Published on: 25 February 2019
Written by: Pleun Scholten
Jamie and I sit down in the board room, and we quickly get to business. I ask her how she is doing, and if she just had lectures: the regular small talk. Then we start the interview.
Hey Jamie, how are you? Wait I just asked you.
She was doing fine a minute ago, so I assume she is still doing fine now.
So tell me a bit about who you are, where you're from, how old you are, and which year you're in?
I'm 19 years old, I'm in the second year of my Bachelor, and I'm from Goes, that's in Zeeland. I have one brother.
You're all the way from Zeeland?! Did you grow up close to Zoutelande?
I think that's roughly a half hour drive. I double checked it, it's 33 minutes.
If you're from Zeeland, why did you come all the way to Nijmegen to study?
Actually it doesn't matter where you study if you're from Zeeland, because basically everything is far away. Nijmegen still really has a village-feel. If you're from Zeeland, the randstad is.... maybe not shocking, but definitely too busy for me. (The randstad is the group of big cities in the west of the Netherlands, so Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague etc.) With Nijmegen, you really get the farmer-village-feel, that we have in Zeeland as well.
And I'm guessing that means you live on your own as well?
What do you think about that?
I expected that I would be really bad at it, because I didn't have any experience with anything, like cooking. But actually everything is going fine.
Good, then I'll ask you later in the interview for a favourite recipe, so you can start thinking about it.
Jamie looks shocked and unprepared.
What do you think about studying AI here? Do you think you you made the right choice?
Yeah I think so. When I was younger I wanted to study industrial design, but in fourth grade of high school I realised that that's actually not suited for me. Then I had to start all over, and I just chose courses in high school that I liked, so I had biology and computer science. I started to lean towards computer science more and more, but I found it just a bit too monotone. When I went to the open day here in Nijmegen, I went mostly for computer science, but I didn't want to go for júst computer science. I went through a list of all studies and found AI, and I never heard of it before actually. Then Franc managed to convince me with his speech.
So you actually study AI completely on accident?
What is your favourite course so far?
So far I think that I enjoyed HCI the most. The fact that we could make our own video game, I thought that was really cool.
Yeah I'm actually really jealous of your version of HCI.
I cry inside.
Did you manage to get your propedeuse in one year by the way?
No I need to retake Object Orientation. Although it is a lot easier this time around, since I've done a lot more programming now. So I think that I'll manage this year.
In general, what do you think of the second year courses? Better or worse than the first year courses.
I think it's a bit too much statistics for me. But I really enjoy things like functional programming. I do have the feeling that I'm doing more and more actual AI stuff, because in the first year there were a lot of courses that didn't really come together until now. I do quite like that. It's getting a lot more serious now as well.
Let's talk a bit about CognAC. What was your very first committee?
My first committee was the 1C.
And what did you think about that?
Well, I was pretty introverted when I started in CognAC. Actually I still kind of am, but much less. Because I was super shy, for me the 1C was mostly me sitting there being quiet and extrovert people like Jorrit and Laura took on all the tasks. I was sitting there like “I would also like to do something!” but I just didn't really dare to open my mouth. So actually I didn't really do a lot with the 1C.
But after that I really wanted to become a mentor in the introduction week. Unfortunately I didn't get picked as a mentor, but I just really wanted to be involved in the introweek. So I definitely wanted to try and get into the OrC. I actually expected a lot of people to sign up and I thought I didn't stand much of a chance to get in.
Spoiler: Jamie got in.
When I was at the committee market, Maike said that she was gonna look at the InC, so I followed. And then I joined the InC as well, and I've really been enjoying that.
Now it's a year later, and you just decided to become chair of both? How is that going?
At first I really had to get used to it. I had no experience at all with chairing, so first I only wanted to chair the InC, because it was quite a small committee. It's all new anyway, so I could have the freedom to learn how to chair as well.
Jorrit walks into the board room, totally disturbing our flow. I ask him if he has a question for Jamie. After some hesitation he asks: What is your third least favourite dinosaur?
None of us actually knew three dinosaurs. He then asks: If you had to bankrupt CognAC with just one purchase, what would you buy?
Jorrit has some creative suggestions, such as buying every member a jumping castle or printing out a 14m by 14m poster of our logo and hanging it on the Spinoza building. Jamie still had to think for a while about it, so I give her time to think until the end of the interview. STAY TUNED.
We continue where we left off:
So, you became OrC chair kind of out of nowhere. Are you enjoying it so far?
Well, I had Ellen as my predecessor, and Ellen is super organised. At least, that's the impression I get from her. I thought to myself: how can I ever reach her level, or Fabian's level? Fabian was really comfortable with public speaking and he's really present. Because the OrC comes with a lot of public speaking as well, which isn't really my strongest point. So I had a lot of doubts about that, but actually, as the OrC chair, you have a complete plan of what you should do. It's still a lot of work, because the introweek is such a big event, but it's just really clear what you should do. And with the InC it's quite the opposite. We really had to start from nothing, there was no plan or anything. So with the InC, that is the challenge, even though it is a smaller committee.
Do you have a favourite committee?
Of course you can't say that, but just between us?
Does it add to the stress to run one of the committees with the biggest budgets?
I'm very happy that I'm not the treasurer of the OrC, let's keep it at that. But in all seriousness, I don't think it makes it more stressfull to have a big budget, because the whole committee is so well-structured.
How do you think the preparations are going so far?
With the OrC it's quite a shame that we were delayed so much for choosing the mentors.
For those unaware, there were some changes with the organisation of the orientationweek on the university level, so they told the OrC to wait with choosing mentors.
We really want to start organising the activities, but you can only really do that when the new members come in, and a lot of new members only come in after they didn't become a mentor. So because of this delay, everything else is also delayed. But for everything that we can do, we're on schedule.
Oh I do have a really good tip for if you want to find a really good mentor. He's sitting right here, I would vote for myself as mentor.
Okay, let's switch to the InC. How is it to lead such a new committee?
I really like that we have so much freedom. We can be really creative, like being the first to start up the city trips. That was really fun to do. But like I said before, the negative side of that is that there is no explanation of how anything should be done. But also there aren't super high expectations of participants because people don't know us that well yet and they have no previous activities to base expectations on . That lowers the pressure quite a bit.
How was the city trip to Maastricht? Did it go well?
It was really, really 'gezellig'. Not every part was prepared equally well. For instance, the city tour was prepared by one committee member, but every now and then the member wouldn't know what to say. But then a participant who went to Maastricht a few times before would take over the word, that was really fun to see. The participants really helped us, because it was such a nice group of people.
The next trip will be organised together with Sigma (the study association of molecular life sciences). How is it to work together with another association?
Well, so far I've had one meeting with their chair and so far we've mostly discussed the differences between our committees. On one hand it's really nice to get to know some people within Sigma and to work together with them of course, but on the other hand it's definitely going to be different than this city trip, because we have to make compromises. So it also has its pros and cons.
Are there any other committees on your CognAC to-do list?
I don't think I will become a member of the OrC again next year, because I really want to try and be a mentor again. And I'm open to doing other committees next year, but I don't have a specific idea of what committees I'd exactly like to do.
Are there any committees that you don't want to join?
Jamie throws some shade but for the sake of some committees I'll keep it a secret.
Let's talk a bit more about you: what do you do in your spare time?
Going to CognAC activities with people from CognAC. I play a bit of guitar, and I really enjoy reading. And also sailing.
Can you sail here in Nijmegen?
I could join de Loefbijter, the sailing student association, but I always think to myself: why would I go sailing here if I have the whole of Zeeland to sail around.
So you sometimes go back home to go sailing?
I actually go back home pretty much every weekend. It's not actually that I sail myself anymore. I used to sail when I was younger, in an optimist, like one of those bathtubs.
I had no clue so for those who also don't know what an optimist is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimist_(dinghy) there you go.
I quit that though, because the boat was located on the yacht harbour, where everyone was kind of exclusive, with an attitude of “if your parents aren't active within the harbour you're not really part of it”. So I stopped there after a few years. A few years later I met someone from the group I used to sail with who started a youth sailing club for high school students. I joined a few of their activities and then suddenly they asked me if I wanted to join their board. So I suddenly was the secretary of that board. I stayed there for a year, but I still didn't really feel like I belonged. The people there were just quite exclusive. They don't really accept everyone, they try to be nice but you really noticed there wasn't a real bond. Now I still have a boat, but my brother actually uses it more than me. My dad and granddad also have a boat, so I mostly go sailing with them.
Do you know what you want to do after you're done with your bachelor?
No, I'm totally clueless. I plan on doing a master, but I don't know at all in which direction.
Then we'll keep that question for in … 1 year.
Probably 2 years.
Let's do some random questions. If you could travel to any place in the world for free, where would you go?
I would still really like to go to Japan someday. Also because it's such a cool and well known place for AI. And of course it would be fun to explore the culture. I actually thought of doing a semester abroad in Japan, but then I suddenly became active within CognAC, and I didn't want to do too much. So maybe there is a chance to do that in my masters.
So, now the question you've been expecting since the start: what is your favourite recipe?
Jamie still looks shocked an unprepared.
Well, I don't actually cook with recipes most of the time. I just throw everything in one pan, that's basically the extent of my cooking skill. I even went to ask Maike what would be a recipe that would fit me as she knows my cooking skills the best, but all she could come up with was that somewhere last year I ate a single bell pepper for dinner once. At least I eat proper meals now, which is an improvement, but still the only recipes I ever use are the ones on the back of Knorr packages.
Another traditional question: if CognAC would get a pet, what should we get?
A turtle! Because you don't really have to take care of it as much as a dog or a cat, like you don't have to walk it. But it's still a bit more interesting than fish or something like that.
Do you already have an answer on Jorrit's question? What would you buy to bankrupt CognAC?
I actually really liked Jorrit's own answer: that we should give everyone their own personal jumping castle. I can't really think of something creative right now. Getting everyone a better means of transportation than a bike would be nice, something like a golf caddy, so people can come to CognAC activities in style, but then the problem would be that there won’t be activities to drive to as all the money for activities went to the golf caddies. Or maybe every CognAC member could get their own personal turtle instead. Then it's really the official CognAC pet.
We talk about how we could replace the member stickers with turtles, so you'd have to bring your turtle to BeestFeest in order to get your discount. It would be a mess.
Do you any shoutouts?
Obviously shoutout to the InC and the OrC. Shoutout to my so-called twin sister Zjulie. Someone once thought that we were twin sisters when I was sitting next to Zjulie. But other than glasses and maybe our hair colour we aren't very similar. Shoutout to Maiko (Maike’s drunk male alter ego), also shoutout to my fellow Zeeuw Micha, and finally a shoutout to everyone that I forgot.
That's definitely a good way to end it.