By Carmen Koppert
– As the end of the year approaches, many AUC students are preparing for their next adventure: a semester abroad. Approximately 90 students will go on exchange in the fall, and their absences will be felt in many friend and social groups.
Lara Riemens, Jasmijn Bleijlevens and Lela Roos are all part of one 10 people friend group, but next year only the three of them will be staying in Amsterdam. “All of our friends will be going on exchange and we will be leftover,” says Roos, second-year Science major. In search of support the three created a Facebook group called ‘AULeftovers (people)’. Here, leftover students can bond over their abandonment issues, their fear of socializing, and their desire to create new friendships out of pure desperation for some human contact.
The idea started a few weeks back, as a joke when the friends came up with the name for their WhatsApp group, but got enthusiastic and created a Facebook group instead. By joining the group, students see which other people are staying here next semester. “I personally hope it could be a place for people to sort of fill the hole left behind by their departing friends, whether that is for people to find a new thrift-shopping buddy, or someone to visit museums with,” says Riemens, second-year Science major and AULeftover. The three friends have more plans for next year. They want to throw a party at the beginning of the semester so leftovers can get to meet other AULeftovers, expanding the community of those left behind.
Lily Doolan Burke, second-year Social Science major, is one of these leftovers, as her girlfriend Amber Roos will be leaving to Squamish, Canada. Burke has been on exchange herself, so she understands the value of the experience. “I would never want to take away that opportunity from someone, but it’s still going to suck,” she says.
Burke is not the only person Roos will be leaving behind in Amsterdam. Her twin sister, Lela Roos considered going to the same university, but it did not offer computer science courses. As far as they can remember, the longest the two have been apart was during the two-day Junket hitchhike. Next semester will be a nice test for the twins to see if they can live separately for a longer period of time, as the two are considering attending master’s programmes in different countries. Lela wonders if she will behave differently without Amber. “The new first-years will meet me as Lela instead of Lela and Amber,” she says.
How did the previous generation of AULeftovers survive this lonely period of time, without the Facebook group?
Laura Gerritse, second-year Social Science major, had to miss her two best friends, Floor Verhoogt and Lisanne Schoonebeek, last semester. She would have appreciated the AULeftover group. “Especially in the beginning it’s nice to know you’re not the only one,” she says. But even without the group she survived the semester. “At first it was really weird after spending so much time together in the bubble, but I got used to it after a couple of weeks,” she says. Gerritse herself will be going on exchange next semester – luckily the friends have the summer to catch up.
Felix Kuijken and his girlfriend Lisanne Schoonebeek, both second-year Science majors, went on exchange to different regions this semester. One thing that made the time apart challenging was the time difference. “I was six hours behind her time,” Kuijken says. The two tried to video call as much as possible. Usually, at the end of the day, they would send each other a voice message to tell the other about their day. The idea of seeing each other again helped them manage a lot better. “One thing I really liked is that we booked a vacation in this period, this gives you another thing to look forward to,” Kuijken says.
Laila Spee, second-year Social Science major, recently went to Korea to visit her boyfriend, who is still abroad. She explains that it is still quite difficult for her, because when you’re really close to someone you just want to spend time with them. “You want to be able to hug them and touch them,” says Spee. “It’s not a situation I would recommend to anyone, but it’s really possible to stay close and to uphold a friendship or relationship,” she says. In the end the feelings of missing each other made it even more special to see each other again. Next semester, three of her best friends will be going on exchange. She hopes to make new friends via the Facebook group. “When your friends are on exchange, you’re forced to meet new people and make new friends,” she says.
Hopefully the AULeftover group will make it easier for the next generation of AULeftovers to get through the semester. “Use this opportunity to make new friends and get out of your comfort zone,” says Gerritse.
Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.