Open Day Opens My Eyes to the Real Dining Hall

Open day. The day to watch all the potential new students wander round with longing in their eyes, while other students tell tales of wonder about the University. Yet those who actually go there have a little chuckle about what really is true.

“Intro week is great, everyone enjoys it and it’s like non-stop socialising” – agreed.

“How much work is do you get?” “Well it depend what grades you want to get if you want an A you obviously have to work harder than a C” – obviously,

“but there’s still loads of free time”- not really,

“Hey look there’s my (intro week) Dad” *he waves awkwardly*, “we still talk!” – the lies they tell

One thing you would expect is for every part of the University to be on their best behaviour and show themselves off to their full potential. I’ll start from the beginning;

On Thursday at lunch we are given a paper coupon, it says lunch. We have seen these before, we enter into the seating part of dining hall and there is some kind of surprise where we give our token over in order to get it, e.g. ice cream. However there isn’t anything. It’s a bit odd. We sit down to have our lunch and I ask what they are.

“They’re for open day”, I get told. I don’t think much of it but put it in my bag as I know it’s important.

That day was thanksgiving, which doesn’t mean much to me, but it was fun to see the American’s drawing turkeys in their books. Dining Hall was to do a special dinner for it and people say it’s good, so we all secretly look forward to it. This meant the opening times had changed but they had told us, 5pm-6.30. We decide to meet at 6.

Myrte and I end up being the only people able to go at this time. At usual Dining Hall turning up at this time is fine and trouble-free. Apparently on thanksgiving it is a different story. There was no soup left and no Turkey. Plus DH had decided to not give us trays to carry our things which made it a little awkward. We go to sit but it is packed, but we eventually spot a seat.

Drinks have been provided on the table, or rather were provided on the table. It appears they are all empty now. So people go up to the food area and make the harmless request for water. Water is always available as it’s just a tap. However they are refused! “Drinks are on the table” they say, “well not for us”. This strikes something within me. How can they refuse people water, it’s  no hassle for them at all, glasses and the tap are inside. Perhaps they are going to take extra food! However in the self-service area there is nothing to take as it’s all in the seating area. Utterly ridiculous.

We eat and luckily there is a tiny bit of Fanta left. Now to pudding. Fruit and ice cream. Except there is only one service point and a queue at least ten minutes long. We eventually get to the front and there is no fruit left. One scoop of ice cream for my ten minute wait then. A little dissatisfied we head back to our units.

During the day, we had learned that DH had also given out coupons for breakfast on Friday and brunch on Saturday at breakfast that day. This is very annoying as normally I go to breakfast on Thursday’s but my class was cancelled as my teacher had flu. Klementina decided to go to breakfast the next day and see if this coupon story is true.

The next morning she knocks on my door and hands me a sandwich. “A person gave me this, but it has egg in it and you can’t get food without a coupon.”

Before lunch I had social psychology where we were analysing the results of our questionnaire. For anyone who had done this, they know what a hell SPSS can be. Hence we decide to stay after class as the teacher is staying around too. When we are done we realise it is 13.25 and lunch finished at 13.30. Jeroen runs, but I’m sure I can get there in 5 minutes (it really isn’t that far away). However when I get there I head upstairs to where the food normally is. It isn’t there. I go round the back. Nothing. I head back downstairs and ask where the food is. In the beach party area I am told. I only vaguely know where this is and walk through the post box area. I arrive and try to hand my coupon over. They mutter something in Dutch. It’s closed someone says. I check my watch, it says 13.30 exactly.

“It’s half one”, I say, “so we’re closed”, they reply. “So you’re not going to give me anything?!”. They continue to pack the food away. How can they choose to give me no food. It’s not like there wasn’t any left. Plus we’ve already paid for it all and I’m sure they still get paid the same amount so what’s the big deal. I even had the correct coupon they so desperately wanted!

I return to the unit to find someone else has also been refused food as they had lost there coupon. The system makes no sense, it obviously has many flaws. We share out the lunch food we did manage to get, which wasn’t even that spectacular. An unbuttered roll with one piece of cheese/ham/egg placed inside.

Fast forward to dinner and this time we do not need coupons. So those who didn’t manage to get coupons will be allowed some food in this 24 hour period. Again it isn’t great, some chips and chicken in a takeaway container, as for some reason we aren’t allowed to sit in Dining Hall. Some of us end up ordering pizza instead.

Now for the last morning we had to deal with this coupon system. Luckily Alizee was leaving that weekend so I managed to use her brunch coupon. However it’s still disappointing. It is exactly the same meal as the lunch before and again we can’t sit in Dining Hall. To top it all off for the next brunch on Sunday we are given all the left overs from the open day to eat. So when they refused me lunch there was actually tons and tons left. Outrage.

Normally I defend dining hall when they others say how poor the food is, as you get a three-course meal everyday and who does that when they are a self catered student? Yet this event lacked serious planning. All it could’ve taken was one email to say it’s important to attend brunch on Thursday as here you will get coupons. Instead they made people go hungry. I had a mind to go tell all the prospective students, but I restrained myself. Ridiculous.


Intro Week 2: Fox Hunt in Utrecht

Yesterday we did the town tour which was a little weird. We had to do a task at all the stops en route – for example, make a play that symbolises the spirit of your family. Hopefully I will know parts of the city now – maybe I’ll leave the campus bubble!

The ‘bubble’ is the actual term used for campus unlike my casual usage of it back in Exeter. It is extremely easy to spend your entire year on campus and not leave. Everything is here, your friends, food and the bar. The one thing it doesn’t have is a cash machine, but allegedly as the weeks continue “money is not necessary and battering with goods becomes the norm”.

Town is not that far away with the supermarket even closer – a ten minute bike ride (distances are calculated in time to bike in Holland and not time to walk). The town is very beautiful, and even has a few buildings from the middle ages. It is not a big city by England’s standards but is the 4th biggest in the Netherlands and about twice as big as Exeter. The shopping is much better as there are independent shops to go to and not just high-street names (though obviously there’s those too). There are lots of cool homeware shops which I may have to go visit as well as a nice second-hand place.

The whole family got some pizza on the way back and we ate at Wall 17 and played some cards. Then we went to Albert Heijn (the UCU supermarket of choice) and then headed to Anneke’s unit for some pre-drinks. Unfortunately we were minus our “parents”. I bought along some Pimm’s, which they all enjoyed and even tried to find somewhere in Holland that sells it!

The Allure party was lots of fun, but unfortunately I had to leave as it was really hot (apparently the air con in the bar was broken). This made me feel light-headed and like fainting. In hindsight I should have just stood outside for a while.