MSc Student Manaf about moving and studying during Corona
Why moving to the Netherlands? And are there enough activities for international students? Manaf is from Indonesia and tells you why he came to WUR and what he likes to do in his free time.
Could you briefly introduce yourself?
“My name is Manaf. I am 26 years old and I am a student from Indonesia. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences in the Environmental System Analysis track.”
Where do you live? And what do you like about this place?
“At first, I rented a room in one of the Starflat buildings. It was okay during my first month in the Netherlands because I was rarely in my room. However, when corona came, I found the place is too quiet, and I longed to live with other people and experience different cultures by living with other international students. So, I decided to move out and found a place in Droevendaal.
Droevendaal is different from the Starflat buildings.
First, the people who live there really live together, sharing food and usually have dinner together. That was something that I missed when living at the Starflat building. Second, the people are chill and very friendly, almost everyone knows each other. Third, many students who live there are into sustainable lifestyle and not be afraid to be different. Fourth, it has a garden, so we have our vegetable patch and a place to relax. Fifth, I can easily walk around the neighbourhood and say hi to people from a distance.”
What do you do besides studying?
“Besides studying, I try to be engaged in different organisations that caught my interest, especially related to the environment and sustainability. I worked part-time as Campus & Operations Coordinator at the Green Office Wageningen. When I am at home and have no deadline looming over my head, I read fiction, play music with my housemate, cook, and explore other cities on weekends with friends.
I joined the badminton club during my first year, but then corona happened, and I haven’t been inside the sports Centre ‘de Bongerd’ for a long time. Something that I need to rectify this summer.
As an international student abroad, how do you meet other students?
“Luckily, the Indonesian student’s association network at WUR is solid, so I can easily meet them and cook Indonesian food together. Unfortunately, since corona happened, I rarely meet my classmates in real life. I do have a group of friends that like to do something together like dinner, game night or explore other cities. Those things are easily organised when I happened to live with a very active house and big kitchen/ living room.”
What are your favourite spots on campus and why?
“My favourite spot on campus is the sitting stones under the tree near the pond. This is a perfect spot to read a book during summer. It’s also a lovely spot to chat with friends.”
Do you also have a favourite spot in the city?
“I do like Belmonte Arboretum because it’s a beautiful spot to hang out and relax my mind. It’s very refreshing walking around the park, hearing the birds chirping and the leaves rustle against the wind.
What do you like the most about studying and living in the Netherlands?
“What I like the most about studying and living in the Netherlands is the open-minded behaviour of the people. People are not afraid to learn new things, make mistakes. During lectures, you can also satisfy your curiosity, and you can ask anything, even it seems trivial and silly, and no one will judge you for it.”
When did you first hear about WUR? What did you think about it and what was the moment you knew for sure this is where I am going to study?
“I applied to WUR in 2018 and was accepted into a different programme. However, after I worked in an environmental NGO, I wanted to pursue the Environmental Sciences programme. First, I chose a country where I would like to study. After some considerations, I decided on the Netherlands.
After that, I began searching which university had a programme that fitted what I had in mind, as I wanted to study a master’s with sound foundations in natural science and integrating it with other fields. On top of that, WUR has the best environmental science programme in the Netherlands. It also has a tight-knit community that strives for sustainability. WUR also has extensive international students and many Indonesians, so I figure it will be easier to adapt.”
Why did you choose your programme?
“The most important factor when I chose the programme was the flexibility it offers. I would like to combine natural and social sciences, and at WUR, this can be done easily. That is why I applied for it.”
Do you already know where you see yourself working in the future?
“In the beginning, I would like to work in the United Nations, especially in UNDP or UNEP, for several years. However, right now, I feel like I want to work for myself, establishing an environmental NGO in Indonesia and start my own business.”
Which part of your study do you find the most interesting?
“This is a little bit difficult to choose since I am mostly experiencing the online version of the courses. However, I found the Academic Consultancy Training (ACT) to be an exciting course since I never had this type of course before in Indonesia. Moreover, the course offered me the chance to work with other students from different disciplines, experts, coach, and a commissioner. Furthermore, this course is not only improving students’ hard skills, like applying theoretical knowledge into practice, but it also develops their soft skills like teamwork, listening, and communication.”