Blogger Donatella Gasparro analyses the changes in the friendships a Master student has in Wageningen, from the Golden Age of year one to the end of the studies.
If I were to plot how one’s friends circle evolves during a Master degree in Wageningen, with the X-axis being time and the Y-axis being the number of friends, I’d obtain a curve that, starting from about 0, will go up in an exponential fashion in the first months; some fluctuations, with still a tendency to go up, will follow; from the second year on, the number of friends will steadily drop, culminating in a plateau at about the end of the second year. We could even differentiate between two curves, one representing the broader circle of people you generally hang out with, which can reach up to hundreds, and a more modest one, standing for the actual friends. This curve would of course represent just the average student, not taking into account peculiar cases. The ‘broad circle of people’ can easily go out of control if you live in Droevendaal, for instance.
Now, this all sounds more complicated than necessary, I apologize; but it’s Resource’s fault for not allowing me to use figures. But let’s break it down.
Most people arrive in Wageningen with the same social-life-related fears: will I meet nice people? Will I find a group of friends? Will I feel lonely? Even before noticing, you’ll stop wondering and you’ll find yourself totally entangled in an intricate network of acquaintances, course mates, masters colleagues, associations, potlucks, parties, coffees, study sessions, and so on. For some studies, like MOA, high are the chances you’ll have a big stable group of friends with whom you go to class, you go to have beers, you study, you eat, you basically spend most of your time with. It’s the Golden Age for social interaction.
Year two, first half
At the beginning of the second year, the first goodbyes happen. People leave, they fly everywhere, theses and internships take your friends (and you!) apart and spread them in the world. It’s a weird social time, you try to gather the residues of the Golden Age group, you have nostalgic lunches remembering the good old times, you look at freshmen with a dreamy melancholic gaze. We had a WhatsApp group called “Waga’s leftovers”. But it’s also the time to consolidate friendships: you start knowing fewer people better and hanging out with friends one-on-one.
Year two to three
Some people come back, it’s the time of brief reunions, of happy gatherings, of recalling long lost memories. But also the time of the first real goodbyes, the farewells, the bittersweet dinners. People graduate, people move – but some people stay. A smaller, stable circle develops, life is a bit quieter, but it somehow fits, it’s enjoyable. You know some people very well, and you’re in very good touch with faraway friends. You’re in the final plateau, congratulations. For the luckiest, you’ll have made friends for life by then. And you’ll have a bunch of other good friends to go visit in all corners of the globe.