Never before has the master’s student in Criminology stood in front of such an enormous venue. “My largest audience so far was at the constitution reception, with around three hundred people”, she laughs. In any event, she regards the past few months of preparation as a very good learning experience. “You are forced to step out of your comfort zone. It is a fantastic challenge; I can recommend it to everyone!

That speech on 15 August is not only an exciting occasion for her, it is also that for the more than four thousand participants in the introduction week. Nijbroek can still vividly remember the feeling Eurekaweek evoked in her when she took part back in 2018. “I felt completely at home here straight away. It really is the start of your new life, it gives you a glimpse into what awaits you in your student years,” she recalls in the small office of the Eurekaweek organisation in the G-building basement.

No more doom scenarios

Last year’s board was still burdened by all kinds of ‘doom scenarios’ during the preparations: what if corona rears its ugly head again? What if the government introduces new measures? Although in the end a lot of things could go ahead, it still put a lot of stress on the preparations. This year, everything is back to normal. “Of course, we do take such scenarios into account,” Nijbroek points out. “But we now consider last year’s week to represent the minimum of what is possible. However, we have contingency plans at the ready to split up and rotate events.”

Now that there was less time needed to think about corona lockdowns, there was more time to spend on new developments. Eurekaweek also keeps up with the times, so this year it will all be more sustainable, more inclusive and there will be more focus on student welfare.

Vegetarian food

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Eurekaweek will become more sustainable by reducing the amount of waste. For one thing, through the use of ‘hard cups’, as Nijbroek calls them, i.e., reusable mugs. All participants will also receive reusable ponchos and water bottles. Meat, the biggest polluter, has also been completely scrapped from the menu. The twice-daily meals that the Eurekaweek runners are served are all vegetarian.

This year, inclusivity was an integral part of the preparation for the week. “We had a student panel that looked critically at the programme for us. For instance, they said it would be great to go to the West-Kruiskade, or to Rotterdam-South. We have also made the food trucks at the festival more international.” The groups are also set up as inclusively as possible. “So, we make sure the female/male ratio is a bit the same everywhere, but also the proportion of international and Dutch students, and minors and adults.”

A contact point everywhere

In the unlikely event that something does go wrong, Nijbroek would like to remind all participants that there is a contact point. ” Professional people are available there to help you. There is also a place at each event where you can go to with your story. By doing this, we not only want to help students during Eurekaweek, but we also want to show them the way and lower the barrier for them to see a counsellor or a student psychologist later on in their studies. This should actually become as normal as talking to a student advisor about your studies.”

Some changes have also been made to the programme. Especially during the evenings, traditionally largely the domain of the student societies, Eurekaweek is offering a more extensive parallel programme this year. “For example, we have a karaoke evening and there are cultural workshops.”

When will she consider the week to be a success? “When I see those happy faces at the end, who have had a brilliant start to their studies in Rotterdam and are ready for student life!”

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