Or I soon will be. My first year in Rotterdam was fantastic – I’ve loved almost every minute. Sorry for my absence from your screens. I have been duly reprimanded and will endeavour to try harder.
After a Summer break, back in the UK, August turns and I start to think about coming back to Pancake Street. I’ll be sharpening my pencils and filling my fountain pen in readiness for the MA proper. At the end of June the results were in – confirming that I had cleared the hurdle of passing the Pre-Master year.
My Pre-Master thesis was on the relationship between CEOs and boards of arts organisations. I got a good grade but gratefully take on board the feedback that I made it a bit too complicated. This is great learning for next year when the thesis element will be twice as long and worth a third of the grades for the year.
Since I last tapped a key on this site I have also completed courses in Academic Writing, International Arts Markets and Advanced Economics of the Cultural Industries. I feel academically well equipped and a little nervous about the year to come. Most of my Pre-Master friends will be returning with another thirty five or so new faces who will be coming straight onto the Master year. Lots of new friends to make and new people to learn from. I can confidently say that I have learned as much, if not more, from my fellow students as I have from the formal lectures and assignments – that is how Universities should be.
I will be flying back to Rotterdam in about ten days time. Sue is coming back with me for the weekend and I’ve got a few days to re-orientate myself before the learning begins in earnest. I fear that my limited Dutch has rusted over during the Summer and I will be a lot poorer as the pound has plummeted against the Euro but I look forward to settling back into life on Pancake Street.
I’m going to Rotterdam to study and to learn. Yesterday, my status at the University changed from ‘accepted to ‘enrolled’ . I am officially a student again. As the start time gets closer I get more and more nervous. Erasmus University in Rotterdam is a proper university. According to the Times World University Rankings it comes in at 72. It is only beaten by about half a dozen UK universities that I would never dream of applying to. I’m just a boy with a mediocre vocational design BA from a former Polytechnic. I can’t even find my alma mater in the rankings. The course that I am going to do is ranked second in the world for “Arts and Cultural Management” according to www.best-masters.com. This is serious stuff.
I’ve got a lot of experience in cultural management. I’ve been doing it for years but the academic rigour is going to be a challenge. It’s no good just knowing something. You need to know why and how. You also need to back it up with research and evidence. I will also need to get into the habit of academic writing. The thing I’m least looking forward to is all the reading. I want to learn, I want to gain the knowledge but I also know that some of the texts I need to absorb will be rather dry and not well written from a readers point of view.
Erasmus University, (EUR), is not ivy covered. It’s not actually very old. In University terms it’s just a baby having been formed a mere 102 year ago in 1913 as the Netherlands School of Commerce. It’s occupied its present site since 1973. As with the rest of Rotterdam there is a lot of concrete. There is also a major building programme going on with twenty first century architecture springing up along the new University Plaza. There is a separate Medical Centre and Erasmus University College, (across the road from my flat on Pannekoekstraat), in the city centre but the main Woudenstein campus on the edge of Kralingen is where I’ll be based. It’s about a fifteen minute cycle or short tram ride away. EUR has about 21,000 students of which about a quarter are international. Its alumni include nobel prize winners and Dutch Prime Ministers.
I’m still waiting for my timetable. It would be handy to have it soon so that I can book flights back to the UK when they are cheapest. It looks like things are well organised and that all lectures are condensed into half a week. There are four terms and the timetable changes for each one. For the past two years Term One contact time, (lectures, seminars and work groups), has started as midday on a Tuesday and finished at midday on a Thursday. British universities seem to start in October and finish at the end of November for Christmas. EUR lectures start on August 31 and don’t finish ’till December 18. My first exams will be at the end of Term One in November.
If you’re interested this is what I’ll be studying in my first year:
We are living in interesting times. We were all surprised by the UK election result last week which goes to show us that the future can not be predicted with ease. At Culturapedia we know that change is good and that we need to be in a continuous state of evolution. We like this – one of our core values is that we love adventures.
Why go to Rotterdam? There are a whole host of reasons but most importantly is offers a course that is both highly relevant to what we do that I am really interested in. This is an international course, taught in English, that attracts students from all over the world. A German friend of ours is always reminding us that we are ‘little islanders’, sitting off the coast of Europe thinking we know best. I want to learn how things are done elsewhere. There is another pragmatic reason – as an EU Citizen I will benefit from considerably lower tuition fees than I could find in the UK. I also want the adventure of living abroad, living in the centre of a big city and the chance to (try and) learn a new language.
Rotterdam is surprisingly close. Just a short flight from Manchester or Liverpool to Schiphol airport then a 25 minute train ride into the centre of Rotterdam. Even with all the airport hassle we have to go through I can do home to the centre of Rotterdam in 4 hours. I will be coming home frequently and my wife, Sue will be coming over to visit the Netherlands just as much.
The course will start in September. I will need to make a couple of trips before hand to sort things out. I am buying a flat and plan to write this blog on my experiences. There will be lots to write about. Rotterdam is full of art, culture, brutal and contemporary architecture. It’s multicultural and lively. It’s one of the world’s largest ports and a land gateway to the rest of Europe.