Learn how to cook, it’s better for your health
You came here to study. But it’s my experience that it’s just as important to have a life outside the university. Don’t be afraid to take your time. I’ll be starting the fourth year of my history bachelor in September. I passed all my courses during the first two years while also doing committee work at my study association. Then, I realised there is a whole world outside the history department. In a few years, you and hundreds of others will enter the labour market at the same time; it’s important to set yourself apart and know who you are.
Making friends early on during your student days is fairly easy. Most student associations have year clubs that come together every Wednesday for dinner and drinking. But Groningen has so much more to offer. Sports, theatre, music; find something you like and just take the plunge. You can try whatever you like during the KEI week, so take this opportunity to figure it out. You might be surprised what you’ll find.
The uncertainty can be scary
Maybe you’re moving out to live on your own for the first time. That means you have to keep your room clean and take care of your own diet. Learn how to cook quick and nice meals. This’ll save you a lot of money, and it’s better for your health. I went from ready meals to home-made, healthy food. I even developed a passion for cooking.
You’ll really get to know yourself in the years to come. It’s a time when you’re free to enjoy and experiment with life and you don’t have to definitively decide anything. That uncertainty can also be scary, but the RUG can help you out: they have student advisers and student psychologists. Don’t be afraid to turn to your friends for support. You should tackle issues head on; don’t allow yourself to suffer any longer than necessary.
Above all, your student days are a time to grow and make mistakes. Make the best of them, and before you know it, you’re having your picture taken on the steps of the Academy building while you’re brandishing your diploma.
Study together and yell at each other for slacking off
Beer galore and some studying on the side. Many students can recognise this pattern, me included. For five years, I have been exploring both the Groningen pubs and its classrooms. I’m often hungover, but I’ve made some great memories. You write the book on your time as a student, and the KEI week is the exciting prologue to it all.
I learned a lot of life lessons in the pub. Being a student can also be a challenging time. It can be difficult to strike a balance between books and beer. But I managed it.
It can be difficult to strike a balance between books and beer
How, you ask? I decided to enjoy myself. Obviously, studying is important. But it’s not always fun, not always enjoyable. I’ve thrown many a course book against the wall in frustration. If you’re going through something, don’t lock yourself in your room, but open yourself up to everything Groningen has to offer you. Get to know its people, its pubs, and its winding streets. It will make studying so much more bearable.
You can also organise a communal study session. Agree to yell at each other when you’re slacking off. Trust me, this will forge lasting bonds. Studying isn’t all that bad. Someone once told me that being a student is like having a great hamburger. ‘The burger represents studying, and it’s fine to fry it in a thin layer of beer batter.’
Now is the moment, your fate is in your hands
It all starts with a “Hello”.
Although it seems ages away now, the lights will eventually go out and the music will turn into silence. KEI-week will be over. On that hungover morning, it may seem that the fun part of your life has officially ended. But fear not – you can still find your purpose once the party dust has settled.
Talk to people, ask them where they’re going and join them
Yes, you’re a stranger in an even stranger city. It rains, even though it’s August. Shamelessly young Dutch people stumble over cobblestones as they pull carts full of beer to a mysterious location. They are going to party, and you feel left out. Now is the moment. Your fate is in your hands. Talk to these people, ask them where they’re going, join them (use sly persuasion, if necessary) and your Groningen life might well take an unexpectedly fortunate turn. Before you know it you are drinking budget beer with a neatly trimmed Dutchie who will spend the rest of the year initiating you into everything that’s Dutch, in Groningen and beyond.
You can meet people, see places and garner experiences you hadn’t even imagined before. And beer is not a prerequisite. Use the wet weather to your advantage and talk to people in cafes, the library or wherever the incessant winds blow you. All you have to do is say “Hello”.
Never forget there is a life besides uni
Dear KEI-Lopers and Groningen newbies,
I’m Valeska, 27, and just graduated from my Master’s program in journalism.
For most of you, this will not only be your first time joining the KEI week, but also a new chapter of your lives, starting in the wonderful city of Grunn.
Take it from someone who has spent the last two years here: you’ll have the time of your life. To make your life as a new student a little easier, here are some tips:
- Try to learn Dutch. As difficult as it might be, it will make your life a lot easier. It also comes in handy when you’re trying to understand what random people on bikes yell at you, after your first near-death bike crash experience (yes, better prepare, we’ve all been there).
- Sign up for free time activities. I personally decided to push myself out of my comfort zone by joining the improv comedy courses at USVA. You’ll meet a lot of people who are just as afraid as you are to make a fool of themselves – a great bonding experience.
- And most importantly: never forget there is a life besides uni. Studying at the library might be hip, but drinking your biertje on one of Groningen’s many terraces will always beat that.
With that in mind, best of luck with your studies and the KEI week. And go visit the petting zoo in the Stadspark – the donkeys are suckers for cuddles.