All of us in the Blog Committee started our university experience in 2020, which as I am sure you are aware of means our first year was during the peak of the Covid pandemic. For this reason, we didn’t have lectures and classes in person but instead were all confined to our own rooms, being taught via Zoom. This wasn’t quite what all of us expected our first year of university to look like, but instead of focusing on the negatives Covid presented us with, this blog will list the highlights and tips from our first year of uni.
Firstly, for all you international students reading this blog, whether already studying at the VU or an incoming student, moving to the Netherlands and especially Amsterdam is a very exciting but nerve-wracking experience. It most likely is the first time you’re moving away from home and moving to a new and unfamiliar culture, not knowing quite what to expect. I had the opportunity to live in the international tower in Uilenstede, which is the VU’s student accommodation campus. Living here for the first year of my studies and especially during Covid, let me meet tons of people who were also new to Amsterdam but with extremely different backgrounds. (As a quick reference, there are 14 floormates who you share a kitchen with and within our floor we had 10 different nationalities and cultures combining.)
A common question for all people starting university is if they are going to find a load of friends and meet lots of new people, and sometimes people are scared for this to not come true. What everybody should remember and was heightened for our first year due to Covid, is that everybody is in the same boat. Nobody knows anybody and everybody wants to meet new people, so it’s important to try and put yourself out there as much as possible.
Another very common tip given for incoming university students is to say “yes” as much as possible. Now before coming to university, if I didn’t think an idea sounded fun or interesting to me, I would find an excuse not to go. Taking this tip and trying to remember it as much as possible in my first year really let me have experiences, I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Whether it was really fun, or you found something interesting, or you didn’t enjoy the activity too much but maybe you got to know somebody better because of it, one thing you’ll not regret is trying as many different things out as possible.
Now academically our first year began a bit chaotic. Everybody was new to online education and because of this many technological issues arose. Whether this was hackers joining the lectures and tutorials, the lecturers Wi-Fi cutting off halfway through or people accidentally leaving their microphone on. We experienced everything that could go wrong, go wrong. Even with all the difficulties we managed to make it through the first year smoothly and for all you incoming students, we’re sure you will too.