Mila Ivanova is studying Medicine and writes articles for EM. She regularly commutes between Woudestein and Hoboken and describes the similarities and differences between ‘East’ and ‘West’ in her column. In today’s article, she’ll be telling us about the best places to study.

All students need a quiet place to study. And since the University Library is temporarily closed, everyone on Campus Woudestein has moved to the Polak Building, while medical students – and a few stowaways from the other side – can use the Education Centre. Although there’s no lack of stunning architecture at both these locations, they’re either too hot or too cold.

Architectural design at the Education Centre and the Polak Building

A wealth of light and space between the red carpets and the soaring roof, furnishings in dark brown walnut and a pattern of glass triangles in the ceiling that lets in the sunshine if the weather is fine. There are four rows of bookshelves on the right with lecture halls on the other three sides. These are the main features at Erasmus MC’s Education Centre, which was awarded the Rotterdam Architecture Prize in 2012. The Polak Building is even more recent. This is another breathtaking architectural design on Campus Woudestein. The unusual arrangement of the narrow staircases in this building have been compared to one of M.C. Escher’s lithographs, and glass and light play a large part here as well.

Critical assessments of Polak

But not all the students are happy with the impressive design at the Polak Building and the Education Centre. Third-year Econometrics student Thijs sums up the problems very neatly: “The Polak Building looks very nice, but it’s much too small – and too warm, because the air conditioning doesn’t work.” Jan Bas, sixth-year Economics student, mentions a different drawback to this building which concerns the washbasins: “It’s impossible to fill your water bottle in the Polak Building without spilling at least half a litre because there isn’t enough room for the bottle under the taps. This must cost the University a lot of money because students often fill their water bottles there,” he comments. His fellow Economics student Werner has yet another criticism to make: “The fifth floor in the Polak Building is an absolute jungle,” he says. “You can actually conceal yourself behind all those plants.” And International Business Administration student Yenal concludes: “I liked the University Library a lot better, but Polak is the second best place to study.”

Does the Polak Building need another 2,000 study areas?

The Polak Building ‘only’ has 900 study areas, which is more than twice as many as at the Education Centre. This is why the Polak Building is always crowded because there are almost 7 times as many students on Woudestein than on Hoboken. But Woudestein students can also use the computer rooms all over the campus.

Critical assessment of the Education Centre

The Education Centre, on the other hand, is usually quiet and students can even find a computer to use without too much trouble. Except, of course, if a number of study years all have examinations at more or less the same time, which happens pretty frequently each year. But the main problem at the Education Centre is completely different: it’s generally too cold there. The thermostat is always set too low regardless of the outside temperature. This is only a problem if students have to sit still for hours in order to study, but fortunately there’s a practically unlimited supply of free tea and coffee to help warm them up.

Medical students freed from captivity

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The Education Centre of Erasmus MC is quiet, but often chilly

Our sixth-year Economics student Jan Bas says he occasionally studies in the Erasmus MC Education Centre. And he’s noticed something else about this building: “The medical students are so noisy when they come out of lecture halls, you’d think they’d been shut up in a Marc Dutroux-type cellar,” he comments. Third-year Medicine student Marijn agrees with Jan Bas to a certain extent: “The Medical Library isn’t always as quiet as it could be and the computers are a bit slow, but it’s definitely worth coming here to study because you can get so much work done,” he says.
Pupils from the Erasmiaans Gymnasium secondary school opposite Erasmus MC often visit the library and so do Woudestein students. “You sometimes hear economic jargon in between all the medical stuff,” Marijn says, “and this is really interesting. It’s a reminder that doctors should have a broad-based training and they shouldn’t forget the financial side either.”