From the Erasmus Bridge, several dozens of pedestrians curiously watch a cover band called De Klittenband close off this year’s Eurekaweek on a stage. Their repertoire is such that most first-year students in Willemsplein are having difficulty standing still. Classic songs such as You’ll Never Walk Alone, The Final Countdown and We Will Rock You follow each other in quick succession, to the point where even a guard working on the sidelines is finding himself singing along softly.
Eighteen at last
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what the party hat saying ‘Happy Birthday’ signifies. Sophie, who is about to embark on a business administration degree, is turning 18 today, which means the occasion is twice as festive for her. “Now I can finally drink when my fellow students are drinking,” she says cheerfully. A girl called Christine, also 18, is standing next to Sophie. Although the two only met this week, they seem inseparable already. “We were on the same group and struck up a conversation at once.”
The two girls say that the parties organised by the student societies were the highlight of their Eurekaweek. “We attended a party every night. It was awesome, getting to know people that way.” Sophie occasionally had a bit of trouble gaining access to the parties. “Of course I was only 17 at the time, so that sometimes made it hard to get into places.”
For instance, Sophie was unable to enter Laurentius after 11pm. “So we ended up going to the nearest pub instead. That was one of the downsides of this week, because I felt they hadn’t organised enough alternative parties for people under 18.” The freshers’ group with which the ladies kicked off the introduction week remained intact until the end, except for one student. “He signed up with Laurentius, and we never saw him again after that,” says Christine.
Before the start of Eurekaweek, 17-year-old Radi had no idea what to expect. “I just decided to wait and see what would happen this week,” she says. In the week gone by, the econometrics student mainly looked forward to the evenings, the highlight being the cantus sign-along event. The fact that she was holding a cup of cola rather than a beer didn’t stop her from having fun. “It was really rad to sing songs with that many people.”
However, Radi did feel the start of the week was a little chaotic. “It was a bit unclear what we were expected to do. Our guides didn’t really seem to have any idea what they were expected to do, either.” But still, they all had a great time, she quickly adds. “There’s a lot you can do with a little improv.”
19-year-old Julian, who is embarking on a degree in psychology, is looking at the stage from a distance. “My whole group has dispersed among the crowd. I’ve lost all of them,” he tells us. Julian says the whole week was, in a word, ‘fantastic’. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the entire week because I had to do some work, but I tremendously enjoyed it.” He has high praise for the way in which the whole thing was organised. “Everything was really well organised. The opening ceremony, in particular, featured some really cool performances.”
Unlike many of his fellow students, Julian did not go clubbing this week. “I’m not much of a partygoer, so I’d stay with the group until we hit the cafés and then I’d go home again.” For this reason, he thinks the Eurekaweek organising committee made the right decision in also programming the Movie Night, as an alternative to the cantus event.
In the end, Julian decides to find his group members among the crowd, after all. “I want to say thank you to them for this week.”
De Klittenband finish their performance, which marks the official closing of this year’s Eurekaweek, at 10.30 with the ever-so-appropriate ‘Rotterdam Song’. Many incoming students haven’t quite mastered the song about ‘the most beautiful mess of a city ever’ yet, but judging from the way they wrap their arms around their new friends and sway to the beat, they have taken quite a shine to Rotterdam after just one week.