'My grandmother is my second mother'

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When she’s homesick, Elena calls her grandma. Image credit: Daan Stam

Elena immediately thinks of her grandmother. “My parents both worked, so I spent a lot of time in my childhood with my grandmother”, the Italian International Business Administration student explains. Her grandmother is a typical Italian nonna, she says: “She loves to cook, she is small – about 145 cm – but very loud”, she laughs. “But she is also modern, she said to me the other day: ‘You really don’t have to get married, you know. You don’t have time for that kind of struggle’. And that, while she has been happily married to my grandfather for forty years.”

When she gets homesick or when everything feels a bit too much, Elena calls her grandmother. “I think it’s kind of cool that my grandmother, at 82, can app and video call”, she says. In a week’s time, Elena will go to her parents’ home in a town near Venice. Then she will traditionally go to the Christmas market with her grandmother. “We used to walk around and I’d get candies”, she recalls from the old days. “We do it every year. I’m 22, so I’ve been to the Christmas market with her at least twenty times.”

'Without my girlfriend, I don't know if I can handle it all'

Tomek would like to pay tribute to their girlfriend Mia. “She is so sweet to me. She has always supported me”, they say. “Our situation is a bit atypical, as we have a polyamorous relationship.”

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Tomek is enjoying their new relationship. Image credit: Daan Stam

Tomek met Mia through their boyfriend. “My boyfriend and I were in Lisbon last summer and he knew Mia because they were studying at the same university in Portugal”, the Life Sciences student at Erasmus University College says. “It was immediately clear that it clicked between the three of us. We spent the summer together and it was fantastic. That’s how our polyamorous relationship started.”

According to Tomek, the new relationship sometimes feels ‘weird, in a good way’. “I had no experience with it, so combined with my studies and a thousand other things in life, it sometimes feels a bit much”, they say. “When I struggle with it, Mia helps me sort things out. She reassures me that everything will be fine. Really, without her I don’t know if I can handle it all.”

'My mom is the sweetest mother ever'

There is no greater love for Sebastiaan than the love of his mother. “I really have the sweetest mother ever. She has unconditional love for her children”, he says. “Even when she is struggling herself, she still takes care of me and my sister.”

Three years ago, the Strategic Management student went to live on his own. “I try to visit my mom every week, even if it doesn’t always happen”, he says. “We do call every day, sometimes it’s a long chat, sometimes she just briefly checks how I’m doing.”

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Sebastiaan will celebrate Christmas with his mom. Image credit: Daan Stam

According to Sebastiaan, his mother is all about love and cosiness, especially during Christmas. “All she wants for Christmas is to be with her children. She always says: you can travel anywhere and anytime, except for Christmas, because then you have to be with me.”

There’s no shortage of fun memories either. “My mom was a flight attendant, so as a child she often took me on board”, he says. “She was working, so I  would sit by myself and in between, I would get snacks or a sandwich. We flew everywhere, including San Franscisco, Bonaire and Curaçao.”

'We support each other through thick and thin'

Students Inés and Jesús are roommates, best friends and each other’s most important person. “We are together every day and have a lot of fun together”, Inés says. The Spanish students met five years ago in Maastricht, where they did their bachelor’s studies. “It was the first hour of the introduction week. It clicked immediately and since then we did our studies together, moved to Rotterdam and have now been living together for three years”, Jesús says.

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Jesús and Inés support each other through thick and thin. Image credit: Daan Stam

They are like brother and sister, says Inés who is doing master’s degree in Quantitative Finance. “Even when we are in Spain, we visit each other, so our families know each other too.” They cannot imagine themselves without each other. “It’s very nice when you have someone to support you in difficult moments. Then, for me, Ines is someone to fall back on”, says Jesús, master’s student in Business Analytics and Management. “You are for me as well!”, responds Inés. “I’m so glad we have each other and support each other through thick and thin.”