Article by Masha Moisseyeva
We all know that student years are the perfect time to network, meet new people with different opinions, absorb knowledge, and….ultimately, in the name of education, leave your cozy yet limiting comfort zone and be open to all kinds of new experiences. You never know if a guy with a nickname Wild-Party-Crasher-Martijn will transform into a successful entrepreneur in a couple of years…so better stay open! Students are known to be one of the most dynamic and progressive segments. They stay closely in touch with the modern world, easily adopt new trends, and are full of enthusiasm and new ideas.
If we look at the biggest student city of the Netherlands – Utrecht, we can right away feel that student life is in its DNA. Utrecht is a host to more than 70.000 students, both international and Dutch, and this number keeps growing. The city perfectly reflects the nature of its inhabitants – it is energetic, vibrant and young. New places keep popping up around the city in a matter of months, and sometimes it is even hard to keep track of all the new initiatives around the town.
However, despite its overall spirit, there are a number of drawbacks that keep Utrecht from becoming the best student place you could ever imagine. There are numerous majors that Utrecht University offers to its newcomers, which are extremely diverse and multidirectional; however, each faculty remains a comfortable bubble that separates its students from the rest of the university life. A psychology student will hardly ever interact with young IT developers who study on a different campus, and students from Hogeschool Utrecht will not know anything about the events organized by Utrecht School of Arts.
By interacting only with the folks from their own major and participating in events that their own faculty offers, students stay somehow isolated from what Utrecht has to offer and their access to the world of different life views stays limited. The city center library – a unique student hub, does not encourage communication either. You have to be silent there, and the atmosphere creates a feeling of being alone in the crowd. While being in the library you will never even find out that a guy who seems to have trouble concentrating next to you is from Mexico and could help you with your Spanish assignment in 5 minutes, while you as a Ph.D. student could help him with his first year APA-style academic paper at no cost.
We know it because we have just recently studied at Utrecht University ourselves and felt like we did not take the most out of the student life Utrecht can offer. That is how the idea of creating a Time Space – a social space for students that would encourage collaboration, exchange of ideas and creative initiatives, came into our minds.
In the team of four, we have been working on this project for a while, figuring out how to bring it to life. About a month ago we went to one of the conferences at Utrecht School of Economics (of course, where else would we go as Economics graduates) and serendipitously met Ronald van de Hoff – a creator of the world most progressive co-working company Seats2Meet. And then it all came together for us – by combining already existing Seats2Meet platform for entrepreneurs and freelancers and not yet covered student segment, we could achieve something great!
As of September 2017, Time Space will be launched as a pilot project in partnership with Seats2Meet and Social Impact Factory on the premises of SIF building right in the heart of Utrecht, just minutes away from the Central Station. During the period of the pilot project, we will test, explore and experiment with the ways to make Time Space the best place for students’ studying and socializing needs. The online platform of Seats2meet.com will become available for Time Space visitors. With that system, you can book a study spot and arrange a meeting in advance, or get to know if anybody around you could help you in your study struggles.
Meanwhile, there is no better time than summer to have fun and build connections for the upcoming year. Therefore, for everyone who stays in town we are planning a number of events, workshops and activities in July and August to gather active and creative minds of all disciplines and ages.
Right now, we are happy to announce that our first Time Space event ever will be happening on July 17th in SIF. It will introduce our concept, as well as give a good introduction to Utrecht insides to the newly arrived Summer School students.
To stay updated on our events and progress you can always check out our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/timespace.utrecht/