When I started this blog (3.5 years ago!) I was a naïve, young 18-year-old about to start university. I was excited for the adventure ahead of me, an adventure that I expected to only last for 3 years before returning to the UK. How wrong I was. I never anticipated how the prospect of leaving everything I had come to know and love about the Netherlands would be so difficult that I would decide to simply not leave. I never thought I would go on to do a master’s degree. Yet here I am, 3.5 years older, wiser (kind of), and studying for my master’s degree at Rotterdam School of Management.
It’s taken me a long time to get around to writing this blog because in all honesty I wasn’t really sure what to say. Rotterdam has surprised me in so many ways. Before I ever even visited the city, I had a picture in my mind of a very grey place, with grey buildings, and grey weather. Although the weather is yet to disprove my prejudice, I have been pleasantly surprised on all other fronts. It is true that much of Rotterdam was destroyed during WW2 bombings, and that much of it has had to be rebuilt. However, rather than making the city full of grey and lifeless buildings, it adds a peculiar and often beautiful depth to the architecture. On any short bike journey, you can go from seeing new and modern buildings in the city centre, to the very old and traditional like those in the student-y district of Kralingen. It also means that there are many taller buildings here than in other Dutch cities, making Rotterdam often feel like a (much) smaller New York City, to me anyway.
Rotterdam is also the second biggest city in the Netherlands (after Amsterdam), and with that comes the kind of infrastructure that gives a wonderful “big city feel” within a city where you can still get to most places on your bike. The cultural and social happenings of Rotterdam make it a great place to live, and numerous brunch and coffee spots satisfy the city’s inhabitants, catering to their caffeine and poached eggs needs (damn right). Admittedly, I haven’t explored as much as I would have liked to yet. I knew that getting a master’s degree in one year wouldn’t exactly be a relaxed time, and this is basically the only thing I have been right about in the last 6 months.
I may have started in Utrecht, and I definitely miss some things (and people) about it. Nevertheless, I’m delighted to have landed in Rotterdam for the year. Here’s hoping time doesn’t fly too fast, there’s still lots to enjoy!