News - August 18, 2011

Dutch student life for dummies

New to student life? Or just to Dutch student life? Struggling to pick up everything you need to know during the introduction? Is it all double Dutch to you in the student society bar? Here is an ABC to help you learn the lingo of student life in a Wageningen UR institution. Including some Dutch - and even Frisian - expressions.

Ad fundum  
Dutch Latin for swigging a whole glass of (alcoholic) drink at a go. You should be safe with a glass of beer but try it with a tumbler of vodka or a bottle of wine and your evening will be short and not so sweet.
The Akzo pond in Arnhem, where you can cool down during the Intro Week. A favourite watering hole the rest of the year.

Frisian for Beerenburg (the Frisian schnapps) and coke.
Liberation Day: a big day in the Dutch year, celebrating the end of the occupation by Hitler on 5 May 1945. Wageningen and Leeuwarden are both venues for major festivals. Free bands, DJs and thousands of visitors. Starts at midnight in Wageningen with the lighting of the Freedom Torch.
Bike lock
Don't be without one, especially in Leeuwarden, where bikes frequently disappear, either to another owner or into the canal. Chain your bike to a fixed object, preferably with two chains.
Bierlijst or Beer list
A tradition in student flats, to keep a list on the communal fridge on which you keep score of how many beers you drink, to settle up later. At student societies you can run up a tab for beer and that can get quite long too.
Yes, it's Dutch for bombing, but don't worry - it only refers to jigging about to music in sports gear.
The Wageningen students' sports centre, subsidized by the university, is open all year and has been the best sports centre in the Netherlands for years. You have to buy a sports card.
Dutch for bombed, wasted, knackered - whether from too much alcohol or too little sleep or both. Bad for your sex life. Not to be confused with barak, which refers to the Idealis houses on Droevendaal in Wageningen, known for their parties.
Bridge, the
The link between the VHL reception and the stairs, on the fifth floor on the Forum. It has a row of computer stations and is a popular meeting point.

The collection of teaching, research and admin building clustered around the Forum in Wageningen. Will get student residences, a café and shops as well.
Refers to using your bank card to pay by chip. Make sure you get some credit at an ATM because you'll need it at Wageningen UR for the coffee machines or to pay for lunch. And for using the printers - for which you need to connect your chipknip to your WUR account.

More Latin - for birthday, or Founders' Day as it is called at American universities and colleges.

Even if you've never clapped eyes on a tractor in your life, as far as the Dutch are concerned, anyone studying at Wageningen University or VHL is a farmer. Admittedly better dressed than they were ten years ago. There's always a Wageningen or VHL student in two pinup calendars featuring farmer boys and girls.

The Grand Café in the Forum. 'GC?' means 'See you in a bit at the Grand Café?'
Groene Ster
The place to be in fine weather in Leeuwarden. A recreation area 15 minutes' bike ride from town.

Halbe fine
Halbe Zijlstra is the infamous secretary of state for higher education who is bent on fining students who take too long to complete a degree course. It's going to make it harder to change track or take time out for extra-curricular activities or because of illness. Halbe just doesn't get what student life is all about.

Hot topic in the Netherlands; in the context of student life it refers to activities involving both Dutch and international students.
As in: Ik zoek een kamer: I am looking for a room. Could be a useful phrase in Wageningen, where there has been an acute shortage of student accommodation for several years now and students have been forced to commute from home, camp or squat. Foreign students are guaranteed a room, but you might have to share it - or bus in from a distant holiday camp for a while. Making friends with students approaching their finals could help (see I: integration).
Hairdresser. But if you think they're a bit pricey you can get away without a visit. Especially in Velp, where the bearded, long-haired forester look is de rigeur. And a do-it-yourself shaved head or dreadlocks are low-budget options in Wageningen.

Landgoed Larenstein

Larenstein estate in Velp: make the most of this historic leafy site, as the board prefers new buildings to cultural heritage.
Frisian for Leeuwarden. Hear how to pronounce it at

Wageningen market is the place to go for cheap fruit and veg. Till 13.00 on Wednesdays and 17.00 on Saturdays. One stall sells stuff off cheap at the end of the day, so you can come home loaded with goodies to distribute among your friends.
An Arnhem café with fiendishly good specialist beers. A traditional haunt of Larensteiners.
Infectious disease that seems to affect students most. Find out whether you were given the MMR vaccination as a child, and if not, get it.

OV card
Your student travel pass: a precious possession. Easily damaged, and you can never figure out when it happened. But the conductor may refuse to scan it and make you pay. It takes two weeks to get a new card and you have to pay for all travel until it comes.

 A nature reserve north-east of Arnhem known among runners and cyclists for its killer hill. Venue for the annual walking and running event called the Posbank Walk every September.

What the Groene Ster is for Leeuwarden, the banks of the Rhine are for Wageningen. But do not swim across the river: there are dangerous currents and large boats. It could cost you 90 euros in a fine - or your life. It can be nice just to wallow between the breakwaters. And in winter the inlet is busy when there is enough ice to skate. Fires are not allowed, as it is a nature area. And do take your rubbish home with you.
Scheve Toren
Friesland's answer to the leaning tower of Pisa, this Leeuwarden church tower was never finished. It's not mentioned on any signposts, but it's a useful landmark.
Ski trip
Coach trips to skiing resorts in the Alps are organized for students, usually end of January.
A VHL abbreviation for your study counsellor, important during your first year.
All too easy to catch if you don't keep to safe sex. So even for a quickie, use a condom. HIV testing is available at the Vaccination Centre in Wageningen, which also offers cheap vaccinations for travellers.
If you are studying in Leeuwarden, get a sports pass. You'll meet new people, and building up a sweat on a regular basis will save you having to buy new jeans. Many students put on a few kilos in their first year. Info at
For an affordable meal out in Leeuwarden. Choice of three local dishes for 11 euros. In Wageningen for a bit less than that you can get a ´fair´ snack at Vreemde Streken or the Overkant café. Lazy cooks can also go to the Forum or a student society canteen.
Student Society
A guarantee of new experiences, a nice atmosphere and hangovers. You can make friends for life here, fall in love serially, and start beefing up your CV. Membership is not essential for an enjoyable student life, but do at least go to the open parties, where non-members are welcome.
Study advisor
The person to go to at Wageningen University for information and advice about your studies.
Study Association
A subsidiary of a student society for students of a particular degree programme. Handy source of books and internships.

Thursday night
Thursday is the traditional going out night in the Netherlands, where many undergraduate go home at weekends. Can make it hard to get up for Friday morning lectures. You might have to get good at catching up.

Vegetarian meal or person. Not part of traditional Dutch culture but a fairly common phenomenon in eco-minded Wageningen these days; in Leeuwarden only found among Animal Management students.
Van Hall Larenstein: Two green higher education colleges that were merged into Wageningen UR to become VHL University of Applied Sciences. Made it easier for students to go on to academic Master's courses, but has proven expensive for the institution.
Get your daily dose of fruit and veg if you don't want to suffer from constant colds or spend the rest of your life dieting. Works better than vitamin pills.

Password: you need it for your WUR webmail and to log in at your institution and on the intranet to get timetables and other info. Don't curse if you find you suddenly cannot get into the system. You have to change your password every so often.
Walking boots
If you're a Velp student and you don't have them yet, go straight out and get some stout walking boots and good rainwear with lots of pockets. This is the dress code for Wageningen foresters and biologists too.
Very quiet in Leeuwarden, where many local students go home. In Wageningen there is more to do. And Velp is quiet all week.
Wageningen University. When you graduate, you get a degree certificate and you become an alumnus!
More than just part of your email address. The U and the R stand for University and Research Centre. A big family with headquarters in Wageningen as well as students and staff in Velp and Leeuwarden, and researchers all over the country at sites including Ijmuiden and Lelystad.
WUR card
Your Wageningen passport, necessary for getting into buildings, borrowing books, printing, photocopying and sport.

Zaaier, de
The sower: a statue outside the head office in Wageningen, dating from the time when Wageningen University was still an agricultural college where teachers sowed the seeds of knowledge among their students.