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First-year student experiences

Each year, many new students start their study at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. Every student has had different experiences during their first study year. We now present you the stories of two first-year students who look back on their study year.

Human Geography & Urban and Regional Planning (by Wout van Hoorn)

Hi! Good to know that you are reading this beautiful magazine of our faculty called Girugten. The past year I got the opportunity to experience the first year of the bachelor Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning, more often referenced to as HGP (something which is good to know when you hear other people talking about the study). In this first week of the study, there are multiple opportunities to meet fellow students and I strongly advise to make use of this opportunity. Make sure you join the introduction weekend of the faculty association Ibn Battuta, this is a weekend of fun activities and a good opportunity to make friends in your study right at the start of the year. The weekend takes places on the beautiful ‘waddeneiland’ Ameland and each year more than 100 first-year students join this weekend.

In the first semester (a semester is half a year) you will follow four interesting courses. This week you will have the first lecture of Urbanism and Planning, which is will be given by Mr Boisen. You will probably be blown away by the amount of information he gives during his lectures, at least so was I last year. Nevertheless, I thought that these were one of the most interesting lectures of the first year. You will get a good introduction into the field of planning and will get to know the history of it. In the second half of the first semester, you will have one of the most challenging courses of the first year, Statistic 1. I would really recommend you, to attend all the lectures, computer practicals and seminars of the course, as you will need this to pass the course. I learned it the hard way and I will be joining you in November during the Statistics 1 lectures.

During the introduction weekend last year, I was introduced to Ibn Battuta, which is the faculty association of Spatial Sciences. During the weekend I got a lot of information about the different activities they organize and which opportunities they will offer you. After the introduction weekend, I decided that I also wanted to become an active member of the association. Later in September in replied to the committee applications and was invited for a meeting, and got accepted into the Excursion committee. This appeared to be a great chance to get to know students from other years and also from the other bachelor. Together with the committee, we organised multiple excursions which we really enjoyed. At the end of the year, we organised the second short foreign excursion, which was a four-day trip to Denmark and Germany. To organise such an excursion was an interesting experience. If you have some spare time next to your study and want to become an active member of Ibn Battuta I would really recommend joining a committee this year, the committee applications open in September so keep an eye open for that.

As the first semester progresses, we had to plan an activity with our Learning Community. The first activity was organised by our mentors and we went to ‘Groningen Bereikbaar’, which is a planning company in the city of Groningen. Later in the year, we organised two more activities to do with our Learning Community as these were required for the first course in the second semester. Together with our Learning Community, we joined a lecture in the city centre about the effects of climate change on the planning of the city. This turned out to be a very interesting lecture. I really enjoyed the activities I did together with my Learning Community as they were very interesting. Altogether, I really enjoyed my first year of bachelor Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning. I got the opportunity to meet a lot of new people and to gain a lot of experience. I hope I informed you well enough. I wish you all the luck the coming year with the study and I hope to see you during the introduction weekend, or maybe later in the year during an activity or social drink!

Spatial Planning and Design (by Saskia Nauta)

Hi everyone! My name is Saskia Nauta. I am a 19-year-old girl from the city of Utrecht, in the middle of the Netherlands. Last year I was a first-year student Spatial Planning and Design (SPD) at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. I really enjoyed the programme last year and expect to do so next year. That is why I would like to tell you about the first year.

It all starts with the introduction day, this is probably where you got this magazine. This magazine is called Girugten and it is a magazine produced by students from the faculty. Every issue contains interesting articles about things especially interesting for students of the faculty [we agree, red.].

Back to the introduction day, you all have been placed in a learning community with two mentors from your study. There is a possibility that I will be your mentor since I am mentoring together with my friend Bart.

With this group, you will have a very fun day of doing all sorts of things. Afterwards, I really recommend you to go to the first social drink of the beautiful student association Ibn Battuta. You can enjoy a nice beer or soft drink in ‘T Gat van Groningen, which is our ‘stamkroeg’.

When this day is over, the year will really start. In the first period, you will follow the courses Urbanism and Planning (10 ECTs) and Power of Design (5 ECTs). Urbanism and Planning is a course that is generally really loved. Personally, I also really enjoyed the course. It feels like one big history lesson on cities which is really interesting but also told by the lecturers as a beautiful story. Power of Design is also a very interesting course. This course is only followed by spatial planning and design students. It forms a really nice basis for the rest of your education.

The second period, you will do the courses Economic Geography and Statistics 1. Economic Geography was not one of my favourite courses, but usually people with a more economically involved background like it. For statistics, I would advise you to really keep up with the work since the course is being seen as a rather difficult one.

Then there is the second half of the year which starts with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Introduction to Academic Research. GIS was one of my favourites, I really liked this course because it was practical and I felt like I made a lot of progress. Introduction to Academic Research is the first course in the programme where you need to write a paper. My advice for this is to choose a subject you are actually interested in reading about it. This makes the amount of reading way more comprehensible.

The last period you have two courses that are only for Spatial Planning and Design students again. These courses are after each other. First, you have 6 weeks of Spatial Design Atelier, in which you do a lot of group work about a certain area. In the last 3 weeks, you have Spatial Design Standards and Conditions. This course goes really quick, so make sure you pay attention.

Overall, I enjoyed my year mostly because I was also actively involved in the faculty. I became part of the first-year committee of Ibn Battuta. This was super fun and a great way to meet older students at the faculty, with more experience in student life.

I also was the Programme Committee member representing the first-year students of Spatial Planning and Design. This is something you can become through the student interest movement Pro Geo.

My last small advice for all of you is to of course work hard, but also take good care of yourself and find things you like to do!

I hope you will have a very lovely year!

Group picture of the Introduction Weekend on Ameland, September 2018. Picture by Ibn Battuta

These articles were first published in the Freshmen edition (Year 50 of Girugten – issue 01 –  September 2019).

Articles and other publications that are created by the enthusiastic and talented Girugten Editorial Team. Examples are news items and the digital versions of the Girugten magazines. We hope that you like our content!


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