For Vera Veldhuizen, coming to Cambridge after undergraduate studies in Middelburg, the Netherlands, and a Masters at Edinburgh University, the collegiate system took a bit of getting used to.
“I didn’t know the College system at all, and I found it really overwhelming,” she says now. “But Homerton is so close to the Faculty of Education, and has the Children’s Literature collection, and is meant to be the friendliest College, so it seemed the obvious choice.”
Vera’s PhD explored the narrative structures of children’s war literature, and war’s influence on the depiction of empathy, morality and ethics. Ranging from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse to Terry Pratchett, she wrote about 15 books in the context of their depiction of war.
Since completing her PhD, Vera has remained in the realm of children’s literature and is combining a Research Fellowship in children’s detective fiction at the International Youth Library in Munich with her role as Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen.
At Homerton she fully embraced Cambridge life, singing in the Charter Choir for two years, and rowing in the College’s W2 boat.
“I’d never rowed before, and I’m not an athletic person, but I though I had to try something so quintessentially Cambridge – and we got Blades!”
The College also had a more profound effect on Vera’s life – she met her fiancé, fellow Homertonian Alexander Conway, here and the couple are planning their wedding for next year.
“I don’t miss the UK in general, but I do miss Homerton,” she says. “It’s a fabulous place.”