Ok so classes over here at Wageningen University are completely different from what I was used to back at UW-Madison (duh, Bethany, of course). It threw me for a loop at first, but I think I am beginning to get the hang of it. I’ll start with the basics. A typical September to December in each place:
|Time Scale||1 * 15-week semester||2 * 8-week periods|
|Courses||4 or 5 the entire semester||1 morning class + 1 afternoon class per period x 2 periods → 4 total|
|Class Time||Lots of lectures, some discussions, some labs||Some lectures, lots of lab practicals, some excursions|
|Final Grade||A few midterms, some quizzes, a few papers, one final exam||One group project, one final exam|
|Class Location||Spread over entire campus||All in just 2 buildings|
Before thinking to yourself “noooo my classes are totally different” just keep in mind that this is what I have experienced with my specific courses. It is definitely not exactly the same for other students at either school, but simply my opinion so far (which I am sure will be a contrasting perspective once I have actually finished my entire time here). Anyways, because the courses are cut nearly in half time-wise, there is a lot more material packed into just a few weeks. This led to me feeling very overwhelmed and in over my head after the very first day of school – just a typical, everyday, college crisis right? But now I have gotten into more of a rhythm.
So in this first period (September through late October) my morning course is Air Quality and my afternoon one is Grassland Science. From the two weeks of class that we have had so far, it has been a whirlwind of information. I went into my Air Quality class thinking that it would be concept-based, which is far from the truth. Instead, we have been doing many long lab practicals that involve some pretty complex programming and numerical equations. All I have to say is that I HATE math!!!!!!!!! So, yeah I am not really a fan of that class, and dread the four hour long labs that begin at 8 am every Monday and Friday.
But I have really grown to love my afternoon class, Grassland Science. At first, I was worried because our professor told us that we would have to be able to identify a ton of different grasses. I kept saying, “Literally all grass looks exactly the same – this is impossible!” But now in our lab practicals it is pretty easy to distinguish different species based on their own unique microscopic details. We also get to go on quite a few hands-on excursions, which are super interesting. This week we biked around to different campus fields. One had a lot of old peat underneath, so when part of the class jumped on it the ENTIRE ground moved and bounced around – it was super cool. Looking at grasses is a lot more fascinating than I expected!
Second period (Late October through mid December), I will have History of Food Production in the morning and then my afternoon class will be Science and Expertise in Nature and Environment. Being an exchange student is nice because I have the freedom to choose which courses I want to take, versus the students who are doing their entire Bachelor’s degree here and have to take a certain predetermined path of courses. Overall, I am glad that my experiences at Wageningen will really expand my portfolio of knowledge about the environment. While a large portion of my day is spent studying (boooooo), not many people can say that they studied agriculture in the Netherlands as a part of their undergraduate program!