As an abundance of fresh faces and returning students make their way to the city streets of Groningen I find my time in the city is ending. As I look around I see that a lot of things are changing for me, with new problems and opportunities are arising in my life. Yet for all this change so many of the problems the city faces are unfortunately staying the same.
As I slowly trade the grind of essays, exams, and thesis meetings for job applications and interviews; I find my life changing for the better. Sure the rejection that comes with interviews and applications can be disheartening at times, but I know if I stay the course things will eventually fall into place. In part I have learned this attitude from the problems of the city.
As the number fresh faces joining the university gets greater with each year the university is struggling to manage the influx of ever-growing numbers of new students. New conversations are starting on how to alleviate this including limiting students on certain programs, such as a law, here in Groningen as well as other degrees around the country.
My time in Groningen has been filled with learning, new friendships, amazing nightlife, and of course a global pandemic
This does nothing to help other long-standing issues in the city around problems with housing. As with every year the city is struggling to house the numbers of students who are both completely homeless and ‘invisibly’ homeless as they couch-surf and sublet their way through university without a solid place of their own to lay their heads.
Yet there is still so much opportunity here. My time in Groningen has been filled with learning, new friendships, amazing nightlife, and of course a global pandemic. A colourful city and certainly a unique time to have been here over the last three years. For the new students here, you find yourselves at the beginning of that journey.
So, if you find yourself stuck looking for housing just like I (and many others) have been, remember this is one of the challenges you must face to start your journey here. Just like drafting an essay, succeeding on an exam or nailing a job interview it can take a few attempts before preparation and luck align for you.
That’s not to excuse the woeful lack of preparation by the city and the university to accommodate us, but at least they are trying now. And if it doesn’t keep improving, remember it was a protest that finally kicked them into gear.