in any other country, especially if we consider that most of us (and I’m now speaking from the international student perspective) do not speak Dutch. We manage to get our way through these intense three years without really knowing where we have been living.
I know what you might be thinking right now. Middelburg is in Zeeland and surely it has nothing to offer. The reason why I’m writing this brief article is because I would like to prove you wrong.
I am not going to argue that we have the privilege to inhabit the Las Vegas of The Netherlands, but I truly believe that we should all learn to appreciate our temporary home a bit more! In this sense, what helped me was getting a job. Even though my Dutch is not at all great, I did manage to connect with some nice people outside of the UCR community. In class we always talk a lot about different perspectives, but I still have the feeling that sometimes we confine ourselves within the international environment without really taking into account the local one. I know a lot of us don’t have time to fit an extra workload in our schedule, but in that case I would still advice (strongly) to go out and really get to know Middelburg by maybe joining a volunteering project once in a while, because this village/town/city (whatever you want to call it) does have a life of its own! And it’s really worth diving into that life.
However, academics are important. They are the reason we all came here, so it is natural that we strive to get the most out of it. But it’s about perspectives, once again. For some of us (me for sure, at least!), academics are among other primary concerns. Sometimes talking to some of my colleagues is for me a way of looking at my academics from outside, without feeling sucked in by them. Personally, working in Middelburg is giving me the balance between the theory of the books that we read for class and the practice of the world outside of Franklin. So I would genuinely recommend it. Especially to the ones among us that tend to disregard Middelburg as a place where nothing happens. I know, it’s not a student city. It’s not Maastricht or Utrecht. But at least let’s live it to the fullest (or try to)!
Lucia Bertoldini, Class of 2021, is a History, Sociology, and Political Science major from Premana, Italy.
Image Source: https://www.vvvzeeland.nl/nl/rondleiding-abdijcomplex-middelburg-oid49502/