My experience: Diversity at Wageningen University

By malavika

Going to a foreign country for the first time… wondering how the people there would be. And how was I going to survive in a new place? Or how to manage to speak to the natives in their language. I am from India, a country with more than 50 official languages and I only know four out of them all, yet here I am in the Netherlands.

How I left my home country

When I got my admission to Wageningen University, I was overjoyed because I got into one of the best universities in the field of life science. Although I had a few of my bachelor’s friends already studying at the university, I was very skeptical about how I am going to survive in this new place. New culture, new values, new rules and a new lot more. I started checking out YouTube videos about the Netherlands and I must admit that helped me a lot with the road and traffic rules here.

Also, I learnt never to ask anyone where the Coffeeshop is if you want to go to a café ?. I came to the Netherlands in February 2021. My excitement level has gone over its peak than when I was leaving home I felt very normal as if I am going to a second home. Well let me be frank, I really feel like Wageningen is my second home after being here for more than a year now. I will tell you why I feel this way about Wageningen.

Activities that helped me feel at home

My corridor mates were from Netherlands, India and China. I was very happy that I had Indians to hang out with. But soon I became friends with the Dutch and Chinese, and let me tell you to this day I am in close contact with them. That was the initial phase of me feeling at home in an international set-up.

But there’s more. In WUR, we have an orientation week called the Annual Introduction Days (AID) where the new students will be put into a group of mixed nationalities to take part in various group activities. Although it was online (blame Corona), I had fun with them and I also became a mentor for this year’s AID. I got really amazing and diverse group to have fun with. I am also a part of the International Student Organisation of Wageningen (ISOW). Every week, they organise some activities or events to show out different country cultures and topics related.

My AID group

Me being an art enthusiast have learnt Salsa, Latin Zumba and so many other art forms through them. Having said this, in March, the university hosted the One World Week(OWW) where all the people in Wageningen University irrespective of their nationality or gender or any other variable come together to show what they are to the whole of Wageningen. I personally took part in the Cultural Catwalk along with ISOW, Chinese association (CASSW), Indian Student Association (ISA) and African Association (UCAS). It was a visual treat to watch them all and to interact with them about their attires and song culture.

One World Week cultural catwalk

Diversity as part of the university

Apart from the cultural part, we have group works in almost all the courses in WUR. Here again, the professors and supervisors make sure that the group is as diverse as possible. While working in a diverse group, you get to learn a lot about how to manage and organise things, and also how to approach situations. From what I have seen, WUR is highly diverse with people coming over from 100+ foreign countries.

WUR takes initiatives like AID, OWW etc. to make all international people inclusive and encourage all the students to take part in various other extracurricular activities to relieve their academic stress. So if you are someone who is afraid that you might end up being alone in a foreign country or that you will be an outsider don’t worry. WUR is here to welcome you with open hands to the world of friendliness!

By malavika

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