Summer Blues

A little over a week ago, I submitted my Bachelor’s thesis. My very last IBCoM assignment, not just for the year, but forever. No more classes, no more papers and no more exams (for IBCoM at least); it’s the moment I’ve been dreaming about since I set foot in my first IHC lecture. Weirdly enough, I didn’t feel as excited and free as I thought I would. Maybe it’s the uncertainty of waiting for that precious email stating that I’ve officially passed my thesis. Or maybe I was just having the Summer Blues.

It happens a lot during this time of the year. You’ve been working your ass off for months in a row, had a purpose for each day of the week. Even free days or evenings were scheduled in and spent catching up with friends and family, recharging for another busy week ahead. Although it can be challenging, I personally love these busy times: they keep you alert and provide a sense of accomplishment when everything is done. They also make your sparse free time a lot more rewarding. But when the long-awaited summer comes, and things finally do calm down, the sudden plentitude of time and freedom can come as quite a shock. What do you do with all that free time?

For me, my first days of freedom consisted of multiple celebratory dinners and drinks (more on that in our last IBCoMagazine issue that comes out next week!), some long overdue catching-up sessions in the sun, and, of course, some Netflix marathons. But after a week or so, when I made it through the final season of Gilmore Girls, the workhorse in me decided it had been enough. It was time to apply for summer jobs, schedule driving lessons, give my room a summer cleaning and find a place to live during my master. Time to do all the things I didn’t get to during the academic year. And suddenly I was back to where I started, with loads to do and not quite enough time to catch my breath and really enjoy the summer.  

When classes are over and you finally get to do all the fun and not-so-fun things you’ve been pushing ahead for months, it’s tempting to take up everything at once, to fill your agenda without taking a much needed and well-earned break. It’s not that surprising, either. After trying to be productive and make the most out of your days for the majority of the year, it’s weird to not have to do anything. Especially in this day and age, when Facebook asks you to share what you are doing every hour of every day, and you get to see all the awesome stuff everyone else is accomplishing in the time you’ve been sleeping in and watching Finding Dory for the third time. But hey! Finding Dory is awesome, and we all need some down time from time to time. Besides, if there’s anything I learned in my positive psychology minor, it’s that being happy and well-rested are two key ingredients of productivity, inspiration, and creativity. Keep that one in mind for when your parents start to wonder if all those hours of watching Netflix will ever pay off somehow, too. 😉

So yesterday, instead of looking for apartments, applying for jobs or doing any of the other productive stuff I planned, I took my bike and made my way to Kralingse Plas to take a walk, watch the swans (from a safe distance) and read a book. It may be due to the tropical weather or the sound of gentle waves rolling up against the rocks, but for the first time, I felt like the summer had started. It took some adjusting, but I’m finally there. Hello there, summer. Welcome back.

Kralingse Plas 1

First Year IBCoM Experience: The good, the bad and the shared tips.

In the blink of an eye, the first year of IBCoM has come and gone. Starting from September all the way till now, first years have gone through meeting people from multiple corners of the world in term one, statistics, MPI and other interesting courses in term two and three, and finally, stressful but rewarding group work in term 4. We asked the fellow people who sat in the seats of the rollercoaster that is IBCoM how their experience was. Here is what they had to say about the first year of IBCoM, favorite and least favorite moments, and tips for new students!


How was your first year IBCoM experience?

 Sebastian, 21, Germany

“I really enjoyed it even though I had some minor struggles; but of course that’s the normal process of a first year student. Apart from that I am really looking forward to the next year!”

Alex, 21, Germany

“It was all very exciting, all things were new, I didn’t struggle as much as I thought I would. There were really nice people, and nice course topics.”

A.Q, 20, “Anonymous land”

“It went very exponentially and gradually. At first, it was not what I expected but it got better and better as we went along! MPI was one of the first courses that kinda got me interested.”

K.S, 20, Belgium

“It got better than how it first started off, the first term was a bit confusing. I really liked term 2, tutorials of statistics and sociology were nice. In term 3, I enjoyed C&O and the 4th term gave me a feeling that we were done. The weather started to get better and you start feeling the summer vibes.”


What was the best part of IBCoM?


“Meeting new people and making new friends!”


“All the life around the academics”


A.Q jokingly said “Christmas break!” – which lasts about 3 weeks and finally gives you the chance to have no responsibilities and relax.

Other than that, A.Q said: “ The first day and this time now because on the first day you have big questions about friendships, teachers and the course, which then get answered as time goes on. Also, everything is new and the new university experience.  Another good thing about IBCoM is that it’s very flexible which gives you a lot of opportunities to discover. It’s not like medicine or engineering where you’re studying something fixed and structured. IBCoM is for you if you’re a bit confused with what exactly you want to do”.


“The best part was being around the people you like and study with, I met a lot of interesting people. Its flexibility appeals and as it’s a communication course you can do basically everything with it and finally in second year you have possible electives. With IBcoM, you have so many options and possibilities in terms of what your future could be!”


 What was your least favorite part of IBoM?


“My least favorite part was some exams and having to ‘play the lottery’. Also, housing circumstances aren’t always that great and neighbours who listen to music at the most random times of the night.”


“In Exam week in Term 1, I fell down the stairs the night before the first exam and I was so nervous, it was such a pain! Apart from that all is well”


“Apart from studying – haha- group work and planning for it can get a little stressful but once it’s done the feeling of fullfilment is great. Seeing a neat well structured 24 page essay you work hard as a team on is rewarding. A positive thing about the study then, is it really teaches you how to cooperate with people that are different than you and work in ways you’re not familiar with. It gives you insights on how to manage and stay calm. You learn good team spirit, which is good for later life”


What are some tips you could give to new students?


“Don’t panic and don’t stress, I got stressed out a lot unnecessarily… Be on track but don’t over stress everything!” “ Join projects such as UNWRAPPED, student associations”


“Look forward to IBCoM and embrace the chances you have. IBCoM and Erasmus University have so much to offer that you should try something new. You might have other plans but be open to new ones.”


Though he wanted to stay anonymous, A.Q. had a lot of tips to share:

First in term two: “Make sure you study for statistics and know what you’re doing, don’t leave it to the last minute. Go by each week, show up to the lectures and tutorials and just pay attention as that way it will be easier”

Second: “Teachers play a big role in helping and they kind of shape your experience so make sure you get along.”

Third: Since the first year of IBCoM has broad and flexible courses, keep yourself busy with activities, associations, find hobbies in media to get a glance at what it is you’re might want to do. You have so much time in IBCoM it’s important that you don’t waste it.”

Fourth: “Don’t get distracted by the sun and good weather!”

And lastly: “Don’t steal from SPAR (even if it’s by accident) because they will catch you!


“First year is the most lax so enjoy it as, then comes second year, and then third year exchange and thesis and then it ends.. Enjoy it and uni life and explore while it’s here and while you can.” Also, “Be open minded, don’t judge a book by its cover. IBCoM is a social course so it’s easy to make friends”


To finish it all off, I asked my CTI Lecturer what his experience with teaching first years was like and whether he had any more tips to add. Here’s what he had to say:

“Depending on the courses, it starts a bit heavy but you get settled and you massively improve over time!”

“Be curious and open to the diversity of subjects you deal with. Though in year one you don’t have voluntary choices, you will later on, and it will help you develop particular interests that you can pursue more independently in the following years and courses. Use these opportunities and check out other things that do not sound immediately fascinating. Give it a try, you have to work with it anyways.. It could turn out to be really interesting”

This was it for for the good, the bad and the shared tips of the first year of IBCoM. To all the newcomers who might be reading this, I hope these insights and tips were somewhat helpful and I wish you the best of luck with your first year experience of IBCoM!

Humans of IBCoM: Noah’s Story

This week, our Human of IBCoM is friendly second-year 12 - Noahlad Noah Howard, who managed to have an interesting chat with me over Skype from Belgium, where he was enjoying a well deserved break from his internship. This is his story.


Noah was born in Belgium and is the child of American parents who came to Belgium in the early 90s for a 2-year teaching term that became a 26-year teaching term. Perhaps they fell in love with the lifestyle? In any case, Noah went to an international school in Antwerp for his entire pre-university schooling and didn’t really have an idea of what he wanted to do after high school.

When asked how he came to Rotterdam and began the IBCoM program, he said: “well, I didn’t really want to go to America. I had lived my whole life in Europe, so Rotterdam seemed like the perfect place, not too close nor too far from home, plus the IBCoM program seemed like a good fit for me.” Rather than high school with all of its mandatory classes with science and math, IBCoM suited Noah’s strengths like communicating and business so he “learned what he enjoyed, while studying” through the course. Noah had visited Rotterdam many times before for sports matches, primarily basketball, although he didn’t venture into the city center. So when the fateful day came to start IBCoM and he finally experienced the city, he was “pleasantly surprised” and found the vibrance of the cosmopolitan city to his liking.

Noah isn’t all work and no play, he is an avid sportsman who enjoys playing team sports, like basketball and football as well as going jogging and lifting weights at the gym, which he tries to do at least three times a week. A hidden talent of Noah is cooking, he mentioned:  “not many people know that I like cooking, in fact a lot of people have this idea that I am a crap cook, but I’m actually pretty baller [good].” I guess this is one of those ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ stories. When asked if this was all he did in his spare time, Noah said: “well I also do the obvious pass times like Netflix and I enjoy watching sports, reading about sports and playing video games, such as Call of Duty and Fifa. You know, typical guys stuff!”

University, and often life in general, can change a person, so I asked if Noah had had any life changing experiences since coming to Rotterdam. He said: “living with my brother again is as a great change from living in the student hotel, because the apartment felt like home again, and the entire space is ours. A lot of people live in a room in an apartment with roommates, so their room is their space, but since my brother and I have our own apartment, the entire apartment is our space. We get along, so I guess I am pretty fortunate to have that, as not a lot of people can say that.”

Very wise words from Noah Howard, and thank you for sharing your story, be sure to give him a fist bump if you see him in the gym or on the courts. Until next time.