7 things I love about being a student in Groningen
7 things I love about being a student in Groningen
It's been exactly 2 months since I arrived at this little town Groningen in the very North of Netherlands for my Erasmus exchange study with two full luggage of curiosity, energy, and readiness for my new adventure. I can still remember the adrenalin and excitement rising throughout my mind as soon as my flight landed from Helsinki to Amsterdam, where I took my first NS train ever to Groningen station. I was luckily welcomed and picked up by 2 Romanian students from Hanze University, who went with me the whole way to my hostel where I stayed temporarily for few days before moving in to my official apartment.
The first month was like in a roller-coaster for me as I can neither remember how many papers I have filled nor how many people I have talked to. So far the experience has been amazing! It would take forever to talk about it but here are the main nice things I want to list down about student life in Groningen:
1. The people
Its not where you go that matters, it’s the people around you!
Having lived in Vietnam-Finland-Poland, been to many places and met different kinds of people worldwide, yet I could not have been less surprised by Dutch people. They are amazingly open-minded and straightforward. People come talk to you and to make friends without hesitation as if they have known you before. I think is it not only because the Duchies speak almost perfect English but also because of the openness in their personality that you can recognize at the first moments. Yet they are too loud and intimidating sometimes. At school I can freely talk to my teacher or ask personal questions as a friend, which I would have never done in Vietnam or Finland, where people are more reserved.
I never expected to find these people who study, share a room, travel, work with me and hopefully would become friends of my life for long time onwards. The more I go around, talk to people and learn from different cultures, the littler but richer I feel.
2. Travelling – from Groningen to everywhere around Netherlands
Small city as Groningen may seem, I believe I did not see all of it. Must-visit places have been to are Grote Markt, Martini Tower, Vismarkts, Groningen Museum, Chinese Garden, Prinsentuin, colorful buildings (Reidiephaven) near our campus Zernike, etc. I am especially in love with the small canals here and there, which reminds me of beautiful Amsterdam.
It is easy to travel from Groningen to other cities of Netherlands such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Den Haag, Maastricht, etc. Last week was my very first Couchsurfing experience with a Dutch host in Rotterdam, which was amazing! ESN also organize many trips to nearby countries such as Germany (hitchikiing) and Belgium, which I found attractive but expensive. So I went on my own to Belgium with train, car-pooling, and hitchhiking.
Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam, Netherlands
3. The parties – Groningen is the city of bars and clubs
In Groningen, people party 2-4 times a week. ESN usually organize fun theme parties, which I usually do not miss because I love dressing up and face painting. It is not hard to look for good parties and find friends you have not met for ages on what we call ‘The Bar-street’. I am not the kind of person who is into getting wasted or high, but meeting friends of friends and sharing good conversations with them. I am happy here I can afford doing pub-crawls and drinking cocktails when I am in the mood every now and then. Everything in Groningen seems to be student-friendly charged, which is hard to find in Helsinki.
4. Food, markets and restaurants
Simple but excellent! This is how I would describe Dutch people as well as Dutch cuisine. My first few weeks were spared for trying so many Dutch foods for the first time in my life: kroket. stroofwaflle, poffertjes, frikandel, cheese waffle, hering, gouda cheese, etc. These food can be easily found in the street markets (Grote Markt and Vismarkt) or super markets (Albert Hejn, Jumbo, Lidle, Spar). For bigger meals I have tried Andijviestamppot met spekjes and slavink made by my Dutch-Chinese girl in Amsterdam, which is simple to make and taste satisfactory. It is also not so hard to have a nice dinner in a restaurant in Groningen, as many of them are served with good quality and reasonable price or discounts for students. All you need to do is ask a Dutch student for suggestions!
5. Accommodation - student house
I live in Kraneweg 4, one of the smallest but not less crazy and fun student house near the city center, compared to other bigger residences with hundreds of student living there. I found it easy to get along with my lovely roommate from Hungary and neighbors from Czech, Poland, China, Germany, Belgium, etc. Although studying in different programs, we would often party, cooking dinner or simply chill out together after hangover days. I feel like a family here!
I may sound like a nerd when mentioning that I love school, but I can’t deny the fact that we have awesome teachers and classmates. The marketing program I am pursuing is practical for my future work as a marketer or blogger. We work in international team for a big project researching on a Dutch product in foreign market. I enjoy sometimes just having a chat with my teacher and schoolmates about different cultures and places in the Netherlands.
Me with classmates and our teacher in Zernike campus
With only 59 Euros per year or 39 euros per semester you can afford ACLO student membership and join different types of sports (Basketball, Tennis, Squash, Soccer, Climbing, Martial Art, body training, all kinds of dancing, etc) to keep your head less stressful and active enough for the parties after long classes. I am enrolling for hip-hop dance and pole-dancing classes this coming period as I have always been addicted to dancing meanwhile living in Vietnam and Finland.
That’s my story so far. What do you like most as a student in Groningen, (if not alcohol)?