Every year at this time, I have been observing a very silent Wageningen. This is the time when most friends and supervisors go out with their families for a summer break. Along with other students – the ‘leftovers’ – I stay back here to study.
I think for student like me, who come here with a scholarship, we hold back to stay in Wageningen and work on our thesis proposal or on finalizing the thesis report. As a second year Masters student, the journey of being at Wageningen University is soon coming to an end.
These days, the weather has been so gloomy here. Combined with the deadline for the completion of my thesis, this creates a strange environment. But to be honest, it has neither been a lonely moment, nor has it been difficult to pass the time. In fact, weeks have passed so fast like that of slipping of sand from the hands. I believe this must be one of the effects of the deadline month.
Every morning, I start my day by working in the library, like many other ‘leftovers’. We see each other in the Forum library and are emotionally well connected to each other, because all our feelings of enjoying the summer have vanished in the rush of this deadline month.
Just a couple of days back, I recall the moment when I felt I was really stuck to find a way to end a chapter. At that time, I decided to go home and sleep, hoping that magic would strike my head. Finally, I dreamt something that was very useful and without thinking what time in the late night it was, I wrote it down on a piece of paper. The next morning I rushed to the library to see if the magic had worked. And yes, it did.
These are the weird experiences I would often hear from my seniors long time ago – say a year ago – and I did not believe them. I used to tell them, ‘Why don’t you take a break at least on a Saturday.’ They told me: ‘You will know it next year.’ And yes, I know it now exactly.
While the pressure is on during this deadline month, I have also been reflecting on my memories time and again. About moments spent with my friends whom I met here and whom have been such good pals. There have been a couple of friends who have left already or who are leaving soon. This makes the environment more silent. I have the feeling that I will miss them a lot and I also feel guilty that I could not pay adequate attention to them. All I have in my mind right now is the content of my thesis.
On a brighter side, it also keeps me motivated when I think that all of us are currently living a life like that of a saint, alienating ourselves for an important purpose - our studies. I can define this feeling as sailing the thesis boat, trying to get to the shore safely and longing to walk on the sand. It is a feeling of meditation. The thing is: I have not been ‘meditating’ for an hour a day, but for the biggest part of the day for almost half a year.
All the ‘leftovers’ are sailing their boat. During coffee breaks, a friend told me: ‘I have only eight days left. I am not sleeping.’ I could see her dry eyes, her anxiousness to finishing her paper and her longing to go back home. Other friend told me: ‘I have been filling papers with text for many days, and I still have to write the main point.’
When Forum is closed on Saturday and Sunday, how I wish it was open. For me studying there is like making room for an anxious brain. When the library closes at 5.30, how I wish if it was open for some more hours, because that is the time when I would really get in the flow. But thank God the building of Forum closes only at 8pm. I get encouraged to see others also shifting to other computers outside the library to continue their work.
We may feel there should have been an easier life, but I guess we would not know the essence of the good life unless we worked hard. This is to all of us leftovers here especially working in the library or our rooms either for our thesis or for re-exams, I think time will pass soon and it will be good. The sun will soon rise as we approach the end of the gloomy deadline month!
Mary Shrestha is from Nepal and she is doing her master in International Development Studies at Wageningen University.