A card sits on the desk in Tirza’s tidy bedsit in Het Oude Noorden. It says ‘bless this mess’. “Obviously, I did some tidying up here today,” she admits. “Although in all fairness, the mess in here doesn’t really get too bad. How long my new plant will survive is anyone’s guess, though. I’ve only had it for a few days.”

Tirza den Hertog

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Freshman Tirza: ‘You’ll walk past sick children on your way to a lecture’

The thousands of first-year students who make it to EUR each year all have plenty of…

She hardly ever uses her desk. “I prefer studying on my bed. A pillow behind my back, textbooks and notes all around me. That’s how I’m most effective.” Clearly, this unusual study posture is working for her, because so far, Tirza has passed all her exams. “Although I am still awaiting my mark for a recent exam. Everyone is dreading those marks. Although they won’t be as bad as the marks given to Business Administration students. My flatmate told me that they were given spectacularly low marks earlier in the year.” In all, Tirza has two flatmates. One at the end of her corridor, the other one lives another floor up. Yet another floor up, because Tirza’s room is already quite a long way up. However, she does have a very light and sunny room. Living so far up does come with certain advantages.


Now that the first-year medical students have completed Block 1 (Healthy Humans) and Block 2 (Heart, Kidneys and Lungs), they will embark on acute medicine in Block 3. “So now that we’ve focused on theoretical knowledge for months, we will finally switch to practical stuff – well, a bit, anyway,” Tirza says enthusiastically. At present, she has no idea how to help anyone who might collapse in the middle of the street, but she looks forward to being able to help such people. “My degree has definitely already changed me. I’ve become more aware of the vulnerability of living beings. So I’m all the more grateful for my own good health and that of the people around me.”

Not only does she love her degree programme, but she loves her fellow students, too, to the point where she regards attending lectures as having a good time. “I get on well with my fellow students, particularly with my study group. We regularly have dinner together, but we also exercise together.” For instance, the medical students will work themselves into a sweat together while attending the group lessons taught by Conny at Erasmus Sport.

Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

Tirza already knows that the second year of her degree programme will be a very busy one. This year she is all about passing her first-year exams, so that she will be allowed to continue her degree. Once Year 1 is over, though, she hopes to do more than just study. “I hope to find a part-time job at Erasmus MC, but I’ll have to pass all my Year-1 exams for that.” She also wants to join a student association. She has actually found one she thinks she may wish to join: Skadi, the students’ rowing club. And not just because Skadi’s boathouse happens to be on Gordelweg, across the road from her house, i.e. incredibly close to where she lives. “It strikes me as a fun association. I’ll share a boat with people who joined in the same year I did. Should be fun, right? I think I’m a better fit with this association than with other Rotterdam student associations.” She is not fazed by the fact that joining Skadi will involve hazing. “I don’t dread being hazed at Skadi. It’s part of the deal.”