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9 Things All African Students in Groningen Will Recognize

Date:30 October 2018
At my sister's graduation: whole family dressed in traditional clothing!
At my sister's graduation: whole family dressed in traditional clothing!

There are some things we all experience when first moving to Groningen. Which of these do you recognize?

  1. Code Switching/Mixing: You find that you sometimes insert your local language in to English conversations and only the confused looks on the faces of your European friends snaps you back to reality. Sometimes you catch yourself speaking ‘posh’ English and smile because you know you sound different at home.
  2. “Oh, your English is so good”: This used to get to you before but now you no longer roll your eyes at this statement and understand your unique position.
  3. Having an African name can be tricky : Your name changes all the time. It is difficult for your new friends to pronounce your name, so every time you are introduced it is a new name. Take my sister for instance, her full first name is Eniolaoluwakiite (true story). She goes by Kite or Olakite. I know right?  You think that is pronounced like the English ‘kite’. It is not. She has been called everything from Kate to Hello Kitty.


  4. Bland food: All the restaurant/cafeteria  foods taste so bland that you find yourself constantly reaching for the salt and pepper and fantasizing about your mother’s soup until you are forced and go in search of ingredients to try and recreate a taste of home.


  5. Overachiever: No one else understands why you won’t settle for a passing grade - 6 and why even an 8 seems like too low a grade for you. If only they saw your parents faces when you brought home a C that one time.


6. If you are white no one believes that you are African,  even other Africans! My Zimbabwean and South African people can relate to this.


  7. African language: Explaining to people that Africa has over a thousand spoken languages and that there is no such thing as (one) Nigerian, Kenyan, Egyptian or South African language is a bit frustrating but at least they don’t think that Africa is a country. But you know it is fun to go:


 8. You miss the chaos: I might sound crazy here but sometimes I miss the familiar disorganization of everything, down to the unpredictability of the traffic and the noise and bustle of the markets. Everything is so organized and predictable here, except the weather.  Never trust the weather apps !

  9. Weather: speaking about the weather. We complain a bit more than the dutch about the weather. Because the weather is relatively stable in most parts of Africa. For the most part, we don’t have to worry about winter, summer, spring and fall. We have rainy season and dry season, that’s it!  So next time it rains without warning in the middle of a perfectly sunny day, think “God bless the rains down in Africa”.

Hope you liked this blog. Let me know which of these you experience!

About the author

Hello, I'm Ife. I am a Nigerian Master student, studying Public International Law at RUG. I love to write blogs and poems and consider talking as the only sport that I will gladly participate in.