The first time I heard about Wageningen was in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park, California. Our company that weekend included two Dutch students who had come all the way from the Netherlands to do their Master’s internships and thesis research at UC Davis, where I was also on exchange.
Being surrounded by the amazingly weird desert nature, we couldn’t help but talk about ecology and then about our studies. At that time I was crazy in love with California and desperate to find a way to somehow come back after my exchange had ended. Those two Dutch students being there suggested that, maybe, Wageningen could be that way.
A few years later, when I started seriously researching Master’s studies, I learnt more about Wageningen UR which made me want to come for the university itself and not just for opportunities it might offer. However, Roos and Martijn, probably unknowingly, for me were the perfect ambassadors of Wageningen.
Last week came the news of Wageningen UR being in the top 50 of world’s best universities (and first in the Netherlands!). While these ratings are very important as many use them when deciding where to study, it is the real people – students, staff – and their experiences that represent university the best.
With my many different experiences, I’ve become a sort of ambassador to many different places. And it’s a very fun role to play, whether to confirm that yes, the Dutch are indeed very tall or explain that no, we don’t speak Russian in Lithuania. At the same time you can’t really know what people will take away from your ambassadorial stories. While learning about WUR haven’t led me back to California (yet!), it did take me to Australia. But more importantly, it also took me to the Netherlands. And that has been a blast.
I am one of those people who form attachment to a place or organisation very quickly. It’s only been three weeks that I’m in Perth but watching the Australian Football League Grand Final this past weekend I was already rooting all the way for West Coast Eagles (they lost, sadly). So every time I introduce myself and mention Wageningen it makes me very proud when people (mostly researchers) know about it, and especially when they say ‘oh yeah, that’s a very good university’. I can only hope that I’m making Wageningen proud too.
Kristina is a second year student MSc Forest and Nature Conservation. She is currently in Perth, Australia to do field work for her thesis.