by Ancilla D. Giannina
Summer is long gone, and so is the legendary annual week-long welcome event for new students, Freshtival. That does not mean we cannot write about it.
Freshtival takes place every summer. This year, September 24 to 28 was a week full of fun, new faces from diverse countries.
“Freshtival is to make the best start for new students,” said Amélie Klimach, the Welcome Centre coordinator. “In the beginning of their study, we have to make them feel like home.”
Freshtival orientation week offers a glimpse of the school and student life in Germany. Becoming familiar with the campus and the city can help newcomers understand what lies ahead. After all, it is a whole new environment, and for some, a whole new country.
“Also, we want to bring both international and national students together,” Klimach said. “We can see that people that come from the same country tend to be friends, but we want everyone to be friends, no matter where you are from.”
This year’s Freshtival week was the fifth Freshtival. Jasmine Gondokusumo, a Freshtival volunteer, says that Freshtival should provide a lot of fun and informative activities in order to make the experience memorable.
“Freshtival plays a really important role in students’ lives because the first week of the university matters,” Gondokusumo said. “If you don’t enjoy it in the first week, then you won’t enjoy the university life later.”
Activities like “Get the Basics” and “How To Survive In Germany” gave new students information and tips on how the university and the country work. For example, how to setup the university email or how to open and use Moodle, the digital platform where all coursework lives.
Freshtival is set up and planned mostly by students. Therefore, the team understands what it is like to be a Fresher. Yuri Gonçalves Damasceno, a fifth semester student from Brazil volunteered at the Freshtival. He says that the planning is carefully considered.
“We always try to put ourselves back in our Fresher shoes,” Damasceno said. “We ask questions like ‘Would a Fresher like this?’ or ‘Would a Fresher feel comfortable doing such a thing?’”
To challenge students in a physical way, Freshtival provided new students with activities like “Let’s Get Physical”. In this activity, students could try various sports such as badminton, basketball, table tennis and volleyball.
“Sport brings people together,” Klimach said. “So we hope that new students can improve their social life through all of these activities.”
The Freshtival contained much more than normal sports. Some inspiration came from Hollywood. Students that wanted to try something new, Freshtival introduced the Quidditch Cup, a competition inspired by the famous Harry Potter.
Meanwhile the “Homecoming Cup” was a competition that combined strength and teamwork in various challenges, like running, boat racing, cycling, soccer and wall climbing. The Cup was a good platform to meet higher semester students, since they are allowed to participate as well.
Some parts of the Freshtival included city exploration. Groups gathered for a city rally to help prospective students learn more about the city. University life means also means parties. So, activities like Pub Crawl and Freshtival Party introduced people to the city’s most famous party places. It is a balanced work-life lifestyle, after all.
“I guess the message that the Freshtival tries to pass every single year is that it’s an event about bonding, solidarity and new beginnings,” Damasceno said. “It’s an unpredictable event with only one certainty: it will be engraved in your memory to eternity.”