Bikes, Kapsalon, and Economics – one year at Erasmus University
Spending a year in a foreign university is an extraordinary chance to develop both profound academic knowledge and a strong character to face various challenges. Rotterdam furthermore represents a hotspot for both excellent academia and desirable living conditions. In this following article, some factors are mentioned, which make a double degree program with the Erasmus University an unforgettable experience
When taking the first step on campus, his presence is not deniable: Desiderius Erasmus. The polymath Erasmus, who lived between the end of Middle Age and the beginning of Modern Era in Netherlands, became a famous scholar in different academic fields reaching from philosophy, theology, human studies, and history. He believed that “The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth”. As Erasmus became known for is fight for humanity and education, he remains to be one of modern Europe’s philosophical forefathers and gives his name to the university.
Beside the memory of Erasmus and his fundamental values, there is not much to compare between his time and the current academia at the Rotterdam University (EUR), which offers a big variety of courses from economics, political, and social sciences rather than philosophy and theology. The EUR also has a strong focus on modern topics, which are directly implemented into study programs and courses, e. g. topics regarding sustainability, FinTech, artificial intelligence, smart cities, and technology. Studying at a modern university also has great benefits about its facilities and capabilities including individual and group learning spaces, research software, one-stop visits in the administration and comprehensive academic and psychological support.
While the university buildings seem from inside like a modern institute from Western countries, the outside reminds that it still is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with bikes as the preferred transport vehicle and many small lakes and ponds on campus. Moreover, the close distance to North Sea promises fresh wind and coastal climate, but also a lot of rain and mild temperatures. If one does not fear wind and cold outside, the Netherlands is a perfect place for sports as cities provide many open spaces, free football fields, basketball pitches, running tracks, and obviously bike paths. When the temperature rises, there are perfect conditions for all kinds of water sports as swimming, kiting, and sailing in Rotterdam near Kralingen lake and in the North Sea near Scheveningen. Beside sports, Rotterdam offering unique museums and galleries. As a few honorable places, the market hall, the Cube Houses, Boijmans Gallery, Kinderdijk windmills, and the Maritime Museum should be mentioned. Therefore, Rotterdam represents an anomaly to conventional Dutch cities like Utrecht, Amsterdam, Leiden, and Groningen, which are shaped by waterways in the city (“Grachten”), timbered houses, and lots of historical buildings reflecting Netherland’s glorious role in sailing the world seas. Moreover, many European cultural and touristic highlights are within close reach from Rotterdam by bus and train, such as Brussels, Cologne, Antwerp, Paris, and London.
Even though, weekend trips promise exciting experiences, Rotterdam itself is a multicultural hotspot, which was shaped through its close connection to the European heart on the one hand, and to the world through its gigantic harbor on the other hand. Multiculturalism has the ability to create its own identity and culture, which is manifested in the famous dish “Kapsalon” in Rotterdam. Originating from oriental and Arabic meat mixed with Caribbean salads, Belgian fries and Dutch cheese, this extraordinary meal represents one aspect of the Rotterdam cuisine and culture. As the university ranks among the best educational institutes in Europe, it attracts a lot of international students, who further influence the Rotterdam lifestyle. Also, English is heard quite often on the streets as the lingua franca.
Finally, Rotterdam is even more than a cultural melting pot and excellent academic location, it also is the economic center of the Netherlands. Hence, national and global players in banking, shipping, technology, chemicals, finance, and logistics are located in the city offering numerous job opportunities and growth potentials (especially for graduates of the renowned EUR). With far more than bikes, kapsalon, and economics, Rotterdam provides a full package of fascinating experiences for academic and personal development.
By Jonas Prien, double degree student in Economics Research Programme (ERP) at HSE University