A road trip through the Netherlands
Twenty-one-year-old Koen van der Heide, who’s just finished his bachelor in physics, has been road tripping with his friends before: the four of them would pile into a car for a week, no clear destination in mind. They’d pack a tent and cook their dinners on a camping stove.
This year, however, they couldn’t do that. ‘It would have been too much of a hassle to keep getting tested all the time’, says Koen. The group therefore decided to take a trip through the Netherlands. They took their car and travelled the entire border of the country. ‘We started with the Wadden Sea, and then went down south along the border.’
He’s had a lot of fun, although they did spend a lot of time in the car. ‘We ended up driving approximately five to six hours a day.’ Every day they set up their tent, only to take it down again the next morning.
They cooked their own dinner for the first couple of days but got sick of it by the end of the week. ‘We went out to dinner for the last few nights’, says Koen. They also spent the night in one of the guys’ apartment because of the bad weather.
Koen enjoyed rediscovering his own country like this, although he’d like to go abroad again next year. ‘It’s just a bit more fun!’
Hiking in Slovenia
This marks the second time that twenty-six-year-old ecology and evolution student Leon Kaptein is spending his vacation hiking in the Slovenian mountains. He’ll be spending the entire holiday on foot: ‘We’ll be walking approximately eight hours a day.’ He and his two travel companions will be hiking from mountain hut to mountain hut.
The most important things he needs are a good pair of hiking boots and a backpack: everything else he needs is in there. ‘I’m carrying clothes, food and drink, a towel, and my via ferrata equipment.’ A via ferrata, or an iron path, is a protected climbing route. Steel cables, rungs, and ladders are installed along the route so climbers can affix a harness that they wear. Should they fall, the cable will hold them.
Leon prefers active vacations. He loves exercising and getting to move around. ‘The environment in Slovenia is beautiful, and the vistas are amazing.’ One advantage is that most of the mountain huts in Slovenia are quite close together. ‘That means we can easily walk from hut to hut.’
The huts are outfitted with proper beds, allowing hikers to get a good night’s rest after a long day of hiking. ‘There’s also food being served and there’s a toilet.’ Not all huts have a shower; usually only the ones lower on the mountainside do.
Corona isn’t interfering with their plans. ‘We’ve all managed to get the Janssen vaccine, which means we can just enjoy our holiday.’
Camping at home
Science education and communication student Juultje Eenink (24) had initially planned a road trip through France with her boyfriend but decided early on in the year that she was staying home. ‘We didn’t think travelling all over the country would be a good idea.’
A road trip also takes a lot of preparation, although those aren’t the only reasons she’s not going. Holidays are expensive. ‘So when I do go, I want to do it right.’ She doesn’t know if the current situation allows for that.
She’s decided to have her holiday at home. The first two weeks of August are meant for a host of fun activities, and she’s planning on camping out in her own backyard. ‘We’ll get some nice bread at the bakery in the morning, or spend the evening playing Yahtzee outside.’
She probably won’t be putting up a tent in the backyard, though: that wasn’t a success last year. ‘I slept just fine, but my boyfriend is too tall to fit.’ He got through it the first night, but spent the second night in his own bed.
Juultje doesn’t mind staying at home. ‘We don’t go on holiday every year anyway, so it was an easy decision to not go this year.’ Besides, she says, looking forward to a holiday is half the fun: ‘Now we get to look forward to next year.’
Study adventure abroad
Twenty-three-year-old Janke Prins will be spending her summer preparing to move: come September, she’ll be going to England for research for six months. The student of science education and communication is really looking forward to it, even though it’s also a little daunting.
In August, Janke will leave for Exeter, where she will join the Exeter Exoplanet Theory Group. Janke is especially interested in astronomy.
She started preparing back in January. Back then, it looked like the vaccination campaign would open things back up by September, but things are a little more difficult than she’d hoped. ‘Because of the delta variant, England is a code orange again’, she says. That means she probably won’t be getting a scholarship and that she can’t get insurance through the university, either.
But it’s not stopping her from going. She just has a few things left to do. ‘I need to figure out my exact topic and I need to find a place to live.’ When that’s all done, she’s ready to go.
Finishing up her preparations is her mission for the rest of the holiday, because she doesn’t have any other plans. ‘I didn’t want to schedule anything else, since I didn’t know exactly when I’d be leaving for England.’ She doesn’t mind; she’ll just hang out in Groningen, enjoying the city before she leaves.