Semester of snow & semester of rain- Wouter (Netherlands)

Finally, the long-awaited holidays started and it was time to leave the lovely city of Tartu and return to our homes. When I traveled to my hometown in the Netherlands for the Christmas holidays, a friend of mine asked: “Well, Wouter, when does your semester end?”

With a deep sigh, I responded: “Never” dreading the deadlines and a tough exam still ahead of me. With deadlines creeping up on you until the very last day, it sometimes certainly feels like that. However, as the semester finally does draw to an end, I would like to take this chance to reflect on a fulfilling semester as well as look ahead to the next.

Frankly speaking, the past semester has been one of both ups and downs. I had the delight of meeting many fantastic people, both nationals and internationals, but also the displeasure of having to say goodbye to many friends who were on the Erasmus Mundus programme. Nevertheless, I will cherish the friendships and memories made for many a decade to come.

“View of the city, taken mid-autumn” Photo credit: Wouter Heemskerk

It was the “semester of snow” in October and the “semester of rain” in December. Of all-nighters in the pursuit of deadlines and sleeping in until nine in the evening to recharge. It was the semester of the sun disappearing before 4 PM and of subsequent vitamin D deficiency. Above all, it was the semester of expanding horizons.

”The Emajõgi river in winter time” Photo credit: Wouter Heemskerk

I joined a choir and got to perform in front of many people in a language I am not yet familiar with, got to participate in the ISA project and, together with fellow international students, laid the foundation of what will become a fantastic local chapter of a transatlantic think-tank devoted to the expansion of European integration and the deepening of transatlantic relations.

To me, the absolute highlight of the semester was that I got the opportunity to perform at the annual Christmas concert inside the Assembly Hall of the University as a prospect member of the Tartu Akadeemiline Meeskoor.  Together with two other, fantastic choirs and the infamously cool band “Brassical”, we rocked the house. And afterwards, we suddenly ended up recording a video, in front of the Town Hall, for an Estonian song called ‘Piparkoogipoisid’, which roughly translates to ‘Gingerbread man’. Though it was a lot of fun, to me it was also a bit awkward because I didn’t know this particular song too well.

“Taking a bow during the jõulukontserti” Photo credit: Peeter Säälik

Now though, it is time to tie up the loose ends, chase the last deadline and then rest up for the next exciting and eventful semester. With immersive courses and exciting prospects such as a five-day EU monetary policy workshop by the ASKO foundation and the annual European Youth Event in Strasbourg in the offing, I’m more than sure that the next semester will be even more eventful than the last.

Great opportunities lie over the horizon, it’s just a matter of grasping them. So don’t lose a chance



Wouter Heemskerk

MA in International Relations and Regional Studies