In this edition of "Tilburgers with a pronounced opinion" we spoke with real sticklers in Tilburg: Tim Oberdorf. You've probably seen Tim Oberdorf a few years ago at the Piusplein, where he had a number of bars under his belt. In 2017, he struck out on a different path. Since he had always wanted to own a beach bar, Tim saw his chance when Arbie's Beachhouse came his way. In 2017 he worked hard to make the necessary renovations and adjustments to the place and in 2018 he turned in his first year at the catering and swimming facility at the lake in Berkel-Enschot.
Tim grew up in Zuid-Limburg and after finishing high school (2002) and was faced with the choice between three options: study in Maastricht, Rotterdam or Tilburg. He found Maastricht too close near his elderly home and he found Rotterdam at that time rather chilly and sterile. "Tilburg appealed to me the most at that time, which is why I made the choice for Tilburg."
Besides his active life at dispuut A One of student association Olof, he could be found several days a week behind various bars at the Piusplein. He fully enjoyed student life to the max. After he finished his studies in 2010 he applied for a traineeship. When it turned out that he would not make it in the final round, he received an offer from Café Brandpunt to run the pub. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands and it really showed that he really liked the SME. After a while Café Bolle and Slagroom also fell under his responsibility. After six years of happily running a part of the Piusplein, it was time for a new challenge.
“ Tilburg moet je leren lezen ”
How did you experience student life 'in your time'?
"Wicked! Anything was possible and anything was allowed. Still is, in my opinion. At first I wasn't looking for an association in Tilburg at all. I knew I was going to study in Tilburg and eventually you start living in a room. After a number of viewings, I was eventually offered a room in a house on the Telegraafstraat. It turned out to be the fraternity house of the Olof student association. In a club house it is often the case that if you come to live there, you are also expected to become a member of the association. That's how I got into club life and had a fantastic time.
“ Vandaag is eigenlijk het enige waar je je druk om moet maken. Morgen bestaat niet ”
A few weeks a year I was cramming for exams. In many cases I started much too late, which many students probably recognize. Often I thought afterwards: next semester I'm going to do it completely different. In many cases, contrary to expectations, nothing came of it. And for the rest, as a student you had very little responsibility. Of course there were a few things you had to arrange, but for the rest you had enough time to enjoy studying and doing nothing."
Throughout his studies, Tim has been active in student life. One of the advantages of this is that you get to know a lot of people in a short period of time. But he also noticed that at a certain point he felt a greater need to get to know other people outside of that so-called 'association bubble'. That is why he sought out the bar life on the Piusplein.
Was it normal back then to work besides your study?
"A large proportion of students worked alongside their studies and a smaller proportion did not. It was actually quite normal to have a side job next to your studies. Many people worked 20 to 25 hours in addition to their studies. Nowadays I see that more and more students do less.
You also see that students nowadays are more aware of the fact that they have a loan. When I was a student, the trend of going on an exchange started. At the time it was pretty crazy, people saying 'I'm going on an exchange' in their second year of study. Especially in club life you were looked at strangely, because you're just starting out as a youngster and you're expected to stay involved in your first few years with the club and your sorority. What I also notice is that more and more students, who are already in their second or third year of study, are looking for internships. In my college days, that didn't start until much later; people easily studied for 7 to 8 years. That was the rule rather than the exception."
“ Iemand die eerder dan 4 jaar klaar was met zijn studie; dat bestond bijna niet. ”
How did you see Tilburg change?
"At first you could only go to a few nice places in Tilburg. When I was a student there, there weren't that many. Nowadays, there is an arsenal of possibilities, for example to go out, but also to do fun things during the day. In addition, I see that many areas where previously nothing happened, are now all in development. But also the clichés like the Piushaven, the Leijpark, the Spoorpark; everything is flourishing!
I also hear more often from people who come from outside that they prefer to come to Tilburg. People know the city faster from festivals or certain establishments. In that respect, Tilburg is also a good base, because it is centrally located. You can be in Amsterdam in one hour and ten minutes, but also in the south of the country in the same time. That certainly has a positive effect!"
What is your favorite spot in the city?
"Of course I have to speak for my own parish a bit, so then of course I say Arbie's Beachhouse! But if you're talking about Tilburg itself, then I really enjoy being in the Piushaven, because I think there's a very relaxed atmosphere here."
What parties were there then that are still there today?
"Pallieter Mixed Hockey Tournament (PMHT) and Summer in the City at Piusplein. And of course the fair and carnival since forever. Other than that, a lot of fun events and activities have been added."
Is there anything in the city that you think is missing?
"Actually, no. I think it's very good to see that a lot of areas are redeveloping. At the municipal level, we are also looking at areas that have not yet been developed, that are being worked on. If Tilburg keeps going like this, there will be more and more something for everyone! Whether you just want to drink a cup of coffee or go to the gym, whether you are ready for a big or small event; in Tilburg it is possible! Furthermore, in terms of culture, sports and nightlife there is really more than enough to do. I also think it's a good development that Tilburg is getting more and more real restaurants, instead of just pubs like it used to be. There is secretly a lot of quality restaurants. So I myself don't miss much in the city actually; I'm a satisfied man!"
One could argue that there are few nightclubs in Tilburg. But Tim can explain that. "Tilburg has a few more places on the Heuvelring that tend towards the 'club-like', but I have no affinity with that. I'd rather be in a brown pub, behind the bar, drinking a beer. I don't miss the club scene in Tilburg and I wonder if it would catch on at all. Nationwide, discotheques are a dying breed, so I wonder if it's really missing in Tilburg."
Is the image you used to have of Tilburg still true after you started studying there?
"When I came here to study, people mentioned terms like 'industrial city,' 'ugly city,' and 'ugly downtown.' However, I have always found it to be a particularly pleasant city. You can get everywhere quickly and easily by bike; from east to west you can get there in half an hour at most. Also because there are so many things to do, especially for students, I have always experienced Tilburg as a warm bath. It always feels like coming home and the longer I live there, the more I can appreciate what is there. It remains an industrial city, but in time you get to know and appreciate the beautiful places of the city!"