The best way to… spend X-mas

Most folks head home to celebrate the holidays, but you may be spending winter break in Groningen this year. How can you cope?

Many students who stay in Groningen spend their break binging on TV series, playing video games and hibernating. Maybe this is exactly what you want to do – in that case, stop reading! But if you want to find some new ways to spend your winter break, read on! This top 5 will tell you how spend your break in a – dare I say it? – more productive way.

Look within: Groningen has a lot of fun things to offer besides bars, coffee shops and the library. Do things most tourists don’t know about.

For example, my most recent discovery was a man who preserves Canadian military vehicles from WWII which were used to liberate Groningen in 1945. He repairs and maintains these vehicles as a hobby. The museum is free, but contributions are welcome (aka kind of expected). For the war buffs and engineers out there, this is definitely something to check out. To find more hidden gems, try asking locals – and non-students – about such places.

Season of giving: Groningen is the poorest province in the Netherlands. You’d be surprised at the amount of homeless people you may not notice outside the city centre. Visiting a place like the Voedselbank (among many others) might be a helpful way to spend your time. This organization in particular provides food and supplies for people going through hard times.

You can also make a contribution yourself by donating items such canned food. Something they always need more of is razors. Everyone needs to look fresh and clean, especially us guys who need to suit up for a job interview that might help you find a way out of your money problems.

Looking for the perfect beat: it’s safe to say that the standard Christmas songs are starting to get annoying. Summer hits are bad enough, but Christmas songs are never-changing, never-ending and become less jolly the more often you hear them.

I challenge you to make a list of your favourite bands and genres, and find Christmas songs in a style you may hate at least a little bit less. Being a hip hop head myself, I like Afroman’s satirical (and a tad dirty) commentary about Christmas, and I also appreciate Run-DMC’s funky ‘Christmas in Hollis.’

Contemplate the future: Many students doing their bachelor’s often don’t start thinking about possible master’s programmes ahead of time. This sometimes leads to making rash, last-minute decisions because of not knowing what else is out there. Take this break as an opportunity to start looking for MA’s in Groningen and at other (Dutch) universities. This also goes for internships and summer schools.

Take a trip: If you’ve been saving at least a little, a long weekend in Germany or Poland can be yours! For the really poor folks, you can take a Public Express to Oldenburg. Enjoy the gluhwein, bratwursts and Christmas spirit of Germany. Use Meinfernbus to travel to bigger cities like Hamburg to have real hamburgers for once – the sandwich, not the people.

For the hard core road trippers, go Eastern European style and hitch a ride with Polish workers on a bus to places like Wroclaw. The nights you spend there will be unforgettable. Or forgettable, if that’s what you prefer. Reserve well in advance for better prices!