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Freya van Ellen, Germany, Ambassador 2016-17

1. What are you doing now, after finishing your studies in Groningen?

I studied International Relations and International Organization (IRIO) at the Faculty of Arts at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. This study is directed at an international career. Before starting my Masters I wanted to gather practical experience and therefore started an internship at the German Rector’s Conference in Bonn. I was working in the Audit for the “Internationalization of Universities”, which was funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research. After six months in this project, I continued with an internship at the office of Christian Ehler (Member of the European Parliament), at the European Parliament in Brussels. I really enjoyed my time and I was delighted, when my internship turned into an actual job. So currently, I am based at the European Parliament in Brussels, where I am working as a Parliamentary Assistant for the topics security and defense, terrorism, the relations to the United States of America and the creative industries.

2. How was it to be an international student in Groningen?

Coming to Groningen as an international student was the greatest experience I had. Of course, it was not always easy. My friends from High School all went to universities in Germany. Therefore, I had to start completely anew in Groningen. But on my first day at the KEI week (introduction week in Groningen) all of that was over. I met great people and learned all about Groningen. The experiences with new friends, the city of Groningen and the Netherlands in total turned the three years I have spent in Groningen into the best experience I could imagine.

3. How did studying in Groningen change you?

Studying in Groningen changed me into in a more self-confident, open-minded and international person. I met great people from all over the world and they gave me insights into countries and their traditions, they have taught me to see the world from a different angle. However, this does not only include students from all over the world, but most importantly the Dutch students. Living in this country has made me learn a lot about our neighbor’s that I always thought I would know. It was a great experience.

4. Would you have suggestions for dos and don’ts for new international students in Groningen?


  • Get in touch with locals and try to include as many Dutch and international students in your friend group
  • Study hard, but make the time to enjoy
  • Wander around the city without headphones, listen to the city and definitely climb the Martini Tower
  • Go out for lunch/dinner in one of the great restaurants
  • Join a committee at your study/ student association
  • Use your time to travel the Netherlands


  • Only hang out with students from your own country
  • Just focus on university - try to find the right balance
  • Miss the KEI week
  • Leave your bike unlocked
Freya van Ellen
Freya van Ellen
Last modified:09 November 2017 11.40 a.m.