Pranaav Gupta decided to leave his home country India for an exchange period abroad. He wrote a guest blog about his time in the Netherlands and Rotterdam as an EUR student.
An exchange student in a foreign land comes with a large amount of curiosity about the experiences that are in store for him or her. Coming from India for classes in international law at the Erasmus School of Law, I too was curious about the six months that Rotterdam had to offer for me. And what an experience it has been! The memories, the friends and the travel will all be dearly missed as I prepare myself to go back home.
To begin with, the International Office of Erasmus University Rotterdam has been of immense help. The visa application process was handled by them and so were the arrangements for the airport pick-up, the orientation activities, and the one-stop-shop for formalities such as registration at the city hall, student insurance, etc.
I was fortunate to have been allotted a room on campus in the beautiful Hatta Building. The rooms are spacious and there is a shared kitchen and washroom with two roommates. My roomies were from Chile and Finland. Being from three different continents our apartment was a melting pot of culture. They also ended up being amongst my closest friends.
Staying on campus with the Erasmus Sports Centre right behind the Hatta building also motivated me to try the variety of activities it has to offer. For €70 I had a pass for six months: certainly a must-have for any student. I was at the Sports Centre nearly twice a day trying out classes such as Zumba, Strong Zumba, Kizomba, Pilates, Yin Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Indoor cycling, etc.
Over the last five months, I have not only been able to get closer to that summer body, but I have also found my love for the beautiful dance form Zumba. Initially, I was a little scared about going for the class, but once the music began I was sure that these classes were my moment of bliss.
Thanks to the student organisations
The Erasmus Students Network (ESN) is a wonderful student organisation that organises events regularly primarily for international students. It was wonderful to take part in their activities: the orientation days, city trips to Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and Berlin, International Business Day, various dinners and games nights, and of course the weekly Tuesday Parties, through which I made life-long friends and memories.
The EUR campus is always buzzing with activities organised by various student organisations. As an exchange student some of best memories were getting the opportunity to travel around. It was great to travel with student organisations such as the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE) to attend the START Summit in St. Gallen in Switzerland: one of the coolest events I have ever been to. The study trip to Israel with the Economics Faculty Rotterdam, where we went mudding in the Dead Sea and visited Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, made ten beautiful days. Visiting Geneva with my fellow international law students to see the United Nations Headquarters along with other international organisations felt like a dream come true.
Study and fun
I have also been lucky to make some great Dutch friends. I joined a running group called the Erasmus University Road-Runners. They have track trainings and road-running twice a week. Bonding with the friends I made here was a truly joyful experience.
Amidst all of this, attending classes, meeting regular deadlines, and studying for examinations had to also be considered. I have been really happy with the lectures that I attended and it really broadened my interest in diverse fields of international law.
There have certainly been moments where I have missed the food, my friends and family back in India – and yes, my cute dog the most. The warmth of my friends and the curiosity of discovering new things at Erasmus University have helped in keeping me going. It is hard not fall in love with the people and the place that the Netherlands is. Farewell old friend – until next time :).