4 Ways I Have Changed Since Coming to Wageningen

By: Helen Feng · 14 March 2018
Category: Student life

Change is constant and studying exposes students to personal growth everyday. Change also comes with meeting new people, adapting to a different environment and encountering new cultures. Here I will share with you some of the ways I have noticed change in myself since coming to study in the Netherlands!

1. Living by bike

During undergraduate years in Canada, I regularly commuted into the city for class. That consisted of a 1 hour train ride, 10 minute subway ride (20 minutes during rush hour) and about 5 minutes of speed walking. After living in Wageningen for over a year and a half, I can manage to go everywhere by bike around the community. Groceries, meetings, to the train station, to a dinner party, and more. Not only does my trusty bike transport me pretty much everywhere, I have had my fair share of carrying things I never thought I could on a bike. A lamp, a rice cooker full of hot rice, a toaster, and everything imaginable during the process of moving flats.

Not only does my trusty bike transport me pretty much everywhere, I have had my fair share of carrying things I never thought I could on a bike.

On days when my bike has broken down, it feels like the end of the world. I have really been able to see how things are so much simpler by bike. I love its convenience and it provides me independence even without a car. Plus, the infrastructure in the Netherlands incorporates biking so well into the streets that I almost always feel safe biking beside cars.

A 60 kilometre bike trip from Wageningen-Nijmegen

2. Work is not all of my identity

Coming from North America, I was used to a career driven identity. In university during my undergraduate days, weekends meant time to catch up on studying, assignments, group work but also a part-time job. This was the same routine all my peers experienced and frankly, the norm.

This brings me to feel better about my work-life balance.

It took a lot of time for me to adjust in Wageningen as I felt I needed to put in work for my studies 24/7, but after almost 2 years in Wageningen I am learning to put a stop to my work day at 6pm. Seeing colleagues and students beginning to leave university between the hours of 4 to 5pm motivates me to work more efficiently. This brings me to feel better about my work-life balance. More and more I find that now my weekends mean time for laundry, getting enough groceries for the week and spending time with friends and travel to new cities in the Netherlands with my boyfriend. Despite that, during busy times I still make sacrifices of my weekends!

Exploring the beautiful city of Leiden

3. “That’s just how it is” mentality

I won’t detail “Dutch directness” that many Dutchies and internationals are aware of since it is quite self-explanatory. Now, a little more used to my conversational interactions in the Netherlands, I recognize that I think and speak differently. In problem situations, instead of beating around the bush and speaking about hundreds of possibilities I find myself being able to state the obvious and cut to the chase without feeling bad for hurting someone’s feelings. In this way, I have grown in communication skills by being able to speak directly and efficiently!

Sometimes being direct helps make life a bit simpler


4. Winding down the week

In my time at Wageningen, I have noticed that Thursday is party day. Not the end of the week, that’s right. It took me a long time to get used to seeing parties and events planned on Thursdays. From my North American habit, I am not always ready to unwind until Friday at least. But, this has taught me to also value work-life balance and that personal interaction with friends rejuvenates me with energy. Sometimes it’s okay to spend an evening with friends or to head to the city centre for a drink. We all could benefit from a “pre-Friday” time to time. In stressful times, I would encourage you to work hard and to make some time for yourself as well.

A small year-end celebration with my classmates


Helen Feng

Helen is an international student from Canada. She studied Nutrition in her undergraduate degree and is in the last year of pursuing her master degree in Food Quality Management at Wageningen University. She has lived in Taiwan, USA, Canada and France and enjoys meeting people from all over the world. She hopes to share her experiences living in the Netherlands with a casual and light-hearted approach.

There are 2 comments.

  1. By: Priscilla · 03-04-2018 at 15:38

    Hello Helen, Thank you for sharing your experience. I applied for a scholarship in Wageningen University and every time l read blogs from different people, it makes me feel like joining already, i just wish i will be part of such a wonderful university.

  2. By: Nikki Liu · 15-04-2018 at 07:46

    From your description, I can definitely feel the comfort of living in Netherlands, like the more focus on life and Green travel way. But I’m always worried about my futher life there because I can’t say any Nederlands. Will that impact my daily life and relationships with local friends?

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