How do you achieve the goals you set for yourself? This question is often on 19-year-old Paul’s mind. And it doesn’t take long for him to bring it up – even before we’ve left campus. Paul enjoys hosting events, public speaking, presenting – but where do you find a job in that line of work? He eventually answers this question himself: by undertaking extracurricular activities that help you gain experience in this area. “In the beginning, I wasn’t sure that IBCoM (International Bachelor Communication and Media) was the right programme for me. We have a strong focus on the theoretical aspects of the field – wouldn’t a university of applied sciences suit me better?” Still, by now he’s happy he chose this programme. The subjects are interesting and there’s still enough time to do other things besides studying. He’s currently working with an old friend in Germany on an event scheduled for December. They may get access to a stage in the city Lohne and want to organise a late-night show with live entertainment there.

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Happy with a room in Hatta

After exiting the campus grounds, we run into groups of students sprawling on beanbags, catching rays. They’re obviously having a good time together. Seeing this good cheer, Paul notes that he hasn’t once regretted his decision to live at the Hatta Building. “I was very fortunate to get a room here. I suspect that in times like these, you’re a lot lonelier in a ‘regular’ student house. When I moved in, I knew: ‘Everyone’s new here’. Which makes it a lot easier to meet new people. And of course, we had parties here too – not as many as the folks at Xior though. And I have to keep an eye on my health. I have a chronic condition, for which I have to take medication that affects my immunity. Living in Hatta, if I want to see a friend, all I have to do is go down two flights of stairs. Including after curfew.”

Paul Hartwig
Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

'Dubai was fantastic'

Things were hardly this cosy back in late December and early January, recounts Paul as we walk through Kralingen on our way back to campus. A lot of people went home for the holidays. Paul spent Christmas with family but had returned to Rotterdam before New Year’s. Hatta was very quiet. “And then a friend who lives in Dubai asked me whether I wanted to come by. I still often feel that I have to justify my decision to go over there. I decided to make new memories. I had never been outside of Europe, and when would I get another opportunity like that? It felt great to have something to look forward to again. This lockdown can be quite heavy sometimes.” Paul says he hesitated for a long time. Still, he’s happy he went to Dubai. “It was fantastic.”