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Students on holiday: how do they afford it?


The academic year is at its end, and students who have the means to get out for a while have made their plans for the holidays. Some save up the money by themselves, others live by the rule of ‘maximum loans means maximum living’. “You shouldn’t make it too hard for yourself.”

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Holiday saved by additional salary

Next to his studies, psychology student Tiemen is also student employee at the Green Office Utrecht, where he’s responsible for the theme of circularity. His team set up the swap shop that’s located in De Uithof around the beginning and end of each semester. Tiemen unexpectedly received holiday pay from the Green Office, so last week, he planned a long weekend in the Ardennes with his friends. “Without this holiday pay, I wouldn’t have been able to join. It’s not a far journey, but it’s different from the Netherlands. You can enjoy nature, or go hiking or canoeing. In nature, my mind finds peace. I love being active on holiday; sleeping in and lazing about on the beach all day is not for me.”

Partying in Warsaw thanks to his parents

Medicine student Sebastiaan will go on three trips this summer: a weekend to Marseille with his girlfriend, a long weekend Warsaw with his five best friends, and he’ll go to Barcelona for a week with his parents. He pays his share for the Airbnbs in Marseille and Warsaw, but other costs – like the journey itself – will be paid for by his parents. “It’s nice to be somewhere else than Utrecht for a bit. Until January, I worked as a salesman in De Bijenkorf, but my studies became too intensive to keep working on the side. I’ve got a lot of resits to catch up on. My next academic year won’t be quite as busy, so I can start working again to pay for my holidays. The long weekend in Warsaw won’t be a binge drinking holiday; I’m past that phase now. But we will, of course, party.”

On holiday thanks to good old DUO

Sophie, student of Social Geography and Planning, saved up some of the money she receives from her DUO studyloan throughout the past year, to spend on holidays. “I’m a little worried about getting a mortgage later, but I have faith that this issue will be resolved in a few years. Many students have the highest DUO loans, like me.” A maximum loan is currently 1,054 euros a month, including tuition fee credit.

Sophie is too busy with her studies to get a job on the side. “Halfway through the academic year I made some money from babysitting children, but then my schedule became so full that I didn’t have time to do so anymore. When I get some more time, I’ll start working again.” This summer, thanks to DUO, she’ll spend a week camping at the cliffs of Normandy with her boyfriend, followed by two days in Paris. They’ll also housesit in Drunen, Noord Brabant, for her boyfriend’s father, and she, her mother, and her sister will have a girls’ weekend in Bergen op Zoom.

A holiday without a loan is not possible

Sociology student Martijn also has a maximum loan, which he uses to save up for holidays. This summer, he’ll spend a week on a campsite in Italy with his parents and two friends. He’ll also travel through Eastern Europe with his college friends for a few days. “This will probably be the last time. After the summer, everyone will graduate, or move to another city. The salary I earn from my work as coordinator of our student codetermination isn’t enough to live on. Next to my studies, I’m very busy with codetermination, at least 20 hours a week. If I were to get a job as well, I’d risk getting a burnout, and possibly even more study delays – which is something I see happening around me more and more, unfortunately.”

Since the beginning of this academic year, Martijn has maxed out his loan, partially with the goal of making the most of student life. “You shouldn’t make things too hard for yourself. It’s likely that most students will have mountains of debt; I predict a student debt of 30,000 euros will be the new norm. Because I’m lending money from DUO, I can have a drink after a long day, and after a year of hard work, I could really use some relaxation. I can’t pay that without a loan. You should enjoy life, and have some fun.”

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