Blog post Sara - How Rotterdam is the best place for personal development

Ever since I came across a quote by author Steven Pressfield, I have been trying to do as many ‘real’ things with my life as I can. That was also the essence of the quote, which was used by the author as an advice to college students - go out there and get real world experience. When talking about personal development, there are no ‘shortcuts’ or ‘life hacks’. Instead, it’s a long process that takes time and requires a pro-active mindset that allows you to take chances. As individuals in our early 20s, we have all the time we need - and fortunately enough, we live in a city that provides us with endless chances. All we have to do is capture them.

Before I go further, I have to specify that this is not meant as an exhaustive list of what Rotterdam has to offer for your personal development. That list cannot be easily summarized in a blog, and it keeps extending all the time. Instead, this is more of a personal narrative of how Rotterdam helped me (or my friends) take more chances that helped us discover, or even shape, ourselves. Afterwards, you are free to decide whether you are interested in any of the options that I described.

I will start from one of my dearest places to volunteer in Rotterdam - V2_, Lab for the Unstable Media. For those of you who have never heard of it, V2 is an interdisciplinary center for art and media technology. Being such an innovative center, V2_ collects talented performers from different fields (e.g., audiovisual performances, social media stimulations). All you have to do to become a volunteer is visit their website and send an email to the contact person. She will further sign you up to her volunteer email list, and every time that there is an event or performance at V2, she will send you an email asking if you are available to help them out. It’s the perfect option for students - you are flexible to volunteer whenever you can. You do not have a certain amount of working hours that you need to reach. The V2_ team is also very friendly and helpful. As a volunteer, I have been lucky to experience great performances - out of which I would name the audiovisual Klankvorm event and the Physical Rhythm Machine (during the Tech Festival) as the most impressive ones. If you enjoy art and you are interested in how technology is changing the way art is created nowadays, I assure you that you would love this place!

The International Office of Rotterdam also offers a very interesting program called ‘Buddy Program’. If you are accepted for the ‘buddy’ position, you will have to guide a group of around 10 exchange students during their stay in Rotterdam. The program lasts one trimester, and not only does it give you the opportunity to meet people from all around the world and share experiences - it also helps you explore Rotterdam through another lens. The International Office organizes events such as city games (on the year that I volunteered, we had to find clues around Rotterdam and complete several missions across teams). Moreover, there will be plenty of chances to organize dinners or drinks with the exchange students. Personally, I learned a lot from my group and even made good friends from different nationalities who were all passionate about Rotterdam.

Another exciting finding for me was the Meetup platform. I cannot suggest this platform enough. It allows you to find other people/groups who are interested in the same things that you are. In my case, I found a lovely writing group organized by Ms Maria Ershova. We exchanged ideas and personal writings with each other, and we also took part in different writing exercises to improve our skills. The meet-up was held at the library in Blaak. This was also a good chance to network and make new friends - we even went our for drinks and talked about our common interests after meet-ups.

Recently, I also joined the Red Cross Self-Reliance team. The team’s goal is to organize workshops that promote self-reliance and help different target audiences to become more independent. Of course, there are other non-profit organizations that you could join according to your interests.

Lastly, I would like to highlight again that the opportunities don’t end here. The Performance Bar also welcomes volunteers, and I assure you that they hold amazing performances there! The International Film Festival is also open to student volunteers. If you still need more options, you should simply search ‘voluntary work in Rotterdam’ on the Internet. There are several websites that are specialized in guiding you to find the right position. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and challenge yourself!