Since her first school year, columnist Claudia Werker has been looking forward to every new school or academic year. In 2020 she felt nothing. And this year?
Claudia Werker: “What will I learn from the students and colleagues? What challenges will I face?” (Photo: Cok Francken)

Since her first school year, columnist Claudia Werker has been looking forward to every new school or academic year. In 2020 she felt nothing. And this year?

Lees in het Nederlands

When I went to school for the first time, I was excited at the prospect of getting to know new people and things, not knowing what to expect, doors that literally and figuratively opened. I couldn't wait to get started. This feeling, the joy of going back to school, to the temple of knowledge and skills, accompanied me throughout my school days.

It was the same when I went to university. That scent of late summer or early autumn in the air, rooms and halls that smell freshly cleaned yet a little dusty, and above all the certainty that a whole world is waiting to be discovered. It never bothered me that over time I had learned that everything during the school or academic year could lead to an anticlimax. I kept finding the start of an academic year magical.

The first few times I gave instruction lectures as a PhD student, I walked through a street with trees in full colour. I felt a warm ray of sunshine on my face. And despite the nerves of the new challenge of teaching, I still had that magical feeling of a new academic year. And after all these years working at TU Delft, this feeling has never let me down.

On the way to my first hybrid lecture last Monday, I suddenly felt it again

I didn‘t even notice that in 2020, my magical feeling of the start of a new academic year just didn’t show up. We worked digitally and very hard in full Covid-19 pandemic mode. You only saw students and colleagues on a screen. The rules for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic kept changing and the bad news just kept pouring in. And there was still no hope that there would be a vaccine anytime soon.

On the way to my first hybrid lecture last Monday, I suddenly felt it again: my magical feeling of the new academic year. Even though we can only receive up to 75 students per lecture and have to follow all kinds of rules, most people have been vaccinated. We can see our students and our colleagues again. The recurring questions came back to me. Which students and colleagues will I meet? Who will I work with? What will I learn from the students and colleagues? What challenges will I face? I couldn't wait to get started!

Claudia Werker is Associate Professor Economics of Technology and Innovation at the Faculty of TPM. She has worked at TU Delft since 2007. She is also the Vice Chair of TU Delft’s Works Council.