Rotterdam: a world class city?

A few days ago, the travel guidebook Rough Guides mentioned  Rotterdam in the top 10 cities worldwide. Rough Guides especially likes the modern architecture, and points out the newly risen vertical city ‘De Rotterdam’ and the ‘Markthal’ near Blaak, which is still under construction. What do international students at the Erasmus University appreciate most about their temporary hometown? 

Olena Pidenko (22), Econometrics student from Ukraine

“This is my second year here, so I already know the city quite well. I think that Rotterdam is a typical student city, while most tourists go to Amsterdam, and The Hague mainly attracts families. There are multiple reasons why Rotterdam is such a special city, and one of them is the big contrast between old and modern. The majority of the original center was bombed in World War II, but among today’s modernist structures, you can still find some historical buildings. Modern architecture is certainly not a bad thing, I really like the center to go shopping and to meet up with friends. Several special and creative buildings like the Kubuswoningen are places that you don’t encounter very often in other cities. My hometown Kyiv is more classical, while it’s also very big and crowded, which causes a lot of traffic jams. Rotterdam is much more relaxed, and has nice green areas such as the Kralingse Bos and the city park of De Esch, near where I live. This is a city that I’ve recommended to some of my friends, who will visit me for the second time in a few months. The only thing that I don’t like here is the unpredictable weather: when it’s sunny it can be raining just a few minutes later!”

Piram Patel (28) and Vibhor Sahay (27), both Master Business Administration (MBA) students from India

Piram: “It would be a bit too quick to make a judgment about Rotterdam, since I only arrived here last Saturday. So far, we like it though: the public transport is very good, the city is hygienic and the locals are friendly. We consider these three things to be the most important characteristics of a city. The modern architecture is also great here, and I will definitely pay a visit to the Erasmus bridge. Rotterdam isn’t a bad place to live, but if I didn’t have to be here for my study, I would go back to my hometown Mumbai right away.

Vibhor: “I’m living in Rotterdam mainly because of the excellent MBA program, but there is another reason. Rotterdam has an impressive and beautiful port, and since I’m a marine engineer, that immediately drew my attention. Therefore the Maritime Museum is also on my checklist. I’m from Delhi, a big city that is incomparable to Rotterdam, both in culture and appearance. It really surprises me that Rotterdam is in the top 10 list of best cities. Most people say Amsterdam is a must-visit during a eurotrip, but Rotterdam isn’t that famous among foreigners. Maybe that will change now, and Rotterdam will become more popular.”

Raquel Sánchez Osuna (24), Master Urban, Port & Transport Economics student from Spain

“The city of Rotterdam has a nice atmosphere. Unlike a lot of other big cities, there aren’t many must-see attractions. You can just take a walk or ride your bike anywhere to enjoy life on the streets. In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of a city is the architecture, which is – unlike cities as Utrecht and Leiden – not typically Dutch here. To be honest, I like Rotterdam better than Amsterdam. It’s really chaotic over there, but in Rotterdam you have a lot of breathing space, which I like a lot. Two of my favorite parts of Rotterdam are the Museumpark area and the historical Dutch site of Delfshaven. In my hometown, which is near Barcelona, the weather is a lot better than it is over here. Apart from that, I think Rotterdam is a nice city, but not very special. In the future, I might come back here to visit some old friends, but I don’t think I would revisit Rotterdam just for the city itself.” MvS