by Maaike Oosterling
RASA Spirit is a term we are all familiar with, yet it appears to remain undefined. To get some clarity about this concept that dictates our so-cial lives, I decided to conduct a small research into what it exactly is. But as the word ‘spirit’ already implies, it is not as material and easy to grasp as I hoped it would be. Below are my find-ings.
First stop: The students themselves.
In the spirit (ha!) of empirical re-search, I asked a few people the question ‘What does RASA Spirit mean to you?’ to find out how this concept is alive under the student population. Someone suggested that it is the feeling of knowing everyone and being able to join random people for dinner, while someone else said that it meant being able to walk around in your underwear without anyone caring. A very anonymous, very red-haired individual told me that ‘it gave her the excuse to dye her hair red.’ Community is a word that came back multiple times, too. Being active within and being accepted into the community of UCR is a large part of RASA Spirit to some. Especially with all the different backgrounds, someone commented that it is amazing how in-clusive the environment remains.
These are all experiences we recognize, yet a simple definition of RASA spirit remains elusive. Therefore, we may need to go even more academic.
Second stop: the dictionary.
The word ‘spirit’ has many different meanings, as the Oxford Dictionary suggested to me after I googled ‘spirit, definition of’. Some are about the im-material part of individuals or about al-cohol, but the definition most suitable is probably ‘the prevailing or typical quality, mood, or attitude of a person, group, or period of time’. Combined with ‘RASA’, we now have a definition of the concept ‘RASA Spirit’.
But then, what is the prevailing mood at UCR? Is it stressed and eter-nally tired? Possibly so, but after think-ing about this, I would argue there is a more prevalent and important quality to our student body. What unites us as a community, as this random group of people who decided to come live in Middelburg, of all places, is pure, unadulterated enthusiasm.
This joie de vivre, can be seen in for example the sheer amount of societies we have, displaying the many interests that are present and that are actively being shared and discussed within this community. Whether you like board games or discussing the refugee crisis, there is a place to do so and if there is not an established platform for your interest, you are encouraged to make it yourself. Chances are you are absolute-ly not the only one who likes it. New initiatives and dedication to old ones are what mark our community, all driv-en by motivation, inspiration and, yes, enthusiasm. That is UCR. That is RASA Spirit: doing what you love and loving what you do. And maybe it is also about walking around in your underwear, but that is for everyone to decide for themselves.
Maaike Oosterling, Class of 2016, is a Cognitive Science and Psychology major from Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands.