You could already see them everywhere at Rotterdam Central station: English-speaking students with heavy suitcases. Almost all of them took the tram to the Woudestein Campus to participate in International Day. The stalls of various student organisations were waiting in the Theil hall to welcome the new faces. “We’re here to help new students with practical things, such as buying a Dutch SIM card, registering with the municipality or opening a new bank account,” said Cara Sainsbury, vice-president of ESN Rotterdam. “Basically, we show them how to get around during their first days here in Rotterdam.”

Cara Sainsbury from ESN Rotterdam Image credit: Feba Sukmana

Dutch games

In a corridor of the Erasmus building, the Chinese student association CSA-EUR organised traditional Dutch games. Laughing, new students tried sjoelen, koekhappen and spijkerpoepen. Shouldn’t they have organised traditional Chinese games instead? “We do have one,” said President Jingli Gao, pointing to a ring decorated with feathers. You have to keep it high on your feet for as long as possible. “But the internationals are new here, so we think it would be nice to welcome them with Dutch games.”

Making friends

For Indonesian student Grace Christa, The Netherlands is not unknown, having completed her law studies in Groningen. “For my master’s degree I would like to live in a big city,” she explained her choice to move to Rotterdam. “And then I saw that Erasmus University has a very interesting Master’s programme in Commercial Law.”

Next to Grace was the 18-year-old Iyani from Vietnam. The two girls already seemed to be friends, even though they have only known each other for a few minutes. “Grace and I were just standing next to each other in line,” Iyani laughed. “But I think that’s exactly the intention of a day like this: you get to meet people and make friends.”

Grace and Iyani-International Day
Grace and Iyani Image credit: Feba Sukmana

Paola Sanchez from Spain and Carla Braga from Brazil were also standing in line for poffertjes. They just met each other, they said. Even though they will soon be doing different studies (IBA for Paola and Psychology for Carla), there’s an immediate click between the two. Paola first doubted whether she wanted to participate in International Day. “A day like today is overwhelming: a new place, so many new faces, I was afraid that it would be too much,” she said. “But now I’m glad I decided to come.”Both students won’t participate in the rest of Eurekaweek. “An entire week of introduction activities seems a little too much to me,” said Carla. “But today is fine. It’s nice and well-organised, not forced, and, like the Dutch put it, gezellig.”