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From Beijing to Beijum: impressions of Groningen

A beardy bloke from Australia, a cow-loving Chinese girl, a veggy farmer-to-be from Nigeria and a couple of fresh air sniffers – most of the 800 students who attended Welcoming Day at Hanze University are very enthusiastic about Groningen.


Ademola Olusile (35)
Lagos, Nigeria
‘Nigeria is an emerging economy, there are business opportunities everywhere. After earning my bachelor’s degree at the University of Ado-Ekiti I went into agro-business. Yes, I am a farmer. Up until now I produce mainly cassava, but I want to expand. Vegetables, it’s healthy and gaining popularity. I want to become a supplier of hotel and restaurant groups. I’m convinced I will succeed. The upcoming seventeen months in Groningen I shall get to know the ins and outs of modern business. In the mean time my brother and my business partner will be running the farm perfectly. I’m sure of that, because I know them very well: my business partner is my wife.’


Irina Caras (19)
Chisinau, Moldova
‘Moldovan education is very theoretical. That’s what attracts me in Hanze University, the practical approach. I came to know that while working as an interpreter at an educational fair at Chisinau, my home town. Yes indeed, I do speak English quite well. And Russian too, I might say. Groningen is beautiful, really a nice city, I’ve been here for three weeks now. My mother wants to be sure that everything is okay. Well, she doesn’t need to worry, I’ll manage. I found a room at a stone’s throw of Martini Tower, so getting lost certainly is not easy.’


Sara Zarreh Hoshyari (20)
Hamburg, Germany
‘Last year I studied in Berlin. Actually I dropped out, I didn’t like university at all. The program consisted merely of lectures and studying books. All theory and hardly any interaction. That’s so different over here at Groningen, I immediately got a vibe: this kind of education is what I want. As for Groningen, that’s some sort of Hamburg in miniature. Hamburg has 1.8 million inhabitants, Groningen is much smaller, but vibrant as well. That’s why I wanted to take part in the KEI introduction week. It was great. And I found a nice room, that’s important too of course. It’s close to the Paddepoel. Do I pronounce that well?’


Daniel Mulcahy (24)
Bendigo, Australia
‘I’m a student at La Trobe University, that’s in Melbourne. The last semester one can take at another university, so I chose to do my major in Human Recourses Management at Hanze. Yes, I figured that out all by myself. With a little help, of course. My family has Irish roots, but my girlfriend is from Dutch offspring, so we can visit her family when she comes to visit me. Actually I’ve only been here for twelve hours yet, so I can’t tell whether I like the city, but the first impression is good. My home town is just as big as Groningen, but Groningen seems to offer lots more of nice activities. I intend to take part in those, of course. Perhaps I’ll join Erasmus Student Network, nice people, nice parties. It’s going to be fun.’


Yujie Tang (23)
Beijing, China
‘I’m from Beijing, the capital of China. Groningen is the opposite of Beijing in many ways. It’s a modern city, but small and not so crowded. The air is so clean. I was interested in studying in the Netherlands because it’s so close to the sea and I had never been near any sea. I feel comfortable with water: rivers, brooks and lakes. I will be joining an exchange programme on Media and Communication. In the future I want to do something in the field of internet. Product manager for a company like the big Chinese digital market place Alibaba, maybe.’


Meron Gemeda (27)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
‘My first name is Jewish. Many Ethiopian languages have a Semitic origin. I’m from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, but I study Electronic Engineering in Helsinki, Finland. The minor Electronic Product Design & Engineering at Hanze seems to fit in well with my regular study programme. And I heard some really good things about Groningen. For instance that it’s such a vibrant student city. I’ve been here a couple of days now. I have not really immersed myself in student life, but at least architecturally the city is very appealing.’


Dario Calamandrei (21)
Florence, Italy
‘I study Business Administration in Pisa, famous for its leaning tower. The region around Pisa is quite flat. Just like the area here. Great for biking, which I’m very fond of. The Dutch tourists in Pisa are always very polite and friendly. That’s why I wanted to go to the Netherlands to take an exchange programme. I already made a tour of Groningen with a Dutch friend. I do love the culture here. Everything is so well organised. Absolutely perfect, except maybe the rain.’


Ningna Xie (18)
Nanning, China
‘I’m from the region of Guangxi, that’s southern China. Nanning is a city with millions of inhabitants. I also lived in a big city in the Philippines. Coming here feels like an escape. I love the fresh air, the big open spaces, the cows, the pigeons, the sheep. I’m not a city person. Metropolitans are a bit crazy, I feel: always rushing, never taking the time to enjoy life. So I’m looking forward to my new life here. After I graduate, I’m planning to take a master in Asian Studies, maybe in Maastricht.’


Tina Desiré Andersen (26)
Oslo, Norway
‘Back in Oslo I study Media & Communication. Most of my classmates who went abroad chose fair weather destinations. But I read about Hanze University and the minor Public Affairs on the internet, it immediately appealed to me, though I really had never heard of Groningen. I had never been to the Netherlands either, except for Schiphol. Before I came here I already took my first exam in Groningen, well, sort of… I did a skype interview with the girls in a sorority house in Groningen, and I was accepted!’


Rafig Abbasov (18)
Baku, Azerbaijan
‘Last year I spent a year at high school in Chicago. My intention was to go to college after that to study computer science. But during a tour of the US I happened to see a team of IT people at work in San Francisco. I did not like what I saw. I don’t want to sit behind a computer screen 24/7. I’m more adventurous. During that I also saw lots of art. That inspired me. So I decided to follow an art study. I chose the Netherlands because it’s closer to my home country than America and because art seems to be very popular here. So far I really like Groningen. True, we get lots of rain here, but have you ever smelled how fresh the air is afterwards?’


Mark Haines (20)
Melbourne, Australia
‘In 2014 I spent my holidays in the Netherlands. I liked that immensely. Everything is so civilized, people are so friendly. I’m a second-year Law student at Deakin University in Melbourne. I had some options to study abroad for six months. I wanted to go to the Netherlands and Hanze University was the Dutch option I was given. I’ve been here for four days now. The people in my student house are nice. The city is great and even the weather isn’t that bad after the cold wintry weather in Australia I came from.’