Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. You’re at a university now. Playtime is o-v-e-r and you will have to do some actual studying. It’s good to know that a big chunk of your education will take place online because of the crisis we all find ourselves in. Before you know it, you’ve probably joined the army of mute, webcam-less warriors, who listen to the brave souls teaching their hearts out (in most cases that is).
This unnatural digital distance creates a problem on multiple levels. In a normal situation, a teacher would see if you get the gist or if you’re in the back row humiliating noobs in Warzone or sharing your latest disturbing UT Confession. At home, it’s just you and your sense of responsibility. Sure, you can take the easy way by being a lurker. But you could also take the harder, yet far more rewarding way of being an asker. You probably won’t be getting a participation badge, but you will raise the bar for everyone - including yourself. Most of all, education comes down to a give and take. So indulge yourselves and ask away.
Home is where your wifi connects automatically (put that on a Delfts blauw tile). Knowing a lot of your work will probably need to be done from your home, this is the time to think about how you want to set up your ‘battle station’ - and consequent way of working. Distractions are everywhere, ranging from drunk roommates to accidentally rewatching The Office (again). Things can get hard pretty quickly (that’s what she said), so knowing and preparing are half the battle. Want to create your ideal zone to get things done - relatively cheaply? Find some amazing bargains on the UT Marketplace, Dutch trading website Marktplaats or visit your local ‘Kringloop’ store.
If you are unable to create a place where you’re at least slightly productive, maybe a change of scenery could work. The UT has a library in the Vrijhof building - with limited capacity and a reservation system because of Corona. You can also try your luck at various coffee shops (yes, those that serve actual coffee) or the library in the city centre. Pro tip: if you have a UnionCard (read more about that below), you can make use of the Enschede library services - including downloading ebooks - for free.
Now for the more fun part... You probably already forgot most of the names of the associations mentioned over the course of the Kick-In. Unsurprisingly, as there are close to two hundred associations to choose from. The Dutch word for association - vereniging - loosely translates to ‘coming together’. Because of the circumstances, all these associations were unable to present themselves in all their splendor and glory. Still, considering the circumstances, joining an association is probably the best way to meet fellow students. A safe bet to kickstart your study is to at least become a member of your study association, also if you’re looking for good (and in some cases mediocre) coffee. But know you won’t get the full UT experience if you’re just focusing on your study. Look around for culture, sports, world and ‘gezelligheid’ clubs. Next thing you know, you’ll be dancing at 4 Happy feet one evening, shooting hoops at Arriba the other and closing off your week with drinks at the LHBTQ+ friendly Exaltio. Especially in times of crisis, it comes down to you as a freshman to ‘find’ the association(s) of your liking. What are you waiting for?
Which brings us to our next point: activism. One of the best parts of the UT, is that there is practically a student committee in every nook and cranny of the university. Despite the crisis, all the associations are trying to keep things as alive and kicking as possible, generally through these committees. So once you’ve joined an association, your experience gets even more rewarding by joining a committee. An added bonus: it’ll look good on your cv (surely that’s not the main reason to join, right?).
Want to jump into this activism extravaganza, it’s good to know you won’t get far without a UnionCard. You actually need it to become a member of the associations on campus. Ha, check and mate! Nah, it’s not that bad. Even on a student budget, this card is very much affordable. Plus, the Student Union arranges a bunch of deals/extras/discounts for UnionCard holders. You also receive a discount on the UnionCard itself, if you purchase one before 15 October.
Stay tuned for part 2, which will be published tomorrow!