For many students this is their first chance to get to know Saxion, their fellow students, and in some cases even the city of Enschede: 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? We catch up with chairperson Natasja Schroeder and Kelvin Meyer of Enschede’s Introductory Week board.
Hi Natasja and Kelvin! So where do you start when it comes to organising the introductory week?
Natasja: 'We started dividing up the tasks in March: who’s going to do what? We then organised a brainstorming evening with the student associations, where we asked them what they thought of last year’s introductory week and what might need to be done differently. We used that input as the starting point. It’s different for each task. For the activities, we just started emailing companies to ask them if they would be able to help us again. We did the same for sponsors.'
Kelvin: 'I made a list of all the sponsors from previous years, but I also looked at other companies that cater to students. The emails I wrote to them were more targeted, less general. We also walked around Enschede, and we actually came across a new café. They were already thinking about approaching us, so that was good timing.'
What kind of feedback did you get from the student associations?
Natasja: 'It was pretty positive, actually. They mostly told us that they wanted to keep certain things. Only a few small issues cropped up, such as wanting to see more variety in the food or about certain activities that they liked or didn’t like. We took all that on board. In general, they were happy with the activities and organisation, so that’s pretty easy to carry on with.'
Which phase are you in now?
Natasja: 'For most things we’re crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. I’ll still be busy until after the introductory week.'
Kelvin: 'I’m also putting the finishing touches to things, even though companies are still coming to us at the last minute saying that they want to be involved. I’ll be taking a week off soon, so I won’t be replying to emails at all for a few days. You’re expected to be available in the three weeks leading up to the introductory week, so I’ll be around again then.'
What can the students expect this year?
Natasja: 'That’s a good question. The programme is generally the same as last year.'
Kelvin: 'Yes, that was a success. It always is, actually.'
Natasja: 'That really went down very well. And this year we were able to book good artists again for the concert.'
How did you manage to get Gers Pardoel, Dio, and The Euros?
Kelvin: 'That was the result of a collaboration with Enschede Promotie and the University of Twente’s Kick Inn. We talked to all the bars and restaurants on the Oude Markt to come up with the programme for the introductory concert. We thought about what and who might work: Do they suit our target group or are they a bit childish? Will they captivate the audience? These are the kinds of things that we discussed and agreed on. Gers Pardoel is very well known and that was important for the main act. And we think that Dio will get everyone in the swing of things. The Euros will put on an amazing finale.'
I’ve taken part four times now – as a kiddo, a mama, a crew member, and a "super mama" – and each time has been amazing fun. It’s just a week you’ll always remember.
What will the highlights of the introductory week in Enschede be?
Natasja: 'I think the entire introductory week will be one big highlight. Monday and Tuesday are the School days: everyone gets to know their class and the School. On Wednesday we kick things off by decorating the shirts, and after that there's a festival in Volkspark all afternoon where they learn all about student life, and of course the concert at Oude Markt will be really cool. The following day is packed with activities, and then there’s the closing party at De Jaargetijden in the evening. I’ve taken part four times now – as a kiddo, a mama, a crew member, and a "super mama" – and each time has been amazing fun. It’s just a week you’ll always remember.'
At what point do you consider the introductory week to have been a success?
Natasja: 'If we get positive feedback and people have had fun. As long as people have had a great first week and they say: this is where I want to be and this is where I want to study.'
Kelvin: 'That they can look back on it fondly – both the first-year students and everyone who helps out.'
What’s it like being on the Introductory Week board?
Kelvin: 'It’s great, but it’s a lot more work than I expected.'
Natasja: 'At the moment I’m in contact with all the participants and I’m spending most of my summer holiday replying to emails, but I did make a pretty good estimate of how much time I would need so at least it’s not taking up more time than expected. But it’s been a lot of fun, and we’re organising something amazing and special for the first-year students. If it makes them feel welcome, then we’re happy!'
What were your experiences of the introductory week when you were new students?
Natasja: 'As a first-year student, I thought it was really cool. When I started, I had no idea what was in store for me and what was expected of me. But then there’s a study association ready and waiting for you, to guide you, and you get to know your class, your School, and the city. At some point, you start to feel more relaxed and at home and you get to know everyone better. Then you get to the Wednesday and Thursday of introductory week and you think: wow, that’s going to be an amazing party. During the introductory week you make friends who will be with you throughout the rest of your studies – that was certainly the case for me.'
Has much actually changed since then?
Natasja: 'No, not much has changed. The programme is largely the same. Every now and then a different location might be used and every year there are new artists, performances, and activities, but they are small-scale things. In the years after I was a kiddo, the whole thing did get a lot bigger.'
Are you guys looking forward to it?
Natasja: 'So much! I’m really looking forward to it.'
Kelvin: 'Definitely. The part I'm looking forward to the most is the Introduction Concert. That took a lot of time to organise, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the end result.'
Will you be joining in with the festivities too?
Natasja: 'Absolutely. We won’t be drinking much alcohol obviously, because we have to be contactable and on the ball. But in the evening we are free and then we can join in and enjoy ourselves, for example at the concert and the final party. We definitely want to enjoy that – and we will!'
Who is actually behind the introductory week in Enschede? The board members introduce themselves.
Natasja Schroeder (Chemistry/Crime Science)
'In my first year, I took part as a kiddo and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately signed up for my study association’s committee that helps to organise the introductory week. In my second year, I chaired my study association's committee, and in my third year I led the committee as a member of the Internal Affairs Committee. So each year I’ve taken on a bit more responsibility. To continue this trend, I wanted to be a member of the Introductory Week board. I’ve been chairperson for a while now and I'm really enjoying it. I’m learning what it’s like to take on a leading role, to organise an amazing week for first-year students, and to work together with this great team. I highly recommend it!'
Niek Beld (Industrial Engineering and Management)
'My programme trains its students to combine technology and management. Being a member of the board fits in perfectly with this. I chose to get involved because it allows me to develop as a board member and manager. I am responsible for logistics, catering, and organising the Saxion Summer Festival. I hope everyone will be as enthusiastic about it as I am, so that together we can organise a fantastic 2019 introductory week!'
Thijmen Stavenuiter (Computer Science)
'This is my third year of involvement with the introductory week. In my first year, the students took over the organisation again. Back then, we had to start everything from scratch. We had to determine what we wanted to do and what we didn't want to do, but most importantly how we wanted to do it. For the last two years, I’ve assumed final responsibility for the introductory week on behalf of the board.Because we get such positive feedback every year, it’s a wonderful event to organise. I had some free time, so I thought why not help again this year? I support Natasja where necessary as vice chairperson and am primarily responsible for the introductory week portal for group leaders and the app.'
Kelvin Meyer (HBO-ICT Software Engineering)
'I’ve been involved with various things at Saxion, such as helping first-year students as a student assistant. After organising a number of smaller parties, I thought it would be great to organise something a bit bigger for a change. I am responsible for the cooperation between the companies and the introductory week, such as arranging gadgets for the infobag, but also getting companies on board and organising activities at the festival. It’s an amazing experience and I hope to see you all at introductory week 2019!'
Darlainne Pardo (Chemical Engineering)
'I’m from Aruba and this will be my third year in the Netherlands, so I’ve decided to get more involved and get to know more people. I already help to organise excursions to companies with my study committee and I thought it would be nice to try something new. I had a great time at the introductory week in my first year and it made it easy for me to get to know my classmates. I found it all a bit nerve-racking at the time, because I’d just moved here and didn’t know anyone. People know how to party here and I have every faith that the board will put on an amazing event. Hope to see you all at the introductory week!'
Ada Kilichowska (Architecture and Construction Engineering)
'I took part in the introductory week last year and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to take part again this year. Since I didn’t want to have to repeat my first year, I looked into other ways I could get involved. I think organising a party for so many people is a great challenge. I’m very proud to be able to play my part in this and hope that together we can make the 2019 introductory week even more fun and amazing than previous years.'
Patricia Cosma (International Business)
'I’m an exchange student from Romania and to get the most out of my five months in the Netherlands, I decided to apply to be a member of the Introductory Week board. I do a lot of voluntary work back home and in Enschede I wanted to do something similar. I am part of a great Dutch team, with whom I can practice the language, learn new things, and develop my personal skills. The introductory week is a great way to meet new people and it’s kind of a pity that it is only organised in the summer. In other words: you really don’t want to miss this!'