Our Upside Down

by Keya van Rijn, UWCM
12th of July, 2022
Illustration by Ozias Silitonga


We keep wondering what the true juice is that makes our UWC its own, and to me it’s become the places that often go unnoticed. They are mostly areas we see daily or at least weekly, so because of this we don’t stop and think about just how much meaning they hold, and if we were to take such experiences within them away, would we really be UWC Maastricht? June and July have been some of the most confusing months of our lives. Sadness because the DP2’s left, happiness because we finally get more space, stressed because we suddenly have so much to get done, confused because we are somehow the oldest ones at this school now, impatient because we’re so close yet so far from summer. It’s thoughts such as these that have somehow seeped their way into our lives and the atmosphere surrounding us to the point where no one exists but us in our own heads. It’s made me think deeper into the aspects of our campus that really hold the most ‘juice’ as some may say, the places that we seem to spend the most time but never really notice just how big of a role they play into our perception of life at UWC Maastricht.


Mensa, for one. I used to dread waiting in a massive line just to wait for my lunch or dinner, and then still feel the pressure of ‘where and who should I sit with?’ despite being at this school for months. Now though, I can arrive 10 minutes after dinner starts and I’ll be shocked to see more than 20 people there.Never had I truly thought of Mensa as a static area within our campus, but it became a dreaded comfort within all the chaos. To reference  season four of Stranger Things, it feels like the upside down in which everything is the same but just… different? It’s such a staple for all those who go to our school, all the secondary students and DP students who not only eat there but also study, make friends, lose friends, break plates, complain about food, become besties with the mensa staff, watch sports on weekends and just so many more things that make us us.


Another location that really seemed to thrive especially during the month of May was the library. Not too many interactions, but the comforting feeling of knowing that everyone else is there with you is a must when unwillingly studying for a test two days before summer holidays. Forming new study groups on the weekends and crying while studying for a test with people who you have never spoken to in the class. Maybe the months aren’t so relaxing, but it cannot be denied that the nonstop deadlines and tests have come with the opportunity to truly get to know people in their most vulnerable state at 23:00 in their pyjamas in the library. Top tip: when the security guard asks if you’re the supervisor, just say yes to guarantee early access into the room when the actual supervisors forget that they need to open it up to the rest of the campus 😉


A final aspect of the true UWCM experience that I truly believe goes underrepresented and unnoticed is the beloved walk/bike ride to Albert Heijn. The one long road that we must get through before going essentially anywhere in the city. In the beginning months of my experience here it became a place to actually meet people from school, whether it be that they recognise you or you recognise them. Sometimes you’ll actually stop for a while and chat, or you’ll see someone walking to/from the station with a suitcase, no matter what, it always seems to make the short-lived journey. Whenever someone mentions “you know the long street to albert heijn?”, there’s a mutual understanding in all students as we think back to just how iconic that singular street really is. It baffles me how iconic it happens to be so iconic within our community, but it truly is and I couldn’t be more grateful.


This last month with DP2 in our sights has led to the extreme stress of many people, and calls for some uplifting thoughts that include reminding each other of why we are here in the first place. Thinking about how some of the most common spaces on and off campus hold some of the best memories is, to me, a wholesome thought that makes me appreciate even the smallest things about the family we have made in this place.