Welcome to Cohort 8 (Speech at the Opening Celebration 2019)

Dear members of staff, dear fellow LASers and especially dear cohort 8, 

Welcome.

What a week it has been. On Monday you arrived at UCF, probably feeling anxious, nervous but most of all excited to start this journey. We were in your shoes just one year ago, asking ourselves questions like “Will I feel at home in Freiburg soon?”, “So many new people, will I make good friends?”, “Will I one day find affordable housing in Freiburg?” The answer to the first two questions is “Yes, probably”, the answer to the last one is “Well…only if you’re lucky.”

Jokes aside, this is an exciting time for you and also for us. With each cohort that starts at UCF, UCF changes a little bit. The common room actually represents these developments quite well: When we arrived last year it did not look the way it looks now. Different photos were hanging on the wall or there were some blank spaces that are now filled with artwork, the timetable for committee meetings was not as full and Narnia was a mess. And we are sure that over the course of your first year at UCF, the common room will change again. However, you will not only influence how the common room looks, but you will also shape the program. By running for office, by organizing activities and by joining a committee (or creating a new one). So that next year, when cohort 9 arrives, it will probably be two of you standing up here and giving a speech. 

One thing that is special about LAS is that we are encouraged to choose our own path: like Ursula said on Monday, no two transcripts look the same. And even when you are sitting in the same workgroup with 20 other LASers each and every one of you is contributing and taking home something different. Sometimes this might feel overwhelming, and you might feel alone on this path: but rest assured, we are a community, and we support each other. Whether you prefer to talk to and get advice from your friends, your peer advisers, the mediators or your academic adviser, there is always someone there for you. So don’t be discouraged when you are struggling to formulate the best topic sentence, when the deadline is approaching and you are not happy with your essay, or also when you have to explain LAS to yet another person who thinks that “What are you studying?” is the best ice breaker question. We have been there, we know the struggle. 

So now, a new chapter begins: Freiburg will become your new home and the LAS community will become your second family. We are so excited for the next weeks and months getting to know you and witnessing your impact on this community. 

But now, let’s focus on tonight: you have prepared an amazing evening for us! Don’t be nervous, we have all made a fool of ourselves on this stage in our welcome week!

So, all that’s left for us to do is to wish you a fantastic night and a great beginning of your studies!