Published on: 24 December 2020
Written by: Elizardo Laclé
Everybody probably already knows you, either from being in a committee or being active at any literally almost any activity, ever. But, for those who don’t, could you introduce yourself?
Uhm, yes, myself. I’m Yusuf. Hi. Nice to meet you. In these interviews they usually talk about where they’re from. I’m from Zwolle, but I was born in Rotterdam. And if you’re wondering why I’m brown, it’s because I’m from South Africa. Other than that… I guess I should talk about hobbies. I like music. I produce some music and I play the piano, but I’m not very good at either of those things. And I like football and hanging out with people and those kind of things.
Hahaha, that’s a lot to do
I mean its hard to introduce myself, I mean its an experience. You have to meet me , you have to know. Oh, and I am vegan, that’s also important!
Very important! So, Yusuf: born in Rotterdam, went to Zwolle, has lived in South Africa. Wait, you have lived there right?
Yes I did, for 2 years. Between the age of 4 and 6. So I don’t remember much, but I do remember living there.
So in other words, you’ve been almost all over the Netherlands.. and South Africa.
Wait, just to be clear: I wasn’t born in Rotterdam. I was born in Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel. But nobody ever knows where this is, so I always say Rotterdam. But, I mean, all over the Netherlands… I do feel like I have been across, which is also why I don’t have much of an accent in Dutch. Not really Rotterdams or anything. But yeah, it’s just two places. Oh I’ve also lived in Eindhoven for a few weeks, so I’m a Brabander as well!
Okay, let me get this straight: You were born in Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel (not Rotterdam!), then you went to Zwolle?
No, then I went back South Africa
Right! Then you went to Zwolle, then you lived in Eindhoven for a few weeks, then you moved to Nijmegen!
No I don’t know exactly where the Eindhoven-part comes in haha. I don’t really remember that either. It was just to add one more city, one more province to the list.
To add to the complexity: I would say that I lived in Cape Town (South Africa). But neither of my parents are actually from Cape Town, they both grew up in Durban. But half of my father’s family lives in Cape Town, so when we lived there, we were in Cape Town. So Cape Town is my city, but not my parents’. If that makes sense. So yeah that adds that extra city.
So many cities!
If someone asks me where I’m from, I’m always like… Eeeeeeeeeeeeeh. Because they often expect a one-word answer and I am just like here is my life-story.
But after all that travelling how did you end up in Nijmegen? How did that exactly happen?
Uhm, it seemed like a fun place to go. No, wait, this is also a fun story. I love fun stories haha. There was someone who came to my school to talk about AI. They were from Groningen and it sounded very interesting so I thought this seems cool. So after that I made the decision to do AI, the only question was where am I gonna do it. So I went to an open day in Groningen, which was fun. So then I checked out Nijmegen since I noticed they had AI as well, obviously. And I was not very interested at first since the presentation of Franc Grootjen was very entertaining but didn’t feel very informational to me. But I was like, “yeah, I’m going to apply anyways.” And then I realized, “Oh wait it’s numerus fixus.” And in the end I went through the whole process, during which I was very lucky. I accidentally missed a test and then they informed everyone that there were technical issues so people who couldn’t take it could have another try. And then after all that effort I was like “Am I really gonna throw this away? No”, which brought me here!
But have you’ve been living in Nijmegen since the start of your studies?
No, I was looking for a room here since the start, since it was a 2,5 hours commute. But I moved here around March/April, so two/three months before the end of my first year. So yeah that sucked as I had to travel for seven months both up and down to my parents. However since I have a room I have been living in the same place.
Nice. At least you could see it as an early birthday present. Cause your birthday is around May, if I’m correct?
It was actually my goal to have a room here on my birthday, to be able to celebrate it in Nijmegen. I knew there was a Beestfeest on my birthday, so I obviously needed a room for that. And I did! There was quite some time between the moment I heard that I got a room and when I actually moved in. At first I only had a sleeping bag here such that I could at least sleep in there since there was a n activity I really wanted to join. I think it was another Beestfeest, because I remember inviting some friends with some sleeping bags and we all slept on the floor. Because my room was completely unfurnished I had a lot of free space. In the end it was like the whole floor was filled with people hahaha.
Sounds fun, but you couldn’t drink at the time right? I believe you are the youngest in our cohort, aren’t you?
Yeah.. There was a party before the Beestfeest on which I turned 18. It was kind of a birthday party for me. A couple weeks before that, I had lost my tooth for the first time (Yes, this happened more than once). So I was still recovering from that, and I was on a lot of painkillers. So it was probably very amazing but I honestly really remember anything haha.
How did you even lose your tooth for the first time?
Oeh, uhm, the first time I lost it was at Batavieren-feest (Batavieren-party). After the Batavierenrace, there is this big party. It was very fun but in the end I slipped and fell, actually more of a faceplant. At first I thought it was fine, but then someone came up to me and he was like “here is your tooth by the way”. So I was like, “Wait what?!” So I thought it was all fine but at some point it started to hurt to I had to go see a dentist, even though I didn’t want to.
Damn and all of that before you were even 18, I think we should move on to something more positive then 😉! In your introduction you mentioned that you really like music. What kind of music do you produce?
Electronic music, just anything that I can because I don’t have recording stuff and I can’t sing. So anything I can produce. I have one song on Spotify since I created everything myself! For my other songs I sadly don’t have a license since I use short samples from other artists and build on that. If you want to listen to it you can find it both on YouTube and Spotify by searching for YusFM. Most of my songs are on YouTube though.
We listen to “Rock the House”. It’s very nice, you can check it out here! We talk a bit about producing music, making money out of it, and about other CognAC members who produce music.
I also participate in contests. I’ve never won, but it’s fun to join. The prizes are really big, sometimes you can win like a thousand euros. Would be really cool to win sometime, but maybe smaller contests are more for me. Anyways, I really like it: seeing how many plays you get, listen to other people’s music, etcetera. All of that stuff!
Seems cool indeed if there were some smaller prizes. But if we continue with more study related questions, which course did you like or hate the most?
I want to highlight multiple here. I really liked both Robotics and Formal Reasoning. For formal reasoning, I really liked the teachers and I think the way the course was taught really changed my way of looking at things. Same goes for APS by the way. I think the skills you learned there were very useful. Robotics was also a lot of fun. Especially since we could apply all the theory we learnt almost immediately in our robots. I feel really sad for the first-years of last year who had to do it in a digital environment.
Yeah, same. Hopefully the first-years of this year will be able to do it physically. However, is robotics also something you would like to do after your Bachelor?
Yes, actually. I haven’t given much thought on what I want to do after my Bachelor, so I can’t really give a proper answer. But robotics is definitely one of the parts of AI that I’ve always been interested in. As said before it seems nice to immediately have a (physical) representation of what you are working on.
That is very true indeed. Luckily you still have some time and you can also ask around, especially in your committees. You have been in four committees if I’m correct; the AC, the DAtA, the TraC and the WkC. But is there still a committee on your list that you want to do?
SkiCo!! Hahaha. I’m really happy with the committees I’m now in. But I am also considering branching out into one of the more serious committees such as SC or XC. As the committees I have done so far are mostly focussed on organising activities that are very fun not necessarily serious. So if I had to pick I would go for that, but then I would leave another committee to not do too much at once. I also applied for the Lustrum Committee by the way, but Jamie didn’t let me do it because I was already in too many committees. Hahaha, seemed reasonable though.
Yeah that is what the intern is here for ;P. But with your current experience what do you think could really help CognAC or what do you think we are missing?
I feel like, especially during this pandemic, it would be nice to have some low-key long-term activities. The AC is currently doing a photo hunt, that takes two weeks in total. We could do more of these kind of activities.
Cool, seems like a good idea! Note from the writer: the board has already been working on two January challenges! One active running/walking challenge, and one more relaxed one where you play a decision based game. Both activities will be online throughout the whole month of January. So stay tuned!
So in the past we have already made some good memories, especially before the pandemic. But what is your favourite CognAC Memory?
A short silence I mean it’s hard to pick, I have to think about my whole CognAC career. But the first thing that comes to mind would be the orientation. That was a lot of fun, as it was also the first time I got introduced to CognAC. My intro-parents were Izzy, Lotte and Rick, so I got thrown into CognAC almost immediately. They were my inspiration to become a good parent as they showed me how to be crazy enough for your kiddo’s to be comfortable, but not too crazy. However at the time I barely turned 17 so it doesn’t really feel like it was me. So I will go for the weekend [of 2018-2019], even though I was 17 there as well. That was overall a great experience, almost all pictures I use (discord profile picture, stickers, etc) were taken that weekend.
So you became WkC chair because the weekend was so much fun?
Well not really, we had our start-up meeting a few days before the actual weekend of that year. So I became chair of the committee before I even ever went to the weekend. But just in general that was one hell of a week. On the Thursday I first had the WkC start-up meeting in the break and that same night the LCN took place. However the LCN took place until four in the morning and after that I helped clean up some things. And since I didn’t have a room at the time I had to go to a friend of mine who answered the door with ‘It’s f*cking late!’. He was also joining the weekend and we had to catch that bus in the afternoon so both of us were super tired, before the weekend even started!
You organised the weekend in 2019-2020 right? Cause I heard it was a lot of fun!
Well yeah it was, but I am a bit perfectionist. So when I think back of the things that happened I mostly think of the things that did not go so well. But for the participants it was a lot of fun, which was also something I wanted. Because I remember thinking after attending my first weekend, ‘Hmm. This is so much fun, I kind of want to participate instead of organising it’. But in the end I still really enjoyed organising the Spooktober weekend, but also excited for the weekend that would have happened this year.
Yeah it is very sad that this year’s weekend couldn’t take place. But now that we have touched the things that could nót happen, if corona wouldn’t be a thing right now what would be the first thing that you’d do?
Definitely a weekend! Because during the weekend partying and social contact is really present which is something I kind of miss currently. In the mean time the mother of Elizardo crashes the AI* interview for a second. So it feels like every party that is currently happening is already more social contact than I have had for a while so I stick around longer than I’d do before corona.
Indeed the social contact feels more valuable now. I believe that especially applies to you since you mentioned that you like to do as many fun things as possible. Is this also something you live by or do you have another motto?
I wanted to say “I’m vegan btw” but I don’t think that would be the best description. But I don’t really know, I am more of an optimistic nihilist, which is to say that nothing really matters in the objective context of an entire universe. But we are not objective beings so it makes way more sense to focus on yourself and your own world and thing close to you. So that is something I try and do as well as recognising that I don’t necessarily have to care about things I don’t have control over. And since I am also more fun oriented I don’t push myself to pass everything at once as it is not worth the stress and misery for me. So that is why I prioritize my happiness over things like that.
And now onto the two classic AI* interview questions! If CognAC had a pet, what pet would it be?
A turtle? Why a turtle?
Because I like turtles? *Laughter* Which made us think of ASDF-movies. But otherwise the AC-mascot* seems fun, it is hard to take care of but it would be funny. It would be too big, I don’t even think it would fit anywhere. We could put it in the waal but that also does not really work. *The AC-mascot is a chimera consisting of; a duck face, a turtle shell and a whale’s body. I’d just stick with my turtle since I like them, but only if it is small enough it should fit!
Do you have any shoutouts?
I’m vegan. I guess to all AI members and especially to those who were here before me and introduced me to this wonderful association. They moulded me into becoming so active and eventually even becoming AI*! After a few seconds of silence. Also a shoutout to my music channel YusFM. Also shoutout to Eli and Emma for writing this interview!