Organisation - September 1, 2011

First-years

Here they are again, the first-years students. The streets of cities all over the country are transformed at a blow.

As they are in Wageningen, with little bands of young people cycling around the town centre or descending on the pub where you are reading the paper in the corner. I try to identify the mentor, but that isn't always easy: there are a few experienced students among the first-years, people who have transferred from other programmes.
Year in, year out, late August and early September. A landmark in the year, rather like the arrival of the first herrings of the season in the Netherlands, or of the first Beaujolais Nouveau. It is as if you've heaped a big shovelful of fresh coals onto the fire, to burn slowly until they are reduced to cinders and fall through the grate. Not that I want to compare graduates with burnt-out cinders of course...
What will your studies bring you? A great deal, no doubt. You'll leave the lecture halls behind in a few years' time with a Master's degree to your name. You will probably look back on your student years as the 'best years of your life'. But there will also be moments when you are thoroughly fed up. When an exam resit is scheduled for just after the holiday, when tuition fees are raised yet again, when you suddenly have to look for another room. Not to mention the heartache your love life brings you, of course. And there will be mornings-after-the-night-before when you wonder what possessed you to drink so much. First-year students: welcome to Wageningen!

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