Classic House beats echoed over the campus during the opening of the Heartbeat Festival while Studium Generale was busy reinventing the wheel. The Ferris Wheel, that is.

Some might argue that there comes an age when you become too old to ride a Ferris Wheel, but the one placed at the entrance of campus on Monday was different. Awaiting students in each passenger car of the wheel was either a professor giving a mini lecture, a serenating guitarist or Fedde van der Spoel, a talented artist creating portraits in just a couple of minutes. In what was a sort of Russian roulette a-la Ferris wheel, some students wound up getting an unexpected lesson in behavioural economics or philosophy as they went for a ride.

“My ride was only a few minutes long, but I ended up learning all about what people tend to do when they get unexpected money,” said Fan Yi, who is taking a pre-Master in Media and Business. “In China this would never happen. We never get as personal with our professors as I did today.”

Analis Indriatun, a Master student in Accounting, was slightly more taken aback by her trip with economics professor Jan Stoop. He told students about a study he performed earlier this year in which he dressed as a Dutch postman and ‘misdelivered’ envelopes with money in them to homes to see whether the residents would return them to the right address.

“Well that was unexpected,” Indriatun told EM. “He was very excited about what he was talking about, but it was a pretty heavy topic to discuss on a Ferris wheel.

Private Serenades

Ferris wheel portrait foto Laanen
A portrait of Australian Master student Georgina Baker, drawn in a couple of minutes. Image credit: Ivar Laanen

While Stoop was telling about his research, a guitarist with brown locks in the cart below was singing his lungs out to any student who hopped inside his tiny pinstriped carriage.

“He looked me right in the eyes and gave me a private show,” said Stefan Lazarov, a Master student in Marketing. “I heard he was giving some of the ladies two songs and I only got one. What’s the deal with that?”

Playing the guitar while riding on a Ferris wheel seems quite a challenge anyway, but imagine attempting to accurately draw a person in a matter of minutes in a teetering passenger car that’s constantly stopping and starting. For programme manager/local legend Fedde van der Spoel, that didn’t seem to be a problem as he produced portrait after portrait with precision.

“In a weird way, being up there with him was kind of like being at the dentist, because you didn’t know whether you were supposed to move your face or talk while he drew you,” said Georgina Baker, who recently arrived in Rotterdam to do a Master in Marketing. “I love the drawing though, I think it really does look like me.”