Wetenschap - 27 juni 2002

Column: Same indifference

Column: Same indifference

The moment has finally arrived; it is time to for me to leave. From the start of my stay I couldn't help feeling I was on an extended holiday. A highly polluted bit of choppy water separated me from responsibilities of my 'real life' in England. Nine and a half arduous months later and I remain blissfully secure to put my feet up, despite the mountains of work to do. So long eagerly anticipated, leaving is suddenly tainted with dread, the fear of running out of time. Blind panic consumes me as I check numerous items off a list, ever growing in size and urgency.

Tentative negotiations have ensured academic endorsement of my stay but the time I have spent abroad has rewarded me with experience of life, much more educational than simple book-learning could ever have been. On revealing my status as a foreign exchange student, the question often posed is, 'Do you enjoy your stay here?' Classic Dutch phraseology and a question I can never seem to answer satisfactorily. Now amidst the mayhem, I find myself asking the same question. Generally, I must concede, my experience has been of great self-discovery, not always fortuitous but rarely disagreeable.

Life is peaceful in the sleepy town of Wageningen but it has its fair share of excitement, like the festivals celebrating Freedom and good ol' Rhine-town jazz. Socialising was rather subdued for me but then I was trying to mature from the anarchy of student excess. I am disappointed to not have seen more of Europe but any urges to explore were satisfied by seeing how far my bike could take me. Of course, Amsterdam was always there when I felt like letting off some steam and Queen's Day in particular was an unmissable affair!

There was every opportunity to integrate into Dutch culture but beyond acquiring the tendency to 'ja-ja-ja', I have demonstrated firm resistance. Language was key to my difficulties and my stubborn refusal to learn Dutch leaves many blank faces in my wake. No wonder the call of most nationalists is to make being well acquainted with Nederlands compulsory. I strongly commend the University for adopting English as its standard language, whilst the scaremongers call for protection of Dutch culture. I say would diversity is the greatest sign of health for a society, so Wageningen is pretty fit.

As a final fond farewell I would like to talk to you, the reader, collectively possessing intellect capable of changing the planet forever. As such I should close with a deep and meaningful thought, yet I'm left with a Beetles' song playing in my head: all you need is love.

David Lee Hopkins