The cathartic Saturday market

After two years of constant change and uncertainty (Erasmus, backpacking, volunteering, you name it), I’ve fallen in love with routines. And out of all my newly acquired habits, the Saturday market is the dearest to me. To be honest, it forms the backbone of my whole week.

Blackboard and professors determine how anxiety-filled my weekdays turn out. On Thursdays and Fridays, I grow tired of being pressured by deadlines and decide to dance and/or drink the nights away.

Unlike in the Bible, for me Saturday is the day of purification. The piercing sunrays or, more likely, the sound of pouring rain wake me up. I chug down a pint of water and roll my beer-bloated body out of the bed. The sinful week of eating chips and chocolate has come to an end. I’m already late for the most important appointment of the week: the heavenly market at Koningsplein with my almost-next-door-neighbor Julia.

“The market is timeless; a cross-section of ordinary life in all its glory outside of my law school bubble”

We’re efficient market-goers. Our route starts at the mushroom booth, where I never end up buying anything, and meanders towards the cheese shop. The cheese men already recognize us and always recommend a new arrival. The grande finale of the market tour is the never-ending fruit and veggie stall at the back: I stock on mangoes, onions and apples, paying for all the sins of the week. Welcome, balanced, sporty, vegan life!

The market is timeless; a cross-section of ordinary life in all its glory outside of my law school bubble. Old ladies in fur hats walk their terriers and wiener dogs, kids beg their parents for another almond cake and teenage nut seller girls give their middle-aged bosses serious side-eye. As the weather keeps getting colder, the coffee sold at a shaky-legged booth gets hotter and stronger. The usually empty and grey streets of Tilburg are being filled with haggling, laughter and unexpected encounters. I’ve only visited the market for about three months, and I’ve already met a wildly dancing Indian gentleman, and an exchange student who was looking for somebody who she could donate a rabbit’s ear to. I didn’t ask why.

As my market partner says, after roaming through the stalls for an hour or two, our Saturday is complete. We’ve accomplished something. After unpacking the 15 different kinds of fruits and veggies on the kitchen table, I choose the healthiest-looking vitamin bombs and shove them into the blender. The rest of the day is dedicated to binge-watching Outlander and sipping on green smoothie.

When Monday rolls around, my fridge is still packed with fresh vegetables. I have high hopes for the week: I’m going to do my readings, go running at least three times and plan my meals. Still somehow, I’ll find myself ordering a large portion of fries at an international fast food restaurant on Thursday night.

Sunna Kokkonen (1994) studies International Law at Tilburg University, but she can’t picture herself driving a Tesla in a cocktail dress in 5 years. Instead, she’ll be trekking the Himalayas, still scribbling freelance articles and living on lentil stew. She comes from the land beyond the Wall – Finnish Lapland.

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