|Sunset from my accommodation in Venlo|
Third Year of BA (Hons) Culinary Arts is the reason many people choose the course. From the moment you step foot into the first lecture in 1st year, it’s the main topic of interest – for both the students and lecturers. Everyone understands that it will be the year to mould you not only as a chef, but as a person too. I was excited to get out of my comfort zone, experience different foods, cultures and ways of living. As we fast approach the end of the semester, I thought it appropriate to reflect on my year and how beneficial it has been for me.
|Fruit stall in Rotterdam Market|
I had two very different life experiences throughout the year. It started off with a very challenging work placement in France. Truth be told, I didn’t quite enjoy it until near the end. I found the language barrier tough and somewhat isolating. However, with reassurance and support I got through it. I learnt more in that kitchen in those few weeks than I have in the past 3 years. It was a true culinary education. My skills, knowledge and technique increased tenfold. You can read more about my time in France in previous blogs but in hindsight, it was the most rewarding experience of my life.
|Dinner with our Venlo family!|
My study semester saw me headed off to the Netherlands. Just five minutes from the German border, myself, Tom, Danielle and Áine settled into the small lively city of Venlo. We didn’t know what to expect. To be honest, we didn’t even do any research. And you know what? I’m so glad we didn’t. We simply could not have braced ourselves for what was to come. Our first stroll through the streets of Venlo pleasantly surprised us. My first time stepping into my apartment immediately sparked a sense of home. The first friends we made instantly became family. It might sound cheesy but I really can’t word it any other way.
|Daytrip to Keukenhof|
The college experience in the Netherlands has been pretty positive. Though we may have felt a little out of our depth and the content of the course was sometimes a bit difficult, we were given lots of help and advice from lecturers. The workload is considerably greater than any semester we have had in WIT. It was a little bit overwhelming at the beginning, but we are getting through it.
|Work hard play hard!|
It goes without saying that most of our time is spent in class and getting work done, but the most memorable moments from Venlo are far from studying. Since initially getting to Venlo, I have travelled all around the Netherlands, to Germany, Belgium, Italy and Poland with people I have met from all over the world. In our free time we have had endless parties, movie nights, cheese and wine nights, laser tag trips, picnics and barbeques. We haven’t had time to long for home since we got here, as there is always something to do and people to meet.
When I think back on my year, it really has been amazing. There was such a stark contrast between my time in France and in the Netherlands. France was a true test of character. I was completely and utterly out of my comfort zone but it was so rewarding. Having such a positive experience in Venlo has made the struggles of France so worth it. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to spend 6 months of my life.
As we prepare for exams and book our flights home in the next few weeks, it seems strange that the year we so eagerly anticipated is ending so soon. When I think back to first year, I could never have imagined myself living in France or the Netherlands for part of my life. That is exactly what this year is all about; making the most of it and trying something different.
Though I never want to leave my life in Venlo behind, I look forward to reuniting with my classmates to share our skills and stories from the past year!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my 3rd year adventures, and for anyone about to embark on theirs, I wish you the best of luck!