Nobody, absolutely nobody, refers to the Erasmus Bridge by its nickname ‘The Swan’. Cycling across the tram rails is bloody dangerous. Rotterdam-North is a neighbourhood, but is also used to indicate everything above the Maas river. It’s also good to know that you might live on South, but you live in North. All in all, the city of Rotterdam deserves its own section in the survival guide.

Rotterdam (the best rotten city there is)


How do you survive…. the campus

From stress, STDs, and stimulants to shockingly high student debt. A crash course in…

Welcome to our city of contrasts. It’s a rough harbour town, but it hosts at least one hip festival every weekend, with hip drinks, music and vegan food. Inhabitants are  proud of the renewed popularity of their city, but fear an invasion of tourists. Every week, there is the opening of an awesome new eatery, but chips at Bram’s (Ladage) is always something to look forward to. Houses and their prices are skyrocketing, but over 100,000 Rotterdammers are living on or below the poverty line. The number of #fitgirls is increasing, but the calorie bomb that was introduced in 2003 and is called ‘kapsalon’ (chips topped with grilled shawarma meat and cheese and topped with dressed salad greens) is still hugely popular.

Rotterdammers go to the market, not to the ‘Markthal’ market hall. That’s only suitable for tourists; the market on the Binnenrotte belongs to us Rotterdammers. Every Tuesday and Saturday, the market stalls are set up in front of that enormous Markthal. Cycle across the bridge (the Erasmus Bridge of course) to visit the market on the Afrikaanderplein square. You’re a Rotterdammer, not a ‘Geepekop’ (which is the local idiom for idiot) and you want to see all the ‘gerse’ (awesome) parts of the city. Do mind those damned tram rails while you’re cycling. If your tires get caught in those, you’re going to fall flat on your ‘muil’ (face).

You should have a cycle around town at any rate. From the Lee Towers on the Marconiplein to the Erasmus University, and from Lombardijen to Hillegersberg. Walk around the waters of the Kralingse Plas, visit the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). Have a barbecue in the Vroesenpark, but try to avoid the Koopgoot high street at weekends. In other words: explore the city, it’s unreal.

“Rotterdam is not an illusion
created on film
Rotterdam cannot be captured
Rotterdam is far too true”

Translation of a Jules Deelder poem from his collection ‘Vrijwel alle gedichten’ (2004).

Feyenoord (Feiyenooooort)

Ajax? PSV? FC Groningen? Those days are over, pal. You’re now forever linked to the great city of Rotterdam and that means an inexplicable and terrible hatred of Amsterdam and Ajax. All other football clubs simply do not matter anymore. From now on, your heart is red and white, it bleeds Feyenoord and starts pounding whenever our club from the southside of the city scores. Excelsior is a highly acceptable alternative; they are also a proud part of our heritage. “We won’t mention Sparta” as mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb stated at the opening of the Eurekaweek, referring to the club from Spangen’s relegation from the highest level of Dutch football. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you cannot embrace these Kasteelheren (Castle Lords).

Culturally appropriate

Have you gotten your hands on a Rotterdampas? It only costs students €12.50 but allows you to have a lot of fun: go to the cinema for free (you can even go four times, as that’s the number of cinemas that we have in our city), visit museums for free; and you won’t need a gym membership anymore with the amount of free trial lessons you’ll be getting. We haven’t even mentioned the free ice cream.

We briefly mentioned the IFFR, but Rotterdam hosts a great many events: North Sea Jazz, Motel Mozaique, the Summer Carnival, World Port Days, Pleinbios, and so on. Architecture, food, art, music, spoken word, theatre; it’s all there.

Facebook groups that should not be missed

The Facebook group Commodity Market Rotterdam is your best bud when it comes to looking for cheap furniture. Bikes, rooms, scooters, cheap deals on haircuts; you’ll find everything on there. Rotterdam is rife with second-hand stores, but they’re not all cheap.

Any self-respecting student will have some sort of greenery in their room. On the Facebook page Plantenasiel Rotterdam (plant shelter Rotterdam), live cuttings are given away or traded. If taking care of your green chums turns out to be harder than you thought, you can always ask for help here as well.


Undercover with the student housing swindlers

A 1.200 euro deposit for a house that doesn’t exist. Swindlers cheat international…

Do make sure to be careful when you’re looking for an accommodation: there are quite a few crooks around. If you do manage to find your place, you’ll be living in the ‘best rotten city there is’.