News - December 3, 2013

Blog: Small is Beautiful

When I first came to Wageningen, I was impressed to say the least. The Forum, a spectacular piece of architecture, plenty of well-functioning computers, modern lecture rooms and very personal contact with the teachers.

In Germany, many universities are for free (which is how it should be), but people have to sit on the staircases and you are lucky if you can see the teacher, let alone talk to her. At first I thought, that all universities in the Netherlands must be like Wageningen, but I noticed that ours is much fancier than most others, even by Dutch standards.

Wageningen has an ego-problem though. It thinks it's too small. In my work for the social media team, basically a lot of what we do is trying to convince the world that Wageningen is not boring. Of course it's not, but it is not big city life either. Many Dutch pupils and students perceive Wageningen as slow and boring.

The supply of parties can be short and apparently the word of mouth is, that it's hard to have it 'gezellig' here. As a resident of 2,5 years, I think that's BS. It's exactly the small size that makes Wageningen so gezellig. Isn't it great to get to know people just by chance?In Wageningen you don't have to force things, you can trust to see each other again. The constant ebb and flow of international students assures that you will never get bored. It's like that promo-cup says: Wageningen is the whole world in a little place.

Fair enough... Wageningen is not a good petri-dish for social experiments and large-scale unfaithfulness... but I suppose most people prefer meaningful relationships anyway.

So it is not a downside, that Wageningen is small. Quite the opposite actually. The overseeable social environment of Wageningen fostered the growth of many great friendships in my life. So many of them might have stayed friendly acquaintances, never to be seen again. But I just kept meeting them. In the library of the Forum, at a houseparty, or in that ridiculous golden cafe at Orion. Every encounter is a new chance to get to know them better.

Small is beautiful after all - for quality of life.