In the large striped tent on the Ganzenveld, the CuriousU participants eat their lunch. The plates are filled with hot meals, because bread, which is usually on the menu during a Dutch lunch, is not very popular among international students. They prefer a warm bite.
A group of Chinese students is seated at one of the long tables. ‘How I like CuriousU so far?’ Keith Jia (21) asks. ‘If I rate it on a scale from one to ten, I give the event an eight.’ His table companion Oliver Hu (19) nods. ‘I also give the summer school an eight. Although, the weather is quite bad, but luckily I sleep in the U Parkhotel.’
Most participants have to deal with less luxury. They sleep in a tent on the field near the carillon. ‘Last night we had to evacuate the group to the Sports Center,’ says project leader Elena Tsigki. ‘Because of the rain and the thunderstorm. The emergency plan was ready. We checked every hour whether we had to evacuate the participants. Fortunately everything went well. Everyone was safe. Today the weather looks better and the students will sleep in their tents again.’
It is the ultimate festival experience: spending the night in a tent, separated from the outside by a thin canvas. ‘That is also the nice thing about camping,’ says Swenja Seiss (26) from Germany. ‘You see what people are really like without being dressed up. Although, we could experience that at the Sports Center too, and there were showers around the corner. Yet the tents also have a big plus: you have a little more privacy than in such a large dorm.’
Together with Alex Bendl (23) from Austria, she eats her lunch. ‘The interview has to be a bit quick, though. We are going to our next course again. The program indeed is quite intensive. I was glad this morning that I had brushed my teeth before breakfast, because after that I had to go to my first course in no time. Quite stressful. Fortunately the lessons are super interesting.’
Svenja’s classmate Bendl agrees. ‘I will give an example of one of our courses. During a lesson we visited a UT start-up Sheltersuit. They make water and windproof sleeping bags for the homeless and refugees. Our job is to develop new ideas this week. Very interesting.’ He laughs. ‘Maybe the Sheltersuits are also a good idea for our tents.’
A loud voice sounds throughout the festival tent. ‘Tonight, after the course program, it's game night,’ says the announcer. ‘Then we will play Dungeons and Dragons.’ Yuki Takahashi (19) from Japan enthusiastically taps his friend. The roleplaying game is one of the program parts that, in addition to the courses, they are very enthusiastic about.
‘Yes, I will definitely participate. That is also the nice thing about CuriousU. In addition to the educational part, you get to know new people from all over the world in a fun way. One of my goals is to improve my English. Will I also study in Europe in the future?’ Takahashi thinks for a moment, and starts to laugh. ‘That depends on how my parents' economy is doing.’
It is half past one when most students have finished their meals. Time for the next course. One thing is for sure. This fifth edition, rain or sunshine, runs smoothly.