Organisation - April 28, 2010

'Wageningen is nice, but it is not a city.'

Pre-university secondary school student Susette Lauwen found the open house of Wageningen University interesting and well-planned. And yet she hesitates. 'Leiden is more of a city.'

Susette Lauwen learns about studying in Wageningen.
As Susette Lauwen sits waiting on a bare concrete bench outside Ede-Wageningen Station, she looks around at what seems to her to be somewhat strange surroundings. She is sixteen and has come from Etten-Leur all on her own today to the open house of Wageningen University. 
With no expectations whatsoever, this fifth-year student boarded the train at seven o'clock in the morning. 'My handball trainer studied at Wageningen University. He liked it there tremendously. Yet others told me that there are only ugly old buildings. I wouldn't like it then.' She doesn't mind being followed - or 'stalked' as two other students put it - by Resource the whole of today. 'I usually go with friends, so this is something different for me. I'm probably the only one who wants to go to Wageningen. The exact sciences interest me; I don't know why! A combination of Chemistry and Mathematics would be just fine.'
In a crowded bus, she talks about her previous open house experiences in Leiden, Nijmegen and Utrecht. Each of these was 'nice' in its own way. Susette has carefully put together a programme for today. Her chief interest goes to biotechnology and molecular life sciences. 'Biology is nice too, but I want to do something useful. During biology class, we had to observe animal behaviour, and I don't particularly see any point in that. My mother jokes that I may even end up as a forest ranger.'

Mum, I've arrived
Susette steps gently into the Forum. 'Aha, this isn't an old building', she smiles. Without delay, she goes in search of the biotechnology classroom and her first information session. Unnoticed by the lecturer, she takes out her cell phone. 'I promised my mother to text her when I've arrived.' The information session was clear, she says later on. 'That students also give presentations here makes it much nicer. We have also been given many examples.' The course and student societies do not make the same good impression on this future student. 'Well, you can find these societies everywhere.'
Before the start of next information session, she briefly makes her way to a row of stalls. From a safe distance, she observes a biotechnology stand, but a student approaches her before long and starts to talk shop. She listens to his explanation attentively, nodding now and then. 'I only ask questions if there's something I want to know very much about', she says later. 'It's fine, though, that the students approach me, which didn't happen so much at the other open houses.'

Tryout days
Biotechnology remains the highlight for Susette throughout the day. This student is pleased about its ambience, students and contents. However, she prudently holds on to Life Sciences & Technology (a comparable course of study at the universities in Leiden and Delft) as her first choice. 'Leiden is more of a student town.' Wageningen has to make do with a promising second place. She walks past notices announcing tryout days to get to know Wageningen better. 'Yes, I've seen those, but I want to let things sink in for a while. I like what I see very much, and if I still feel the same next week, I can still sign up for such a day.

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