My name is Monserrat Budding-Polo and I am an UMD-7, IHS Alumna. Currently I am working at IHS as part of the Urban Competitiveness and Resilience team. I would like to use this space to share with you my personal reasons of why I have decided to study at IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam a few years ago.

I am originally from Mexico, a Latin American country characterized by having beautiful places but at the same time chaotic and unmanageable cities. I have a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning, therefore I decided to study in The Netherlands because it is famous of its great architecture, efficient public transport, and well-designed cities and of course because of its bicycles, tulips and delicious cheese!

From all the Dutch cities, I felt attracted to Rotterdam because it is the second biggest city in The Netherlands and an important hub for economic development, innovation and scientific research. Architecture in Rotterdam has been seen as an innovative CityLab with world known architecture firms like OMA from Rem Koolhaas, MVRDV, West 8, among others. Besides the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) is located in Rotterdam.

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The “Europoort” is the biggest port in Europe and it is located in this amazing port city. In addition, Rotterdam is well connected by international, national and local public transport. For instance it is very easy to travel by train from the Central Station using the local connections or the intercity trains that connect you with all the important cities in The Netherlands. The international high-speed trains also stop in Rotterdam Central Station and in a couple of hours you can be in Paris, Brussels, Berlin or among other European cities. As well, the Rotterdam-The Hague Airport is the third largest airport in The Netherlands with international connections. The metro, bus and tram networks and including the well-planned bike lanes, connect you efficiently to every neighbourhood in the city.

The Dutch education system has a worldwide reputation for its high quality. In 2014, eleven Dutch universities were in the top 200 of the “Times Higher Education World University Ranking” and one of them is the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) http://www.ihs.nl is an international centre of excellence of the School of Economics and the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The IHS offers post-graduate education, training, advisory services and applied research.

The IHS courses range from short post-graduate diploma courses to Master Degree programmes and a PhD programme. I have followed the MSc. programme in Urban Management and Development, which offered me an in-depth insight into urban problems, policies and trends around the world through a blend of lectures with case studies, group assignments, field visits and field work. This Master programme allowed me to become an innovative urban manager and a leader capable to analyse and develop cities based on a comprehensive understanding of urban dynamics.

Studying abroad not just provided me theoretical knowledge but also it offered me a life experience. My student life in the IHS, Erasmus University was amazing and memorable as I met people from all around the world. Sometimes I felt homesick while coming to a different country but fortunately my classmates, IHS staff and many Dutch people were so warm and friendly with me that they made my adaptation process much easier. In The Netherlands you can really appreciate the 4 seasons of the year and each one brings along its own magic which makes you fall in love of this beautiful country.

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