There are many inevitable things that we have to go through in life from the moment we are born: learning how to eat using a fork, learning to use the toilet, saying ‘thank you’, etc. This sequence of proper societal integration continues until we are adults. We always have to adapt to our environment and to the people around us.
If you are a Maastricht University student, there are also many things that you have to learn the moment you arrive, and especially if you are not Dutch, there will be a lot of things around you that seem to be new, and that you have to familiarise with in order to survive living as a student. Amongst those things we have to learn: how to lock our bikes properly in order to protect them for thieves, how to use MyUM and EleUM without having a nervous breakdown, how to find a free spot at the UB, how to use your Albert Heijn bonus card and understand the word ‘bonnetje’, how to recognise a good Snackbar (I still call it Frietkot, Flemish all the way), how to get used to the smell of weed everywhere, how to use “Alstublieft and Dank u Wel” at the right time, how to stop believing in weather forecasts, how to get used to the fact that German is basically one of the official languages, and so on.
But there is one thing that you have to inevitably get used to as a Maastricht Student, and that every single student has to go through while being here, and that is: The Alla.
You can’t avoid it
The Alla is like the rain, or like the IWIO e-mails. You can’t avoid it, you just can’t even you do everything in your power to do so.
If you are in a normal pub, or at a friends’ place, and you suddenly realise that everyone has drunk a little bit too much, you are doomed: The Alla will get you.
After the useless (and non-working) metal detector in the front door does its job, and the bouncer gives you his typical I-don’t-give-a-fuck look, you will suddenly realise that you are standing in the middle of The Alla’s dance floor even if you swore to yourself that you would never go there anymore, you tell yourself that ‘this is the last time’. You realise that you are dancing Disco Pogo and that you are enjoying it while a little voice in the back of your mind is asking you ‘what the hell are you doing?’. After that, there is no way back. You will not go home until you realise you have lost almost all the dignity you have left.
The Alla is the target of various types of people; you know that it is not a big deal to see a group of wanna-be-ganstas standing in the smoking room looking at you. You realise that watching over-30-year-olds hunting for students is just the normal routine, and that at some point, you realise that in about 3 more minutes, the place is going to be so full that the only thing you will be drinking that night is a combination of beer and sweat. But still, the force of The Alla will not let you leave.
By this time you have already lost sight of your coat and your scarf, and you have to pee so bad that you go to the bathrooms only to realise that the lady upstairs is waiting for you with her “1€ for all night” sign, and you are so charmed by her old-aunt-that-smells-like-whiskey looks that you inevitably pay her because your bladder is about to explode. While you are in the bathroom you realise how completely wasted you are and how you should just go home and sleep because you have class tomorrow. But no, the force of The Alla is still too strong to let you out of its claws.
Finally everyone leaves, and you go outside and realise how beautiful it is to breath fresh air, while the sweat that covers your body starts to feel sticky and you find out that the coat you have on is not yours. Your bike seems to be kilometres away from you, and while you go get it you realise that you are stumbling while you are at it.
In the end you manage to get home, and while the drunk-you is trying to cook pasta without falling asleep, you tell yourself that the party was great. The next day you wake up, and the first thing on your mind besides the dryness of your throat is the flashbacks of the night before. You try to fall asleep again in embarrassment, telling yourself that you will never ever go there again, and that little voice in the back of your mind speaks to you again ‘Oh come on you, you know that you will go again, nobody can avoid the force of The Alla’.
About the author
Nathalie Stroobants studied European Law at Maastricht University. She was a contributor to the Maastricht Students blog from November 2011 to February 2012.