By Milli Ehringhaus
Just like many stories that exist around Maastricht, this one begins in the library. You feel the rising pressure a few weeks before the actual exams. The library starts getting fuller and fuller, and already just the thought of attempting to find a spot makes you start sweating profusely with anxiety, the Running of the Germans being nothing short of the perfect example. Even the minuscule dodgy basement with a felt maximum capacity of three that they call Il Cavo, starts resembling De helpless Alla before 2am. These shifts in mood usually only mean that exams are approaching and quickly at that.
Summaries are passed around in vicious circles, you soon realize that your study drive matches exceed those of tinder, and you keep telling yourself that you still have time, while the To-Do List grows and grows in your sub-conscience. You start living off of deep-frozen pizzas and ready-to- go baguettes from the library counter. The supply of healthy juices, smoothies, protein bars, as well as supplements and vitamins, are stored in preparation similar to animals gathering food for a harsh winter. You see many more students slumming it in their PJs than on any normal library day. The simple fact that the library stays open until midnight might seem absurd, laundry only gets done when you wore your last pair of underwear, and even then you debate turning them inside out. These are the sick symptoms of exam week approaching.
When you have surpassed the final days of this gruesome harsh winter, you meet your fellow survivors at the MECC. Going up the escalator itself gives you this unidentifiable rush of excitement and victory explained through the close proximity of this nightmare almost being over. The fluorescent lights make it almost impossible to focus on any of the conversations you are currently engaged in and walking down the endless hallway, with fellow victims desperately trying to engrain the last of their notes into their tired brains. The last step before the ultimate dehumanization is when looking at the posters on the wall where you match your name to some number and seat that you are randomly assigned. You carry on to your seat in a mellow whisper, restrained by the gazing eyes of some of the tutors you recognize from previous tutorials. The chore of asking to relieve oneself becomes a strategic task of time management. “Toilet-Tickets”, is this alliteration to be taken seriously?
Furthermore, the intense back and forth sprints done up and down the aisles to the restroom from the motivated few keep you entertained while struggling from question to question. The sensation of peering at the gigantic digital clock, with its aggressive block lettering, gives you a sense of God-like authority prevailing your inner-self. The regulated time announcements coming from the distant corners of the never-ending hall, give you a prison-like impression. The average student from any other university would see this kind of educational reform as relentless, but Maastricht survivors see this more as a form of self-preservation. We are strong.
The moment of triumph when you rejoice with your friends on the outside of the MECC doors is incomparable with any other pre-existing emotions. While breathing in hints of cannabis and tobacco in the designated area, you feel freedom after weeks of being trapped in tiresome routine. The only positive thing that comes from this dehumanization, is that the Maastricht Syndrome ceases to exist. See you in the last week of March, my peers.