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October 2017
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The Ancient Art of Working During Your University Years

After a seemingly never-ending day spent on awfully uncomfortable chairs, surrounded by mountains of books and notes, my only desire is to sink in my blankets and spend the rest of my evening with some tea and my favourite TV shows. Unfortunately for my relaxation longing self, this is not what is going to happen. While I erase all my dreams of spending the evening inside, the only thought that remains in my mind is that “I don’t want to be depending on my parents all my life, so I need to go to work”. Like many other students in the Netherlands, I have chosen to abandon some of my moments of tranquillity for the sweet taste of (partial) independence. Paying for even a small part of my university life gives me a feeling of accomplishment that nothing can replace, not even the cosy evenings spent at home after hard days of studying.

There are, however, students who do more than that. One such example is Ted, a Communication and Media student at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Although he works two jobs, he still manages to maintain his social life and get good grades, while also doing extracurricular activities to keep his resume “on fleek”. The reason he is working is “to keep everything together in terms of rent and groceries, while also enjoying myself with concerts and parties and all that. I cannot live without a job, which is why I took on two”. In the Netherlands it is common for students to take part time jobs and provide for their needs, but there is still a growing number of young adults who do not attend university because they believe financial circumstances would prevent them from doing so. Even if his parents also contribute to his studies, Ted could be an inspiration for those who believe that they could not afford going to university and that working and studying could never go hand in hand. Most do not know that it is possible to not only provide for yourself, but also keep your grades high and have a social life during university years. All they need is motivation, a strong will and some careful planning.

Of course, it is not going to be easy. Even Ted admits that “every day is tiring, not to be dramatic or anything”. One thing that he finds difficult is to maintain a balance between everything that he is doing, between the studying, the working and the fun. He of course wants to have a social life and go to parties, but needs to constantly remind himself that he has to work and get good grades as well. Discipline plays an important role in being a working student. Everything needs to be done in moderation, and you have to know when to stop with the fun and start with the work, but also vice versa.  Sometimes it means missing some parties, or missing some get-togethers with friends, but in the end it is worth the trouble. Because you feel independent, and because you know that most of what you have is due to your hard work and efforts.

Despite the hardships that working two jobs while studying might pose, Ted views this optimistically: “sometimes I feel like I’m living in this rush between school and everything, but that’s also the beauty of it I think”. After all, at the end of the day you feel a lot more satisfied with yourself if you worked hard throughout it and if it had a dash of craziness attached to it.  Ted believes that “it’s better than just laying back and doing nothing with your life all the time”.

The most important thing, however, is how much you grow up and develop when you actually contribute to your living. “It’s mostly quite beautiful in a way that you really become mature along the way without you really realizing it at the time”, Ted notes. It is something gradual, but you can see the difference between the students who have worked, and those who have no experience whatsoever. You learn to take on responsibilities, to get around, to become a reliable person, but most of all you learn to appreciate the fruit of working. It gives you a completely new insight to life.

“It’s just living the life”. Yes, his definition of living life is not just about partying, as most students his age might think, and that is perfectly justified. Life is not only about partying, or studying or working. It’s about a mix of the three. Sometimes you have to work for something that other students take for granted, but in the end the sense of achievement and satisfaction that you will get will be far greater than that of those who have just received anything they wanted when asking nicely for it.

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