According to eur.nl, the number of international students at Erasmus University Rotterdam is more than 5800 and includes around 130 nationalities. Being an international student myself, I would say that these numbers are quite impressive and exciting, but at the same time are giving a feeling that all these people are extremely different from each other because of their various backgrounds. This may be true, but there is one thing that connects all of us at EUR. What exactly? A new life.
Moving to The Netherlands was an extremely big step, but I only realised it after arriving here. Let me explain why, while giving some advice as well.
Even though almost everyone here speaks English, I can’t stand the feeling of living in a country where I don’t know the language. I may be speaking some other five languages, but none of them is related to Dutch. So, believe it or not, Duolingo became very handy when doing groceries in my first days, as I was ‘lucky’ enough to meet only Dutch-speaking people when asking for help. After some two weeks of living in Rotterdam, my day was not complete if I was not saying at least once ‘dankjewel’ and ‘tot ziens’. If you are looking forward to learning dutch, Gemeente Rotterdam may help you with some free courses! If not, school of dutch life taught me some precious words and expressions that will help you make a good impression and survive the first year: Twee biertjes; Lekker; Fiets; Gezellig; Prima; Alsjeblieft.
Next, the weather.
Everyone warned me that the weather in The Netherlands would be my least favorite thing. And I never doubted it, as I come from a sunny and warm country, with all four seasons. But experiencing this weather is a whole new story. First, never trust the forecast. In my first two months of living in Rotterdam I was always having with me: an umbrella and sunglasses, which were very useful for the autumn days. Second, cycling on a windy day may be fun. You never know if the wind will blow you off course straight into someone else or if it will just move the bike for you. Such weather made me appreciate, much more, every second with no rain. In fact, my friends know that something is wrong with me when I don’t say “what a beautiful day” in the morning if there’s no rain.
I knew that I started my Dutch adventure the right way when I got my first fine just a week after moving here. The reason? Not parking in the right place (even if everyone else did the same). Cycling in Rotterdam is one of the best things an international student could experience, especially if you had no bike lanes back home, like me. But following rules is much more important than anything. So, if you want to continue your journey in The Netherlands, you must put some effort into parking right, not looking at your phone while biking, having your lights on and (please) indicate when you are turning left or right (but please).
Food and services.
Maybe waitressing is not a strong point in the Dutch restaurants. Maybe bartenders don’t know how to pour beer. Maybe here the customer is not always right. But aren’t stroopwafels, poffertjes, bitterballen, kroketten and kapsalon making up for it? If you are an international student and you are still struggling with enjoying dutch food, I strongly recommend you to visit the open market in Rotterdam. Every Tuesday and Saturday you can taste dutch cheese, fresh vegetables, fruit and sweets exactly next to Markthal!
Last but not least, EUR and ESSB.
My first help on moving here was from Erasmus University Rotterdam. It all started with Eurekaweek. There I met my future colleagues and friends while discovering the city and the Dutch culture. Studying at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences also means that you are surrounded by many international students. So, don’t hesitate to exchange a few words with someone new in Polak building while having a break. Also, don’t forget to check your Outlook email! You can receive a lot of information about upcoming events and lectures that you can attend. It will help you broaden your knowledge and maybe make new friends. Erasmus University is very friendly towards international students so take advantage of every day spent here and have fun while studying your beloved course.