GLOCAL Summer School 2019 was held in Rotterdam from 25-29th August 2019 with the theme of ‘Tastes of the Global City’. The 5-day program was packed with a variety of insightful lectures and panel discussions, as well as exciting local tours. The Glocal Experience team sat down with 2 students from GLOCAL’s third cohort (figuratively) and asked them about their first impression towards the GLOCAL program from the summer school.
Amidst the chaos of preparing for the UK visa application, I received an email from the Erasmus Mundus coordinator asking for three students from our cohort to attend the 2019 GLOCAL Summer School in Rotterdam. I was hesitant to sign up at first, knowing that I will have to arrive a bit early in Europe with two year’s worth of luggage and apply for two different visas in a month! But I did, and it gave me one of my most memorable experiences so far.
At first, I imagined a summer school full of readings and formal discussions. I imagined renowned professors with high expectations from international students. I imagined a sleepless summer, drowned in papers and quizzes. I have never been more wrong.
The summer school gave me a glimpse of how the GLOCAL experience was going to be like — enriching yet not overwhelming. It was a series of interactive programs given by professionals of the art and culture industry. I was amazed by the street art of Rotterdam when Cynthia walked us around the city to discover the infamous graffitis. I had a better understanding of the beer industry during the beer tour, which was capped with a fabulous dinner at the picturesque Belvedere. The Tilburg LocHal Library made me envious at how supportive the local government is to the development of the local library for the people.
My favorite part was the music discussion in Kunsthal Museum. The museum itself is a contemporary display of how modern culture is- very different from the other museum tours we have had. And the speakers were amazing! The discussion on urban blackness made me realize that being black is not just about the color or race anymore — it’s about the lifestyle. Surprisingly, we do have a lot of famous artists who celebrate blackness albeit they are not racially black. This in turn made me take a different look at our artists now and what they represent.
The summer school was culminated with drinks and dancing at the Mono. The students from the first two cohorts were gracious enough to give advice and tips to the incoming students. I saw firsthand how learning while having fun is the ultimate GLOCAL experience!
Lilac Zhang’s Perspective
When it comes to the summer school, I will say that I was lucky. This year, the Summer School offered only 3 seats to the 2019 intake of GLOCAL. First come, first served. I guess I replied fast enough to be chosen – a clue that I gained from Riyoko’s introduction about last year’s summer school.
So, there I was, with 2 other students from my cohort, Owais and Glaiza, sitting among students from cohort 1 and 2, oh yes, and 4 students from Kyoto University. Overall, the experience was amazing. (Please imagine it is said by Owais opening up his eyes big wide, and say with a growing tone like: a~ma~~zing!!)
I knew I would love every aspect that the summer school covered: food, music, fashion and art. Who doesn’t, right? Yet, I did not expect it to be so interesting – we were given a Jenever distillery tour, where they told us about how they branded themselves and sold their products and story to the US. We were also in a textile museum, which combines technology with art and produced loads of creative work, etc.
Basically, during the 4 days of summer school (excluding the opening evening), we had lectures in the morning, and tours in the afternoon, and at the end of it, we presented pitches to the Rotterdam City Council about how to help Rotterdam be more creative.
Academic-wise, I also found it to be interesting because we were given lectures from all kinds of fields. For instance, when listening to the lecture about Artivism: Art as a Social Economic Critique, I only understood about 20% of it because I did not have much theoretical background in arts…but it was fun! This is also one of the most important reasons of why I chose GLOCAL- I could jump out of my comfort zone and be introduced to different views and knowledge. There were also several students in Cohort 2 who told me that they did not know anything about it at all, so I did not feel too intimidated.
The most touching, interesting and amazing part of Summer School, was… the people. I can name 200 examples of how I felt so warm and happy among the group. Whenever any other students found out that I was from Cohort 3, they said: “Welcome to the GLOCAL family! Yes, we are a family now!” And they were always willing to tell us about what to do and what to prepare and how things will be like in the program: Efim told us where to buy affordable food, my roommate Huma told me about what to do to find an accomodation in Rotterdam, and Mint told me lots of discount websites and apps (these information are very important to new students, trust me). And they always said if anyone else needs any help, just let them know, so I also shared their information on our Cohort 3 group. I also heard about their amazing stories about what they had done, why they were here and what they felt about the program, some believed that there is still room for improvement, but I will see how I feel! All in all, being a member of the GLOCAL family really made me feel happy about my choice and GLOCAL’s.
Our school ended in a venue called MONO, where we had dinner, drinks and danced. We were also entertained by Professor Ben Wubs and his band’s live show! Actually, in the personal statement of my application, I wrote that ‘If accepted to GLOCAL… maybe I will be able to listen to Prof. Dr. Ben Wubs’s guitar?’ While watching him standing on the stage in a floral suit playing, it kind of felt like a dream come true to me. I was there, having freshly joined GLOCAL, and there will be many interesting adventures waiting for me in the next two years to come.