This is a special moment for Erasmus University College. This summer, EUC presents its first group of graduates. Today, 48 students received their bachelor’s degree.

“Nobody tried to cut corners, that was really motivating”, says Roan Laenen. He is a student of EUC’s first hour, just as Sabine van Ameyde, Lauren Verheijen and Koen Wies. Now, at the end of their adventure, they look back on their college years. “Sometimes we felt like guinea pigs, although that worked to our advantage.”

Sabine van Ameyde (21) "I loved the college experience"

Sabine
Image credit: Ronald van den Heerik

“Coming into this adventure, I would have never thought I would be part of such a close community of people. On this note, I loved the “college” experience, having to live all together in the same building (Student Hotel) for a whole year. The idea is great, because it really helps freshmen to get integrated in the city. It spares them the tedious tasks of looking for a place, furniture, roommates and so on, chores which can be really heavy on a newbie, especially if you are from another city or country.

EUC has a one year rule on this accommodation arrangement that means that after a year the student has to move out. I found the timing of it a really good balance, it allows students to move on in the following two years.

I must say, because of my small researches into University colleges, I expected EUC to have a wider range of choices when it comes to courses. On the other hand, I was positively impressed to find the offered courses to be very specific, for instance we could take a course in Nanobiology. Being the first batch of students, we were all unavoidably treated as guinea pigs. This is not necessarily bad, being Guinea pigs had its perks too. Professors seemed to be more lenient with us with exams and assignments, as everything was still a work in progress. On the other hand, that meant there was more uncertainty regarding credits and which courses were available to us, that was definitely a downside.

My plans for the future are still a bit blurred. I won’t be doing a master right after, just because I am still unsure on what I want to do. I am looking into doing an internship in London next year, I would like to work in marketing or the international development sector.

Looking back at my EUC experience, the most valuable thing that I take away is the fact that I became a better person. I got to know myself better and I grew together with the friends I met in my first year. I am also proud of becoming a chairman at the Kembé foundation, in that regard I exceeded my own expectation for myself and I am obviously very proud of graduating this year.

Nevertheless, I am not sure I would re-do a university college type of education, because of its disadvantaged position in the labor market. Most people don’t know what university college is and the label Liberal Arts and Science doesn’t really give a good idea of what we actually study. For this reason, I don’t think I would advise this typology of education.”

Roan Laenen (21): “I took every chance EUC gave me"

Roan
Image credit: Ronald van den Heerik

“Discussing your essay on a Sunday afternoon with your tutor through Skype. That’s an example of the dedication that the EUC staff. That the staff makes time, even on Sunday felt really special to me.

The contact with students and staff was good. Everyone knew each other’s names. Not so difficult, since there’s an average of 20 people attending classes.

Everyone had his own interests, some made films, another one music. But one thing was the same for everyone, the urge to fully commit yourself to your study. Nobody tried to cut corners. That was really motivating. You don’t go to class unprepared when you know all your fellow students well have made the necessary preparations.

I chose Rotterdam, because of the small classes and the fact that in addition to a broad curriculum I could choose a major in Economics & Business. I never regretted my choice since I really had the opportunity to develop and deepen my interests. Because the curriculum of EUC is so broad, I have a base in so many different fields. You get a broad overview. You’ll get a lecture of Zihni Özdil on racism in the Western world one day, and the other day you will learn about how planets are formed in a class about the origin of the world. I’ll take that knowledge with me for my whole life.

Studying together and living together in the first year felt fantastic. I have a very strong bond with my classmates. I even went on vacation with 35 of them. Because you are living together in the first year, you’ve been through a lot together. You eat together, you party together and even share the annoying memories such as walking downstairs in your pyamas because the fire alarm was going off. I cherish such memories.

I am grateful for the opportunities that EUC gives to its students. I helped develop a new concept for classical music commissioned by the Philharmonic Rotterdam and brainstormed with a architecture office about a new building that was being developed. Because the classes were so small, you could actually start a conversation when someone came to give a guest lecture. For example, we had great masterclasses of the CEO of Shell and Jan Peter Balkenende.

When I look back, I would like to enjoy more of my student days. I grabbed every opportunity to develop myself, this was fun, but also took a lot of time. Because of this, I often was stressed out to get everything done. I should have enjoyed my time here some more. However, I would not recommend anyone to take it slow. You have to grab all the chances EUC offers you, where else do you get the same chance again?”

In 2013, EUC was established within Erasmus University. The international honors college (EUC) started with 79 students of which 66 remained. 48 of them will receive their diploma on Thursday, the other 18 students will follow soon. They chose to pursue a double major or additional courses.
EUC can rightfully call themselves an international college. Every day, 30 nationalities walk down the corridors of the former municipal library situated in the center of Rotterdam where EUC is currently located. This number is expected to dramatically increase as this year 200 freshmen are expected.

Lauren Verheijen (20) "Students are more aware of each other"

Lauren
Image credit: Ronald van den Heerik

“I grew up in a very international environment. My parents are Dutch, but I was born in Chicago, since than we moved every three years until it was time for me to pick my secondary studies.

After high school, I figured I was coming to Holland anyway, because I still have family here. Initially I was looking into following the International Business Administration program at Erasmus University, but when I heard about a university college being established in Rotterdam, I went for it.

What I like about EUC are its small classes which I find really inspiring. Contrastingly with a big lecture room, you get to hear everyone’s voice, students are more aware of each other in that sense.

Most university colleges have their own campuses, although EUC doesn’t have its own campus we still got the chance to live the ‘college experience’ by living all together. I absolutely adored the experience, especially coming from abroad. Living together helped creating a close community.

Although I did not have any expectations regarding EUC, I didn’t really researched it, I was expecting more diversity for what concerns the courses. For instance, I decided to focus on Arts and Culture, but not many courses touched upon it. Moreover, I wasn’t expecting EUC to have such close ties with Erasmus MC, thus having more courses focused on life sciences.

However, EUC listened to our feedback and things have already improved. For instance, now students have the chance to combine their studies with a degree at the Willem de Kooning Academy. If I had the chance, I would have done it, without even thinking. Furthermore, from an academic point of you, many changes have been implemented, for instance now EUC offer tailored tracks and many more extra classes.

Because the program is so diverse, I do feel courses failed to go deep into the studied subject. In fact, most of us have to take pre-masters to access specific masters. This being said, I do feel that if you have a better general understanding, it would be easier for you to go deeper into the subject.

My proudest achievement during these three years of EUC has to be my thesis, it is about Graffiti in the art world. I have a fascination with cities, I think that’s why I am intrigued by the world of graffitis. If there is one in the corner on the opposite side of the street you can bet that is what my eye will fall on. I applied to the Arts and Culture Research Master in Leiden because I want pursue my interests in the art field. I leave EUC as a much more confident individual ready to take over a new challenge.”

Koen Wies (21) "I had the feeling I could leave a mark, so I went for it"

Koen
Image credit: Ronald van den Heerik

“I was already familiar with the concept of University College. My parents had randomly come across the Roosevelt Academy in Middleburg and after that episode I learned about this type of education. Back then, I was undecided between IBA in Rotterdam and the Roosevelt Academy. As I heard EUC was about to be launched, I enrolled. I got the best of both worlds. Moreover, EUC being a new institute, I had the feeling I could leave a mark, so I went for it.

My experience at EUC was amazing. I was part of the founding board of EUCSA which is the college student association and I was also the first student to be part of the management section of EUC. I contribute with my opinion on topics such as funding, teachers’ qualifications and so forth. EUC really listened to us. With our feedback, things changed a lot. I do feel responsible for the quality of the study for following generations, on an academic level, thanks to our feedback, EUC has already improved a lot.

The essence of my first year of EUC can be encapsulated in the phrase “thinking like…”, in the sense that with every class you put yourself in different shoes, for instance of a lawyer or a doctor and you learn how to think like them.

The next stop is Rotterdam School of Management where I will follow a master in International Management. Here, I am hoping to find a community of people who strives together toward to same goal. I will work to be at the forefront of innovation because I believe in new technology.