Imagine being an international student arriving in the Netherlands for the first time, to study abroad. First of all the journey towards Groningen has to be weird. After having seen only meadows for the last two hours, you suddenly arrive at your destination. Groningen appears to be located in the middle of nowhere, something nobody probably told you before coming here. Because the Netherlands is one of the most dense countries in the world right? On your way here, you may ask yourself whether you took the wrong train, or after carefully consulting the conductor about the destination of the train, wonder how on earth such a city can be the fun place they promised you to be.
However that’s definitely not the strangest aspect of Groningen. It only gets weirder and weirder after this. The moment you step out of the train you suddenly find yourself in the mad-house that is called ‘traffic’ in Groningen, completely ruled by bicycles. If you have never seen so many people cycling before it has to be frightening. Especially since cyclists in Groningen treat traffic rules with what can only be described as an attitude of disdain. On top of that you are also expected to join this circus, if you want to get to your lectures on time.
And what’s up with the food in the wall? Although it might seem strange at first, you will very soon come to appreciate the sensation of eating a lukewarm kroket or frikandel after a heavy night in the Three Sisters.
And this is only the start, what to think of the intimidating height of the Dutch students? Or the fact that everyone is so straightforward it borders on being plainly rude? Dinnertime at 18.00 straight? Deep-fried boiled eggs? The birthday of a present-giving Catholic saint with negro-slaves that spank if you have been naughty as a national holiday? The hair gel-soaked frat boy haircut?
Yes, life as an international student in Groningen can be hard and confusing. Luckily there is the ESN Mentor & Integration Committee to help international students adjust to the Groningen student life. We can provide you with a mentor that helps you survive this craziness. We also organize a lot of activities for both Internationals and Dutch students, to get to know the country and each other. This year’s Mentor and Integration Committee consist of Anke, Roselien, Amanda, Manon and Margje. We will be writing a blog here every month to share our and the internationals’ experiences of the international life in Groningen. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com, or find us on facebook through https://www.facebook.com/EsnGroningenMentorIntegration20132014.