Wageningen University is host to many different types of student from all kinds of backgrounds. One such type is the temporary minor student. Olivia Shaw (22) is one of those, although she is thinking of extending her stay considerably.
Olivia started her minor in Animal Sciences at WUR two weeks ago. Even though the minor is only for half a year, she is planning on staying longer. ‘I would love to do my Master’s here.’ But her goal is set even higher: ‘I feel at home here. Even after I’m done studying I would love to settle in Wageningen.’
She is half Danish, half British and was raised in Belgium. ‘But I feel Dutch.’ After living in the Netherlands for four years for her studies (Applied Animal Science at Van Hall Larenstein), she decided she loved the country. To become officially Dutch, she would have to pass an integration exam. ‘I’m not worried about that. I like to learn everything I can about my new nationality. My Dutch friends and my boyfriend help me to speak Dutch daily, and I have slowly evolved from an international student into a Dutch student.’
Wageningen is the ideal town for Olivia. ‘I grew up in Brussels, where my mother works for the European Commission. I liked the international atmosphere there, but I never really liked the big city life. I love the slow pace of life in the countryside; it reminds me of my summer jobs on farms and the Icelandic horses I grew up with.’ Those horses were a big part of her past, because Olivia and her horse competed in and won the Belgian Championship in 2012. ‘Wageningen has an international community like Brussels, but it is still a small agricultural town — the best of both worlds.’
Olivia has several hobbies besides horse-riding, such as painting and playing rugby. She also takes an interest in smaller animals: she will soon be getting her first ant farm. ‘I went to a WUR talk about ants, knowing nothing about them. There I discovered they are complex superorganisms that I wanted to study up close in my own bedroom.’
If all of Olivia’s plans work out, she will not just be a temporary minor student in Wageningen; she and her ants will be around for quite a while.