What on earth are you still doing on campus?
“I’m an Arts and Culture Studies study advisor at ESHCC. During the summer, my work mostly consists of helping students who are in trouble, ranging from first-year students who didn’t obtain enough credits to be allowed to stay at the university to Master’s students whose theses have been rejected. Summer is the busiest period of the year for me, because if things go wrong, it will typically be at this time of year. Moreover, I’m the only study advisor for the eight programmes that come under Arts and Culture Studies.”
So are you actually allowed to go on holiday during these months?
“Yes, I am. I haven’t been told not to, but I hardly ever do it. My job is to support and advise students. Students don’t want to wait two weeks for their e-mails to be answered, so I don’t really want to leave them, either. It doesn’t bother me much, though. I started doing this work 12.5 years ago because I wanted to help students, and I still enjoy doing that a lot.”
But surely you worked from home during the days when we were suffering tropical temperatures?
“No, I was here even last week, when it was so hot. We were allowed to work from home, but unfortunately, that’s not an option in my position. Students can call or swing by at any time.”
What are these busy weeks like, what with all your students’ emotions running high?
“It’s a very beautiful time of year. Obviously, when you’re dealing with sad students all day, you’ll feel less cheerful by the time you’re going home. And things can definitely get emotional around here, because people either give off a lot of energy or drain yours. But I’m also thoroughly energized by my new students or by students who have just, say, completed their theses.”
How much contact do you have with students in an average summer?
“A lot. Of course there are also plenty of students I’ll never see, but other students I’ll see every month. I also maintain eight programmes’ Facebook groups, as well as replying to their e-mails and answering their phone calls, many of which come from abroad. These will be international students who have returned to Rotterdam for a little while or Dutch students who were told their theses had been rejected while on holiday.”
What will the next few weeks be like for you?
“Very busy, because all the induction programmes must be organised, as well. Our teams always make a concerted effort to ensure those first few weeks are good. This is the time of year we have most fun. Even after twelve years, I never find myself thinking, here we go again. It’s the greatest job in the world, even in summer.”
When will you be able to take a break?
“Not until the end of Block 1, in November. The marks for the exams will have been announced by then, and all the new students will have landed on their feet. I’m going on holiday in December. I’ll be spending three weeks in Australia. No, I don’t think the students will miss me. It’s the perfect time of year to go away. It’s too early for any crucial obstacles to have arisen. They won’t arise until the next year.”