(Jan Miller, 28, student Faculty of Philosophy)
“When I was six, we moved from the Czech Republic to the Netherlands; my mother had fallen in love with a Dutch man. As a result, I’ve always kept an outsider’s perspective on things, even though I quickly picked up the language and culture. Very quickly and intensely, in fact! I often used difficult words that raised eyebrows among the other kids [laughs]. I’ve fallen in love with Dutch culture, perhaps because its peculiarities stand out a bit more for me. As the ‘odd one out’, with a slightly different take on things, I feel quite at home here in the Philosophy faculty.
But a different perspective can also overshoot the mark. I say this from personal experience; in 2009, I ended up in the ‘nuthouse’ with a psychosis. At that time, my thoughts were consumed by the idea that anything that can be conceived is also real. Any world that I could imagine actually existed, and it was completely arbitrary to attach greater importance to my life in this particular world than that in any of the others. On top of this, I had doubts whether there was actually such a thing as an external reality, whether my perception wasn’t simply all there is.
While it was an interesting and educational period, there was absolutely no way I could function in regular society. I got pretty delayed in my studies and I can consider myself lucky that my friends, family and the faculty were so relaxed about the whole thing. They probably already knew how I could be [laughs]. This experience has changed how I see the world. I’m not afraid anymore; not of dying; not of being poor. Because I know that whatever happens, you can always find a way to achieve happiness and work on your life goals.
But anyway, I am in my ninth-year as a student by now. So it’s time for me to get my bachelor degree, and then: on to my master’s!”