Summer thesis captivity camp
While everyone was looking forward to the end of the semester and the beginning of the seven-week summer holidays, I was awaiting it with horror. For me, the end of the semester did not mean summer holidays, but just keeping on working on my thesis – just with less people around me. Yet, to my big surprise, it is not at all as bad as I expected.
Everyone is leaving for summer
I thought, with the moment the holidays begin, students leave Wageningen and take all the vividness that’s stereotypical for a student city with them. As a matter of principle, I hated the idea that everyone was leaving, because the reason why they left is because they went on holidays. In my imagination, everyone is enjoying breath-taking sunsets at astonishing beaches, taking deep breaths at high mountain tops, finally spending time with their families and friends, enjoying good, traditional or exotic food and exceptional cocktails. Everyone is on risky adventures and road trips, doing thrilling sports or just chilling with a captivating book in a hammock, while I am stuck in the air-conditioned library.
The campus as a scenery for a new horror movie
To be honest, I was pretty afraid of the loneliness and captivity with my thesis. I expected the atmosphere on campus to be calm and quite and boring and miserable. Come on, what else should it be like if even the Grand Café in Forum, which is usually solid as a rock, is closed? In my imagination I saw dark clouds over Forum. People with the same fate, namely staying in Wageningen over summer, walk around like zombies. Well, ok, that was all a bit exaggerated.
But it all came differently
When I finally accepted the fact that I will spend my summer in the library and will just move my holidays to my after-thesis life, I decided to make the best out of it. Suddenly, I saw the campus and the city with different eyes. You can actually enjoy the summer in Wageningen.
It is the night before the last day of school before the summer holidays. As you maybe remember from your own childhood, there is a special atmosphere in the air. It is a mixture of electrifying excitement and impatient anticipation.
I have to admit, there are surprisingly many people on campus. Apart from my friends, I see surprisingly many familiar faces. In the end, it is not as lonely as I expected. Writing a qualitative thesis and being busy with statistics all day, I described my friends and me as the outliers. Yet, maybe, we are no outliers, but just at the tail of the distribution.
Did I say calm and quite?
Another misconception was that it would be calm and quite: It is neither calm nor quiet. Here and there you see curious groups of people with badges wandering around campus. So, the students were at least partly replaced by other students, visiting summer schools in Wageningen, and conference participants.
However, most of the calmness-destroying noise comes from maintenance work that is conducted. Forum resembles a construction site. The floor is treated and finding the way to the library is like going through a labyrinth of red-white bands. Forum is kind of undergoing a belayed spring-cleaning and this is not any different in the other buildings.
The true face under the busy surface
This different kind of vividness and noise made me think: maybe this is the true face of the campus. Maybe this is the time of the year when the campus in metaphorical terms and the people working here can literally finally breathe deeply. In the daily grind of the academic year everything and everyone is overwhelmed by the mass of students who are occupying every single space on campus. Being not distracted by all the people and the busy student life, I might finally after two years, see the true face of WUR.
While normally everything is centred around students and education, in the summer holidays, you see the people working here. Now I realise that the real engine, making the busyness and vividness possible are not the students. Instead, the engine are all the people that work in the background taking care of daily procedures. And by that I do not mean the professors or teaching assistants that we are in contact with on a daily basis. The engine are the employees taking care of the maintenance of the buildings, the organisers behind the scenes and the numerous small cogs in the machine that the students do not even notice.
I might finally after two years, see the true face of WUR.
As much I had to get used to the idea that it will be lonely and calm on campus, I also have to get used to the thought that this special atmosphere will come to a sharp end just when the resit period and AID start. Especially the AID will put another face on the campus again. Experiencing the AID once as a “kid” and once as a “mom”, this year, I will be a passive spectator. But in the end, I am looking forward to the vivid buzz. At uni it is all about students, isn’t it?
It is nice to leave the campus with this novel picture in my mind. I think I will remember this summer as something special, too. Probably, it is the last summer of my student life. Who knows what’s next?! After handing in the thesis, it is time to take a breath, too and then to start my internship.
Saying this, this is also my last article for the international student blog of WUR for a while and I want to say goodbye and see you soon. Take care and keep the campus and the city vivid!
I hope you either indeed experience one or multiple of the aforementioned adventures somewhere at this planet. Otherwise, I hope that you have a relaxing or productive summer in Wageningen. If you are in Wageningen, how do you experience the summer face of the campus? I am happy to hear it via a comment below.