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Welcome to new students

This year, Natural Sciences welcomes 966 new science students. Due to corona, orientation days are different than usual, and yet still the same.

2020.08.31 | Christina Troelsen

On Wednesday, groups of new students were showed around campus and the University Park by their student advisers. Photo: Christina Troelsen

New geoscience students being showed around. Photo: @geoscience_au

The introduction days offered, as usual, various ice-breaker activities to get to know each other. Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Photo

To allow for compliance with social distancing requirements, large tents have been set up in several places for some of the introductory activities as well as for autumn semester teaching. Photo: Lars Kruse.

For safety reasons, the student advisers wore face masks as they welcomed the new students. Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Photo

There are various notices and other markings in rooms and buildings to guide students and others about social distancing, keeping to the right and avoiding bottlenecks and crowds. Photo: Christina Troelsen

Expectant and slightly nervous-looking new students; coloured-t-shirt-wearing student advisers explaining, ushering and showing around; icebreaker games in the park; while the sun peeps out behind the rain clouds.

The first day of study on 26 August 2020 was very much like last year and the year before, but, of course, nothing is as it used to be after the coronavirus toppled our world, especially with regard to the way we meet new people and the way we are together.

When the new students showed up on Wednesday morning, they were welcomed by student advisers wearing face masks, who guided them to their new study team. When the students are in their study team, they do not have to comply with the one-metre social distancing requirement, although they have to with everyone else.

Students will also have to get used to using hand sanitizer, disinfecting classrooms, keeping to the right in corridors and hallways, and following markings and arrows on floors and in stairways.  Read more about the initiatives launched at Nat and Tech to limit the spread of infection.

Furthermore, the new students have been strongly urged to refrain from drinking alcohol during the introductory activities. However, apart from this, the students can look forward to three days of introduction with a lot of new information on academic matters, practicalities, course schedule, study groups, the names of their fellow students, and everything else that usually belongs to orientation days.

The first day in a new life

"Welcome to Aarhus University and the Faculty of Natural Sciences. My colleagues and I will do everything we can to make sure you have a fantastic time here at Aarhus University."

Those were the words from Kristian Pedersen, dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, in his welcome speech to new students. This year, the speech was delivered as an online video instead of live in the large auditorium.

The first day of study is one of the most important days of the year for a university, whose primary task is to educate young people to solve important tasks for the society of the future. And it is definitely also a very important day for the students, who are embarking on an entirely new era of their lives. Not just academically, but also personally and socially.

"I hope that studying will be full of more than just academic discussion. I hope that you build friendships, take part in debates with each other and take part in the public debate which is where we as a university have an important role to play," Kristian Pedersen also said in his video. See the dean's welcome video to new students at Natural Sciences.

Lots of thanks to student advisers

Planning and execution of orientation days has largely been in the hands of the many voluntary student advisers, who have spent the last six months preparing a good start for the new students. This year has been subject to particularly difficult circumstances, because some of the activities that are usually a part of orientation days are not possible due to the risk of the spread of infection, or have had to take place under entirely different conditions.

The student advisers have met this challenge with great enterprise and resourcefulness, and they have planned three intensive introduction days to help the new students get started, in relation to their programmes, to learning more about their fellow students, and in relation to complying with the many restrictions to prevent the spread of infection.

The student advisers will monitor the new students throughout their first semester, and they will be ready with advice and guidance when needed.

A big thank you to the student advisers at Natural Sciences!

Faculty of Natural Sciences