It’s not really allowed, but I so enjoy sitting on the banks of the Rhine with a beer. Preferably for a moment of complete peace and quiet, and then talking about life with friends until the sun goes down. I don’t like it as much if it gets really busy at the Rhine, but usually it’s fine.
All in all, I’m as happy as a lark in Wageningen. Not because of a vibrant city life or great museums: we don’t have those here. We have something else: peace, small scale, the personal touch. And I don’t think I’m the only one who sees it this way. Almost everyone I speak to is content here. ‘We shall never have it so good anywhere else,’ is something I often hear.
Of course, nowhere’s perfect. I sometimes hear some grumbling about evening classes. And pressure of work with the rise in student numbers – which is tedious, I admit. But it’s not all roses in other places either. Whenever I go somewhere else I am struck afresh by how friendly Wageningen is. I can understand why more and more people want to come here. I can understand why Wageningen keeps on growing.
The question is, though, why do we still want that? However minor they may be, practically all the problems we have are related to growing student numbers. And we really have nothing to offer new students if we get really big. A field trip by bike is a lot less fun if there are 200 of you cycling in convoy. What is more, there aren’t jobs for large groups of graduates from many of our degree programmes. Just imagine hundreds of agricultural economists entering the job market every year.
Actually, Wageningen’s uniqueness owes everything to its relatively small student population. If we grow much more there will be nothing left of that. And hey, who would want to go to university here then?