It’s as nice and dirty as it used to be (1): Doddendaal complex

05 Mar 2019

Your old student room. Hard to think about it without getting a bit nostalgic. This was the place where you first lived on your own. Where you made new friends. But revisiting your old room may also be risky. What if it’s a lot smaller than you remember or if someone’s repainted what used to be your walls? Five VOX editors dare to go back in time.

Would you believe it? On the very same spot where for four long years I enjoyed student life to the full, the same SSH& Doddendaal complex still stands. The only thing is: someone’s been messing with the house numbers. The Kroonstraat only has 98 houses now. My good old number 100 no longer exists. Still though, the room on the fourth floor is still there. In the hallway of the apartment building there’s a note with a request not to let strangers in. An unsavoury individual has apparently been lurking around.

This immediately reminds me of a homeless person who used to sneak in and sleep on the stairs. We would carefully step over him on our way to lectures. What do you expect in a student apartment building with an open front door in the heart of the city centre? We’d stumble out of our beds after a night of partying and boom! We’d almost get mowed down by all the people out shopping in Nijmegen.

Despite the note, I take the risk of ringing the doorbell. ‘Yes?’ asks a girl’s soft voice. ‘I used to live here more than twenty-five years ago…’ I start enthusiastically. Yes! I’m allowed upstairs to have a look at the ‘living room’. We used to call it the kitchen, back in the 1990s, but what’s in a name? Upstairs, I’m pleasantly surprised: very little has changed! The television is in the same spot. So is the couch, and the dining table. The wall used to sport a self-created artwork with portraits of all the residents, cut out of black paper and glued any old way on the wall. On the same spot you now see the names of the current residents, carelessly cut out from coloured paper.

What do you think happened to the telephone booth where we had to sign in to make a phone call, and then wait for our turn? Apparently it’s still a booth, now minus the telephone and with an extra shower instead. When I grin and say: ‘It’s still all nice and dirty,’ one of the residents looks at me, uncomprehendingly. Clearly, she hadn’t noticed. Great, life in a student house!

Martine Zuidweg (53) lived on the Kroonstraat 100 in Nijmegen from 1988 until 1992.

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