'These days you get to know the importance of freedom'

Stijn Hasselmann (21) is a first-year Accountancy student in Eindhoven. Now that Fontys is back to normal, once again he feels he has made the right study choice. But the current war in Ukraine is in the back of his mind all day long.

Stijn Hasselmann“As a former mbo student, I was afraid that I would receive less help and support from teachers at hbo. Luckily it turns out that contact with them is easily accessible and asking is never too much. That is one of the reasons why I feel that this study really suits me.

I also love that I experience more freedom once the corona measures have stopped. I was done with taking lessons behind a laptop. To be honest, that’s not why I pay tuition. 

But now I’m back travelling almost daily from Ittervoort in Limburg, where I live with my parents, to Fontys in Eindhoven. And of course, I also go out with friends again.

So I was just looking forward to an open, positive summer when the war in Ukraine started. That really shocked me. You know, I'm interested in the history of World War II and never thought that freedom would still be so fragile after nearly eighty years. And all the ingredients for a major and long-lasting conflict seem to be there. Bizarre.

The period after my graduation is still a long way off. I am less concerned with concrete issues like student debts and the stressed out housing market. I don’t even borrow money with DUO. 

No, what concerns me most now is the fact that our freedom can be threatened so quickly. That happened during the lockdowns, but that could still be explained. In a war – which may also have much more explicit consequences for Dutch citizens – the situation is different.” [Frank van den Nieuwenhuijzen]

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