This year about a quarter of the hall can still be used for the registrations, three quarters are needed for the show. In the dim blue hall lights, hundreds of groups walk docilely behind their guide, into the main hall.

There, two students whip up the still timid audience. The rather frat-like duo plays wheel of fortune, holds a dance contest and has two students dance the macarena. The crowd only really gets loose when the pre-programme is closed by Erasmus Music Association with a dazzling performance of Robbie Williams’ Let me entertain you.

Maiden speech

Rector speech – Eurekaweek opening ceramony -Event – August 2022 – Ali Alshamayleh
Rector Annelien Bredenoord mentions the death of student Niels van Rooijen during her speech. Image credit: Ali Alshamayleh

The main programme starts with a slick intro video and the entry of the cortège, during which a large part of the audience forgets to rise. The programme is presented by the candy blue and pink duo Wies and Bo. They announce rector magnificus Annelien Bredenoord, who will be giving her Eureka ‘maiden speech’.

Bredenoord’s story follows the theme of the week: Your time is now, and she wishes everyone lots of fun, but also has a serious note. First of all, she expresses her sympathy to Skadi and all other people around Niels van Rooijen, the 23-year old board member of the rowing club who passed away last Saturday.

An important theme in her speech is mental health: she urges the participants to take good care of themselves and each other. Bredenoord: “Look after your body and mind!”

Hofplein fountain

This year’s charity is in keeping with Bredenoord’s theme. The students are called upon to donate via a QR code on the screen to MIND Korrelatie, an organisation that provides information about mental health and is also available for questions or a good conversation.

Next up are the university’s more than one hundred student organisations. The fraternities, the study associations, sports associations and the (multi-)cultural associations. Finally, there is a very short slide filled with logos of associations that don’t fit into the previous categories. Attention is also paid to Feyenoord, and the students are urged twice to jump into the fountain on the Hofplein if the club wins.

Stage 2 – Eurekaweek opening ceramony -Event – August 2022 – Ali Alshamayleh
A large part of Ahoy is filled with the freshmen. Image credit: Ali Alshamayleh

Rotten city

Student group portrait 4 – Eurekaweek opening ceramony -Event – August 2022 – Ali Alshamayleh
One of the groups leaves Ahoy for a lunch on the Binnenrotte. Image credit: Ali Alshamayleh

The Rotterdam song is sung by a member of the Hermes House Band every year, and has had English subtitles on the screen for several years now. Where in previous years ‘Rotterdam, de mooiste rotstad die er is’ was translated as ‘the most beautiful city’, the internationals were now informed that Rotterdammers do like a bit of self-mockery: the somewhat ramshackle translation was now more accurate: the best-looking, rotten city.

While the horde of students leaves Ahoy, causes the traffic to stop and storms the Zuidplein metro station, Finnish first-year Venna (Sociology) talks about her first experiences in Rotterdam. She’s been in Rotterdam for one weekend and has only recently learned the city by name. “I had googled it and then it seemed a bit odd, but I love it now. There is so much to do and there are so many different neighbourhoods.”

Augustina (Psychology, from Argentina) arrived in Rotterdam on Sunday. She found the opening of Eurekaweek ‘very moving’. “Especially the Rotterdam song, which brought everyone together. But I was also a bit nervous during the show.” Meanwhile, she’s lost sight of her group. Twenty metres away someone is standing with a sign of group 282 up. “Oh, there they are!” And away she goes.