Universiteit Leiden

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Jasper’s Day

Jasper Knoester started on 1 January as our new dean. How is he doing, what exactly does he do and what does his day look like? In each newsletter Jasper gives a glimpse into his life.

Monday 4 July

‘This day has been boldly marked in my agenda for months: moving day! Away from our monumental home at the Diepenring in Groningen, but also on our way to a beautiful old mansion, centrally located in The Hague.

The past few weeks we have looked forward to this day increasingly. Weekends have been filled with sorting out, giving away or throwing away things and packing plus labelling the rest. The number of boxes piled up in the corners of rooms is enormous. Especially last weekend, despite the heat, there was continuous lugging and packing. Last night at one o'clock I was still busy clearing the dining table of the last loose things.

The alarm clock rings: it is six o'clock. My wife Xuefei has to give two lectures in an online international congress today and therefore has to get up extra early. I try to close my eyes once more, but the exciting day that lays ahead has filled my head and I quickly give up on the idea of getting more sleep. I have breakfast standing up and of course I find some loose items that we had nearly forgotten. The adrenaline has its effect on the children as well and they are running around early.

Well before eight o'clock, the moving van arrives at the door. Unfortunately, the old building has no removable windows and everything has to leave the house via the front door. Often, this is only possible after making some strange turns or descending a rather high staircase. Four movers walk through the house, while a mover in the van solves the puzzle of how to get the tightest possible packing with a mix of lots of boxes, furniture, large lamps, art objects, excessively large vases, and much, much more. Impressive work!

‘The moving van had just left my sight, when I see three of our bikes still standing there'

It is very hot in Groningen today and we make sure everyone drinks and eats enough. This cannot prevent that in the afternoon, when the second container must be loaded, everyone, including the family, reaches the point that it’s been enough. Kamiel is disappointed that he can no longer swim with his friends. So, on impulse, I decide to take him there after all, so that his afternoon will be cool and fun. Our plan to leave for The Hague this afternoon is not going to happen anymore anyways.

Around four o'clock, I walk the last inspection round. Everything seems fine, until I find a large and heavy sofa in the study that really must come with. With the last of their energy, the movers set to work, but they cannot make the turn into the hall. They can't make it through the back of the house either and the mood is getting somewhat irritable. The sofa got into the house once, so it should be possible to get it out as well! Unfortunately, I was not there when the bank arrived five years ago.

Just when we are about to give up, Jasmine remembers that a decorative window between the hall and the study was broken at the time. Which allowed a passage that is no longer there. The glass workshop is just on the corner, and I run to it: the movers want to depart for The Hague in 15 minutes at the latest! Fortunately, I know the glaziers well. I talked to them a lot when they were replacing the broken window. Their workshop is a beautiful, traditional place that I love to visit. Co-owner Rens quickly walks with me and has the window out within 7 minutes. Then it is suddenly very easy to get the sofa out of the house. Relieved, we say goodbye to our stuff. We'll see them again tomorrow, in our new house!

The moving van has just left our sight, when I see three of our bicycles still standing in front of the neighbours' house. They were parked there as ‘difficult objects’, to be put into the van last. I call the removal firm, who answer after what feels like an eternity. Fifteen minutes later, the moving van is at the door again. We laugh, put the bicycles in and we say goodbye again. We ourselves, heavily tired, leave via the polder to The Hague. On the way, we eat something and recover a little. We arrive much later than we hoped. We sleep in a hotel for the night, too tired to be excited about tomorrow. That day also goes well, our stuff is set up into the new house quickly and we also receive the good news that both children have been placed at the school of their first choice. The sports clubs had already been found. The Hague, Leiden: we are ready to go, it can really start now!

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