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5 Truly Surprising Facts About the UG

Date:20 February 2020
5 facts about the UG
5 facts about the UG

1. The UB stands on holy ground 

If you’ve ever had a religious revelation while studying in the UB, it might be because the UB was actually built on the grounds of an old Franciscan monastery (or because you had 3 coffees too many). The UB  started off as a part of the monastery in 1615, which also makes it one of the oldest libraries in the Netherlands. However, over time, as studying became cooler than being a monk the UB eventually replaced the monastery. 

Monk fact: When building the current UB building, they actually found the bones of a lot of monks who had been buried on those grounds!   

2. The Academy building has a gym 

This is probably the most surprising fact I’ve recently stumbled across. The Academy Building actually houses it’s very own gym. The equipment is made up of old, discarded ACLO stuff that has been replaced, but it still has everything you can think of such as treadmills, free weights and machines. However, before you put on your gym shorts and cancel your current membership, I have to disappoint you. This gym is only available for certain staff members of the university office, so you’ll have to go build up muscle somewhere else. 

Academy fact: Besides a gym, the Academy Building also contains a hidden bar with pool tables.

3. The first Dutch astronaut was a UG alumnus

From the lecture hall to space. What might sound like a Friday night that got out of hand, actually happened (more or less) to former UG alumnus Wubbo Ockels. Besides having one of the coolest Dutch first names I have ever heard, Ockels was the first Dutch citizen to make it to space aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle. In total, Ockels spent 168 hours in space and travelled 2.5 million miles in 110 earth orbits. After his astronaut career, Ockels became a professor at the University of Delft.

Space fact: In Groningen numbers, the distance Ockels travelled in space equals a total of 500 000 travels from the city centre to Zernike and back. 

4. The founder of the UG was a German 

Yep, that’s right. It might surprise you that German students not only make up a large part of the international students studying at the UG today but that the UG itself was actually founded by one. Ubbo Emmius, who was a historian and a geographer, was the first rector magnificus of the university. Besides casually setting up his own uni, Emmius compared the histories of different countries using different calendars and made a map of East Frisia around 400 years before Google maps was a thing. 

Ubbo fact: Emmius’ gravestone is actually on display in the Academy building next to the steps leading down to the cafeteria. 

5. Several music videos have been shot at the UB

Who would have guessed that the UB, usually known for its quiet atmosphere and notorious ‘shhhhh!’ policy, has set the scene for several music videos. No seriously, I’m not joking here. Take for example the guy who basically made an entire auto-tune ode devoted to the UB coffee corner and filmed the corresponding music video there. In the rap video, you can see him and his crew dancing around on tables and in the archives of the library professing their affection for coffee and corners. But this is not all. In this video made for the 400 year anniversary of the university, the (old) UB was basically transformed into a massive disco, with actors performing a full-blown musical dance routine. Who said the UB was just a place to study in? 

Student music fact: These international students from the UG also made a music video about receipts. And this former UG student is actually killing it on youtube.  


About the author

Hey there! My name is Asmo and I’m a Finnish/German student exploring life in the Netherlands. Besides being into photography and politics, I am currently doing my Master's degree in European Law. Oh, and I write blogs as well.


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