Ranjana and Barsha are two students from Nepal who started their MSc in Wageningen in February. Resource is following them during their adventures in Wageningen.
Both girls have classes from 8:30 to 17:30 every day. 'Yes, it is hard work. I have a lot of practical classes that are very intensive: bio-informatics in the morning and Java building in the afternoon. We are programming a game, battleship, which we play against the computer.'
Ranjana is very enthusiastic about her courses. She thrives during her morning class, because it fits very well with her background of environmental science. But the social theory of the afternoon class is new territory. 'It's so difficult to understand the social theories, like the Malthusian theory. I don't know how I will get through the exam.'
Ranjana has group work every day, which is very intensive, but also a lot of fun. 'I work together with so many different people: Dutch, African, Asian. I'm making friends and I learn something from everyone.' Her favourite group is the one with a Hungarian and a Tanzanian girl. And as girls will be girls, they also talk about the best places to buy clothes and they look for new outfits on the internet. 'We work together really well. We tested sediment from Rotterdam harbour for toxic compounds. Now I am really curious to know what that harbour looks like.'
Getting used to the bread
Are they getting used to the Dutch way of life yet? As always, the proof of the pudding is in... the eating. Barsha: I'm getting used to the food here. I go to the Toko to find my kind of food. And we eat the Mexican tortillas from the Albert Heijn instead of Indian Roti. They're great with scrambled egg or curry.' Ranjana is getting used to eating bread, 'because there's no time and usually I feel too lazy to cook rice and vegetables'. She prefers the white rolls for now, and 'I love butter!' She even expects to get to like the brown wholegrain bread in future.
No cheese though, for Ranjana, but Barsha loves it. They eat sandwich spread, a creamy spread with little pieces of vegetable and pickle in it. 'We have that back home', says Barsha, 'we put it on our hamburgers there.'
But they haven't forgotten their roots either. Back home in Nepal, people have just celebrated Holi, a major festival in the Hindu calendar. The high point of the festivities is a day on which people throw colored powder and water at each other, as a symbol that winter is over. In Wageningen, Nepalese students got together in the park near Dijkgraaf. 'We put the colours on our face this time, and only the powder, no water', says Barsha. 'It is the same powder that we use for worshipping God.' Afterwards they had a picnic in the park, a much smaller celebration than they are used to. But it's the feeling that counts. The familiar feeling of home.
A room of their own
Luckily, Barsha and Ranjana have been able to move out of the Brink Residence. Both are now sub-renting rooms at the Bornsesteeg. But Barsha will be moving again this week, to a room of her own at the Haarweg, on a corridor with a mix of Dutch and international students. 'But I don't like moving; my room will be a mess.' The girls are still very close, although they don't share a bedroom any more. Even in the Bornsesteeg they are on Skype all the time, to keep in touch across the distance of two floors.