People

Bacchus: Was It Worth It?

By September 2, 2019 December 26th, 2019 No Comments

Recently, an American billionaire promised to pay the debts of all the students in a graduating class. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t envy them. I’ve been a student for almost seven years now, and studying has certainly been an expensive endeavor. I started off studying Italian, quit, then switched to  Psychology, only to decide later on to finish both degrees Now, after having specialized in two different fields of Psychology in my Master’s studies (Training & Development and Cultural Psychology), I am finally about to graduate. So where did all my money come from? And: has ambition bankrupted me?

In my earlier years as a student, it was relatively easy to make ends meet. During that time I didn’t live in Amsterdam, and I was still able to use public transportation for free. However, doing two Bachelor’s degrees at the same time, I could not find the time for a side job. More and more I started to realize I didn’t have a choice but to get a student loan from the government. This became especially obvious when the government decided to cut back on financial aid for students. Moving to Amsterdam also didn’t help, but without free public transportation I was left with no choice but to move: Dutch trains aren’t exactly cheap. But then again, neither is Amsterdam, so getting a student loan was my only option.

When I started off as a student I was wary about getting a student loan. I used to tell myself I would never take one on. Yet, here I am, years later, with a considerable debt to the government. In a way, I’ve gotten used to being in debt. I recently read an article arguing that the necessity for students to get a student loan has led to a different mindset among students about debts in general, as being in debt now seems like a normal position to be in in life. Possibly, this increases the likelihood of students taking on unnecessary loans, even though life’s most expensive phases are still ahead. I would speculate the current student loan system in the Netherlands is responsible for an increase in burn-outs among students, since they’re now carrying a lot more personal debts, resulting in additional stress on top of the already existing stress of being a student, such as keeping up with the classess and taking exams. Maybe student loans even explain why ambitious people are unhappier and don’t live as long as people that haven’t been cursed with ambition.

I’ve often found myself questioning whether it was really necessary for me to take a student loan. Now, with an appreciable student debt, I am uncertain of whether I’ll be able to afford my own house within the next decade. My parents bought their own home when they were younger than I am today. I would love to buy a home with my significant other, but my student debt may get in the way. Of course, the loan I took enabled me to do two Bachelor’s degrees and to specialize in two different fields, but I honestly wonder sometimes whether taking a loan for my studies was worth it.

I haven’t done the maths yet. I guess time will tell. I got a student loan simply because I had to: I had a desire to learn and no other way to support myself. I do worry about the future though. It’ll likely be a while before I am free of student debt. I have about 35 years to pay off my debt, but I’m not sure if that means I’m lucky or the opposite. I’ll ‘only’ be 61 by the time I stop paying the price for my ambition. I cannot wait for life after debt, but then again, who am I fooling? Is there even such a thing as life after debt? I just hope I can take out another loan before I’m 61. I want to buy a house, after all, and life isn’t exactly cheap.

Image by Chitra Mohanlal 

Recently, an American billionaire promised to pay the debts of all the students in a graduating class. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t envy them. I’ve been a student for almost seven years now, and studying has certainly been an expensive endeavor. I started off studying Italian, quit, then switched to  Psychology, only to decide later on to finish both degrees Now, after having specialized in two different fields of Psychology in my Master’s studies (Training & Development and Cultural Psychology), I am finally about to graduate. So where did all my money come from? And: has ambition bankrupted me?

In my earlier years as a student, it was relatively easy to make ends meet. During that time I didn’t live in Amsterdam, and I was still able to use public transportation for free. However, doing two Bachelor’s degrees at the same time, I could not find the time for a side job. More and more I started to realize I didn’t have a choice but to get a student loan from the government. This became especially obvious when the government decided to cut back on financial aid for students. Moving to Amsterdam also didn’t help, but without free public transportation I was left with no choice but to move: Dutch trains aren’t exactly cheap. But then again, neither is Amsterdam, so getting a student loan was my only option.

When I started off as a student I was wary about getting a student loan. I used to tell myself I would never take one on. Yet, here I am, years later, with a considerable debt to the government. In a way, I’ve gotten used to being in debt. I recently read an article arguing that the necessity for students to get a student loan has led to a different mindset among students about debts in general, as being in debt now seems like a normal position to be in in life. Possibly, this increases the likelihood of students taking on unnecessary loans, even though life’s most expensive phases are still ahead. I would speculate the current student loan system in the Netherlands is responsible for an increase in burn-outs among students, since they’re now carrying a lot more personal debts, resulting in additional stress on top of the already existing stress of being a student, such as keeping up with the classess and taking exams. Maybe student loans even explain why ambitious people are unhappier and don’t live as long as people that haven’t been cursed with ambition.

I’ve often found myself questioning whether it was really necessary for me to take a student loan. Now, with an appreciable student debt, I am uncertain of whether I’ll be able to afford my own house within the next decade. My parents bought their own home when they were younger than I am today. I would love to buy a home with my significant other, but my student debt may get in the way. Of course, the loan I took enabled me to do two Bachelor’s degrees and to specialize in two different fields, but I honestly wonder sometimes whether taking a loan for my studies was worth it.

I haven’t done the maths yet. I guess time will tell. I got a student loan simply because I had to: I had a desire to learn and no other way to support myself. I do worry about the future though. It’ll likely be a while before I am free of student debt. I have about 35 years to pay off my debt, but I’m not sure if that means I’m lucky or the opposite. I’ll ‘only’ be 61 by the time I stop paying the price for my ambition. I cannot wait for life after debt, but then again, who am I fooling? Is there even such a thing as life after debt? I just hope I can take out another loan before I’m 61. I want to buy a house, after all, and life isn’t exactly cheap.

Image by Chitra Mohanlal 
Martin Verloop

Author Martin Verloop

More posts by Martin Verloop