Before embarking on the Atlas Corps Fellowship program and having a life-learning exchange with YFU, I organized the first borrel for the Dutch Alumni in Tomsk.

At last! A “big orange sun” has risen in far-off Siberia!

“On September 7, 2015 the first informal meeting (‘borrel’ in Dutch), was held in Tomsk with the assistance of the Netherlands Alumni Network in Russia and Nuffic Neso, the official representative of higher education in the Netherlands.

Both graduates of Dutch universities such as the University of Amsterdam and Maastricht University in Venlo and special guests including Professor Andrei S. Babenko, a Doctor of Biological Sciences and the head of the Department of Plant Protection at Tomsk State University (TSU) were present.

Since 2014 Professor Babenko coordinates the AgriMBA, a dual-diploma master’s programme jointly offered by TSU and the University of Wageningen. Professor Babenko discussed the features of the programme and invited graduates to the lecture of Professor Wim Hyman on the regional economy, which took place on September 16 at Tomsk State University, as a part of a lecture series connected with the double master’s degree programme.

Everyone joked around a lot and remembered our “Dutch stories” fondly. Maxim Pleshkov, a graduate of the University of Maastricht, talked about the February carnival in Maastricht. Evgeny Maslov, an exchange programme participant with the University of Venlo at last found an “answer” to the question of why the Dutch invited him to a party every Thursday. Galina Baymeeva, though not yet a graduate of a Dutch university (for now she is enrolled in a  master programme at the Free University of Amsterdam and is preparing documents for a grant application) revealed how she made her choice of a Dutch university under “force majeure circumstances”.

Elena Karageorgiy spoke about her experience cooperating with Dutch colleagues in a summer school, which was jointly organized in Greece by the University of the Aegean and the University of Amsterdam. We also played Dutch games. David Shtaynaker, a young researcher in social anthropology from the University of Vienna, told us why the national anthem of the Netherlands glorifies Spain, when the first bourgeois revolution in continental Europe occurred and specified the procedure of appointment of Prime Minister in his home country.

The atmosphere of the first meeting of graduates of Dutch universities in Tomsk was very warm and cozy. There is even such an untranslatable word in Dutch language for such an atmosphere – “gezellig” – when close friends gather around the table, share news, tell “jokes” familiar only to them, all while a fire burns in the fireplace and all people are united with something definitely good, clear and kind.

(Firstly, it was published at:




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