The second period is underway here in Wageningen. For me, that means two new classes: 1) History of Food Production and 2) Gender and Diversity in Consumer Culture. These two classes are very communication-heavy, with lots of reading, writing, and discussions involved. Compared to my hands-on and sciencey first period, which was very environmental-focused (Grassland Science and Air Quality), this period allows me to explore my second area of interest: communication. I really love the fact that I am able to integrate both my Environmental Studies major and my Life Sciences Communication major while I am over here in the Netherlands.
So, I thought I might give you all an idea of how a typical week goes for me during this second period. On Mondays, I don’t start class until noon – score! Usually, I am getting back from the airport after a weekend away traveling, or if I have stayed in the Netherlands I like to use that extra couple of hours to sleep in. In the afternoon, I have lectures/group discussions on campus for both classes. Then at night I usually grab dinner with friends before heading back to my room to study and prepare myself for the week.
Tuesdays, I don’t have to be on campus for any lectures, so I usually bike into the little town that I live in and spend the day at a cute café studying. I drink coffee and listen to new music (Birds of Bellwoods and Kane Brown and Jon Bellion and Emily Warren and Young the Giant and Louis the Child all have new albums out!!!) while I work on all of my homework. I have actually been frequenting one of the coffee shops so much that the barista knows my order when I come in: an iced coffee and a cinnamon raisin bagel with plain cream cheese. After spending the day working at the café, I walk around the city center – more commonly known in America as the downtown – in order to get my groceries from a variety of stores.
Grocery shopping in the Netherlands is really interesting because, although there are many similarities to American grocery stores, there are also many differences. The most noticeable of those is that you almost always bring your own reusable bags (I made the mistake of forgetting mine the first time, and it was pretty embarrassing to have to buy one at the checkout). I love the fact that here they really encourage this, and it helps to reduce the absurd amount of plastic being used. Also, it is nice that they offer things in smaller quantities here, such as half-loaves of bread, six-packs of eggs, and just generally smaller portion sizes. That helps both cut down on food waste (a HUGE contributor to climate change) and save financially struggling people such as myself some money.
Wednesday mornings I have a pretty long day, beginning with a lab practical for my morning class bright and early at 8 am. Commuting to campus takes me half an hour by bus and I have to make sure to arrive at the station early enough so that I can actually get a seat on the crowded 88. In the practical for History of Food Production, my group mates and I are currently writing a paper about the history of coffee production in Arabia and its implications on social factors, like coffeehouses, in the ~16th century. It is pretty cool because this weekend I am actually going to Vienna, Austria with my Dad, and so we will be able to experience these (modern day) coffeehouses in person. Anyways, after my morning class on Wednesdays, I spend a few hours in the library before I have a lecture for my afternoon class. Then it’s usually back to studying I go. This week, however, was a nice exception.
My good friend invited me over for an actual home-cooked meal for dinner! She is from Denmark, but for my sake, we called it an early Thanksgiving meal. I arrived with two bottles of wine in tow, and we set to cooking. Our menu for the evening? Homemade pumpkin-stuffed ravioli with oyster mushroom walnut butter sage sauce for the main course, and pumpkin crème brûlée for dessert. Can you say YUM!!!! Besides realizing that stuffing and pressing the pasta with the puree by hand was a bit more difficult and messy than I expected, everything turned out super delicious. Good thing that my friend is an amazing chef! Our lovely conversation plus the fact that everything was made as vegan-friendly (crème brûlée is apparently pretty tough to make vegan due to the necessity of the eggs’ particular consistency in it) as possible only added to an amazing night.
On Thursdays, I only have one class. It is in the afternoon, which is really nice because – if you can’t tell – I am not at all a morning person. After my lecture, I typically spend the evening doing laundry. Adulting sucks! Then I catch up on homework and try to work ahead a little bit so that I am less stressed over the weekend (but, of course, when is a college student not stressed?). Right now, I am currently working on an interesting paper comparing the social implications from some political advertisements in Beto O’Rourke’s and Brian Kemp’s campaigns for my Gender and Diversity in Consumer Culture course. American politics is kind of a funny topic from a foreign point of view, and I enjoyed explaining the midterm elections to my friends here.
When Friday comes it is commonly a whirlwind of me rushing to and from class, packing my bags for traveling, and catching a variety of public transportation to the airport. If I am not spending the weekend galavanting around Europe, I will relax a bit Friday night and watch Netflix. Some of my favorites right now are Queer Eye, Riverdale, Nailed It!, and (of course) any Christmas/holiday movie. Then, on Saturday I take a train into Utrecht or Amsterdam in order to take full advantage of my Museumkaart and explore art museums. I love to visit the local markets and eat delicious Dutch food before heading back home.
Sundays are reserved for homework and hiking some local trails that I found the very first day that I arrived here in the Netherlands. I have spent a lot of my free evenings exploring the bike paths, picnic areas, and abundance of flora and fauna there. In fact, the nature area is so much my favorite that I even got a new tattoo in Amsterdam a few weeks ago of the shiny black beetles that I frequently see there – a perfect reminder of my revolutionary time (that is passing by way too quickly) spent here in the Netherlands. I am enjoying my second-period courses, but cannot believe that they are nearly halfway over already. I look forward to seeing what else I learn in the remaining weeks!