Why you should come to the INKOM!
From 21 to 25 August, nearly 3000 first-year students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in their new lives during the INKOM, the introduction week for new students Maastricht University and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. This year's edition is organised by the Workgroup INKOM -or WGI in short- which consists of five enthusiastic students who suspend their studies for one full year to focus on planning a successful introduction week.
WGI chair Sean Beuk remembers his own introduction week well. "On Monday, I was immediately swept up in a maelstrom that did not release it's hold for five days. It wasn't until Saturday that I finally had the chance to look back on everything that had happened. It was a great week. For me, that's the real INKOM feeling."
Last November, the WGI started brainstorming about the theme for INKOM 2017. They decided to go with 'Legends of Tomorrow'. "When you make the transition to becoming a student, you get a new start in life," says Sean. "You're given so many opportunities and everyone seizes them differently. Your development and your legendary path are entirely up to you."
The WGI organises the festivities with the help of nearly 200 volunteers. "Some 30 people man the Central Post, which is open 24 hours a day!" says Sean. "They serve as our right hand and help us during the two chore weeks before the start of INKOM. We also have three promotion managers, three acquisition managers, a logistics team, the MECC committee, which organises the MECC parties, and the technicians, which arrange the electricity and water supplies. During INKOM, we have another 120 crew members. They are responsible for assembling and disassembling the equipment, selling tokens, and taking care of publicity."
According to Sean, this huge group of volunteers is the driving force behind INKOM. "We're one big family. I was a crew member myself the first year. Last year, I finished my bachelor's degree in International Business. I didn't want to start a master's programme right away, but I did want to stay in Maastricht. That's how I ended up with the WGI. When the Workgroup was called to the stage after INKOM 2016, I knew I wanted to join them the following year."
"We often hear people say, 'I already know the city, so I don't need to come to the INKOM.' But you get to know the city from a student's perspective during the INKOM, so you'll see an entirely different side of Maastricht. This week will provide you with a 'social start' - something you'll need to successfully start your life as a student."
Would you like to join the INKOM?
The number of registrations for INKOM is skyrocketing. Last year, the event was completely sold out. So please make sure that you register for INKOM and the parties as soon as possible. Visit the INKOM website for more information.
All students will be divided into introduction groups. "We try to create a good mix of Dutch/international, male/female and over-18/under-18 when compiling the groups. Each group also consists of several students from the same faculty. We also take preferences into account. Students can indicate their preferences – information, social contact, parties – when their register. We try to keep all of these things in mind when creating the groups so that the expectations are more or less the same across all mentor groups."
This year's INKOM programme has changed slightly compared to last year. "We moved the annual information fair from Wednesday to Monday," says Sean. "The theme of this year's fair is 'Welcome to Maastricht' and will be attended by various organisations, from student accommodation agencies to political parties and cultural institutions. We also created a lounge corner for the first time this year, where you can have lunch and chill out. On Wednesday, we're organising Picnic @ the Park together with the student association Amphytrion. Participants can enjoy a free lunch and relax after the first few busy days."
The rest of the programme includes a sports day, a cultural festival, a film and nightly parties, including two big parties at the MECC. Some of the activities – namely, the opening party on Monday night at the market square, the festival on Tuesday afternoon in the Stadspark and the Cultifest on Wednesday night near the Bonnefantenmuseum – are also open to non-students. "We organise three or four events each day," says Sean. "INKOM participants are free to join all of these events, but nothing is mandatory."
The biggest cantus in the world
The annual cantus, which will be held on Thursday night, has grown into the biggest in the world. "We read that the biggest cantus in the world was held in Germany and involved 4,000 students. With our 7,000 students, we'll be exceeding that number by far! This is a real experience! It's just one of those things you really have to join. You see people come in and think - 'What on earth is happening here?' - the atmosphere is really friendly. It's fun to sing songs and dance with other people. And everyone's happy! It truly is a unique event."
- number of fences in metres: 3,200
- number of participants in 2016: 2,731
- number of available tickets in 2017: 2,900
- average number of activities per day: 4
- the INKOM has had the same safety manager for 27 years
photo's by Spinning Wheels
Clear agreements have been made to make sure the introduction week runs smoothly for everyone – the participants, the organisers, and the local residents. "We are in touch with the fire department, the police, and the Civil Enforcement Team of the municipality of Maastricht," says Sean. "Of course, the participants will be drinking, but we have an effective alcohol policy in place. The mentors are trained in advance and we don't have happy hours during registration, we don't serve strong spirits, and don't make beer cheaper than soft drinks. We also have a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking. Everyone is given a wristband that indicates whether they are or are not allowed to drink alcohol. If you break the rules during an INKOM activity, you're immediately kicked out."
Sean is looking forward to the upcoming INKOM activities. "In the end, we hope the groups stay together after INKOM and become lifelong friends," says the chair with a smile on his face. "But even if that doesn't happen, the introduction week is more than worth it. After this week, you'll know your way around Maastricht, you'll know what to expect from your studies and you'll have a better understanding of student life in Maastricht."
text: Meyke Houben and Joyce Larue