A last (for now) refrain

For what it’s worth, I promise I tried to write something witty and endearing. In the light of everything going on in the world, I thought the least I could do was give everyone a few laughs with “what your Zoom graduation outfit says about you,” or “an ode to my favorite tree on campus”. But comedy is situational, and it is beyond difficult to make this situation lighthearted. My heart is heavy, weighed down by things big and small. From the frontline employees working tirelessly to ensure we flatten the curve, to the hundreds of protestors fighting for Black lives day after day, to the continued ignorance and detachment of my Dutch peers, to the terrifying reality of writing a Bachelor’s thesis, to the pitiful graduation that is the best we can do in these circumstances, to the fear that comes with leaving a place that has been a sanctuary for the last two years. So, with the knowledge that there is too much hurt in the world for me to try and fix in 500 words, I give to you instead what is perhaps the most fitting parting gift I can give, with my last article as a UCU student: a letter to the new brood.

To you, incoming first years: Hi there. I bet you’re scared out of your mind. I promise you’re in good hands; the board is resilient and focused, and they’re going to do their absolute best to make sure you come to see this place as home. Don’t worry if you don’t manage to become best friends with your introweek family; it’s easier than you think to find other people who have things in common with you, and there will be so many chances to look for them. Climb a roof at midnight, at some point. Bike to the Kromme Rijn in the summer. I know the water looks dubious. Swim in it anyway. Don’t miss a single SSS performance, but miss as many parties as you want. Be as honest as possible with your professors when you need help; you can always talk about them behind their backs if they fail to come through. Get fairy lights at Ikea even if you never use them. Curse at the vending machine that never listens to you and chase your friends across the quad. Go for a walk in the rain and be miserable on the walk back when the rain’s stopped and you’re shivering. Do your dishes, but also don’t freak out if there’s mold growing in your week-old mug of coffee. We’ve all been there.

Don’t ever be the 20th person commenting under a clothing sale on the Facebook page; no one likes the 20th person commenting under a clothing sale on the Facebook page. Find one (1) breakfast option that you can tolerate, rain or shine, and make sure you always have it on a shelf, even if it’s something as boring as oatmeal. Make too much dinner “by accident” and share it with a friend, and ask them to cook next time instead of asking for grocery money. When - not if - you decide spontaneously to become a plant parent, start with two before you go overboard. Get used to the sunshine by the tree in front of K, but get used to people beating you to the punch and hogging the space for 5 full hours, too. Don’t underestimate the post-rain puddles near Kromhout - there’s a permanent scar on my knee to remind me of my hubris. At the first sign of lightning, turn off all the lights in your room and look out your window. On that note, tell everyone about every rainbow you see; chances are they saw it too and it was beautiful. Call your parents every week. I know it seems excessive, but to them it’s not nearly enough. Know that you don’t have to be an adult yet. Ask for help when you need it, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Good luck.