Linguistic talent, learning Dutch in Groningen

gepubliceerd : 13 July 2012

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Linguistic talent, learning Dutch in Groningen

For some people picking up a second language just seems to come naturally. Lucas van Laack, a German student in Groningen, is such a person. He’s studying architecture at the Hanze University for Applied Sciences and he quickly mastered the Dutch language. We interviewed him about his time in Groningen and his love for languages.

My first question shouldn’t come as a surprise for you. Why did you come to the Netherlands?
Going to Groningen was a bit of a coincidence. I went to an exposition organised by the Hanze University in my hometown, Cologne. That got me interested, so I went to an open door day in Groningen. Before that I had nothing with the Netherlands, but I got very enthusiastic about Groningen that day. The people were friendly, the study programme seemed good and I had a great time going out that night. The city is very different from Cologne, which is not a student city like Groningen. There is an architecture programme in Cologne, but it’s too massive. You’d be following classes with 200 students at once. Here the classes are much smaller, which means more practical assignments and more contact with the teachers.

Groningen might have been a surprise, but did you want to go to a foreign country in the first place and if yes, why so?
Yes I did, because I wanted to learn a different language. I already spoke German of course and studied English, Latin, Spanish and French in high school. Right now I’m studying Norwegian on the side, since my girlfriend (whom I met here) is from Norway. The Dutch language sounded funny and exciting, because it’s comparable to German on the one hand, but completely different on the other. So I took a Dutch course in the summer months before the study programme started to get to know the basics. During the first year I learned the rest talking to Dutch people.

How long are you staying here and did you meet a lot of people during that time?
I’ve been here for almost two years now and I’ve got one more year to go after the summer. During the Dutch course I met a lot of German students, but I also signed up for the architecture introduction weekend where I met fellow Dutch students. Speaking the language also allowed me to meet new people at the ACLO sports association where I took a survivors training and at my side job in a restaurant. In my second year I decided to be an introduction guide for ESN. I wanted to pass on the experience I gathered to other foreign students and again met a lot of new people in the process. After I’ve finished my bachelor next year I might do a master’s programme in another country. Perhaps in Spain so I can also spice up my Spanish, but I might also stay and sign up for the Academy of Architecture at the Hanze.

Do you have any advice for foreign students?
Yes, try to learn the language so you can easily make Dutch friends. If you’re here for a longer period of time, getting to know Dutch people will make it a lot more fun and you will get to know the country and city better. Of course I met a lot of fellow foreign students, but at the moment I have more Dutch friends.

By: Ido Venhuizen