‘It’s very hard to taste the atmosphere when you’re online’

What’s it like for first year students to study and make friends in these weird times? Do they feel like they’re a real student now or has their experience at the university been lackluster until now? Seven freshmen share their personal experiences.

Photo by: Frans Nikkels
The Kick-In, in August.

Jasper Hofman (18, Civil Engineering) from the Netherlands

‘I was going to Enschede with the mindset to have the priority of studying here, but I also wanted to make new friends, of course. Above all, I wanted to be a real student. When I came here, studying itself met my expectations. Especially because at first I was afraid that everything would be online, but now I am happy that that isn't the case after all. It does feel more difficult to make new friends right now, as half of the lectures are online. Rules on campus are also very strict, so you can only come to the campus for your lectures, some questions and exams. So there isn't much of a chance for contact with fellow students. However, I did make some new friends during the Kick-In, basically by having a chat and checking whether they’re nice or not. We sometimes had parties at night, so it was easier to get in contact with other students.’


Balázs Dávid Reisz (19, Technical Computer Science) from Hungary

‘I hoped that the Dutch student life would be similar to my student life back in Hungary. Studying is very different, however. I feel like the university expects so much, yet they give us so little. In my opinion, they focus too much on self-studying. Two physical lectures in one week is just not enough. I don’t know if it’s because of the pandemic, but it feels like I’m on a correspondence course. All of my lectures are online, I’m allowed to go campus once a week. Of course it affects making new friends. That is why I’m so glad that I participated in the Kick-In. Having a do-group to fall back on helps a lot in basically everything… Studying, going out, living a social life in general.’


Oliwier Sobczyk (19, Mechanical Engineering) from Poland

‘The cultural diversity was what attracted me to the UT. I was expecting to find myself in a multicultural university. I thought of it as a great building experience which I wouldn't find in my home country. I also had a lot of expectations in terms of the level of teaching and the technological background of the university. After a month here, I can say that my experience exceeds expectations. But the pandemic has certainly impacted student life. 80% of my lectures are online, which is a pity. Although I got to make friends with some people, I think this situation makes it a lot harder to get in touch with others and it definitely impacts the whole studying experience.’


Alucia Porsius Martins (19, Advanced Technology) from the Netherlands

‘I would have stayed at my parents, would it not have been for the few lab courses I need to attend at the University. If all the lectures and other activities of my study would have been online, I would have stayed with my parents. I now live alone in my studio. It feels lonely, the situation doesn’t do my mental health much good. I think that living in Enschede usually would add something to my student life, but not now that you can barely meet up with people. I have met up with some students sometimes, but that doesn't weigh against the hours of being home alone.’


Rick Huizinga (18, Communication Science) from the Netherlands

‘I was unsure what to expect really when I was coming here for the first time, mainly due to Corona. I expected there would be few to no lectures on campus any longer. Luckily, I was proven wrong there, as I have at least one physical lectures with a smaller group from my study each week. I think this does affect making friends, because the groups are a lot smaller and don’t include everyone from the study, so I actually haven’t met most of the people in my study. I don’t think I can complain with how everything is arranged within the study. As for friends and student life, of course I hoped that the social life would be mostly still intact, but I also knew that this would be hard to achieve. However, during the Kick-In, our do-group was able to arrange enough physical activities and I was able to make some friends.’


Juul van Lier (18, Creative Technology) from the Netherlands

‘I can confidently say that I am content with how things are arranged on campus and I’m happy that I chose to study here. I managed to make new friends, mainly through the Kick-In, but also some friends within the group that I have my physical lectures with. The social life just kind of happened, I guess.

I’m also happy with my choice of moving to Enschede. I only have physical lectures on Monday. I notice that I find it hard to concentrate and I do my best with the online lectures, but it is more difficult to focus. The lectures are recorded anyway, so it feels like you can postpone it all the time. I would have liked to have more lectures in person. Commuting to Enschede was not an option for me due to travel time, so I really wanted to move out. I’m really enjoying myself in my student home and I feel like I found my own spot. The freedom of going the university for projects or a quick meeting are something I’m happy to have at the moment. I do think I’m leading a real student life right now because of that.’


Lars Bonekamp (18, Advanced Technology) from the Netherlands

I have all my lectures online, but I do go to the university for lab courses. Sometimes I also choose to go there to meet up with my project group. Up until now I’m not living in Enschede yet. I can’t find a room and corona definitely plays a big part in that. It’s very hard to taste the atmosphere when you’re online. I do feel like I’m a real student, but I’m missing out on a lot of things by not living in Enschede. I can’t travel to the university all the time, so I’m not yet a member of any sports, culture or student association. For a short time this is not a problem, but I do hope I will find something soon.’

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