With the start of a new term at the EUR, a new group of international students has arrived. They are not as big a group as the ones who started in September. Yet, our latest internationals had their official welcome organised for them as well.

Last September’s official welcome proved a success and events like these help newly arrived students to feel at home. Thanks to some proper marketing by organisers Erasmus Student Network Rotterdam (ESN), many of the newly arrived students showed up on 10 February at lecture hall B5 for the first part of the night. ESN’s president Frederike Maats welcomed everybody and the EUR’s rector, Prof. Lamberts mentioned in his speech that even though most of the students in front of him were short-stay, Rotterdam offers plenty of long-term possibilities too. Next the atmosphere was changed from formal to a little less formal. As a foreigner living in Holland, British comedian Adam Fields was able to accurately point out to everyone how crazy Dutch people are and how weird the Dutch language sounds. But also the rector and the ESN crew – wearing Easy Jet outfits – could not escape some interesting comments by Mr Fields.

The second part of the welcome consisted of Dutch food. Holland is not exactly known for its cuisine, but this country does have some special and tasty dishes, most of them being vegetable and potato stews served with gravy and sausage. Mariana Fidalgo (22) from Portugal liked her hutspot. She, like most internationals who started their time in Rotterdam now, will be here for just the one term. Sandra Benhas (24) from France also enjoyed her Dutch sauerkraut. Both are doing part of their Economics bachelor programmes here at the EUR.

Interestingly, many of the students arrived from outside Europe. Jesse Bennett (34) came to Rotterdam from Florida. He had the choice between a university in Australia and the EUR for his Law School exchange. He chose for Rotterdam because in Europe there is more to see without having to travel huge distances. IBA exchange student Joey Hwong (23) came from Seattle and like Jesse, will stay for one term. Joey liked her food, even though she first expected the ‘roggebrood met spek’ to be a sweet dessert. She thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening but, when asked, could mention a first obstacle on her adventure to Rotterdam that occurred even before arriving: The Stadswonen housing corporation who lost her application form. Joey initially sent in her paperwork in March 2008. When she checked with Stadswonen last autumn whether all was still on track, Stadswonen replied that they had lost her application form. The only option left was to re-apply. Because she now was so late, there was just one building available: the African Inn. She exchanged several emails, concerning safety, transportation and housing alternatives, which actually exceeded their 24 hours acceptance time window, before they canceled. In other words, she was rejected by Stadswonen and had to find a place by herself. She succeeded and now lives in Kralingen, which is just as well, as it a nice area and close to the university.

The official welcome also meant that everybody met and got to know new people. It was organised entirely by ESN-Rotterdam. Frederike Maats estimated that perhaps as many as 150 of all 194 newly arrived students enjoyed the evening, which made it a big success. After the Dutch dinner, students were invited to meet at ‘café Eindeloos’ in the city, to continue the party. It is ESN’s and the university’s aim to make the students’ Dutch experience a good one and the official welcome certainly made for a good start. KL