Groningen, A Heaven for Students


Before we start, I’ve published the beginning of my fiction podcast (audio book) about schizophrenia (partly happening in Groningen) on soundcloud. Click here (opens in new tab)   If you’d like to read along for a bit click here for the (shorter) text version.

Alright, this post is a bit different. Probably a bit more of a direct-thought style, if that makes sense to you. This is for all you (about-to-be) students.

This is my last week in Groningen. Soon I will fly to South Carolina to start my exchange semester. I will miss Groningen horribly. Why? Because Groningen is simply the best student city that you can wish for. Well, that’s super subjective, so fuck this. Anyways. Groningen is amazing!

Let’s start with the city itself. Groningen is a small (big according to many Dutch people) city in the north of The Netherlands. It’s quite an old city I’d say. Not only the university, but thousands of old cute buildings shape the character of Groningen. It’s a bit like a fairy tale city. Everybody is happy, and somehow all people seem to have good intentions. Excluding the billions of bike thieves, of course. But if you’re living in Groningen for a year and your bike didn’t get stolen, you can call yourself a rarity. (I totally didn’t say that because I have my bike for two years now. Okay, I did. Well I read something about that on Facebook one day. Super legit.)

Let’s move on to the important things. If you start in Groningen you are probably a RUG or Hanze student. The totally superior (sorry I have to say this, since I publicly advocate a small war against the Hanze for random reasons (Apology to all my Hanze friends, I love you guys) Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (or RUG) (or REICHSUNIVERSITÄT, to make it more sexy) is an amazing university. Well I only know stuff about Psychology, American Studies, Medicine, and some Law stuff. But I guess the other courses are equally cool. What it’s really about is the atmosphere, and I don’t know any student that is unhappy at the RUG. I also don’t know any student that is unhappy at the Hanze, btw. In fact, it doesn’t matter which University you choose (except Hanze), you will have the best time here one way or another. Groningen is as international as it gets. Almost every Dutch person speaks English. You can even talk to the person behind the cash register in the supermarket (Albert Heijn, isn’t that a cool name?) and they will understand you. Ah yes, supermarkets are open on Sundays! And let’s not forget how awesome a Bonuscard is. (It’s a card that makes you believe you safe money because you only buy what’s cheaper this week, but actually it makes you buy more. Honestly guys start going to the market. 10 fucking Kiwis for 2,50€. And 40 passion fruit for 3€. The list goes on. Everything is cheaper on the market. Even meat!) Alright a Bonuscard is pretty shitty. Let’s get back to the student life. Thousands of international students live and study in Groningen. I have been Kei-Introduction, and Erasmus group leader and I have seen the masses of international students streaming into the city every semester. Trust me, international student cities are the best! So many cultures, so many different stories, and so much choice for diverse tastes to fall in love with. Or just get laid, for that matter.
Studying here means a lot of free time. That is something that many German students claim to not know in this amount. And that is because free time is stress less time. But if your university constantly stresses you, you are doing something wrong anyways. In Groningen people are only stressed in the exam periods. And those are short, and half the time is relaxing with friends anyways.

Groningen is like childhood. All your friends live in biking distance. And with biking distance I mean 5-10 minutes. Maximum. Only the really brave (or the Hanze students) live more than 15 minutes from the center. Groningen means biking to university, taking classes, and then bike home or to friends. Doing stuff, and biking to other friends. Every day. That is, if you’re doing it right. I just decided to move really close to my best friend here and live life a bit more relaxed. University life is something that should make us stronger and happier, it shouldn’t stress us. You can get good grades easily without putting much effort into things. Just put good effort in it. With this I am not saying that you can come to Groningen, be a lazy party animal and don’t do anything. That will get you out of university in the first semester (!).

Another big part of childhood was playing, am I right? Playing outside especially, I hope. Besides the rain (that sometimes just won’t leave) uhm wait. Well okay Groningen has shitty weather sometimes. But when it’s nice, it’s nice. (nailed it!)
Well if you have shitty weather, what do you do? Except the millions of festivals that the Dutch love, they also have clubs and bars and inside parties etcetera. The list is endless. You can do basically anything you would like to do here. But that’s less the point here in Groningen. Groningen makes you do the things that are nice to do here automatically.
Another way to play as an adult is to play with substances. And that’s quite common in this city. Weed is tolerated, and you can buy magic truffles in the smart shop. And if you are on one of those festivals or parties, almost everyone is on something. That’s amazing. If you have experienced people on drugs (and with that I don’t mean alcohol, or drugs mixed with alcohol. Well mostly I mean psychedelic drugs) you know that it’s a peaceful happy environment. And if you are not only a person who wants to get ‘fucked up’ with drugs, you might even take a more intellectual approach on the substance. (But obviously I expect that of you as a student lol). If you think drugs are not your thing, that’s also fine. Nobody here will think bad of you because of that. Just to be clear again, I’m not advocating  (early) drug usage that gets out of control.

Because Groningen is not too big you will probably leave the city quite often. You will do city excursions with friends, or if you are really cool, you visit your friends’ parents. It’s all childhood again. There are some amazing forests in the province, and if you are really into nature you should go to Friesland (<3). If you are more into partying and social stuff there is always Amsterdam. I guess I don’t have to say much about Amsterdam.

Let’s get more on to the every-day life. If you are male you can go to the coolest and best Barber shop in Groningen,  Gents Barbershop It’s a men-only barber shop, where men are treated like men. For a very fair price you can enjoy an amazing talk with your barber in the vintage masculine atmospheric environment (sorry that was the only way for me to describe it). You can even have a drink or a coffee there! It’s not that anybody wants to discriminate against women here, but honestly it’s an amazing concept and place. I love it.
Besides going to the barber, there is another thing where students tend to spend much time in: The library. in Groningen it’s basically a big flirt-house for people who care about being seen, and seeing people. And of course, there are those few who actually study. (Yup, that’s the guys who said they studied for 5 hours, but actually spend half the time on Facebook, or meeting people) It’s an easy life in Groningen. Even studying here is nice and gezellig. I use the dutch word here to disgust myself that I do this just to be cool and have it on my blog. Seriously, I should be ashamed of myself. I live here for two years now and I still don’t speak Dutch. That shows you how much you need to speak the language in Groningen. Remember: Everyone speaks English here 😉

Groningen is the place where I can do what I really want to do, while claiming to be a student. If that sounds good to you, you should come to Groningen and study in the best student city you could dream of. If you care for reputation of universities you will also find something with a good name here (RUG lol).
Groningen is the city where I can sit in a garden chair outside of my door on the street, writing my book at 3 am, and nobody will do me harm or scare me. Seriously, big cities make people like me paranoid.

Please stick around and check out the other posts on this blog. I write about culture, psychedelics, society, reality, psychology, the universe, and all kinds of crazy stuff!
If you like to stay updated on my upcoming novel (which takes much inspiration from my life in Groningen) The Blackbird’s Tale :  A Schizophrenic Fable then please follow this blog here on wordpress, and Facebook, and if you like to listen to the audio-book version of my book (including music that I have composed) please press follow on my SOUNDCLOUD



RE Junesworth