Christmas: How’s everyone’s favourite holiday spent in different countries?


Is everyone enjoying their holidays so far? Today is Christmas and there is no doubt that it is everyone’s favourite holiday! All the beautiful and romantic winter markets are held around Europe, children sing carols on the street, and most importantly, people go back to their home to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. As an exchange student from South Korea, regarding Christmas as a festive and big holiday was kind of new for me. In Asia, we do not celebrate it as much as in European nations. Therefore, in the blog, I would like to talk about how Christmas is spent differently in various countries. 

  1. England

In England, it is a tradition for families to gather in front of the fireplace and to sit on a oak tree together to celebrate Christmas. Before putting the oak tree into the fire, they sit on it and say greetings to each other. This is because they think the oak tree will bring them good luck as it burst up in the fire brightly and strongly. Moreover, it is also a tradition to eat mince pie and christmas pudding in december. Mince pie is made up of minced meat and it has a Christian meaning as it is made up of 13 ingredients which symbolizes Jesus Christ and his twelve downloaddisciples. And the Christmas pudding is mainly made up of plum and brandy, and people make it four weeks before christmas.        

2. Spain

There is an interesting Christmas celebration called “Caga Tio” in Catalonia, which is a North-East region of Spain. On the Christmas day, families gather and the children hit the trunk of the tree which is hidden under the blanket. They sing a song while they are hitting the trunk and then the present pops up from the blanket after a while! However, in order to get a present, children have to feed the trunk before December 24th. If they do not feed the trunk, they don’t get any presents.

  1. Russia

  In Russia, Christmas is not celebrated on the 25th of December. Instead, it is celebrated on January 7th. This is because Russian people believe in the Eastern Orthodoxy, and they thus follow the Julian calendar which was made in the Roman era, instead of using the Gregorian calendar that we generally use. This makes the Christmas to be celebrated 13 days later than other countries.

  1. Australia

  In Australia, it is summer in December and this makes Christmas in Australia very special and exotic! On the day of Christmas Eve, there is a festival called “Carols by Candlelight”. People gather and sing carols on the street, holding candles. Also, they celebrate Christmas on the beach with friends and family, surfing and swimming while wearing a Santa hat. 

Looking at unique Christmas celebrations and traditions of each country, you will be able to notice how Christmas can have different meanings to different people. However, the fact that Christmas is a big holiday and that it is everyone’s favorite holiday does not change. So, hope you fully enjoy your holidays with your loved ones! Merry Christmas and Happy new year to all!

First Years Attention: What’s next?

The winter holidays are finally here! After four months of nonstop working, I think it’s safe to say, we all deserve a much needed break. In our three weeks of freedom we finally get to relax, binge eat good food and most importantly, enjoy the holidays vibes and anticipate on the upcoming new year.

During this time, we also have the opportunity to reflect on how much we have achieved since starting IBCoM back in September. As first years, we’re almost done with half of our courses. We survived the shocking IHC and ISSR exam results and we are halfway through MPI, KCSS and Stats. We have accomplished so much and I think that deserves great recognition!

Though there may have been some ups and downs and these courses may not have been your favorites so far, I am here to assure you that the best is yet to come. The second semester courses are definitely ones to look forward to, as they focus on different and new aspects of communication and media that you might thoroughly enjoy.

With the help of older students and course coordinators, I am here to give you that much needed pre-motivation for the next year and introduce you to three of the exciting courses we will be having. I asked a few students which courses they liked in terms 3 and 4, so here is the top 3:


1// Communication as a Social Force

Communication as a social force (CSF) is a course we get to start in term 3. According to the course coordinator, Jiska Engelbert, “Communication as a Social Force is a course that wants to give you tools to really understand just how media and communications are crucial to particular aspects of our—and thus your—everyday, social life. How do we judge whether someone has what it takes to be the next president? How do we show solidarity with others in distant places torn by war and conflict? How do we try to fight climate change? How do we practice religion and spiritualism? How do we holiday?

Asking her how it relates to everyday life, Jiska stated that “Communication as a Social Force invites you to move beyond the idea that media and communications are important in how we feel or think about these kinds of social practices. That is, the course wants you to discover how media and communications— in terms of processes, technologies and products—are increasingly (at the very core of) those practices. The course thus enables you to look critically and differently at the things you and I do in your everyday life. More crucially, through a range of practice-based exercises and challenges, Communication as a Social Force helps you discover how the expertise of media and communication professionals—like yourselves in the very nearby future—is increasingly fundamental across social institutions. It would be great if that fosters your interest in new professional fields, but also if that forces you to reflect on the great social responsibility that media and communication experts have.”

Lastly, Jiska’s words of encouragement to first years is to: “Question everything. Not just your boss, your partner, your university professor or the grade you got. But particularly the very “normal”, everyday things we hardly ever question.”

Teaching this subject has taught Jiska that she really loves her field. “As you will probably discover soon, I can think (and talk) about this stuff forever!” Hopefully, we’ll enjoy this course as much as she does!


To get even more insight, I asked previous students what they thought of CSF:

“In CSF you will get a closer look at how communication & media studies examine the power behind a media campaign, a short film, or a viral social media hashtag create real, tangible social impacts upon the viewers and readers alike of media texts. If you’re interested in social change, theory and practice alike and how IBCoM features in understanding its different facets, you will enjoy this course very much.”Clement Taffin, BA-2

“The interesting thing [about CSF] was that it showed how communication and media are able to activate its audience and also explained why and several strategies, for example I now know why the WNF made a certain commercial a type of way and it’s really fun to recognize several advertising strategies Marguise Stearn, BA-2


2// Communication Technologies and their Impacts

In term 4, we get introduced to Communication technologies and their impacts (CTI). Course coordinator, Mijke Slot, states: “This course will make you more aware of the impact that communication technologies have on our lives. By studying communication technologies from both a historical, but also a present and a future perspective, you will learn to value their role in society differently. This course relates to practical life, because it will make you realize that we are not victims of technology, but that we can actually shape our future. It will teach you how to discuss, analyze and assess changes in media technologies.”

The words of wisdom Mijke has for us is to “Come with an open mind, an inquisitive heart and get ready to explore the world of communication technologies from the year 1450 to the future.”


Asking previous students about the course, they said:

“ I really liked CTI because of the lectures and the videos and other material they included in it, since it gave a nice overview of the history of communication technologies and their development” Bjorn Merckx, BA-2

“Communication Technologies and their Impacts focused on how communication technologies (books, movies, telephones, robots etc.) evolved and how they changed our lives. A part of the course also revolved around what we can expect from the future, which was fascinating and scary at the same time. It was really interesting to see how technology has shaped and will shape our ways of communicating with one another. Also, the CTI Today talk show was a lot of fun to make!” Giacomo Alpiani, BA-2

“Communication Technologies & their Impacts begins with the history behind books, movies and the era of rapid technological development, and how the challenges we face today are very much alike the ones we faced a hundred years ago. It is a very insightful course on where we’ve come from and where we’re headed in terms of communication technologies, from oral history to artificial intelligence alike. It is really interesting to think about emerging communication technologies and how they shape the way we interact on a daily basis and on larger scales across all IBCoM contexts.”Clement Taffin, BA-2


3// Intercultural Communication

In term 4 there is the Intercultural Communication (IC) course. Jacco van Sterkenburg, the course coordinator, says the aim of IC is “to discuss in-depth how we are all involved in various ways of intercultural communication on an everyday basis. The discussions we have and the concepts we deal with will increase (self-)reflection and thereby improve intercultural communication skills”.

The advice Jacco has for his students is to: “Go out and explore as intercultural communication happens ‘out there’ and offers unique material to learn more about yourself and others.”

“Through discussing intercultural communication in a multicultural classroom”, Jacco has become more aware of his own and other people’s “cultural and personal situatedness”. He hopes this is also what the students learn from it!


The students’ opinions about this course were:

“IC was really interesting because it explained the differences and cultures and how they are constructed that in their own way explained why people perceive communication and life in general in some sort of way. This provided me with the knowledge that everything is socially constructed and therefore made it applicable to daily life as well”Marguise Stearn , BA-2

“In Intercultural Communication I realized many things about how people from different cultures perceive the world and how they communicate with people from other cultures. What I found most interesting, was seeing how even national cultures are created and recreated every day in many different ways. It was really interesting to see how much of our idea of culture and nationality is actually reconstructed socially every day. This course also really makes one think about current social issues, providing multiple perspectives.”Giacomo Alpiani, BA-2

“For IC I liked that we did a project and got the liberty to choose any theme we wanted to and the countries, which gave us possibilities to explore certain topics that had not been explored before”Bjorn Merckx, BA-2


Whether you’re reading this in December or when the new year starts, I hope this post gives you a sliver of hope or motivation or whatever it is you need to work hard and finish the 2nd half of this course successfully. Make sure to stick around and be pleasantly surprised by the courses in term 3 and 4!


Happy holidays from the IBCoM blog-team!

See you next year,


Humans of IBCoM: Francis’ Story

francisFor this week’s Humans of IBCoM, we will get to know Francis a little bit more. She is 18 years old and a first years IBCoM student. She’s originally from Zeist, but has now moved to Rotterdam for her study. I got the chance to ask her some questions about her life in Rotterdam, so let’s find out all about Francis!

Why did you decide to study IBCoM and how do you like it so far?

“I decided to study IBCoM, because I want to become a journalist and this seemed like the right study to help me accomplish that goal. I like it so far, but it’s still very broad, so I’m especially looking forward to the second and third year.”

How do you like living in Rotterdam in comparison to where you grew up?

“ I grew up in a city near Utrecht, which was great, as I could easily get to the city. To be honest, Rotterdam isn’t my favorite city, as I’m not such a huge fan of cities with skyscrapers that lack and old city center. On the other hand, it’s nice to live in a city with a great public transportation network like Rotterdam. I also joined Skadi, the rowing association, and this has been a great way for me to meet new people.”

Where do you see yourself in three years? What are your plans after IBCoM?

“After this bachelor, I would like to take a gap year to travel around the world and then I would like to do a Master’s degree in journalism. My ultimate dream is to work for National Geographic.”

Do you already know if you want to go on an exchange and if so, what would be your dream destination?

“I really want to go on exchange and my dream destination would be Canada. If I get in, I first want to make a road trip through Canada in the summer and then study in Toronto!”

Have these past few months of studying in a city away from home and living on your own changed you? And, if so, in what way(s)?

“Studying away from home and living on my own hasn’t changed me that much. I still visit home a lot and before I moved out I was already quite independent as well.”

What is the number one thing on your bucket list?

“Watching the Northern lights and travel through Norway is the one thing that I want to do the most! I’ve always been fascinated with the Norwegian landscapes and I would just love to hike through the fjords from south to north and ultimately see the Northern lights.”

Thank you Francis for sharing a bit of your life with us. We hope you are enjoying the Humans of IBCoM so far and be sure to look out to the next post!