By: Evelyne Kolker, Foster Undergraduate
This is Evelyne Kolker, writing from Rotterdam in the Netherlands! I am studying here on a business exchange through UW at Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM).
I wanted to share a few of my favorite memories from here so far:
A major national holiday here in the Netherlands, Queen’s Day! This day is called Koninginnedag in Dutch. This holiday began in 1885 as a way to garner support for the Dutch monarchy and has become a national day of celebration and merriment here in Holland. This Queen’s Day was a particularly special experience because this is the last Queen’s Day ever. From now on, due to the coronation of King Willem-Alexander, the holiday will be called King’s DayJ
In action, Queen’s Day is a day when all of Holland dresses up in orange, the national color. Our group of friends joined the official ESN (Erasmus Student Network) boat trip in Amsterdam. We took a bus up to Amsterdam early in the morning. An entire bus full of college students dressed in orange. We then spent a few hours on a huge boat for 150 students gliding through the canals in Amsterdam. It was an amazing experience to pass people standing on bridges or on either side of a canal, cheering when we went buy. The overall atmosphere was really great, with the music blaring, everyone dancing and cheering; the entire city, the entire country celebrating.
Another fun thing to do is travel north to Keukenhof, which has rows and rows of tulips. Due to the cold spring we have been having, I ended up heading to Keukenhof on one of the last days it was open, because I kept waiting for a sunny day.. Here’s a photo of me with Phil, one of the exchange students who came from Erasmus University to UW earlier this fall.
Beyond the traditional experiences, it has been a lot of fun just being in the Netherlands. The university is around an area called Kralingen, which is considered one of the nicest and most expensive parts of Rotterdam. I like walking through the streets in this area, because it has some older buildings. Since Rotterdam was bombed during WWII, you have to travel to other cities to see older, “traditional” Dutch towns, but Rotterdam’s Kralingen area gives you a little of the feel of the older towns.
Another fun thing about living in the Netherlands is the sheer amount of bikes. I even noticed little bike garages, to keep the bikes from getting wet from the rain. There is nothing quite like seeing someone riding a bike, while smoking a cigarette and talking on their cellphone. This kind of multi-tasking while riding around is pretty typical and always amusing to see.
The RSM program itself provides an entirely different form of teaching. The approach around here is much more hands off; students are expected to study and learn a lot of the material on their own. Beyond the rigor of the courses, the fact that 40% of the IBA program here are from other countries, other than Holland, is absolutely impressive. It makes you really feel that we are living in a global age; many of the students have plans to live all over the world while working, from Hong Kong to Berlin to Toronto. Another perk of studies here at Erasmus is that every student in RSM is required to study abroad for a quarter or a semester in the fall of their 3rd and final year. I think that the program here really encourages students to explore the world, whether it is through the required study abroad or through the sheer diversity of students and professors.
With love from Rotterdam,