Published on: 11 September 2018
Written by: Bram van Asseldonk
I look through the window and can see the blurred silhouette of a man. There he is. I boldly burst through the door. A bit louder than I intended, the door slams open against the side of a bed. He sits before me, already waiting and with a grin on his face. I am in the presence of the one and only Rik. Rik is my roommate, famous BoyServe and all-round well known member of CognAC. Today I am here to interview this legend as the AI* of July. I start off by putting on some nice jazz tunes. With the mood set, we get comfortable in our seats and start our interview.
Rik, can you tell me something about yourself? Can you share with me the origin story of Rink?
Well, December 1995 I guess, my parents started getting frisky in the bedroom, and then nine months later on August third 1996, I was born. I’ve lived in the south of the east of North Brabant for most of my life. I went to school there and stuff. And then in 2014 I moved here to Nijmegen to study with you lovely people.
To clarify, the south of the east of North Brabant is Deurne?
Yes. Euhm, back to the origin story. I am 22. I had my birthday a little over a month ago. I have one older brother and two parents, as most people do. I had a cat for like a really long time, but it died in 2015. On Christmas day even, I think. It was really sad.
What was the name of the cat?
Vlekkie. So in English that would be Spotty. Because it was white with black spots. Yea… Well, when we named him I was three and my brother was six or something.
Damn, that’s an old cat then!
Yeah, it was 15 years old. And it was really fat and really sweet. It’s pretty funny, because sometimes, like even yesterday, from the corner of my eye I thought I could see him. But when I looked over, it was just a pair of shoes with some socks over them, but they were black and white. Still, I thought “Hey that’s my cat!”. Even though it died a few years ago.
So sad. ☹ So, you spent most of your life in Deurne and then the big change happened…
Suddenly everything became attractive.
Muscle started growing.
One muscle started growing. ^^
I shake my head disapprovingly. No, I meant the other big change. You decided to move to Nijmegen for your studies. How did you end up at AI?
Yeah, I went to an open day here at the university. And I thought, I’m going to look at psychology. That turned out to be really boring (no offense). I don’t know how exactly I rolled into AI. I guess it’s because I did mathematics A in high school, so I couldn’t do any technical studies in Eindhoven (where all my friends were going). That steered me towards Nijmegen. Then I found Artificial Intelligence, which was still basically computer science with a bit of psychology. Those both interested me, so I went to the open day where I heard the one and only legend Franc Grootjen speak. Afterward I thought to myself: “Yea, I think this is the programme for me.“ I registered and never had any regrets.
And that’s how long ago?
That’s I think four years ago, right?
So how were your first experiences with AI and studying in general?
I remember the first day was scary. I got here in Nijmegen and I saw some people I thought I recognised from the orientation. Because there was a week, maybe even two weeks, between the orientation and the week classes started. So I was like, okay, I’m going to move up to them. And then they didn’t even acknowledge me. I don’t even remember who they were, but then class started and I went in the room and then eventually I met Jake and Wessel and the rest of the squad and we started hanging out together and everything kind of fell into place again.
Who had you already met during the orientation?
I was staying over at Sanne’s place during the orientation week. There I met Wessel, Fabian and Vivian, as they were also staying over at Sanne’s. When we went to sign up for orientation and we got to the stall everyone ended up in the same group except for me. I was the last one of us to register and the group had just filled up before me, so I was the first person of a new group. That was kind of sad. But I ended up in a group with Loes and Nynke, so in the end I had nothing to complain about.
And then after the orientation, the first week of classes, do you remember how you got in touch with everyone?
I do actually! We had like, I think it was on the Wednesday, we had the first period and then a period without lectures, a break, another period without lectures and then we had a lecture in the final period. That’s FIVE hours, FIVE CONSECUTIVE hours of NOTHING, during the entire first semester, I think. So what we used to do was chill in the Refter and people brought laptops to play Jackbox games like Fibbage or cards against humanity. We had a lot of fun playing that every week and that’s sort of how we all became friends. I don’t know if I’ve ever been formally introduced to you though.
Rik extends his hand and gestures the initiation of a formal introduction. I shake his hand and listen to him say: “Hey, Rik van Lierop”. I follow his example and say: “Maarten Brandwijk, aangenaam”.
We joke and reminisce about the good times we had while playing those games, before continuing with the interview. I think we’re still missing one thing about your origin story, about who you are. Or rather, one person…
You mean my girlfriend, Gemma? We met in… Okay, so I’ve had the same girlfriend for five years and nine months now. We’ve been together since 2012, December 2012. We were in the fourth or the fifth grade of secondary school when we got into a relationship. But we already met in the first year of secondary school, when we were freshmen. We used to sit next to each other during mathematics, but back then we didn’t think anything of it. I was like 12, so girls were still icky and I just wanted to play videogames all day. And then in the fourth year, we had a free period together where we didn’t have any classes, together with a few others. We started talking during these periods. Then we were invited to the same birthday and we talked some more. And then after that, I got invited to her birthday and I felt something was up, like she liked me or something. But I wasn’t sure, because I was still a naïve 16-year old. From then on we started talking more and started whatsapping each other and eventually we went to see a movie together. Just the two of us. Aaaand… Okay this is embarrassing, but after the movie ended we were picked up by my dad since we went to the movies in Helmond. So we got in the car, and when we hadn’t even been driving for a minute he turns around and asks: “Soooo, are you two a thing now?” I didn’t know how to respond, so I said nothing. Then a few more weeks passed and we did some small dates. I went baby sitting with her for example. Then after that, we had a prom and the day before or the day after, I asked her to be my girlfriend.
The rest is history. She lives in Arnhem now and has just graduated from her Fine Arts and Design Education studies. That’s it.
Then some questions about you. Can you tell us about your hobbies?
I still like to game. I have been playing League of Legends for 50 years now, it feels. No, it’s not been that long. I started playing in 2010 and have been active on and off. Somehow I always end up returning to League. I play World of Warcraft too. I’ve been playing that for a loooooong time as well and also on and off. Recently Blizzard published a new expansion so now I’m addicted again.
But it’s not just video games, I’ve also practiced judo for 12 years. I got up to the brown belt, which is the last regular belt before you get to the dan system. To get anything higher, you have to join matches and show your techniques before a jury and such. I had to stop after my first year of uni. It was just not feasible anymore to travel to my hometown for practice. And I never got around to joining the judo association here at the sports centre. I might start again though, someday.
What is your favourite food?
Pasta Pesto! Yep. It’s something I picked up during my time here in Nijmegen. Whenever you guys are not here, like you and Jake, I always make that for myself and easily eat tree or four plates on an evening. It’s the best.
How about nicknames, do you have any funny nicknames?
Oh god, there are so many. I have like a bazillion nicknames. *Sigh* How many do you want to hear? Let’s start with the most popular one: Rink. Also known as Kinker Rink. Because I have a frog onesie and some other reasons. I kind of did that to myself, but I don’t mind. A friend of mine used to call me Vlierop, which is just a very Brabantse way to say my last name really fast. One guy also called me Roggert. Rikkert is very common because of the New Kids. One of the characters is also called Rikkert, obviously. Then there’s a whole array of racist slurs for me. I tend to get really tan in the summer and in my home town it’s kind of a thing that I am black basically. So last birthday I got a banana, because I’m a monkey or something. Last year on my birthday, I actually got a rowing boat, like an inflatable boat, because apparently I’m a refugee who came here from Somalia or something. Yeah, there’s some really racist stuff in there. Bosneger and Serviër, that kind of stuff.
I’ve heard you have an interesting way to spend your time during the weekend. Specifically on Saturdays from 18:00 until 20:00. Can you tell a bit more about that?
Sure. I have a radio show back in my home town with one of my best friends there. It’s called Weekend Bras!
Rik automatically continues to his standard phrase: on DMG Radio 106.2 FM. U kunt ook meeluisteren op DMGDeurne.nl. I quickly stop him, before I completely lose him in his DJ habits. Rik continues:
Euhm, it’s a radio show where we talk about games, movies, interesting things and my co-host has a segment where he sings a song “under the shower” and you have to guess the song to win a shower set. We’ve been doing the show for six years now. Six and a half even! We started in February 2012 when we were 15 both. Originally we only had one hour and back then it was called Gameverslaafd. It was just news about videogames. Then the guy who had the block after us (19:00 until 20:00) quit and we got two hours. And then in 2015 we flipped the programme and we started to do more than just videogames. We still do that every week, just go on the air, talk about stuff and play music.
Nice! Of course we are not interviewing you at random. It’s not because of your radio show, but because you are the AI* of July. And being the AI* relates to CognAC. Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up at CognAC and basically your story throughout your studies?
Okay. I signed up for CognAC during my orientation. Filled in the form, signed the paper to pay. It wasn’t that expensive anyways. And then I didn’t really think much of it. For the first half of the year I wasn’t living in Nijmegen, so I didn’t really go to any activities. Eventually I found a room with you guys and moved to Nijmegen. Then I started going to more and more things and I realised that CognAC is actually a rather fun association.
Also in the first year, I don’t know how it happened, but people always thought I was in the 1C. I didn’t do any committees in my first year though. I think my name was even on the year report of the 1C, or on the website or something. I did become an orientation mentor together with Wessel. I still have our mascot from that year. It’s a flamingo and it’s currently on a shelf in my room. It used to yodel, but then its neck broke and now it doesn’t sing anymore. ☹
In my second year I thought: “Yeah, I’m going to rock this shit.” and joined the orientation committee and the paparazzi committee. In my third year I continued with the OrC. This is the year that I went really ham. I joined the OrC, the DAtA, the Weekend committee and League of Legends committee. Then after that I started my masters so I went easier on the committees. In my fourth year I only did the DAtA, but I was the chair of the committee. And then I concluded the year as a mentor for the orientation again.
And of course, you are part of the famous BoyCo as one of the official Boyserves. You’ve been very active, but what committee did you enjoy the most?
Honestly, they were all pretty fun. Well, except for the paparazzi. In my year I didn’t really like it, but now it’s really fun I think, with making the movie and stuff like that. Honestly, the LoLCo was a lot of fun, the OrC was also a lot of fun. During the year it was very fun, during the week itself you have to do a lot, you have to work a lot, but it’s really worth it. But if I had to pick one, I think the DAtA was the most fun one.
Do you have any other achievements you want to share? Maybe how you didn’t just organise the LoL tournament, but also took part in it?
Well, I took part in the LoL tournament twice. Once in my second year and last year. Last year we joined with Jake, Maarten, Reinier, Wessel and I. We were called Halve Leo en de Slonkieparade. It was an all BoyCo team, let that be noted. We got eliminated in the second round of the main tournament, so then we joined the All Random tournament, which was a small extra tournament just for fun. We played two games in that and then we were announced the winners. Apparently that was all it took. But yeah, you’re looking at the champion All Random tournament 2018.
Let’s switch it up. What is your favourite Disney movie?
I wanna say Lion King, but I feel like I’m forgetting some. Do the avenger movies officially count as Disney movies nowadays? Because if they count it’s Thor Ragnarok I think. If we want to do old school Disney Disney, then it’s the Lion King.
Okay, what about the future, do you have any future plans?
Finish my masters. I’m going to do an internship. I’m looking forward to that. I’m going to get my AI-vibes going. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep doing committees. I don’t know if I can do that next to my internship. I do want to, I really want to. I would like to join the DAtA again. I’m just not sure if I have time for that. Other than that, I just want to be as active within CognAC as I can. I had a blast during the last orientation, I feel like I’m getting to know more and more people, so I want to stay as active as I can. Go to drinks, go to parties, that kind of thing.
Good to hear. Then, I’m pretty much obliged to ask, if CognAC were to adopt a pet, what pet should it be?
Rik carefully thinks this over and then starts laughing hysterically. All I can gather from him is that is answer is a guinea pig. Why this animal or why this is so funny remains a mystery. As a final remark, Rik adds, the people who know, will understand…
Any final words you want to share?
Thank you for making me an AI* and have fun next year! Good luck with not being in the board.
Any shout-outs you want to do?
Shout-out to BoyCo, Halve Leo en de slonkie parade, Heidebloemcity, the best mentor group ever (AINAINAIS) and the 5C!
With these final shout-outs, it has become time to conclude. I thank Rik for his time and stories and wish him good luck with his internship and other future endeavors. Then I turn off the funky jazz tunes and let Rik go back to his daily business.
To the reader, thanks for making it this far into the interview! If you have a suggestion for the next AI* you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.