‘Big age gap in class’

Pepijn – eerste maand – Ekaterina Shakarashvili
Image credit: Ekaterina Shakarashvili

Pepijn op de Beek, 18, Dutch History student: “Even though I finished high school here in Rotterdam, university life still turned out to be quite novel. One of the biggest differences is that the classes aren’t limited to one age group. For example, I have a classmate who is 46 years old. Obviously, that’s a big age gap, but we’re pretty much on the same page when it comes to opinions. She is really cool, I find her very interesting and friendly. Her presence gives the group a nice vibe.”

“Another difference between the university and high school would be related to the campus itself. At high school, we did not have any space where we could study in silence. So, I really enjoy studying at the university library now. It’s quiet and beautiful. I haven’t explored all other buildings just yet, but I appreciate the environment everywhere I go. Small details, like art, for example, create a comfortable atmosphere.

“I’m happy with my classmates. Although we all share the same interests, there are some people with very contrasting opinions. I think that makes classroom discussions and debates more interesting. I can already see myself here next year. In fact, I want to try to do a double degree with philosophy, let’s see how that works out.”

‘Less pressure than in Medicine’

Lisanne – eerste maand – Ekaterina Shakarashvili
Image credit: Ekaterina Shakarashvili

Lisanne Brouwer, 19, Dutch Psychology student: “I was born and raised in the Netherlands. I went to a Dutch high school and then applied to study Medicine at Erasmus MC. After a year, I decided to switch to Psychology, because I was more interested in having conversations with patients as a doctor or even a psychologist. I want to specialise in clinical psychology – I hope to become a therapist.

“If I compare my previous studies to my current one, the first thing that comes to mind is pressure. In Psychology, there’s a lot less pressure, not just study-related but also personal. I don’t want to badmouth anyone, but in Medicine, people are being too hard on you, the academic expectations are unrealistically high. Whereas, in the first few days in the Psychology programme, all I saw was the caring and nice atmosphere. I didn’t think about this beforehand, so I was pleasantly surprised.”

“I noticed there is a misconception that psychology is easy and more accessible – I don’t agree. Psychology is a science, so it is interesting but not that easy. I like the lectures in our programme a lot. They are not too difficult to understand, and they spike your interest. My thoughts hardly ever drift off.”

‘Settling down is backfiring’

Priyanka – eerste maand – Ekaterina Shakarashvili
Image credit: Ekaterina Shakarashvili

Priyanka Shrivastava, 26, Indian Economics and Business student: “India has a very different study and work culture. I am not just from a different country, I’m from a different continent. And so, I’m absorbing a great deal of various information every day. The study load becomes even heavier when it’s combined with the culture shock and all the little details you have to take care of as an international student, like finding a room or opening a bank account.

“The first week that I spent on settling down is backfiring at my study progress now. The study pace is very fast, which makes the process quite difficult and hectic, so I’m already stressed about the upcoming exams.”

“Before my arrival, I had done some research online about the relationships between Dutch professors and students, so I knew what to expect. They are very approachable, friendly and patient. You don’t have to have an important question to ask, nobody will laugh at the silly ones either. And as an international student, you will have a lot of questions to ask. The detailed study plan that we are given at the beginning of the course, provides me with guidance not only on what to study, but on how to study also. Despite all this, sometimes I catch myself questioning if I’m doing it right. But I have this mindset: I believe if I can achieve this, I can achieve anything.”