Barbara Kuiters (22), from the Netherlands, bachelor’s graduate from the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience and director’s secretary at the same faculty, has seen 8 per cent of the world
A Ford Escort station wagon, some camping gear, a tent and a map of Europe. Three years ago Barbara Kuiters and her boyfriend at the time took a trip through Europe. They travelled for almost two months, drove 6,000 kilometres and stayed in nine countries: Belgium, Luxemburg, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and Germany. “Europe isn’t boring at all. The differences between the countries, especially between southern and northern Europe, were very recognisable; in environment, culture, habits, but also when it comes to hospitality and kindness. Driving towards the south east (Italy, Croatia), we were almost daily invited to parties or dinners of people whom we often met via acquaintances. We ate special regional dishes and joined big BBQs.” In Croatia a lot of people brew their own strong alcoholic drinks, Kuiters recalls. “After dinner, dozens of used glass bottles were brought to table, filled with coloured and transparent fluids. Some were like sangria, others more like spirits, with a very strong taste and a high percentage of alcohol.”
She has good memories of her Euro-trip. “I didn’t mind sleeping in a small tent; I was used to it, but my partner didn’t like it at all (this, by the way, was not the reason they broke up –Ed.). Sometimes we’d spend one day at a camping site, sometimes two weeks.”
A trip around Europe wasn’t Kuiters’s first plan. Initially she wanted to spend six months in Australia: “After high school I needed a break. I didn’t want to rush through life. But eventually my Australia plans were cancelled and I decided to stay at home, earn some money and choose later on where to go on a journey.” Kuiters got her driver’s license and bought a ten-year-old Ford Escort.
The Ford seemed pretty reliable. But at the end of the holiday, driving through Germany, the car broke down completely. “The garage that sold it to me said the timing belt had been replaced, but that turned out to be a lie.” It was bad luck, but it didn’t stop her doing it again. Last summer Kuiters drove through Luxemburg, France and Italy, this time in a Peugeot 306 (see photo). In January she will broaden her horizons, backpacking in Asia for five months with her (new) boyfriend.