Practical tips Loneliness among students #6
How to meet new people
UKrant is focusing on the topic of loneliness among students. How much of a problem is it, what are the causes and what can you do about it?
1Find a buddy
Through its Buddy-to-Buddy programme, the Erasmus Student Network matches students based on their shared interests. Whether you’re a first-year student or a senior, Dutch or international, everyone is welcome to sign up. If you’re currently not in Groningen, ESN also has an online version.
After you’ve been matched, you and your buddy can participate in all kinds of fun activities and challenges. You’ll also receive tips on how to do everything as covid-proof as possible. Earlier, UKrant published an article on how new friends Vaamika and Balázs liked the programme.
2Write to a pen pal
Hanze students Salome Häbe and Franziska Preiss started a project to help students in Groningen make new friends. Their project is called GRO-PALS; it matches students from both the UG and the Hanze with a pen pal to exchange letters with. Organiser Franziska has had a pen pal for years, and she hopes the project will help others. Participants fill out a questionnaire and receive a match within two weeks.
3Tinder for female friends
Are you a woman who could use a few more female friends? Download Hey!VINA. It’s an app that’s kind of like Tinder, but for female friendships. You can swipe and select people who you’d like to get to know better.
When you download Hey! VINA, you first answer a few questions about yourself and about your interests and hobbies. The app then finds matches for you. It also suggests fun things to undertake together.
4A sympathetic ear
If you’re feeling lonely, stressed out, or if you feel like you’re losing grip on life, it might help to talk about it. Organisation All Ears Groningen was specifically set up to lend a sympathetic ear to students. They employ professionals who understand what goes on inside students’ heads. Of course, everything you talk about is strictly confidential.
5Cooking with new friends
Do you like cooking, or good food? A dinner club is the perfect way to meet new people and get talking to them. You can publish your own ad for a dinner club on the website Eetclub.nl, or you can join one by responding to other people’s ads. The website is available in Dutch only, but it’s not that hard to navigate.
6Coaching for young people
If the corona pandemic has made you feel sad and lonely, the Red Cross provides help in the form of free coaching sessions over the phone. You can book a session through the Blijf Overeind website, a Red Cross partner. This can help if you need a little support, if you want someone to listen to your thoughts, or if you just want to talk to someone. The Red Cross also has tips to improve your mental health, and they provide information on physical and mental health issues.
7Take a hike
Do you need a break from studying or would you just like to get some fresh air? The Frisse Gedachtes organisation wants to improve student well-being, and they’ve teamed up with RUG Walks. All you have to do is fill out a short form and they’ll match you with someone else who’d like to take a walk around the block. Talking and getting to know each other tends to be easier when you can look at what’s happening around you in the meantime.
8Drop by Jimmy’s
Jimmy’s is a meeting place in the Herestraat for people between twelve and twenty-seven years old. You can just walk in to have a chat or play some games with people. There are also volunteers that can answer any questions you have, and there are projects and workshops you can join. Every afternoon, they have ‘coffee time’, when everyone gets together to talk about whatever they want. Jimmy’s also organises events and they have a blog where people share their stories and experiences. The website is only available in Dutch.
Website Meetup will show you a host of small-scale events and activities. They’re often organised by participants themselves and take place throughout the Netherlands. You can specifically look for things in Groningen that interest you as a student. The activities vary widely. Whether you’re interested in sports, reading, photography, or fashion, you’re sure to find something here. The website itself is in Dutch, but many of the events are in English.