The new first-years at Wageningen UR have already been running around for a month. The first lectures have been and gone, their rooms are full of brand-new Ikea chic and they've decided which society to join. What we want to know is: how do the first-years like their first taste of student life?
Hermen de Jong
First year Agrotechnology
‘I love the freedom that goes with student life. I am living in a student house in Ede with six others. Just being at home is really nice. Cooking together, watching TV, having a cigarette. All really relaxed. But it's nice when you go out too. A party here, a party there. Or out to the student society. What I don't like so much is figuring out your schedule. That really is a performance. You have to go to four or five different websites to gather all the information you need. On one website you see which course you're on, on another you see which group you are in and then you have to go to yet another one to see where you should be. And that's if you are lucky. I am amazed it can't be done more simply.'
First year Business and consumer science
‘Studying takes a bit of getting used to. Last year I worked as a skiing teacher in Austria and I notice that my study habits have dropped off a bit. If I have to study in my room I am easily distracted, and I keep doing other things. But luckily it's already getting a bit better. Something I am really happy with is my fellow students. They are really my type of people and I get on well with them. To be honest, I did have my doubts about that when I came to Wageningen.
Master's Plant Biotechnology
‘I am lucky to have a room at the Bornsesteeg, just a stone's throw away from Forum. The room suits me as I am the quiet type and like to keep to myself. Things are different here. One of the things I learned is that when two men hold hands in public it usually means that they are a couple. I will have to tell my Ghanaian friends when they come over, because for us it is normal to walk hand in hand with a friend.
The weather has been no problem at all, I can still walk around in slippers. But it is strange that it gets dark so late. When the sun sets it sends a signal to my brain that it is time for supper, so I often forget to have dinner. Studying is different here. I am used to doing five subjects simultaneously in a semester. That means it is a lot of work at the end. But here you have to work hard from the word ‘go'. You can't afford to be lazy.'
First year International Development Studies
‘The high point of my student days so far was definitely the AID. Five whole days of meeting all sorts of people and seeing new things. I didn't choose a student society then straightaway, and looking around after that is very time-consuming. I am a Christian so I have joined Ichthus. Now I am in this society I want to move from Ede to Wageningen. That stress comes now on top of everything else. For that reason, I am finding studying quite hard. I am having a lot of trouble adjusting. You expect that things will get off to a gentle start, but we are getting through the subject matter at a fast pace. So I am already getting quite behind. But then you do expect to fall behind a bit, so it isn't so terrible after all.'
First year Management, Economics and Consumer Studies
‘I really like the freedom here. You can choose anything, everyone decides on their own focus. The teachers and students are very friendly to each other and very helpful. I am now living with eight girls in a student house in Bennekom. We already went out last Thursday, to an open party in town. That was really fun. The schedule here is tricky, it's really a puzzle. You don't get spoon-fed. I find the studying itself difficult. I've come here via MBO and HBO (middle and higher vocational education programmes), so it's been one step higher every time. You know that it goes faster here than on an HBO programme, but I am curious to see exactly how fast the tempo will be.
Marcia Bodero Baeza
Master's Food Safety
‘So far, I love Wageningen. The city is so beautiful, clean and quiet, everything that I expected.
But the low point, and it is a huge problem for me, is the housing. I applied for a self-contained room and I got a room on a corridor with shared facilities and noisy people. I am not used to that.
I am really sad about it because the university can't do anything until I have been here for two months. So I have to wait until the end of October to apply for an internal transfer, and the waiting list is long. I am 34 years old, and I left everything to be here, and don't have a home. I can't concentrate on my studies with all these troubles. But like I said, all the other stuff is more than nice. People are so nice, the university is beautiful and comfortable, riding a bike is a dream. It's really nice here.'
First Year Agrotechnology
‘The lectures are much better than I expected. I was afraid it would be very tough, but it's quite doable. I like the setup too. Often you get an image of university education as being all vast lecture halls and mass education, but it's not like that at all. We are taught in small groups and the teachers go to great lengths to get the interaction with students going. You really do notice the personal touch.'
Nicolette Meerstadt, Rob Ramaker, Rob Goossens