For Leon Verbakel (18) the holiday actually started in April. His final exams were canceled, there was no final party either, so he had plenty of time to prepare for his first China Studies studies at the University of Leiden. “I just started looking for a room.”
He has now been living in rooms for a month and has got to know the city a bit. But an introduction week is an important addition to him. “Now I only know my roommates in Leiden and a distant acquaintance. This introduction period is also intended to make friends. There is so much on offer: such an introduction is indispensable in my opinion.”
Together with 4000 other first-years, Leon started this week on ‘EL CID’, the introduction period for students who will study in Leiden this year. Other cities will follow with their introduction programs later this month.
Into the trash
Committees are often already busy with the introduction weeks for the following academic year from the autumn onwards. The scripts for the upcoming edition were trashed in March when the corona virus broke out.
But no introduction week at all was not an option for most organizations, says Mirthe Haanappel of the National Consultation and Contact Introduction Weeks (LOCI). “We looked at scenarios from completely virtual to completely physical and everything in between. Here in Leiden we are somewhere in the middle: we have a virtual and physical program.”
Quiz and debate
The program in Leiden mainly consists of digital workshops and presentations. Students get to know sports and dance from behind their laptop, but also get to know their mentor and fellow students with an online quiz and, again online: a debate.
Introduction weeks are organized by universities and colleges in collaboration with local study and student associations. During this week, associations can promote themselves and students get a glimpse of their new study city.
Influence on study results
According to experts, the first 100 days of a new study period, including the introduction, are very important. “Atmosphere, attention and involvement are extremely important for a great study success. If you feel at home, it influences your studies”, says Stephan Plat, lecturer and propaedeutic coordinator at the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen.
“What you do notice is that students who do not participate in the first week are hidden. They have not experienced what 80 percent of the class did. The other group has yet to prove itself”, notes Plat.
In a majority of the introduction weeks, turnout this year is higher than usual. Especially in these special times, an introduction week seems like the opportunity to make something of it this year.
“This batch is also very special, we also call them ‘the students of never before’. They have not had a final exams, graduation trip or a gala. And this sounds a bit gloomy, but together we give it a positive twist “, says Desi Hubers of Intree Amsterdam.
According to the introduction committee in Enschede, the increased enthusiasm can be explained by the fact that the price you pay for participation has dropped and you can now actually have an online presence in Enschede from all over the world.
Ready for a new start
“We also feel that the prospective students, after spending a long period at home, are now ready for a new start and the associated activities and information”, says Sabine de Winter of the Kick-In introduction week.