Eureka Week? Don’t change anything – it’s fine the way it is. Just ask the international students. On Wednesday they had one night to party together. ‘It’s fine for one evening, but we’re here to learn about the culture.
The party is held in Plan C and is organised by Erasmus Student Network Rotterdam (ESN). Dozens of international students throng their way past the club’s bouncers, some of them draining their alcohol-filled water bottles while others distribute cigarettes.
They’re all looking forward to it, mainly because during the association parties there’s so much shouting in Dutch. “It’s a fun experience, even though we don’t understand a word they’re saying,” laughs Louisa (22) from Malaysia. “And the parties are so lively.”
Still, the psychology student is fine with the fact that the programme has only a single activity exclusively for international students. “For me, the Eureka Week is important for me because it’s an opportunity to learn about Dutch culture and the culture of Rotterdam.” And she also feels you can learn a bit of Dutch.
The 17-year-old Fia from Cape Town nods in agreement. “I want to see and experience everything.” Earlier that day she rode on the back of a bike for the first time and almost fell off. And she had a taste of vla. It wasn’t bad.
Peculiar people, the Dutch.
The Eureka Week is also a great time to make friends. The terms ‘connecting’ and ‘bonding’ are heard frequently. Or, as Teresa, a 19-year-old psychology student from Norway, puts it: “It’s impossible not to make friends during this week. You get so many opportunities.”
Tatjana (25), a first-year psychology student from Germany, concurs. “I’m here to meet and talk with lots of people and hear about new perspectives on life. Studying abroad is very useful for doing that and the Eureka Week is a great start. You meet so many people at once.”
'All of them have friends, we don't'
But for one evening it’s nice to be among like-minded people. “I mean, we are all in the same situation. Everyone is living away from home. It’s fun to be among all the Dutch people, but all of them already have friends. We don’t.”
The party-goers demonstrate they understand each other as Ludacris blasts from the speakers. Immediately, in chorus: “Move bitch, get out the way, bitch.” Some things are the same everywhere.
That could also apply to dormant nationalism. A Brazilian crosses the dance floor, passing under a Brazilian flag. He stops, kisses his fingers and places them softly on the flag. Others gather for group photos under their own flag. If someone shouts ‘E-S-N, E-S-N, E-S-N’, this is immediately met with shouts of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A’.
And this was just one of the examples of traces of American culture encountered during Eureka Week. Ji Hyun (22), a student in the Innovation Management master, mentions that English is spoken frequently, especially at the opening ceremony. “That was strange. So many people, so impressive – I was asking myself: what is going on here? This is something you would expect in America. But it was useful, as I immediately saw that I wasn’t the only international student. Just the opposite, in fact. There are quite a few international students and that’s a comforting thought.”
While enthusiastically relating her experiences, she loses sight of her group. After searching for an hour, she still hasn’t found them.
You could say this is a good time to start ‘connecting’.