Student - October 3, 2019

Diary of a caretaker - ‘Tired and hungry, they come for their keys’

Each September, Eugene van Meteren sits behind his desk and watches the world trickle in. That is the time of year when students from all four corners of the world register with Idealis.

Eugene van Meteren works for Idealis as a caretaker. He writes about his experiences for Resource.

‘The annual arrival of the new batch of international students is always quite an experience. Many are leaving their home country and their family behind for a couple of years. They have had a long journey and often arrive at our desk perspiring, tired and hungry, with suitcases full of household paraphernalia, to pick up the keys to their room.

This year, one young woman from India looked in a particularly bad state. The first thing she wanted to know was where she could find the nearest hospital. Concerned, I asked why and she replied: “I’ve travelled for almost 24 hours, I haven’t eaten much and I haven’t slept for longer than one hour. I’m scared I’m going to faint. And if that happens I want to go to a hospital.” I explained to her where the hospital is. Then I got her to sit down and gave her a bottle of water. Ten minutes later, she was already feeling better. After taking the key, she went off in the direction of her furnished room in Bornsesteeg, where she would be able to enjoy some well-earned rest.

The first thing the lady from India wanted to know was where the nearest hospital was

We always have a basket of traditional Dutch liquorice on the counter as a gesture of welcome for the new residents. Once, two girls from China were standing next to the basket. They each had a sweet in their hand and they were daring one another to taste it. I surveyed the scene from behind the desk. They put the unfamiliar candy in their mouths simultaneously. A moment later, they grimaced as if they were eating a lemon, but they made a valiant effort to get their candy down. One girl swallowed it within a few seconds while the other bravely chewed while suppressing retching reflexes. Amused, I asked them what they thought of the candy. With a big smile, they replied: “Very nice, thank you very much.”

This year, we handed out 932 keys. So Wageningen has once again been enriched, with 932 new residents from all over the world.’