For many students, it's their first chance to get to know Saxion, their fellow students and in some cases even the city of Deventer: the introductory week, or HOI week. But who actually does all the hard work behind the scenes to get everything organised? And what can we expect this year? Deventer’s Introductory Week board gives us the lowdown.
When did you start the preparations?
Maaike: 'We actually first got together in February and really got started in March. Some of us already knew each other from student associations; only Annouk is completely new. We got to know each other and looked at what everyone had already done during previous introductory weeks. For example, Floran had been a "papa" – papas and mamas are mentors of groups of new students or "kiddos" during the introductory week – while Dominique helped as a photographer, Raoul was part of the crew, and I was chairperson last year. We then looked at the programme and at the feedback from last year’s students. We used that as the basis for the new programme. In April we really got into full organisation mode.'
What’s going to be different this year compared to last year?
Maaike: 'There are more activities on the Wednesday afternoon. Last year there was only a handful and that wasn’t enough to accommodate all 65 groups. This year there are 85 groups and you want everyone to have a different activity every hour, so that they actually have something to do. We also wanted an extra day – that will be the Friday – to really bring the week to a fitting end. Last year it was in town on the Thursday night.'
Annouk: 'Then you said goodbye at 3:00 in the morning and that’s it.'
Maaike: 'So we’ve come up with an optional programme for the Friday. You don’t have to join in, but everyone is invited to come and celebrate the end of the introductory week with a snack, a drink, and some good music. It will have a bit of a festival atmosphere, which will be fun.'
How is the organisation coming along?
Maaike: 'Most of it is done. We’re just putting the finishing touches to it. We’re still having discussions with some parties to clarify everything, but the rest is as good as finished. We have a permit from the municipality, which is one of the most important things. It’s quite nerve-racking at the moment; the registration period opened two weeks ago [this interview took place on 18 July, TW], so now we have an idea of how many people to expect. We’ve had 250 registrations so far, which is a lot more than this time last year – we’d only had 100 by this point. You can register up to and including the introductory week itself, but as things stand it looks as though all places will be full by the end of August.'
And what can we expect this year?
Maaike: 'I think it’s a lively programme. It’s much more active, so there are no lulls or gaps: everyone has something to do all the time. If you hang out on a café terrace all day, you'll get stuck in a bit of a rut if you’re hungover.'
Annouk: 'Everything is bigger and more locations in Deventer are involved. We’re not just focusing on the city centre, which everyone already knows, but we’re also heading to the Havenkwartier (Harbour Quarter) and the gardens of De Worp, for example.'
Maaike: 'There’ll also be fun activities taking place on Saxion’s square, such as a climbing wall and laser quest. The bar will also be open, so you can hang out together there, too. And there’s the Information Fair. Everything is just much bigger. That was essential, as there are 20% more participants this year.'
Annouk: 'I do think that despite the increase in numbers we’re still really trying to preserve the group atmosphere. Last year, the board didn’t have the chance to meet with companies in person, but we did this year and that will be reflected in the introductory week: more diversity, greater involvement. Generally speaking, you’ll be able to see what went on behind the scenes.'
What will the highlights be?
Maaike: 'The barbecue for sure, because there’ll be 1,300 of us. That’s always quite an event. We have 80 barbecues, so hopefully that’ll be enough. We’re having it in the Saxion carpark and it’s quite a strange experience. You’re just singing and dancing at Saxion and then you walk in and you think: okay, so this is where I'll be studying.'
Dominique: 'You’re at a party in the place where the director usually parks her car.'
And you’ll be passing through there every day for the next four years.
Maaike: 'Exactly. Then you’ll always look back on that night. I still do, and that’s a really cool experience. As far as the highlights are concerned, on the Brink and Boreelplein (in the city centre) it will be much bigger, with inflatable assault courses. Last year there were four, this year we’ll have twelve. In my head, I see it as one huge colourful paradise with inflatable activities and swarms of students wearing introductory week shirts. Such a great experience. For me, that’s one of the best moments.
The barbecue in the car park is a strange experience. You’re just singing and dancing at Saxion and then you walk in and you think: okay, so this is where I'll be studying.'
And what about the concert?
Maaike: 'That’s at Nieuwe Markt this year. That’ll be fun too but the acts won’t be such big names as last year, when de Jeugd van Tegenwoordig performed. This year, Snelle, Donnie, and Merel and all kinds of different artists will perform, so it promises to be a great party.'
What’s it like being on the Introductory Week board?
Maaike: 'Such a great experience! You very rarely get the chance to take part in something like this. It’s such a bizarre experience, we’ll soon be watching 1,200 students dance. It’s great that we’re able to make that happen.'
Floran: 'You get loads of experience in things that you never learn during your programme. You see things from a completely different perspective. Before I started on the board I thought it would be a lot of work – and it is – but once you get started on it, it’s a lot more manageable. I used to think that I would never be able to do it, but now I am and things are going quite well. You really learn a lot of new things.'
Annouk: 'And it’s great to meet lots of different people. I would never have got to know them otherwise.'
Can you still stand each other?
Annouk: 'We get on really well.'
Maaike: 'It’s going great. We also get on well outside introductory week stuff. We often go for a drink, for example, which is nice, too.'
Annouk: 'And because things are going so well, it doesn’t feel like an obligation when we have to do something. When it's time for yet another meeting, I look forward to it. Then we’ll have another good brainstorming session.'
Floran: 'It's a very energising process.'
What were your own experiences of the introductory week when you took part in it?
Maaike: 'I thought it was quite nerve-racking. That was five years ago now, but it was quite an experience and I still know people from other programmes that I met during that week.'
How do you utilise that nerve-racking experience when organising the introductory week?
Maaike: 'We send the papas and mamas on a papa-and-mama camp, for example. The weekend before the introductory week starts, they have the chance to party, so that they can take it easy during the following week and so that they can already bond. This way, they can guide and support the new students properly. Enschede’s Introductory Week board thought this was a good idea and are going to see if they can do the same thing in the coming years.'
Annouk: 'If they know each other well, it’s easier for the groups to mix with each other. If six groups go bowling, they really do it together and people don’t just stick with their own group.'
Maaike: 'You really notice the difference, also in the experience of the new students. We always get feedback that the papas and mamas really took good care of them and that they really wanted to show them the city. We always get positive comments and you can see that in the rating they give us.'
Annouk: 'When we get an email from a papa or mama, we always respond very quickly and with plenty of enthusiasm, so that they also know that they will get all the support they need during the introductory week.'
Are you guys looking forward to it?
In unison: 'Yes, absolutely.'
Maaike: 'It’s extremely exciting and nerve-racking, because it’s almost time. It will all be kicking off in just a month and a half. We’ll soon be back together full-time and of course we’ll get fed up of each other now and again, but in the end it’s a lot of fun. You sacrifice a bit of your summer holiday for it, but it’s definitely worth it.'
Floran: 'It’s either this or working in a factory. That was an easy choice for me!
What are you most looking forward to?
Floran: 'The days themselves. That’s going to be one hell of an experience. We’ll stand back and think: we did this.'
Annouk: 'We’ve been planning everything since March and soon it will be a reality.'
Floran: 'I still find it hard to imagine that the entire city centre will soon be turned on its head. Because of us. It’s crazy.'
Will you be joining in with the festivities too?
Annouk: 'We’re going to try.'
Maaike: 'We’ll do our best. We’ll be there, but I’m not sure how long we’ll last. That papas and mamas weekend will be quieter for us, so we hope we’ll be able to enjoy ourselves more then. The introductory week itself is incredibly busy and you’re on the go all the time, but during the barbecue we’ll also be able to have the odd beer. We’ll all be there together – it’s going to be amazing! And everyone will be there because of us.'
Annouk: 'I think it's going to be about the little moments, too. Because it’s so busy, every now and again you have to just leave everything for five minutes and just think: wow.'
Who is actually behind the introductory week in Deventer? The board members introduce themselves.
Maaike Beernink (Chemistry)
'I'm 22 years old and this year I’m the coordinator of the Introductory Week board. I’ve been a board member for the last three years but this year I am taking the reins. We want to put on an unforgettable introductory week! During the introductory week, I’ll be responsible for the main issues, for example, the budget, the permits, and keeping track of everything.'
Raoul Fix (Chemistry)
'I'm 21 years old and currently in the third year of the Chemistry programme. Last year I helped out as a crew member and supported the board. This year I wanted to take on the challenge of organising the 2019 introductory week. I’m mainly responsible for the Introductory Week app, the sponsors, and of course supporting the rest of the board.I hope we’ll be able to put on a fantastic introductory week for you!'
Dominique Evers (Chemistry)
'I’m 24 years old and last year I was the introductory week photographer. I also had the opportunity to help out with some other things, and both the board and I enjoyed it so much that I put myself forward to be a board member. For this introductory week I am responsible for the Information Market, the pizza party, and a few smaller things. I hope you’ll have an unforgettable introductory week. See you then!'
Floran Douma (Applied Psychology)
'I’m 22 years old and this year I’ll be supporting the Introductory Week board for the first time. At the moment I’m in the third year of the Applied Psychology programme, and I’m specialising in health psychology. During my studies I have developed a taste for student activism, and I like to put my own spin on it. That’s why I’m also on the board of my programme’s study association, so I already have some experience of being on a board. During the introductory week I have the honour of organising the activities for the Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll do my best to make it as fun and sociable as possible for you!'
Annouk van der Lely (Tourism Management)
'I’m 21 years old and graduated from the Tourism Management programme in June. I’m helping to organise the introductory week because I have always had a passion for events and hospitality. Besides that, I also love the atmosphere it creates and meeting so many new people! For the introductory week I’m mainly involved in the logistical planning, communications, and PR, and I am the link between the international and Dutch students. Hope to see you soon!'
Ismail Aifa (International Business)
'I'm 21 years old and studying International Business in Deventer. I’m a hyper-energetic Egyptian dude who’s raring to go! I love food, food, and more food. And... the odd drink in between!'
Simona Balabanova (International Business Innovation and Technology)
'I’m from Bulgaria and am studying International Business Innovation and Technology. I like to talk and I’m quite the extrovert. I’m really looking forward to meeting as many new people as possible from different backgrounds!'