Student - December 11, 2008

FOREIGN STUDENTS USE HOLIDAY BREAK FOR TRAVEL

Sinterklaas has already left the Netherlands, but the other guy who dresses in red is already on his way. The next best thing for most of us to look forward to, besides the exams, is the Christmas period. Some will spend the holidays in Wageningen, while for others it’s an opportunity to visit family abroad or back home.

An oliebollen stand is a crucial part of the Dutch New Year preparations.
‘I miss my family most at Christmas’, says Bibiana Armenta Gutierrez, a second-year MSc student doing Management Economics and Consumer studies. Normally with her family in Colombia, Christmas is celebrated with a big dinner prepared by the host family. ‘Christmas is a really big thing with us, but last year it was really different for me. It was my first Christmas here in the Netherlands and together with two of my friends we went travelling through Eastern Europe. We visited Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Prague. It was one of the best holidays I’ve had’, Bibiana recalls with enthusiasm. Unfortunately this year will not be quite as special. She’s busy with her thesis so there’s little time for fun and holidays. ‘I’ll be going on a brief skiing holiday in the French Alps the first week of January but that’s really about it’.

Samson Kofi Foli is heading for his third Christmas here already. In his third year of Tropical Agriculture at Van Hall Larenstein, he’s probably just going to work some extra days at the steakhouse around Christmas. ‘On the 27th I’ll be leaving for a week’s holiday in Spain. I wish I could go back to Ghana but that’s not really an option because of the ticket prices. I wouldn’t be able to finance my placement if I did that!’
A small family reunion is on the cards for Adam Karremans, a first-year Plant Sciences student for the holiday period. A mix of Costa Rican and Dutch with a Nicaraguan dad makes him a bit of everything. ‘My dad is coming over to
visit me and my family. It’s been four years since I last saw him! We’ll visit my uncle in Wassenaar for Christmas, and then for New Year’s Eve the whole family will get together for a big dinner. To finish it off, we’ll be going to Paris for a few days.’
By the time Christmas arrives Mathilde Rivaud, an Erasmus student doing Animal Sciences, will be home again. She plans to leave Wageningen after the exams and celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve with her family and her friends in Brittany, France. Christmas is celebrated in a very traditional way – Father Christmas (not Santa Claus) and his reindeer crew still drop the presents through the chimney during the night.

Whereas Christmas really is a family occasion, for Mathilde New Year’s Eve is about spending time with her friends. Last year, I went to Paris together with some friends to see in the New Year.
‘It’s really great with so many people together just having a lot of fun! And of course people are also thinking about their bonnes résolutions, what they want to change or improve. I don’t really have a bonne resolution yet, but I’ve still got a couple of weeks left to think about it!’

Re:act