A feeling of melancholy washes over me as I drive through the city. Even though I am taking the exact same route through Rotterdam that I have been taking for years, today is different from the countless other times I drove here.
“I am here to pick up my certificate”
This time I laugh at the parking meter, which is broken yet again. I park elsewhere and walk into the building with a grin on my face. “I am here to pick up my degree certificate”. I have been waiting to be able to say these words for quite a while now. No more than fifteen minutes later, I walk out again. It feels rather surreal that I can officially call myself an engineer now. For such a long time, I doubted I would ever graduate.
Goodbye Rotterdam! I will miss you
There could be no better way to celebrate this day than by ordering ‘kapsalon’ at the food cart next to the parking lot. Though there is nothing really Dutch about the ingredients that go into these, many people consider the dish an unofficial symbol of Rotterdam, as it was invented here. As I sit down on a bench, I look at the university building and remember the previous times I was here.
Anxious, when I was here for the first time and did not know anyone. Fascinated, during some of my favourite lectures. Outraged, when walking back to the car after finding out that no one had bothered to tell us there would be no lecture that particular evening. Close to tears, on my way home after taking another disastrous exam. Relieved, when finishing one of the many group projects I disliked so much. Exhausted, after another late night studying maths until well past 10 PM. Chipper, when I finished the very last exam I would ever need to take at this place. Enthusiastic, before telling my thesis advisor about the project I was hoping to dedicate my thesis to. Terrified, just before my thesis defense presentation. Overjoyed, when I was told that said presentation had gone well and that I had graduated. My time at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences has been an emotional rollercoaster, but it is finally over. I am no longer a student, and even though I’ll miss my weekly drive to Rotterdam, I could not be happier.