Posted in Nomad Family

A charming old house

Dutch people understand the special charm of an old house. The family house that I am renting is more than a century old. I am sitting in the living room, in front of a round wooden table. The fireplace brings a light sizzling sound in the background. The floor is also made from wood and three wide windows are facing the street. Through these windows, my son often watch the thick morning mist slowly fades into thin air.

My landlord is a former sailor and a handyman. He can make a lot of furniture or housing parts by his own hand, no wonder his house is brimming with characteristics and functionality. As a sailor, he has to conquer the volatility of tidal waves, but for sure he has no problem to tame the heart of a woman who is said to be deeper than the sea. While he went for adventures on his boat, his wife enriches her life through adventures on the written world. She is a librarian at WUR. During our housewarming dinner, she speaks the word “free” a lot. She also gave us a dictionary to learn Dutch language.

They defied the stereotypes of Dutch being highly penny-pinching people. When we arrived, they picked us up at Ede-Wageningen station. In the house they’ve already provided every little things, all furniture, all cleaning and cooking utilities, also food, including bread, margarine, milk, yogurt, homemade berry jam, homemade salad dressing, coffee and tea.

They have been living approximately 30 steps away from this house for 25 years, complete with two dogs, a lot of sheep grazing on their large lawn, chickens, and a small “hideaway” self-contained room in front of a nice pond when they want to take a break from their house. With the spring looming, we are going to join them cultivating onions and potatoes. We really enjoy to be into the true rural feel of this place.

After a day at the office, it’s nice to bike home for 30 minutes to the hilly parts of NL, to a place that really feels like home.

Posted in Nomad Family

City of Alternative Lifestyle?

Wageningen prides itself as the city of life science. Blogger Nadya Karimasari found that some people think of it as a city of alternative lifestyle.

It feels like summer in Wageningen. What a relief, especially after a hail rain in late April. Now the weather is more bearable and warm. Cows are finally out and horses too. People are wearing light clothes and soak up the sun. Such a perfect time for liberation day festivities!

During the liberation day, we went to Emmapark. There were a lot of fun and games for kids. My son met some new friends, and I became friends with their mothers.

Having conversation with other moms brings me away from the academic bubble that I’ve been in. One of the mom whom I talked with said Wageningen is not only a city of life science. It is a city of alternative lifestyle. Interesting. How come?

In a time where a lot of farmers went bankrupt, she said, there are still a lot of people who wants to do agriculture in Wageningen. Maybe, in an era where urbanisation is the norm, doing agriculture has become an alternative lifestyle.

Wageningen is the place where people still have a lot of pride to work on the land.

Wageningen is the place where people still have a lot of pride to work on the land. My landlord is one example. He’s seems to appreciate agriculture work more than ‘office’ work. He enjoys cultivating the land, tending his plants and cattle carefully, diligently. He said he doesn’t want to be lazy.

There’s another aspect that makes Wageningen a city of alternative lifestyle. Farming-related organisations and activisms are very common in Wageningen. The mom that I talked with was an activist at ‘Future Farmers’. It’s an organisation that creatively finds ways to tackle the barriers of doing agriculture, especially for new farmers who do not come from an agricultural family, have never done it before and don’t have land inheritance.

Perhaps, being an activist, not necessarily related to agriculture, is the norm here. Even my neighbour who obtained her PhD on ethnobotany works at an organisation that support farmer’s movement. There’s also organisation for young farmers, organic farmers, do-it-yourself activism, and a lot more.

I am just starting to get to know this city. Is it true that Wageningen a city of alternative lifestyle? Are you also part of an organisation or activism? I am all ears.

Posted in Nomad Family

Exciting times

It’s been exciting times for our little family but I don’t know why I haven’t been blogging at this space at all. I have some books scattered around me and different things on my task list. I sneak to the computer and let my son sleep alone. He’s fast asleep, perhaps he’s tired. I didn’t see him much today, I’ve spent the whole day in campus working on my long-delayed Teaching and Supervision Plan – so happy that it’s done, one thing off my task list. When I got home, his daddy said he was clinging to daddy all day, wanted to be hugged and wouldn’t let go, but when I got home he was cheerful again and we played together (that’s what his daddy said). My son’s so funny and silly and likes to show off his new “talents”. He’s so interested to come inside different drawers and cupboards (it’s empty), and put different things on his head and shake his head to test whether the thing will fall or stay. Everything is so interesting to him, especially we are now living in the middle of grazing areas for sheep. Sometimes his father brings him to touch and see the sheep up close.

We’ve also just come back from Oxford, stories and pictures on next posts!

Posted in Nomad Family

A different side of Holland

After a week in Wageningen, blogger Nadya Karimasari concludes that not all stereotypes about this small, rural town are true. But some definitely are.

Wageningen, despite being the location of the best university in the Netherlands, is not always known by strangers. Before I came here, my non-Dutch fellows had said things along the line of: “It’s so quiet, there are more cows and sheep than humans in Wageningen. But it’s a great environment for your baby, it’s very child and family-friendly.” And one of the characters in the Indonesian box-office movie Negeri van Oranje, about student life in Holland, partly filmed in Wageningen, says to his friends: “Wageningen wouldn’t suit you guys, it’s going to be very boring for you as there’s no party life here as there is in Amsterdam.” Interestingly, a colleague who teaches at the Sociology of Development and Change group told me he chooses to commute from Amsterdam to Wageningen three days a week because he says he meets more interesting people there.

I have only been here for one week, but I can safely say that some of these stereotypes are not accurate. Firstly, I haven’t seen any cows. Secondly, I’ve seen some sheep grazing, but I had expected to see a lot more farmland. And thirdly, Wageningen is full of student apartments, more than what I had imagined. This means you see students everywhere and there are parties where students go to de-stress, although, of course, not as many as in Amsterdam.

It amazed me when I had to go to Arnhem to exchange money.

But Wageningen is undeniably different from the parts of the Netherlands I am more familiar with, such as Den Haag and Amsterdam. It is a rural side of Holland that was out of my radar. It amazed me when I had to go to Arnhem to exchange money. On my way there I saw lines of luxurious (for Dutch standards) farm houses with their large lawns. It was like a beautiful sight from the past and very different than my earlier experiences in the Netherlands. I still remember very vividly the very first time I set foot on Dutch soil, at Schipol in August 2010, when I saw two women in punk attire unabashedly kissing for what felt like a very long time. At that time, same-sex marriage was still mostly a taboo, except perhaps in the Netherlands. I couldn’t believe how my first experience was confirming the stereotypes and I said to myself: “Here I am. This is the Netherlands.”

At work I have also encountered some quirky situations that I think are typical of a town like Wageningen. For instance, a staff member in de Leeuwenborch told my friend, in all seriousness, “I can only fix this computer tomorrow. If you want me to do it today, you have to pay.” Of course it was his Dutch sense of humour. My friend didn’t understand it, but he and I laughed. Dutch peculiarities. No matter which part of Holland I am in, it’s always the Dutch people who make me feel at home.

Posted in Nomad Family

Late Arrival

Before leaving for the Netherlands to start her PhD, blogger Nadya Karimasari had mixed feelings. She’s excited but also having a lot of anxieties over unsettled matters.

On March 1st 2016, our visas were finally approved. After receiving the news, I took some time to be alone, lie down, and stare at the ceiling, ‘this is finally getting real’. I am going back to the country where I discovered the art of learning, now with my husband and one-year old son.

For the last couple of years, the closest encounters that I have had with a lot of great minds in my field of study was reading and studying their works. Now, I am going to meet them in person, perhaps sit in their classes, ask questions, and have discussions. I am going to have a desk and space of my own, where I could fully concentrate on my project. I am going to have the leisure of not having to think about making ends meet, I only need to immerse myself in creating good research. I will finally be free from noises of the crowded city where I have been living. I imagine Wageningen to be so quiet and peaceful, hence providing a conducive environment for studying as well as for my child’s formative years.

I feel casual but underneath I have some anxieties.

Nadya Karimasari

I feel casual but underneath I have some anxieties. Our arrival is actually two weeks late but it’s the earliest we could get. Our visas were slightly delayed. The NWO scholarship is designed for a single person, so bringing a family is a bit more complicated because I had to send an ‘additional income’ statement. Other than that, I had to negotiate over additional day care support. Also to be noted, had I known better I would do the legalisation process earlier on. It was time-consuming, cumbersome, and extremely expensive. The legalisation of our documents (birth and marriage certificate) will only be settled two weeks from now, but considering all things, I choose to have it sent via airmail instead of waiting.

By the time you will be reading this blog, we will be flying our way to the Netherlands. Hopefully we will arrive safely and see you there.