It’s as nice and dirty as it used to be (4): Hoogeveldt

14 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. Today: Mickey Steijaert at Hoogeveldt.

There are probably lots of welcoming and fun hallways in Hoogeveldt. Hallways where parties are held and residents eat together every night. But hallway 32, in the corner above the bicycle shop, was never one of them.

I climb the stairs. I was only 18 when my father and I dragged half my belongings up the stairs to the fifth floor – only to discover that there was a lift after all. More memories come flooding back: my attempts at conversation with flatmates who didn’t want to know while we thawed frozen pizzas. The mouse plague of 2012, when all my crockery ended up covered in small rodents’ piss. And the Indonesian girl who invited her sister and parents to stay with her in her tiny bedroom (12 m2) for months on end. But what I remember most of all is the anonymity. The feeling of having no idea who my neighbours were.

Back to 2019. The door is opened by Jeltje, a Mathematics and Physics student ‘who’s looking for a place of her own’, as she informs me. The kitchen has been renovated beyond recognition, but in essence everything’s still the same. ‘We hardly ever see each other,’ says Jeltje. ‘The other day, we tried to pick a date to have dinner together, but it didn’t work out in the end.’ Two of Jeltje’s flatmates only met for the first time after living next to each other for months. Some things never change.

What is it with these anonymous student hallways? Is it because residents can’t choose their own flatmates? Does that have so much impact? Or do people simply not care, because they see Hoogeveldt as a temporary stop, a short period of anonymity while they look for a fun place to live?

After my own time at Hoogeveldt I moved into a fantastic student house in the centre. I wish the same for Jeltje. ‘You really don’t have a single picture of yourself with your flatmates?’ asks my incredulous VOX colleague. She doesn’t understand the laws of the anonymous Hoogeveldt hallway. Jeltje and I, we do.

Mickey Steijaert (26) lived on the Professor Bromstraat 32 from 2010 until 2013.

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