The thousands of students who enrol at EUR every year are full of dreams, ambitions and big plans for the future. EM has followed a number of these new faces during their first year. ‘How is … doing?’ That’s how each of the 21 articles started in the series that EM devoted over the past year to the ups and down of seven first-year students. Hannah, Isabelle, Julia, Mitchell, Ruaira, Tirza and Tristan shared their stories. Unfortunately, Mitchell Rekko (19) and Isabelle Lins Pereira (22) couldn’t make it to this final get-together, although we were happy to hear they were doing well. Mitchell will be starting on his third programme in The Hague next year, while Brazilian student Isabelle is hard at work earning her final credits for her Psychology IBA.
To bring the year to a festive conclusion, we’ve arranged to meet up at Mangiare on Van Oldenbarneveltstraat for dinner. The students are deep in conversation even before the two large trays of antipasti arrive at our table. While most of them have never met before, they tend to know which programme the others are in, where they’re from and what kind of things they’ve run into over the past year. “I’ve read all the articles,” says an enthusiastic Hannah van Riswijk (18).
Julia Federowicz (19) is the only member of our company who quit over the course of the year. Although she doesn’t have any regrets, because this move will allow her to make a fresh start on her Law programme come September. Although it was a difficult decision to make. “In primary school, I was recommended the same school type as the bullies in my class: junior general secondary education (MAVO). I hated that, so I worked really hard so that I eventually moved up to university preparatory education (VWO). Having to quit at the end of January felt like a failure. I’d worked so hard to get here.” Julia’s main focus these past few months has been work. This way, she hopes to save up enough money so she won’t have to work part-time next to her study after the summer.
Medical students Tristan, Tirza and Hannah are still on schedule when it comes to their programme and credits, as is IBCoM student Ruaira Maitimu (19). To move on the second year, Ruaira needs to earn all 60 credits (Medicine works with a 45-credit minimum). She’ll have to make a final push to get everything rounded off in time. But she’s going to make it, Ruaira says with a smile. “For example, I no longer have a boyfriend to deal with. There’s no man who can stand between me and my ambitions!” And it’s the same dream she has had since the start of her studies: to go on an exchange to the United States. After earning her bachelor’s, she will be one step closer to San Francisco.
Our table talk soon turns to living in Rotterdam. The three medical students all have a room here, and they can hardly contain their enthusiasm. Having your own place is loads of fun. But they all hasten to add that they still have ample time to focus on their studies. Hannah will be moving soon. Right now, she’s still set up all the way in Rotterdam-Alexander. The travel time isn’t really a problem, but when she goes to a party in town, she always ends up sleeping at a friend’s place anyway. “It’s not a particularly nice route to cycle at night – past Kralingen Forest and all that.” The other girls nod their understanding. Hannah will be moving into a room on Rochussenstraat soon – a five minutes’ walk from Erasmus MC.
Tirza and Tristan wouldn’t think of moving. Tirza lives just around the corner from Skadi, her rowing club, while Tristan vastly enjoys the house he rents with friends in Witte de Withstraat. They had a house party the other week. “It was a huge success,” says Tristan. The last time we talked, the number of guests was still a matter of some debate, with Tristan wanting to invite more people than his housemates. “We ended up with 40 people – there are always people who have to cancel at the eleventh hour.” They threw the party in the living room and the adjacent bedroom (Tristan’s to be precise). The somewhat slanted floor of his room bore the auxiliary beer pong table. They invited some friends over the day after too: “We still had beer left.”
part of special
The thousands of first-year students who make it to EUR each year all have plenty of…
Source of anxiety
Ruaira and Julia still live at home, as they plan to do for some time yet. “Rotterdam seems like a really fun place to live. Rotterdam is my kind of town,” says Ruaira. Julia agrees, but she’s held back by the high cost of living. The students at our table all sympathise. “You can’t avoid taking out a student loan,” Hannah says with a glum voice. She remembers feeling her stomach turn when she realised how quickly she was running up debt. Tirza wasn’t too happy about taking out a student loan either, but living on your own is hardly the only major expense. “Add all those expensive textbooks. It can’t be avoided, basically.” While the three medical students are all in debt, their student loan isn’t a source of anxiety for them. They’re all confident – Tristan’s debt is running up too, incidentally – that they’ll do quite comfortably after graduation.
By now, it’s time for the main course. Before the waiter sets down the lasagne and ravioli with asparagus, he asks whether anyone would like something else to drink. The students all order soft drinks, apart from Tristan that is. After some hesitation he asks for a glass of red wine – once it’s clear that we’ll be having the same.
While our first-years students all agree that they enjoy a tipple every now and then, they wouldn’t call themselves massive drinkers. Their week isn’t a succession of outings, parties and all-nighters. “In Medicine you have so many exams, and so often, that it’s more or less out of the question,” says Hannah. Although Tristan does mention in passing that the international parties on Tuesdays ‘can be very nice’. Everyone agrees that Eurekaweek was the best possible start to their student life, apart from Julia that is. She passed on the introduction week. “I already knew my way around town, because I’ve lived in Rotterdam for years,” she explains. Ruaira has nothing but good things to say about that week. “I really felt homesick afterwards. It was so much fun!” Tirza adds: “During lectures, you still run into people who you met during Eurekaweek. There’s always someone to talk to, in other words.”
“I’ve met tons of new people,” says Tristan. “But I’d still like to meet loads more. Next year, I plan to join Lauri (the student association R.S.V. Laurentius, Eds.).” Ruaira is on the travel committee of faculty association ACE. The longest trip planned this year will take students to Morocco. Hannah is also an active member of a student association, serving on the Public Health committee of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations Rotterdam (IFMSA-Rotterdam). In addition, she likes to run as a member of the student athletics club EUR Roadrunners.
Time for dessert. A share of the pasta is already heading home in a doggy bag, but suddenly it turns out the students still have room for some treat or other. Everyone call take a slow walk homewards, stuffed with cheesecake, tiramisu or a brownie. We’re hoping that a full stomach can take the edge off the final week of exam stress.