Student - September 24, 2009

Out into the big bad world

Outside our student house there's a white delivery van. 'Whoa', I think, 'that looks pretty professional'. I look at the spotless white doors, embellished with a little green tree. 'Tree adviser', it says. Well, well, this is serious stuff.

Stijn
Only when my neighbour Jos unlocks the door and jumps in as if it was the most normal thing in the world, does it dawn on me: this is his van. That 'tree adviser' is one of my student friends. The tree pictured on his trousers had rung a bell.
Jos graduated last July. Now he is living with his girlfriend - a former cashier at the local supermarket - in a house they're buying just up the road. How can one of my student friends already have a mortgage? To me, the adult world has always been a bit like the hungry children in Africa: terrible, but a long way away, thank goodness. This brings it a bit too close for comfort.
The bit about the supermarket cashier will never happen to me though. No matter how many crates of beer I lug past the till, the pretty cashiers just go on calling me 'Mister'. That's something else I don't get. I go from being a little boy to being a grown-up, and there really isn't an even faintly enjoyable phase in between. That's what I think, anyway. But that's beside the point.
I just don't get it. Not so long ago, I was on a vocational training course. At that time I used to sneak in and get coffee at the hogeschool (where it was 20 cents cheaper) and I thought: 'Wow, these people really know what's what. But no, even at the university, it's all 'a bit of this' and 'maybe that'. Nowadays I call muddling through 'trial and error', but I'm none the wiser. And what now? I've just about figured out how to get a beer bottle top off without an opener, and my student life is coming to an end. Before I know it I'll be writing columns for some stuffy old age pensioners' magazine.
Worried, I watch Jos drive away. He looks happy enough. Maybe - just maybe - there is life after university after all. /Stijn van Gils

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