I was only in Wageningen for a little over one week, but I was still sad about leaving this afternoon. In such a short time, Wageningen came to feel like home (I even *mostly* learned how to pronounce it. ). The people I met here were so welcoming and kind, and though I’m traveling alone I never felt isolated or excluded while there.
I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to stay in the Droevendaal neighborhood. Everyone I met describes this place as “special,” and they are right. It seems that there is no other place like it in the world! It is a neighborhood of gardens, chickens, wild flowers, and cats. It’s a neighborhood of guests being welcomed into homes for varying amounts of time. It’s a neighborhood of shared meals with neighbors, shared bikes (sometimes), and shared efforts to combat invasive species. Activities vary from catching moths in the garden, to bonfires in the field, to late-night chats in the kitchen, to trips to the Rhine or lake. I think the best word for it is “community” with all of the best aspects of that highlighted by the people who live there. People from all over the world coming together and living a shared existence, and opening that experience to passers-by (like me! ).
Working in NIOO was also a fantastic opportunity, and it is also special. Wageningen University (WU) is solely devoted to various aspects of the life sciences, and NIOO’s association with WU reflects this. Everyone is working on really interesting research, and there are always commonalities that can be discussed over lunch. The graduate students at NIOO are fortunate that they can concentrate solely on research, without having to teach. I mentioned the fantastic facilities in a previous post. Overall my trip here has been highly productive, and I’m very thankful for the interactions I’ve had with the Verhoeven group at NIOO.
So, a few hours ago I left Wageningen and arrived in Amsterdam for holidays. More opportunities for living daringly and interesting experiences arrive, but I know I will miss my time in Wageningen.