| Niels ter Meer

Don’t worry, student columnist Niels ter Meer has not been replaced (yet). It’s just that life and love had other plans with his time.


Some of you might have missed me two weeks ago; thought I was being replaced. But no, I’m still here: it’s just that, after 45 consecutive columns, life finally, actually, got to me. I had to skip this one. Besides working throughout the vacation, thinking I would be done by the end of it (do not delude yourself, that does not happen, cannot recommend); my partner, my iubită, with whom I thought I would spend many more years together, no longer saw that happening.

And hence it was time for drastic measures. If there was a time to pull the metaphorical emergency brake, this was the one. I thought I only had but a few friends, but I did the thing the internet recommends and just spammed a boatload of people, and I was pleasantly surprised. Even UT staff with whom I work or had to consult when I last-minute panic-rescheduled my courses were more than accommodating. And obviously I chose a different course: a relatively easy one with lectures and a group project; one to get me out of my house, to keep me from shrivelling away doing all the self-study I had planned, with me being all alone now. I tried to distract myself, going out, going on walks, chatting with people, and signing up with the student psychologists. All practically per the book when it comes to mourning, according to the latter.

But that does not fill that partner-shaped hole in my life. The sweet notes professing their love they wrote me, the little picture sized ‘memories’ paintings they made, their stray hairs, their remaining belongings, and even some products in the grocery store remind me of their absence — often tearing open that hole when I thought it was going better. There were so many things we had planned — the series we were watching together or wanted to, the trips we wanted to go on, the cat cafes to visit, the arts & crafts we had in mind — which we now have to forgo.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my wise and old professor. I had asked him when he had time to explain something to me: ‘at end of day’. Only I had already promised that time to my partner to go do groceries together. He adamantly said to go do that — the explanation could wait. Only now the depth of his wisdom really dawns on me.

Contrary what a lot of people think, a lot of things aren’t as urgent as they might seem. The only thing that is non-fungible is the time you spend with your beloved, your schatje, your iubit(ă) — whatever you may call them. Take it from your local columnist: you can sink as much time into studying or working as you want, but that’s time you can never spend with them again — choose wisely.

Stay tuned

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.