reading time 4 minutes
On Monday, the newspapers publish a message about your study choice. Do not get started with what I have taken note of with great care. You are about to make a fatal mistake. Then it is the duty of a loyal citizen to point it out to the future head of state. There is no man overboard. You can still change course
I do not care about the intended alma mater. The University of Amsterdam is the best choice in all respects. Although most of the teachers and students belonged to the bourgeois genre, the university as a whole was traditional libertinere. There was always room for cross-thinkers, troublemakers and other headstrong types. They spiced up the atmosphere and made a major contribution to the quality of academic life. Such was already the case in the days of the Atheneum Illustrator.
You also have the advantage that you will live in a big city where the study time does not leave too much of a mark on it. Amsterdam is at your feet. As in Leiden, for example, one should not resort to fraternities and similar associations. Unless it provides very special benefits. For example, in my time I was affiliated with the Student Sports Association because membership gave access to Het Oksfhoofd, a large night shop where one could run into Mick Jagger. When the sun then rose over the hazy canals – there are few prospects in the world that can match it – we went to the White Balloon on Gelderse Kade to get a cup of brown bean soup, at least if we were still allowed to enter. It all was half a century ago, it’s my frame of reference, not yours, but you know what I mean. Be a student innAmsterdam, the total city.
The University of Amsterdam has always been a bit cluttered. Proof of this may be that no one prevented your field of study from being created in time.
You have chosen a bachelor’s degree Politics, psychology, law and economics† In three years – it is promised – you will be familiar with the interplay between politics, economics, law and psychology. Or similar. This is, of course, an impossible thing. This terrain is so wide that you can not get further than a kind of sniffing practice. Draft cannot be reached. It’s a disgrace to the university, which I too my alma mater that she in this way teases eighteen-year-olds and their parents.
I know what’s behind it. Universities are paid in proportion to the number of students they bring in and graduate. Therefore, all sorts of vague courses are created, often with ‘studies’ in the name, where you become acquainted with everything in a broad area, but with nothing in a really deep way. There is no time for that. You have also been talked into such a workout. Do not. It’s a fake study.
Start a serious academic education: low economics, political science, law or psychology. Not a bit of it all. They made you happy with the magic word ‘interdisciplinary’. When practitioners of different sciences tackle a single problem jointly from their own expertise, the result is usually worth more than the sum of its parts. The researchers are experts in one specific area. This is precisely why they can offer added value. This is not the case if they have sniffed a little at four subjects – ‘disciplines’ are said nowadays – and on that basis just mess around with learned, but not essentially understood jargon.
Your Royal Highness, no doubt you have a passion. There’s something you want to know all about. Then you should study it. Nothing else. Even if it is Assyriology or Mesozoic Biology. Just go for it. It will be discouraged from all sides. It does not help you, especially if you become head of state.
I had barely arrived at the glorious University of Amsterdam when a few lecturers arranged a special meeting for first-year students. There they told us that there would be no dry bread to serve with our studio. We could still turn around. No one did. I’ve never in my life deducted a cent from Social Service, and I’m just turned 73.
Do not let anyone distract you from your passion. At the university, you will soon meet many unhappy fellow students who have done so. They chose a profession because one can later make good money on it. They may struggle to get their degree, but they will never be very good in this field. Conversely, in your life you will meet many people who have built a wonderful career because they are all-rounder. Not because of a false study, but because by studying what they were passionate about, they had learned to examine and think. Precisely for this reason, they could step outside their field of expertise. Only in-depth specialist knowledge will enable you to catch out spiritually.
In short, Your Royal Highness, unsubscribe quickly and follow the academic study of your heart. Let all the false investigations lie.
Your willing servant,
Han van der Horst, Baron.
Incidentally, I am of the opinion that the subsidy scandal should not disappear from the attention of the public, and neither should the natural gas case in Groningen.
Listen to The Memory Palace, the podcast by Han van der Horst and John Knieriem on politics and history.