TeMa Online

International Blog: Eva Vertadier

A French Overview of Groningen

Dear TeMa members,

My name is Eva and it’s almost my third year studying in Groningen. I am French and I grew up in France. I lived there all my life until I started going to university. I did a business school where I got the opportunity to travel a lot through internships and exchanges. I have been living for at least 6 months in Canary Islands, Ireland, and the Netherlands. In the end, my heart always comes back to the Netherlands and more especially to Groningen, the city with the atmosphere of a village.

Before coming to Groningen, I had never heard of this city. I applied for it randomly in my Erasmus choices because I wanted to come to the Netherlands as I heard many positive comments about it. So the first time I came I had no idea where I arrived and I totally lived the Erasmus experience. I lived in a student house in the South of the city, 25 minutes biking from Zernike. While I was used to going to the university in my warm car every morning, I had to learn those mornings were going to be different here, and that on rainy days arriving all wet at university was totally normal. As a good French person, I started complaining a lot about it, but after some time, I understood that complaining was not going to change anything. Thus, I finally stopped complaining, what Dutch people have already understood for a long time. Dutch people definitely complain less than French which I think leads to more positive vibes in general. Today, I love going to university by bike, it gives me the energy to start the day. But let’s come back to the student house. I was sharing the kitchen/bathroom with 16 other people from all over the world. It could have turned out to be horrible, but it has been one of the best experiences of my life. From cooking international food and travelling around to partying at least two times a week in Sunny Beach, singing as loud as possible “doe mij maar het gras, het gras van het noorderplantsoen”, and of course being so impressed every night by these two police officers on their horses watching out on drunk people. I have to say that this does not happen in France because cities are bigger and the clubs are spread all around. During this year, I also joined an international basketball association where I played with people from all around the world. Regarding my level of English, as a good French person who had never really spoken English except at school, it wasn’t easy to communicate with my teammates. But thanks to the international culture of Groningen I felt confident in trying to speak English, what most young French people are scared of doing. After some months, I was finally able to have proper conversations although with a strong French accent that I will probably keep all my life. To conclude, in one year I fell in love with Groningen and its people and, after going back home I had only one objective in mind, finish my bachelor and come back here to do my master.

But first, I went to Ireland for an internship. Although Ireland is an amazing country and Irish people are the easiest people to have a conversation with, I was still missing the atmosphere of Groningen, this atmosphere that you can only feel if you have lived there. Groningen is a small city in the Netherlands that almost nobody knows but the city I felt the happiest in. My friends in France keep asking me why do I always come back, I always try to describe it but you have to live the Groningen experience in order to understand it.

First of all, Groningen is the city where everything can happen, from seeing a guy on his colourful electric wheelchair making water bubbles and playing loud music in the middle of the afternoon, to being able to buy balloons in clubs and supermarkets or barbecuing in public places. Furthermore, as we all know, the Dutch weather is not very amazing, but Dutch people definitely know how to enjoy the sun. When the sun is out everyone is out, gathering in Noorderplantsoen, on rooftops or on bars’ terasses, enjoying a few beers or a nice barbecue. There is this happy feeling that everyone want to enjoy and share. Finally, Groningen offers things to do for everyone, you can do whatever you like to do, from sports to theatre and from working experiences to study associations. I have got the opportunity to be a bartender, an UberEats driver, in the board of my basketball association (G.S.B.V Moestasj now G.S.B.V Groene Uilen-Moestasj), and I am currently doing an internship. I am eager to try different things and live new experiences, and Groningen offers many opportunities and is perfect to do extra-activities while studying. You’ll never get bored and the small size of the city allows you to do a lot in a short period of time. And with more than 120 nationalities gathered in one city, you can do all these activities in a cross-cultural atmosphere.