Five great books about Rotterdam for adults and children

Five great books about Rotterdam for adults and children

Whenever holidays draw near, it's a good idea to check if you need to big up on books. Why not learn more about the city you live in? When looking for a book about Rotterdam, you are spoiled for choice!
 
Here are my five favourite choices for books about Rotterdam, in random order and regardless of age group:
 
Stadskookboek Rotterdam 📷 Anna SoetensStadskookboek Rotterdam 📷 Anna Soetens

Stadskookboek Rotterdam

This book is first and foremost about the foodies, chefs, restaurant owners and people involved in the food business in Rotterdam; some more, some less famous outside the city. Should you be intrigued by this field, you will recognize quite a few faces.
 
The book tells you where to get the products and meals they love and which you will love, too. It narrates their stories, which are interwoven with the story of the city itself. And, all COVID-proof, at the back of the book you will find favourite recipes from the people that this book is about. This enables you to enjoy their delicious dishes in the comfort and safety of your own home.
 
Just a word of warning: these are professionals, so for the average home cook (me) the recipes and ingredients are not for weekday nights dinners. Authors are food journalists Wim de Jong and Frank van Dijl.
 
 
Feest 📷 Anna SoetensFeest 📷 Anna Soetens

Feest

This children’s book is for smaller children and does not require you to know a lot of Dutch, but it shows all the key buildings and places in Rotterdam. My children love telling me the name of the places where the mouse finds the other characters. The story, as mentioned, about a mouse. It wants to throw a party and subsequently must find its friends all over the city. For me, it is slightly surprising that the real party does isn't featured in the book. That said, it is very cutely drawn, nicely written and has a big recognition factor. Concept and Illustration are by Caroline Ellerbeck, text Cindy van Venetien.
 
 
Rotterdam 📷 Anna SoetensRotterdam 📷 Anna Soetens

Rotterdam

This tome tells the complete history of Rotterdam. All of it. Starting at its humble beginnings as a sand bench where nobody wanted to settle, to the fishing parish Rotta, to the building of the Sint Laurents church the first main stone building during the 16th century.
 
The main part of the book however is about the most eventful part of its history. The focus is thus on the 20th century, the text of roughly 470 of the 560 pages assisted with many contemporary pictures makes it a joy to flip through as much as read it. The volume has been carefully created by Rotterdam specialists Jan Oudenaarden and Rien Vroegindeweij.
 
 
Nijntje Opa en Opoe Pluis 📷 Anna SoetensNijntje Opa en Opoe Pluis 📷 Anna Soetens

Nijntje: Opa en Opoe Pluis

Another children’s book? Well, yes and no. Of course, it is meant for children, coming from Dick Bruna a Dutch authority in children’s books. This one is about Nijntje or Miffy, as you might know her. She is visiting her grandparents in Rotterdam, so a lot of Rotterdam slang is used in this book, easy enough to understand even if you are not too good with the Dutch language yet. Cute, funny, and very “educational”.
 
 
De kleine Geschiedenis van Rotterdam voor dummies 📷 Anna SoetensDe kleine Geschiedenis van Rotterdam voor dummies 📷 Anna Soetens

De kleine Geschiedenis van Rotterdam voor dummies

If you want to do your own search on Rotterdam books or books from Rotterdam’s writers a good place to start is the Literature Price Beste Rotterdamse Boek or your local Rotterdam books store.
If you rather want the classics about specific places or history or what to do in Rotterdam you can always pop round to the Rotterdam tourist information or Donner bookstore who have their own selections.
 
How and where to learn Dutch - Dutch courses in Rotterdam

How and where to learn Dutch - Dutch courses in Rotterdam

Whether you're new in Rotterdam or have been living here for a while, you've probably noticed that though everybody understands English, not everybody can speak it. Give yourself a leg up by learning this unique language.
 
Rotterdam is a very international city. However, contrary to Amsterdam's city centre, it's not that easy to live and work in the city without ever needing to speak Dutch. Nobody expects your Dutch to be perfect, but they do appreciate the effort. Luckily, there are various ways to go about learning Dutch in Rotterdam.
 
The best (and most costly way) is to apply for a course at a language school. These are some highly rated schools you might want to check out:
 

CBE Languages

CBE Languages, formerly known as 'Centre for British English,' offers Dutch courses from A1 all the way to B2+. All courses are taught in Dutch (even the beginner courses). Beginner group courses run in 11-week blocks and are 2 hours per session. Prices start at €285 (excluding course book €40). Find out more on the CBE Languages website.
 

ITHA Dutch Language Institute

The ITHA Dutch Language Institute has been around since 1991 and its courses are NRTO certified. Courses range from beginner (A-level) all the way to NT2.2 State Exams and C2++.  A group course (€395) including book and handouts (€35) as well as an app (€20) comes to about €450. Find out more on the ITHA website.
 

Berlitz Rotterdam

Berlitz offers courses from beginner (A1) to upper intermediate (B1). Classes are taught either in the daytime or evening, though the times for the Dutch beginner courses always seem to intersect with office hours. The courses are labelled as level 1 through 6 and every level consists of two courses (first half and second half). A Dutch beginner level group course taught two days a week for five weeks (10 lessons), costs about €310. Find out more at the Berlitz Rotterdam website.
 

Baay Dutch Language Courses

The folks at Baay offer a variety of courses, from beginner all the way to advanced and intensive courses. According to their website, the courses have been specifically designed for expats and international students from all over the globe. Baay also offers courses in conversational Dutch as well as in-company courses. The beginners A1 course takes eight weeks (one class per week) and costs €280 (including handouts but excluding coursebook). Find out more at the Baay Dutch Language Courses website.
 

CSA-EUR at Erasmus.

CSA-EUR is the Chinese student association at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. They offer language courses in Mandarin as well as Dutch. Course levels range from A1.1 to B1.1 as well as intermediate and advanced. However, courses only up when at least 3-4 participants have signed up. Find out more at the CSA-EUR website
 

Rotterdamse Volksuniversiteit

From A1 to C1, the Rotterdamse Volksuniversiteit has an appropriate course for all comers. You'll be able to learn or improve your level of Dutch in 15 three-hour courses. The language of communication in the courses is Dutch and the average homework load is three to four hours per week. The total cost of €328 (excluding book) can be paid in three instalments. Visit the Rotterdamse Volksuniversiteit website for more information.
 

Masterclass Dutch

This organization offers tailor-made individual courses as well as group courses. Classes are taught in small groups by native trainers. The focus is on speaking skills. A 10- week (22 hours) group course will set you back approximately €280 (including compulsory end exam). Find out more on the Masterclass Dutch website.
 
Learn Dutch in non-traditional waysLearn Dutch in non-traditional ways
 
Traditional group courses and individual courses in classical settings aren't for everybody. Either due to time constraints or because of the relatively high cost, one may prefer to go it alone. These other methods won't give you any kind of official diploma or certificate of completion, but they are cheap and will definitely help you improve your Dutch.
 

Use an App like DuoLingo

For busy people who want to learn at their own pace, there's nothing better than a mobile app with tons of exercises. DuoLingo is a great app (iOS & Android) for learning one or multiple languages at once. It's free and the app tries to motivate you to log on and keep up with your progress. There's also a leaderboard, so if you add your friends, you can motivate each other as the app shows how many points they scored in the current week or month. DuoLingo is also accessible via the website and desktop pc users can download the windows app.
 

Attend language meetups

Ever heard of Meetup? It's a cool website where you can join Meetup groups and attend their events. There's one group called Rotterdam Language Exchange Meetup. They organise monthly meetups at which you can socialize in the languages you know or want.
 

Sign up at My Language Exchange

MyLanguageExchange.com has been around for a while. The website is a language exchange community with millions of members from give or take 175 countries practising just as many languages. The website has a retro layout but it works. Creating an account is free, reaching out to other members by saying 'hi' is free, but replying to a message requires you to be a gold member. Luckily, that's pretty cheap. Six dollars will give you gold status for one month. For the serious language learner, that's more than enough time to contact multiple people.
 

YouTube videos

There are many channels with free Dutch courses on YouTube. The learndutch.org channel has over 88,000 subscribers and features a huge amount of videos. Another channel, Learn Dutch with DutchPod101.com (56k subscribers) even features a live broadcast with 24/7 Dutch classes as well as many videos covering listening comprehension as well as Dutch history and culture.
 

Dutch Song lyrics

One creative way to learn Dutch is by listening to Dutch music and looking up the translation to the lyrics. One artist you could look into is Guus Meeuwis. This artist's lyrics are conversational and free from slang. Guus Meeuwis' hits are very well known, so you can always ask a Dutch friend for further clarification of any words you might not fully understand. Other artists you can look into are Marco Borsato and Bløf.
 
 
Why Rotterdam is a great city for international students

Why Rotterdam is a great city for international students

Rotterdam is an excellent city for international students. That said, it's also completely different than most 'student cities' and you either love it, or you don't. Here are 6 reasons why Rotterdam is great for students coming from abroad. 

1. Rotterdam has lots of things to do and see

Rotterdam's city centre is relatively large and lively. There are many restaurants and bars so you'll never go hungry, or thirsty for that matter. There are various shopping areas, such as Lijnbaan and Coolsingel in the city centre. If you prefer indoor shopping malls, there's Alexandrium in the east and Zuidplein in the south. Rotterdam is home to many museums and theatres. The city is also host to special events such as the Rotterdam Summer Carnival, the Rotterdam Marathon, Metropolis Festival, World Port Days, Eendracht Festival and many more.

 

2. In Rotterdam student jobs are easy to find

Rotterdam is cooler than - but not as international as -  Amsterdam, so you really have to try and learn Dutch. Amsterdam is overrun by tourists, so it is possible to speak English for months without ever having to say a word in Dutch. In contrast, Rotterdam is a more down to earth kind of city where locals still greatly outnumber the tourists.

When looking for a student job in Rotterdam, be sure to check out the following resource:

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Working in the Netherlands

  • This Erasmus University page offers information and useful links for international students who plan to either get a job or find an internship in Rotterdam. Find out everything there is to know about bank accounts, insurance, social security, language courses etc. 

 

3. Rotterdam has the best geographical location

Rotterdam is only minutes away from many of the Netherlands' main attractions and just a few hours away from other major European cities. Amsterdam, as well as Utrecht, are less than an hour away and you can get to The Hague or Delft in under 30 minutes.

Rotterdam also has its own international airport. Even though it's called 'Rotterdam The Hague Airport', it is actually located in Rotterdam's Zestienhoven district. Rotterdam and The Hague have been working together closely over the past years as they are developing the 'Rotterdam The Hague Metropolitan Area'. There's even a metro line that connects the two cities.  

Travel distances from Rotterdam

  • Rotterdam - Delft: 15.8 km
  • Rotterdam - The Hague: 26.2 km
  • Rotterdam - Utrecht: 61.8 km
  • Rotterdam - Amsterdam: 78.8 km
  • Rotterdam - Antwerp: 97.8 km
  • Rotterdam - Brussels: 143 km
  • Rotterdam - Düsseldorf: 224 km
  • Rotterdam - Lille: 227 km
  • Rotterdam - Dortmund: 253 km
  • Rotterdam - Luxembourg: 350 km
  • Rotterdam - Frankfurt: 455 km
  • Rotterdam - Paris: 458 km 
 

Vroes de Boel @ Euromast parkVroes de Boel @ Euromast park

 

4. Rotterdam has a vibrant community of students

It is true that when compared to Groningen or Leiden, international students are less visible in Rotterdam. Here in Rotterdam, foreign students blend in a lot better and generally 'do as the locals do'. Don't be fooled, however, there's a large population of students and various student activities going on all the time. Rotterdam, along with Groningen and Maastricht are the top three most popular destinations for international students.  

The ESN (Erasmus Student Network) in Rotterdam is among the most active in Europe. You can also join one of their committees and help plan city trips, cultural activities, social drinks and what not. To get the most out of your time in Rotterdam, you should definitely join ESN Rotterdam or other associations.  

 

5. Public transportation in Rotterdam is a breeze

When moving around the city, one can choose between various modes of transportation. Everything is accessible by tram, metro or bus. Just be sure to get an OV-chipcard as soon as possible since it's the only valid travel pass for getting around in Rotterdam. If you're often stuck without credit on your card, be sure to check out the RET Barcode app. With it, you can buy tram and bus tickets online and simply show the barcode to the conductor.

However, as is the case in all Dutch cities, a bike will always be cheaper and easier. If you truly want the Dutch experience, be sure to bike in all weather conditions including heavy rain, snow and hailstorms. 

If you depend on public transportation to get home, remember the night bus (BOB-bus) only rides on Saturday and Sunday mornings from about 1:00 to 5:00. If you plan on partying a lot, be sure to get a bicycle. By the way, BOB is not an abbreviation for Bring Your Own Booze. 'BOB' is a Dutch term used to identify the 'designated driver'; the person who won't be drinking that evening so as to be fit to drive others home.

 

6. Rotterdam innovates and inspires

Another reason why Rotterdam is amazing for students is the fact that it's always innovating. There's plenty going on in terms of modern architecture and technology. There are various temporary structures, floating farms, stunning skyscrapers and the Markthal is often referred to as the Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam.

In Rotterdam, the sky is the limit. It is a city that rose from the ashes of war. Ever since, it's people have (literally) tried to reach for the stars. When in Rotterdam, you get the feeling that the city is constantly evolving and moving forward. This, of course, translates into interesting learning opportunities for those curious enough to meet the right people and ask the right questions.

 

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