A Guide to Sinterklaas

On December 5, when all the shops are already closed by 5 and families are gathering at home, it means only one thing: Sinterklaas is in town. And while for most of the world December is known for Christmas celebration, Dutch people are extremely excited for Sinterklaas since it is considered to be an official start of the holiday season. Besides the ongoing debate about Zwarte Piet, there is so much more to this celebration.

Who is he?
Sinterklaas is a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas who is a patron saint of the whole society, and particularly children. He is usually portrayed with a long beard, wearing red miter and holding a staff. The story goes that Sinterklaas lives in Spain with his helpers and they travel to the Netherlands every November to celebrate his birthday. On top of that, Sinterklaas delivers presents for all the children in the Netherlands who behaved well during the year. A different Dutch city is selected each year as the official arrival place of Sinterklaas which is a highly broadcasted event. He and his helpers come on a steamboat on Saturday which is at least three weeks before December 5 so people have enough time to buy presents.

The tradition
Once Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands children can put their shoes next to the chimney or back door. This is considered to be an invitation for Sinterklaas to come. It is believed that during the night, Sint rides across the rooftops on his horse Amerigo and places little treats in children’s shoes. Traditional sweets for this holiday include chocolate letters, gingerbread men and, of course, kruidnoten & pepernoten. Dutch supermarket shelves are filled with them in the weeks prior to Sinterklaas.

The birthday of Sinterklaas is December 6, however, the main celebration takes place the night before, on 5 December when the gifts are exchanged. In the evening, children sign songs to Sinterklaas and anxiously wait until they hear a knock on the door. A clatter of pepernoten will sound against the window and when the children go and look, a bag filled with presents will be waiting on the doorstep. In order for children to actually believe that it is Sinterklaas bringing gifts, neighbor or parents throughout the Netherlands dress up as Sint to slam on the front door and leave some presents. What is more, there are a lot of special agencies which can supply you with Sinterklaas and Piet.

When the bag with presents has been pulled inside the house each household has its own rules when opening the treats. It may be done by starting with a poem that was left on the package and then playing Sinterklaas games to decide who gets which present. Back in the times, presents consisted of mandarin oranges and chocolate letters whereas nowadays gift-giving went on a completely new level. Interestingly, Dutch people usually make an agreement about how much will be spent on presents ( expenses usually vary between 10€ and 50€ ).

On the 6th of December Sinterklaas leaves the Netherlands by steamboat through the entrance of the port of Rotterdam and travels back to Spain until the next year he comes back again and brings the festive spirit to all the towns in the Netherlands.

Author: Polina
Editor: Kat

Empowerment for All!

This week, we take a look into being a woman in the workforce through the eyes of Allega Dienes, a brand advocacy manager and content creator at AIESEC.

Looking into history provides insight into the future. As students from EUR, we are the leaders of tomorrow. So how will we shape our infinity?

Looking back, socially determined gender roles provided women with certain opportunities for advancement but were overall constricting their growth as professionals. The prevalent opinion was that women best served the political and social needs of society by dedicating themselves to providing a nurturing household for their husbands and sons. These tenets of domesticity also extended into the public realm, shaping perceptions about the types of jobs that were appropriate women, and how they had to look and act if they wanted or needed to work outside of the family home.

There have always been women who did not only notice this inequality but who also decided to act upon it. As women, and especially as women studying business, we owe our liberties, opportunities, and achievements to the empowering voices of earlier female generations. However, women still face a lot of bias and inequality in their private and professional lives, especially in the business sector. According to its literal definition, progress is the ongoing “development towards an improved and more advanced condition”. So what can we do? How do we follow the footsteps of women like Emmeline Pankhurst and Betty Friedan? How can we support the Oprah Winfreys or Malala Yousafzais of tomorrow?

I didn’t think about this a lot. Life is good, women have never had more rights and liberties than now and this inequality everyone talked about only seemed to happen to others, in foreign countries. However, the more I got in touch with the business world, the more I was confronted with everyday sexism, misogyny and a close-mindedness that I had never experienced in university. My gender suddenly became constricting, and I started to not only extrinsically but also intrinsically hold back. How the hell should I become a badass businesswoman, when my future and predominantly male, environment tried to make me believe I didn´t have a voice worth listening to? As changing my major was absolutely not an option – I wouldn´t give society the satisfaction – I started to look for opportunities where I could grow anyways.

That was when I joined AIESEC, the largest student-run organization in the world. AIESEC is the closest thing you can experience in a business environment while still being a student. It is an organization that provides men and women, no matter where they are from, who they love, or how they identify, with the opportunity to work in business, free from inequality and full of acceptance. Joining AIESEC meant joining a new family and every member and every student going on exchange experiences that. AIESEC is an organization that is not afraid of powerful women – Five of the Six full-time members, who are responsible for over thirty part-timers, are women. Being inquisitive, proactive, ambitious, outspoken are valued as leadership qualities, which we want to develop in every member and student that goes on exchange with us.

Contrary to university, I feel like I was actually learning substantive skills and slowly started owning the tools I needed to go out there and accomplish what I want. I have developed myself in ways that simply could not have been possible anywhere else.

Author: Allegra Dienes
Editor: Kat

Instagrammable Eateries in Rotterdam

When asking people to name what Rotterdam is known for, many will point out its architecture. For instance, the popular ‘Market Hall’, the Cube Houses and obviously the iconic Erasmus Bridge. However, Rotterdam also owns some pretty good restaurants and cafes that have delicious food and beverages. Not only do they taste delightful, but they are also worth capturing and sharing, as many restaurants also take the presentation of the dish into account. The interior design can be really aesthetic as well, attracting customers to visit. To share some of my personal favourites, I created this list of eateries’ recommendations that are worth visiting as they satisfy both your hunger and Instagram feed!

Photo credit: https://tripkitproject.com/
‘Foo Concepts’ is a tine play located close to Oostplein metro station that sells various dishes in style of the Asian fusion theme, such as pokébowls, sushi sandwiches, and bubble waffles. Personally, I really like their bubble waffle yakitori! The design of the restaurant is really color as the walls and furniture are painted blue. One of the walls even has a beautiful grafitti painting, definitely worth capturing. Besides, they also sell different kinds of trendy products from Japan or Korea so K-pop and Anime fans would probably love this place.

Picture credit: http://www.elize010.nl/
‘Round and Round’ café is a cute and cozy place fully in theme of matcha. Not only do they serve some good matcha beverages, their signature cake rolls are also popular as well. The café is decorated really nicely, with a lot of details. For instance, one of the walls consists of a combination of several black and white artistic paintings. Occasionally, the owners will also organise crafts and workshops to provide an opportunity for those who want to deepen their knowledge about Japanese culture. It’s the perfect place to catch up with a friend or to study!

Picture credit: https://www.groupon.nl/
‘Rodizio’ is an all-you-can-eat restaurant that serves Brazilian Grill. The restaurant is colourful and has a great ambiance. However, what astonished me the most is their unique serving method as their meat isn’t ordered via a menu, but through waiters walking around holding up the meat and cutting it in front of the customers. You have to try it for yourself!

Picture credit: https://takumiramennoodles.com/
‘Takumi’ is a restaurant that serves authentic Japanese Sapporo Ramen. The restaurant is decorated in the style of Japanese culture and gives off a warm and cozy atmosphere. They have a wide range of ramen and rice dishes that are served with many ingredients and each dish has its own aesthetic. Little minus point is that this place is really well-known and thus always packed with customers so I would recommend making a reservation beforehand!

Picture credit: https://weekendsinrotterdam.com/
BY AMI’ is actually a restaurant I have yet to visit but the pictures I’ve seen of this place truly amazed me. This urban bistro not only cares about serving their customers new and unique dishes, they know the food’s presentation is as important. ‘Food should be an artwork’ is their motto and this can be seen in both their way of decorating the dishes and the interior design of the restaurant. Their main theme is vibrant colours and the walls are decorated with beautiful art paintings. They even have three ‘Instawalls’, perfect to brighten up your Instagram feed!

I hope these recommendations are helpful and the next time you visit Rotterdam centre, you will be able to try these great food places out!

Author: Gwendolyne
Editor: Kat