I had to wait a while for Kelly de Jong to emerge from the Central Post multi-company office building, located right next to Central Station, as her work placement coordinator at the AD Rotterdams Dagblad newspaper publisher refused to let her go home until the article she had written was absolutely perfect. “This afternoon I had to go to a special construction vessel that was moored at the Cruise Terminal. I had to deal with a lot of technical information. I had three columns’ worth of text, which my supervisor then summarised in two sentences.” While we were waiting for her train to arrive, De Jong was able to laugh it off. “If I hadn’t written the story myself, I’d never read it.”

Gap year


De Jong is a second-year student taking the International Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media (IBCoM). “I used to want to be a journalist or writer. I actually once commenced writing a book, and I used to dream of becoming the Netherlands’ youngest published author.” Yet she wasn’t sure what to do after graduating from secondary school. “So I considered taking a gap year, but my father didn’t like the sound of that. He was afraid I’d never go to uni after taking some time off.”

At one of EUR’s Open Days she learned about the IBCoM degree, and it was the opportunity to study abroad for a while that drew her in. “I wanted to continue living in Rotterdam while getting my degree. I may be biased because I’m from Rotterdam myself, but I think Rotterdam is a great city,” she told me. By now we were on the train. “Staying in Rotterdam allowed me to continue to live with my dad. Moreover, it’s a wide-ranging degree course, which will give me a few years to make up my mind about what I actually wish to do.”

The most beautiful station in the Netherlands

She nearly quit last year. “I failed two subjects and was afraid I wouldn’t get all the credits I needed. But in the end I found I was too late to unenroll, and then it turned out I only had the one re-sit.” So far, her favourite subject has been International and Global Communication. “Mainly because I thought the lecturer was great and we weren’t allowed to use laptops, meaning we actually absorbed more of the subject matter.”

We arrived at Rotterdam Lombardijen station. “Surely this is the most beautiful station in the Netherlands, right?” said Kelly with a huge grin. Her bike was parked right next to the entrance. We were discussing her near future. “In August I’m going to San Francisco on a student exchange and once I get back, I will move in with my dad again. I wouldn’t mind finding a place of my own, but I feel that paying rent would be a waste of money.”


Chicken and gorgonzola

Her work placement had failed to rekindle her former writing ambitions. “Perhaps I’d rather do something involving marketing and communications, thinking up a long-term strategy with a team. Things need to be done a little too quickly for my taste at the newspaper.”

At home her father had a meal of penne with chicken and gorgonzola waiting for her. “He cooked that especially for me, because he himself doesn’t like pasta at all!” After properly making the acquaintance of the cook, yours truly was dropped off at the train station again. The next morning I read a nice story about a unique ship that dumps rocks.