Svenja definitely does not feel alone in Rotterdam. As we walk around the Kralingse Lake, she thinks back to King’s Day. On that warm Tuesday, she sat here in the grass with friends. “It was uncomfortably busy, but I didn’t want to sit inside on my own. There was a lot of police supervision. I think I saw every kind of police officer pass by: on horseback, on bicycles, and so on.” Since she had a few offline lectures at the beginning of the academic year, she managed to get to know some people, both students from her major and some from other courses of studies. A lot of her friends are also international students. Sometimes they go to the beach together or explore Rotterdam.


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Svenja celebrates Christmas in Germany without glühwein and candied almonds

They dreamed of studying abroad, preferably in Rotterdam, and then came the pandemic.…

“Oh!” says Svenja with delight. “Do you know who I finally saw? That Spiderman guy on wheels!” This is a familiar sight in Rotterdam. Dressed in a Spiderman suit, Kok Tan (that’s the real name of the ‘Spiderman guy’) races through the city on a tricycle. “I love people like that. You may feel like a weirdo or a misfit, but there’s always a place for you in a big city, especially in Rotterdam. There are so many different types of people here, yet everyone has got a place. Everyone seems to belong here, and that’s really not the case in every city.”

So fed up with Zoom lectures

And how is her International Bachelor Communication and Media study coming along? She lets out a long, deep sigh first. “The workload is incredibly high. Higher than in other years. A student from my year sent an e-mail about it, but it didn’t help. Also, we are all so fed up with Zoom lectures. We want real lectures, but everything is staying online. There are some rooms reserved where we can work together, but I don’t know anyone in those groups at the moment.” Svenja has no worries about passing the first year. Her average grade is a 7, so year two seems to be within reach.

Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

Svenja does not miss her home country of Germany. She would rather spend the summer in Rotterdam because something might actually be going on there. We do not mention her boyfriend in Germany. But we did talk about the James Franco poetry collections she owns. And she tells us that during an introduction round with fellow students, the only thing that she shared was that she loves coffee. “Others all had their own blogs or magazines, and all I said was that I love coffee! I could have died of embarrassment.”