‘First, coffee. Would you like one too?’ asks Maria Uosukainen (24) The half-Finnish, half-Dutch student is the opposite of a stressed student panicking about deadlines. She radiates peace and talks in measured tones.
Text and photo Eva van der Graaf
We are sitting in the sun outside The Spot. With her coffee cup in one hand, she gesticulates with the other. ‘If it wasn’t such nice weather I’d sit in The Spot. It’s a nice place to study. I need a balance between background noise and concentration.’
Her interest in different cultures and travelling led her to choose the Master’s in Leisure, Environment and Tourism. And she can’t wait for her next trip. ‘I definitely want to go abroad for my thesis. I like exploring new places. And no, I don’t mind being away from home for months.’ Maria left Finland at the age of 19. She has ‘been away’ ever since, as she puts it herself.
What she misses most about Finland is peace and space. ‘I often look for that in the places I want to travel to.’ Sometimes Maria goes for a walk on the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. ‘But even there I get annoyed by the traffic noise. What I do appreciate about the Netherlands is the cities. Utrecht and Leiden for example. Amsterdam as well, but I think it’s a bit overcrowded. Oh, and the Netherlands has beautiful long beaches! Finland has beaches too, but they are different and not as long.’
Maria calls herself a hedonist. ‘Do you know the pizzeria opposite the cinema in the centre of Wageningen? The one with the whisky bar? That is really good. I really enjoy good food and drinks. Last summer my boyfriend and I spent a week in Italy, just for the food.’ According to Maria, good food should be paired with good drinks, especially whisky. ‘My best memories of travelling are a kind of constant tipsiness throughout the week.’ She repeats one phrase several times; it seems to be her mantra: ‘We should just enjoy life more, and not get so stressed out.’