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Vlad Ispas, Romania

Vlad Ispas
Why University of Groningen

In this chicken (the city) and egg (the university) situation, for me it was the egg that came first.
Turns out, there are not so many universities that teach theoretical physics… in English… at this level… and with decent tuition fees… you can see where this is going.
Now, the days of the one-man-army scientists have dawned: the future in STEM is the community. In this regard, our university offers state-of-the-art infrastructures, tools, access to pretty much any paper and database you might be looking for… all that good stuff. Above all though, I found our people and the people that our people know to be its best asset. Four years ago I did not even consider this, but that’s what I’m here to tell you about.
I will summarise my experience at this university with two short stories about two professors.
In my first year, I fell sick before a programming exam. Instead of being given just a date for the resit, I got the chance to substitute it with a code I would do myself. Next block, I used it as a basis in making a similar one to help students perform and understand data analysis from our telescope. That was the start of my lovely relationship with coding and it would’ve never happened if not for that one professor.
Two summers ago, I asked for something to fill my break with and I got to work on an amazing research project on interferometry in the context of quantum physics, which later became the core of my thesis. It was a great time and I still strive to keep working on it later in my masters. All because one professor spent some extra hours of his own time with me.
Our university is filled with such beautiful people and it is truly a place to find what you really love. I still have no idea what I will do exactly next year, or the year after… but I came to trust that it is just the way things go: this is the welcoming environment of UG, which lets you shape both yourself and itself as you go.

The students’ Disneyland

Our city is a beautiful one… my only regret is not having enough time to just wonder around it. From our modern campus, to the old centre buildings, the canals… it’s our little student Disneyland… and all of that is reachable by bike and you can bet I started to see my bike as a living creature with her own feelings.
The bars are great, I never had an issue with finding a nice place to eat, nor one to get the food delivered from… Groningen is really a small student citadel that has it all but it still maintains an intimate air. Now, to share a bit of a personal experience for those of you coming from abroad: we are young and curious people… we came here to wonder about the universe from our desks and lecture halls surrounded by this beautiful city… don’t (if they don’t have it I’m sorry to give them the idea) let your parents’ preconceptions of the things legal here mix with the reality. I lost my pencil in so many places so many times and everywhere someone returned it to the reception or somewhere visible: this city’s people and students are great ones… we are happy and joyful not because we take shortcuts. And when we do, it’s our own decision: trust your kids do make their own.
Finally, for those whom might be scared of not finding friends or just to be alone in a new city… don’t be. We have associations (hello there), mentors from the university and all kinds of things to get you started with your new life here. Oh, and if you really can’t make a friend, the Dutch never say no to a fellow brother-in-studies holding a beer.


By now there’s not much left for you to know about me, but let’s fill in some of the last gaps.
I grew up in a small Romanian town called BeiuČ™. We like football there so I played as a goalkeeper for six years: love this beautiful sport. This is also where I found my passion firstly for maths and then for physics. This transition really came to define me in the years since I left it for Groningen, but I am still looking to spend more time here in the search of that better definition through studies. Right now I’m balancing my act between cosmology and quantum physics, so I’m more often than not smiling on three hours of sleep and four coffees: I love it.

My backstory ark consists of Numberphile, Veritasium, Vsauce, MythBusters and clips of Gianluigi Buffon. I hope you can trust such a connoisseur with answering any questions you might have on the tracks UG has to offer, the life in Groningen and the Netherlands and anything else on the topic.

Last modified:29 March 2022 11.48 a.m.