‘We try to foster new friendships’

| Allegra Passmann

Like every year there will also be a Winter Kick-in for the new students enrolling in February, from the 31st of January until the 6th of February. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the program will be completely online. Julia Hubbert (23, Psychology), chairperson of the Kick-In committee, talks about the plans.

Photo by: Frans Nikkels
Picture taken at the 'regular' Kick-In last summer. The Winter Kick-In will be completely online.

How are you going to make the new students feel welcome here?

This was our main concern and priority during the planning: how can we make them feel welcome online without the actual student environment? Many are new to the country, the language, and the culture, so it’s important to find a group. We have faculty-related mentor groups with two current master students each, that will provide information but also social connections. Most mentors are also international, which probably makes it easier to give more tailored information. It should be a close group of people, and we hope that new students will find friends there.’

With the Kick-in being online now, how are you still going to make it a ‘big thing’?

‘We thought about it a lot, especially because for so many people it’s their first time at the UT, in Enschede or even in the Netherlands. This year’s events are quite similar to the ones from previous years: We want to give social and fun aspects, like an escape room, cooking workshop, and speed-dating. But we also emphasize formal and informational events with Studium Generale and Novel-T, since it has shown that master students are more interested in that. Through that, we want to introduce the new students to all aspects of student life here and give them a choice to participate in what they are interested in.

In general, the entire program puts more emphasis on connecting people and their social network because now it is more important than ever, and we try to foster new friendships. We are still looking into possibilities of making a physical reunion at one point. Ice skating could be a good activity for this, but we first have to wait and see how the measures develop.’

The last Master Kick-In had less attendance than in former years. How are you going about that now?

‘With the external evaluation and our own research we tried to find the reasons for this, and the Corona measures were definitely one of them. But we adapted to them, and now we try to show how important the Master Kick-in is. It is the best chance to get into contact with others, and it adds more to the needs of the Masters, which is formal information and making friends.’

How many students are you expecting to join?

‘Students can still sign up until the 30th, so we don’t know yet how many people will join, because most usually sign up during the last week. So far we already have 150 sign-ups, which is more than we expected. About half of the participants are Dutch and the other half are international students.’

Do you think a lot of international students will still join if their classes stay online?

‘It is less than in previous years, mainly due to the (new) travel restrictions, as flying can be difficult, and the two weeks of quarantine. I think that most students don’t have physical classes soon. Besides, looking for a house or furniture might be a bigger issue at the moment, so some students probably prefer to stay in their home countries.’

What did you communicate with the UT about which role the Kick-in committee will play in contacting the students who are affected by this?

‘Since the Winter Kick-in is online, it will be available to students from all over the world. However, the Marketing and Communication department will organize the communication to them.’

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