What was your general impression of the University, it's Medical Centre, and the city of Groningen?
It couldn't be better. The UMCG staff were helpful when I was completely lost in the beginning. The hospital is well located, even more so because I used to live nearby. It lookes like a shopping mall, I found it really modern and developed. About the city, I have no words to express my love. For me, groningen is the model of a perfect city. Beautiful architecture, nice weather (no, i'm not crazy, I just prefer cold/snowy days), full of students/international people, bicycles as the main mode of transport (I miss my bike so much!), cool pubs and nightclubs, friendly citizens, and a high quality of life.
What were your expectations of the research you would perform at the University?
A few weeks before coming to Groningen, I thought I would be involved in a research project related to antibiotic resistance. However, the plans were changed and I worked with small regulatory RNAs in Bacillus subtilis under stress instead. It was nice to work on that project, since I didn't know anything about the subject and I could improve my knowledge during the internship.
Did your experiences match your expectations? Why or why not?
Yes, totally. Actually, my real experiences were much better than my expectations, because the people from the research group I joined were always willing to help me and to make me feel at home. I think i'll never have a "boss" like Jan Maarten, he is really patient, helpful and funny. I confess I was a bit afraid of how I would feel among the Dutch, since I heard they are considered rude. Soon I realized that was a silly stereotype, and for me, they are one of the best peoples in the world. Moreover, before doing my exchange programme, I never thought I would make friends from so many places. By living with so many different people, i've changed my mind for the better about many aspects of life. I had an international family when I was living in Groningen, and i'll never forget our great moments together. So, my experiences in this beloved city were/are definitely worth it.
Why or why not would you reccomend this experience to others?
Summarizing what I discussed, I think the experience abroad should be compulsory for all students. It is the best way to learn about different cultures and change your mind about what you had previously believed. That you can met a lot of people and see new places is one of the best parts. You can also study/work in a completely different environment, which enhances your interpersonal relations and ability to work within teams.
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