The Complete Guide For Your Move To Groningen #monsterblog
|Date:||23 July 2019|
|Author:||The Blog team|
Starting your new student life in Groningen is going to be great. The next few months will be a super exciting time for you, from moving away from your parents (to a different country!) to making new friends, getting to know a new city and passing your first exams. In this monster guide, the student blogger team is here to help guide you through everything you need to know - step-by-step.
Before moving to Groningen
Before you move to Groningen, you’ll need to organise a few things. Check out our guide on finding accommodation in Groningen, which includes a few videos. Finding accommodation in Groningen can be tough, so start as soon as possible. After you’ve found a place to stay, you’ll need to organise your travels to Groningen (check out our Schiphol pickup if you are flying to the Netherlands). Check out our guide for Apps to Download which includes Travel apps. You won’t need to speak any Dutch, but it might be nice to learn a few words before coming over - so we’ve made a guide to Learning Dutch, or you could take the UG’s online Dutch course. It might also be nice to get a more detailed idea of what your courses will look like, so be sure to check out Ocasys.
Then, it’ll be time to pack up! We have made a very detailed packing guide for you on what to bring. Before you know it, it’ll be time to say goodbye to your parents, friends and pets and get on the train/bus/plane to Groningen. Exciting!
Feel like you’d want a current student to help you when you first arrive in Groningen? ESN Groningen, one of the biggest international student organisations here, has a buddy system that you can sign up for. Your “buddy” will be a current Dutch or International students that will help you find your way from Groningen station and other practical matters and also is there to be your first friend in Groningen.
After moving to Groningen, before the new school year starts
Most international students arrive in Groningen sometime in mid-to-late August. Before your classes will kick off September 2nd, there’s a lot to do in Groningen to get to know it. You’ll need to take care of some practical issues, like registering with the government and getting a bike as well as settling in and getting to your new house, city and country. This is the time to decorate your student room, so you’ll feel at home right away.
The University and city will help you settle in with several welcoming events and introductions. If you’re from outside the EU, you’ll be invited to Immigration Day, during which you’ll be helped with registration with the municipality, picking up your residence permit, and setting up a bank account. On August 29th, the University hosts the Welcoming Ceremony (mandatory) for all new International Students. During the Ceremony, you’ll be welcomed with speeches, an information market and workshops. Finally that evening there will be a Welcoming Festival (not mandatory) - for all new first year students (Dutch and International).
There are also a range of introduction weeks you can join. The biggest one is KEI-week (12-16 August), a huge introduction week that lasts a week. When you sign up, you’ll be assigned to a group of around 12 freshers and one or two older students. For a week, you and your group do everything together - starting with a dinner at the first day and leading up to the final party. There are also themed days, like an outdoor karaoke on the Grote Markt, and sports day. You’ll also be introduced to Dutch associations - the Dutch have some very specific student traditions you can read about in Danique’s blog post. If you’re starting at Campus Fryslan in Leeuwarden, then check out Leeuwarden introduction week LEIP!
Another great option in Groningen is the ESN Introduction week (august 30 - September 4th), an Intro-week specifically for International Students, but with a similar set-up to the KEI-week. Check out Marije’s blog about joining these weeks and her experiences with them.
Finally, many faculties and study associations have their own introduction weeks in the first week of the semester. For example, psychology’s organisation VIP has its own introduction week called DIESweek and introduction camp. Check out your faculty’s web pages to see what introweeks they host (if any).
Some other tips before starting the new year:
- Groningen is known for its many festivals and August 15th to 25th it’s time for Noorderzon festival at the Noorderplantsoen (Groningen’s main park). Noorderzon is an open air festival (around 135000 visitors each year) with free entrance and many food stands and concerts. There’s also tonnes of performances and just a very cosy Groningen vibe - worth checking out.
- This is also the optimal time to be a tourist in your new city. Some pro-tips: climb the Martinitower, go on a guided tour through the city, check out Mr Mofongo’s, a cocktail bar with robot arm, visit the University Museum, and go to the DOT - the world’s largest christmas bulb, cinema dome and city beach.
- There are several International student associations for students from specific countries and regions, for example the Indonesian Student Association. These associations can help you in many ways and are often close-knit.
Starting your first year at the UG
After the introduction period, life gets real, real fast. The academic year in Groningen is separated into two semesters and both semesters have two blocks. Each block you’ll follow a few different subjects and you’ll have to complete an exam at the end of the block.
Most courses have three parts to them: lectures, tutorials and self-study. In lectures, the professor presents the material to a large group of students. During tutorials, you’ll practise in smaller groups and will often be asked to do assignments. The majority of your time, however, will be spent on self-studying, so you’ll have to figure out what study spots work best for you. If you find that studying independently is a bit tough to manage, take our free online course on improving your study techniques.
There will also be a load of other things to get used to. Learning how to cook can be a bit challenging if you have never done it before. I remember that the first night I lived in a student house, I thought I’d make an easy pizza. However, I didn’t turn on the oven before putting the pizza in and it ended up sort of melting down the grid… I honestly considered moving back in to my parents for a second! Luckily, I stuck it out and learnt how to make a few decent meals. Here are 3 simple meals for you to try and an overview of learning how to cook. Google really is your friend when it comes to cooking - as well as calling your mom for tips when you’ve burnt something or added way. too. much. salt. Ellen also crafted a guide for where to buy food from home if you are feeling homesick for the comfort foods of your native lands.
Speaking of homesickness, it can happen to the best of us. The first months can be a bit hectic, but don’t worry too much about it. You’ll make friends quickly in your first year in Groningen, as everybody will be new to the city, whether it’s at a lecture, at a sports club or during the intro-weeks. It’s also good to combat the occasional homesickness by staying in touch with your hometown friends, so thank the Lord for Facetime and social media.
You may also have to get used to the Dutch and their ways at first. You can read up on this through Asmo’s 5 Things I love about the Dutch, Candela’s Netherlands Survival Guide and Marije’s Dutch Traps blog. A summary: Dutch people love steep stairs, stroopwafels and broodjes kaas. This is also a good time to practise biking and learning the rules. Exchange student Agustina made a biking vlog to help you out, but City Central is offering a real-life biking course. Pro-tip: DO NOT bike on the highway. I repeat: no biking on the interstate.
Besides studying and eating (and probably going out), it can be hard to stay fit. However, Groningen is home to one of the biggest student sport clubs in Europe - the ACLO. ACLO has a regular gym but also offers a tonne of different sports in the form of free hours you can join or classes you can try for a semester. Their classes range from normal things, like Bodyfit, Tennis and Zumba to more extreme sports like kitesurfing and wall climbing. There’s also a few sports, like underwater hockey, that seems plain weird. There are also a load of different sports clubs at the ACLO you can join - like competitive rowing, American Football and more.
Finally, being a student usually will mean you’ll have to manage your budget for the first time in your life. Students spend on average €800-1000 per month in Groningen, not including tuition fees. A lot of students get a part-time job (or side-hustle) to support their studies and to help their future career. Check out Asmo’s tips on finding a student job as an international student in Groningen. Marije wrote a blog with tips to save money in Groningen. Bringing your own lunch to the library might not be the sexiest thing to do, but it sure does save money ( I have honestly never done this, but you could try).
That’s a wrap for this monster blog on making the most of your first months in Groningen. Realistically, you’ll find your own way in Groningen - and will make some adjustments as you go. Check out Danique’s blog on 10 things she wishes she had known in her first year in Groningen.
Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to hear more about from us!
The Blog Team (Marije, Asmo and Danique)