The search for true love draws people from villages to the city. Is Wageningen University and Van Hall Larenstein the woe for love life? 'I can assure you', says the researcher, 'that Wageningen is a little bit of a problem only for gays.'
Students of the 'village institutes' Wageningen University and Van Hall Larenstein can take heart of the following: the countryside-city of Wageningen is a good dating site, says Gautier, although he has not examined the differences among university towns. 'Research universities and applied sciences universities are good places to start a relationship. As Wageningen attracts many people with similar personalities, the chances of finding a loved one here are big.' Gautier even takes his belief a step further. 'There are study programmes which offer very little chances in the job market, and yet are in high demand. Studies such as theatre sciences owe their popularity to being stepping stones to a relationship. Such studies are a ticket to the marriage fair.'
In this way, village municipalities with limited dating possibilities are compensated by the presence of an applied sciences university or a research university. 'However, a small town such as Wageningen can be restrictive for those who are in search of a different type of relationship. For example, gays probably don't get much of a foothold in Wageningen. In fact, hubs have emerged for particular groups. San Franscisco, for example, has become a place where gays are drawn to, in their search for one another.'
Students are rather divided in their opinions of whether the Wageningen UR towns can be termed as love paradises. The main problem students have to overcome is the lack of privacy. Some of them feel uncomfortable when initial courtships become common knowledge among classmates. Whoever fails to find a partner during his student years could move to the city later on, says Gautier. 'We were apprehensive that the move to the city was only caused by study possibilities, but when this group was set aside, the pattern becomes even more pronounced.'
Josien , Nutrition and Health, Wageningen University
'Well, the average economics student generally looks better than those I see in Wageningen. Wasn't Wageningen dubbed the worst dressed university a few years ago? See what I mean?
'As far as I'm concerned, the possibility of finding a partner hasn't played any role at all in my choice for Wageningen. I was already attached then. But it took me quite a while to get used to the people here at the start of my nutrition and health study. The clothes worn by some of them are really weird. However, I've learnt not to judge people here by their looks. They're often not as mundane as they look.
'My current boyfriend is from Van Hall Larenstein. He certainly doesn't have the poor dress sense of Wageningen. Nice sneakers, shirt that fits well. I can tell the difference right away.'
O*** Verhagen, Food Technology, Wageningen University
'I've been studying here for a year and I certainly do come across nice guys. It's just that it's so difficult to start a relationship here privately, and that's what I want. Before you know it, that's so-and-so's housemate and this happens again and again. You just can't stay anonymous in Wageningen. At the moment, I'm on the verge of something with a guy from Delft, and I'm slowly getting to like him a lot. We first met about two months ago.
'And yet, I can't imagine that I would get into the anonymity of a big city to find a partner later on. Anyway, if you try too hard, you won't find anyone.'
Kevin Knevels (right) and Piet Wisse. Photo: Hoge Noorden
Piet Wisse, Agribusiness Management, VHL Leeuwarden
'I got married last summer. I met my wife during a vacation in Italy. Both of us grew up in the countryside. Her family is also in the farming business.
'It's very obvious to me that students doing my course of study who live in the villages seldom get involved in student activities. They often find partners in their own villages. Someone who lives in a student flat pairs up often with a city dweller. 'I do believe that students in a city have more chances of finding a partner. There are many others doing the same studies, and have the same education level, interests and background. They would also join their kind of student societies and get to meet many potential partners with the same goals in life.
Kevin Knevels, Garden and Landscape Design, VHL Velp
'I'm happily single and not looking in particular. The women in our university aren't exactly what I've in mind. They're either vain pots or high-end hippies. I'd rather go gallivanting in the city, Arnhem for example, and look at pretty girls. But I wouldn't want to be involved with any of them. In a city, people judge others more by appearances. People in villages can get to know one another better. I come from a little place in Belgian Limburg. I don't really want a girlfriend in the Netherlands. That would give rise to some logistics problems.'