“Make it happen” has been the official slogan for the city of Rotterdam since 2014. So, last August, I made it happen.

Each year, Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Centre (MC) and Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences (NIHES) organise the Erasmus Summer Programme (ESP) that “provides hundreds of students, researchers and health professionals with the opportunity to boost their scientific careers. It is a specialized event that offers three weeks of á la carte research training in quantitative medical and health research. The programme provides its participants with a broad range of dynamic courses, both introductory and advanced, and provides the flexibility to mix and match the courses to their own individual programme.” This introductory text does a nice job of explaining the programme and was taken from ESP’s website, which I highly recommend (https://erasmussummerprogramme.nl/), not only because you can find photos of me there.

In 2016, I applied for the Fellowship programme offered by ESP and failed spectacularly to be accepted. Then I consulted my favourite quote-guy, the late and always great F. Scott Fitzgerald for some top quality advice. “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat”, he said. Okay, I applied again in 2017 and made it happen this time round.

So why is this ESP thing so special? Amazing programme with a rich selection of courses and topics, able to fill each public health resident’s theoretical and methodological gaps. Smart, motivated and interesting colleagues from all around the world. Literally – Egypt, Colombia, Trinidad, Pakistan, Nigeria and Hong Kong, just to name a few. Top top top professors. Do names like John Ioannidis or Johan Mackenbach ring a bell? If not, ask Pedro Oh yeah – also an ultimately bike-friendly Rotterdam in August.

Any drawbacks? Well, the cost of the courses was an issue, to start with. Also, summer in Rotterdam is not really what I imagine when someone mentions August and weather in the same sentence.

The cost problem, I managed to solve by applying for the Fellowship programme. This took time and stubbornness. It worked out from the second attempt, as I already mentioned. The coldest_and_rainiest_August_of_my_life issue, I simply solved by embracing that it is normal to wear a fleece jacket mid-Summer and get soaking wet riding your bike on odd_date days. That’s how locals do it.

For additional stories (SUP’ing around the channels, free coffee machine, chance encounters with EuroNet’ters…) plus tips&tricks how to apply, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email.

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Damir Ivankovic
Public Health Resident from and in Croatia