At the Kralingse Zoom bus stop, Thijs den Boer (20) immediately sees three friends from the Hoeksche Waard. Coincidentally, they are all first year Psychology students who’ve known each other since secondary school in Oud-Beijerland. Thijs is on his way to Numansdorp, the place where he was born and grew up, 30 kilometres from campus Woudestein.

'Psychology feels much better'

Mag ik met je mee – 1 – thijs den boer (3)

In the packed bus, Thijs explains why last year he dropped out of his studies in Business Administration after twelve weeks. “It just wasn’t for me. There was one course that interested me: Behaviour and organisation, because it was about people. That’s when I knew I had to do Psychology.” He’s now four weeks into the programme. “This feels much better.”

But as a first year, he felt it was still a bit risky to move away from home. “First make sure I get 60 credits this year.” By the Van Brienenoordbrug, he points to De Kuip. “I always need to check it out when we pass it. Eventually I’d like to get lodgings in Rotterdam, even if it’s just for Feyenoord. And I’d like to experience student life too.”

Mag ik met je mee – 1 – thijs den boer (4)

Now he travels three times a week to and from Numansdorp, sitting at the back of the bus listening to music through his earphones. “From classic to hiphop to Irish folk.” After half an hour, he changes at Heinenoord bus terminal. “I work near here for an Internet mail order company, twenty-four hours a week. Last year, I worked there full time after dropping Business Administration. At the end of the day, I was brain dead.”

Playing football in the local beer team

Meanwhile we’re passing a row of impressive villas. “This is Mijnsheerenland, which is where all the rich tattas live.” To relax, Thijs plays guitar in his free time. “I also sing. Everything by The Pogues, for example.” He also plays football with friends at the local football club. “A beer team. It’s always a question of whether we get through to the evening. I’d miss that if I didn’t live here, the craziness of being together with the lads, football and drinking. It’s a real village way of life.”

The night life in Numansdorp is limited to one pub: Café Winners. “We call it Club W, that makes it sound a bit more upmarket. Sometimes there’s just one man and his dog there, but occasionally everyone’s there and we dance till 5 in the morning.” Looking out of the window: “It’s only now that I’m showing it to you that I can really see how beautiful the Hoeksche Waard is. If I ever leave, I’ll definitely come back. I’d like to retire to a village.”