06 september 2018

The first lecture

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I’m on the train. Finally. Commuting between Utrecht and Amsterdam on a Monday morning is never a joy, but today it seems worse. Must be because it is the first Monday of September. I’m reliving my dream of last night. I was too late, I did not prepare well and it was a mess. I’m getting slightly nervous.

When I exit the train I feel more excited than nervous. I see so many students. I wave to a student who was my first year student last year. What a change he’s made. More conscious, knows what he wants, and what not. He’s become much more mature. It’s amazing what one year at university can do to students.

It's their first lecture, but mine as well I see many students. New students, they walk from the train, they exit the metro. All transport to the VU is full. I look at the new students and wonder who will be in my lecture hall later today. I will introduce them to our course: Introduction to Biomedical Sciences. It's their first lecture, but mine as well. I have given presentations about my PhD to 250 scientists before, and yet this feels quite different. These are students, scientists to be. I will educate them the coming year. Guide them through the maze that can be university and help them how and where they can subscribe to courses.

I buy a coffee to calm my nerves. I know for sure that the students are as nervous for this moment as I am. In my office I check the slides of my presentation for the last time. All looks fine. It’s all in there, structured and clear. This is what the students need to do in the coming weeks.

Most of the students actually wanted to study medicineWhen I enter the lecturer hall, there are already students waiting. Chit-chatting away in Dutch, off course. The language they feel most comfortable in. More and more students enter. I feel the nervous excitement rising as I take the microphone. Here we go!

Thirty-five minutes later I have plenty of time to answer all the questions. The question that stood out the most was “How can I prepare for the English language test?” My answer? “Well, did you pass English in high school? Yes? Then you should be fine. I mean you chose to study Biomedical Sciences in English for a reason, right?” A wave of laughter rolls through the lecture hall. Off course I know why. Most of the students actually wanted to study medicine… and not Biomedical Sciences. Still, they chose to be here, to study Biomedical Sciences in English. It will be a challenge. For them and for me.

After the lecture I realized I have missed being around students. I will face the challenges with a lot of renewed energy after this lecture! Challenge accepted!

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