We’re at the house of KEI mum Anne Veldink, a student at Hanze University. The students are slowly trickling in. They’re shy, looking around, waiting for anyone but them to speak first. I’m already holding my first beer, but it’s clear the KEI kids aren’t used to the student drinking culture yet.
Thirty minutes after the agreed meeting time, there are still some kids missing. Groningen might be small, but you can still get lost. Once everyone has arrived, KEI leader Marit Coster gives her introductory speech. There are rules about alcohol, drugs, and how to stay safe; all important issues during the introduction week.
People start making jokes, and some of them have found the beer. From the kitchen, people bring in steaming bowls of lasagne and pasta, heating up the room by a few degrees.
Studying comes first
Some of the kids did their research and have already registered with Albertus, Cleopatra, or Dizkartes. Others will take the week to scope out associations and see if joining up is their thing. ‘My main focus is on studying’, says future Media Studies student Luuk Gelderman, ‘but I did register with Cleopatra today; there will be time to socialise as well.’
All these kids are about to enter a new phase in their life: adulthood. Esthy Meijer, Global Responsibility and leadership student, expects she’ll be learning a lot about responsibility. She lived on her own in Ghana for a while and will do so in Groningen as well.
The kids also expect financial hardship. Almost all of them are borrowing as much as they can, and they’re all looking for jobs. Their financial future is bright red, rather than just bright.
Joris Kok has come up with a motto for the coming year: ‘Just try. When things start to go sideways, try harder.’ He’s starting Art History in September, and he hopes to get his degree in three years. He’s thinking of becoming an art dealer. The rest of the group can imagine him on The Antiques Road Show.
But finishing their studies is not at the forefront of their minds tonight. The KEI week has only just started, and it’s time to get a taste of their new lives.