On a slightly deserted campus, a girl leaves the Forum building at a calm pace, obviously enjoying the sunshine and with a seemingly dreamy look on her face. However, as I am told later, that look turned out to be the expression of pure exhaustion from working on her thesis all morning. Because that is how Fitra Hayatun Nisa (25) is spending her summer.
Text and photo Eva van der Graaf
Two years ago, Fitra left Indonesia to come to Wageningen on a scholarship. At the moment, she is finishing up her thesis for the master’s programme International Development Studies. ‘But I’m trying to enjoy the sunshine as well’, she smiles. ‘Also, I am going on holiday to Croatia in a couple of weeks. I like traveling by myself. I went to Poland just a couple of months ago.’ When I ask her if she doesn’t find it lonely, she says: ‘The thing is, when you are travelling with someone else, you always have to make sure both people agree to do something, and that can take up a lot of energy. Whereas when I travel by myself, I can just go to a city and do what I like. I can be as sporadic as I want.’
Once she graduates, Fitra’s plan is to go back to Indonesia. ‘I have enjoyed living in the Netherlands, though. I like the open-mindedness. I enjoy the fact that I can just go to a bar with my headdress on and nobody looks at me weird. What I do miss about Indonesia is the beach. I like Scheveningen too, but it’s not the same. Not like those white Indonesian beaches with the calm waves.’
Hoge Veluwe and the Rhine
According to Fitra, living in The Netherlands has changed her. ‘For the better, I mean’, she emphasises. ‘Living here has made me calmer. This is such a nice area to live in, with lots of nature. I used to live in Jakarta, which is very busy, so I really appreciate the peace and quiet around Wageningen. When I want to go hiking, I like going to the Hoge Veluwe or even the Rhine. Also, I used to be really introverted and quiet. This time abroad has taught me to be more social. Two years ago, I wouldn’t even have done this interview, but look at me now!’