Why I chose Groningen
|Date:||13 December 2017|
Hey! My name is Natasha, and I’m an International and European Law student. I’ve lived in Groningen for just over three years now. I grew up predominantly in the UK, and decided to move to Groningen after taking a couple of years out once I had finished high school. When I say to people back home in the UK that I study in Groningen, I am often greeted with confused looks. I then simplify it to "The north of the Netherlands", and might even have to say ‘Holland’ to make sure people know the roundabout area that I’m talking about. The difficult pronunciation of the city name (which some of us internationals may never succeed in saying properly) aside, the University itself is extremely highly regarded worldwide and is becoming increasingly popular with international students around the world.
While I was in my ‘gap years’ between high school and University, I was working in the winter in Austria with a LOT of Dutch people. There, I learnt some Dutch and more about Dutch culture. I became very comfortable around Dutch people and was thinking more and more about studying in the Netherlands as opposed to in the UK. My brother was, at the time, studying in Amsterdam, and was really enjoying it, and so I started researching about studying in the Netherlands and other European countries. I had some friends who studied in Groningen already, and they were aware of my interest in law, and in linguistics and so suggested a couple of places that I could look at. I ordered some prospectuses to my house and looked through at the different courses offered, and decided law was the way forward for me.
Following my friend's advice, I went to a ‘Study in Holland’ information meeting in London, and there spoke to people from various Universities, but Groningen seemed best, because of the program which they were offering. In March, before I applied, I came to the Netherlands with my dad and went to Leiden, Maastricht, Utrecht and Groningen. Upon arriving in Groningen, I could not stop smiling and instantly felt at home, and my decision was made. I started my formal application procedure the next day and was admitted a couple of months later.
The degree program I study here (International and European Law) is quite unique and is not offered in many other places, which was an extremely important reason as to why I chose to study in Groningen. Adding to that, I would get the opportunity to one day follow one of the fantastic Master programs offered here in English. My degree program is relatively broad and covers a lot of ground, and so the masters programs were of importance to me so that I can specialise once I have finished my bachelors. The University offers over 100 masters degree programs in English, and this is contributing to the growing international community living here in this city. The University is proud of its work integrating international students with the Dutch students here, and one way of doing this is offering free Dutch lessons to all incoming international students, giving us the opportunity to educate ourselves and increase our employability and improve our social lives!
Our rankings in international tables and the level of academia and education were, of course, important reasons as to why I decided to apply to the University of Groningen, but the reasons I study here are based on the city itself. Groningen is consistently voted as one of the best cities in the Netherlands for students, and it’s obvious why! Although the city is small, it packs a punch when it comes to the nightlife and events which are held here. There are countless bars, clubs and cafes where students can spend their days and evenings, catering to different music tastes and creating different experiences.
When I was looking at studying in the Netherlands in general, my brother was studying in Amsterdam and he was asking me what sort of events and activities happen in Groningen. I was pleased to discover for myself that there are multiple festivals and music events each year, such as Eurosonic Noorderslag in January and Noorderzon in August. The Groningen Museum is internationally renowned and was holding a David Bowie exhibit at the time of his death, curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum - my favourite in London - which gave me a nice taste of home. Speaking of a taste of home, there are also some really great Irish pubs here which allow me to continue enjoying the ‘pub culture’ that I am accustomed to, and there’s also a load of places that offer pub quizzes, which are always fun.
Another wonderful thing about Groningen is all the green spaces that the city has to offer. There are multiple parks in the city, which in the summer are full of students relaxing, studying and hanging out. The Noorderplantsoen is my personal favourite, which is in the centre/north of the city. It’s a really lovely place to hang out with your friends in the summer and has a cool cafe in the centre which does amazing food. It isn’t just open green spaces, there’s also ponds and wooded areas, which make it a beautiful place to go on walks all year round.
Groningen all in all is an extremely prestigious University in the centre of a diverse and exciting city, as well as having all of the perks that the rest of the country has to offer. Amsterdam, Utrecht and other fantastic cities are all short (ish) train journeys away, as well as the coast and the islands of Schiermonnikoog and Ameland offering perfect weekend trip destinations! Moving to Groningen was the best decision I’ve ever made, and living here means no two days are ever the same.
Hope to see some of you here in the coming years!