How to get a foothold in the vibrant city of Groningen.

How to get a foothold in this ‘vibrant city with a colourful student life.’ That’s what they say about Groningen. But how can one actually engage in this environment? Meeting people may do the trick.

‘During the first few days, we didn’t have any classes,’ Mary remembers. ‘We spent a week meeting up with each other and playing games around the city!’ The first year student studying International Business thinks that Hanze’s introduction week is a crucial step to get to know people.
‘Overall, it was a really fun time. Many students I met that first week have become my close friends. Even though some of them ended up in different classes once school started, having friends in several classes is a good thing.’

Of course, for many internationals, the city centre is the heart of social activity, perfect for meeting other students.

You’ll find many clubs and pubs that are full of outgoing people

She used to go out a lot on the weekends before the lockdown, which the Dutch government implemented to combat the spread of covid-19.

However, not all students enjoy the party culture of student life.

‘There are also sports activities and handicraft workshops people can participate in,’ says Mary. Mary has many friends who attend these extracurricular activities.

Many of these are organised by the international students of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). They hold several events to introduce Groningen to new students. As they hold over 150 different events per year, an ESN membership could be a great opportunity to make some friends.

Jan, a fourth year student at Hanze, is not a very outgoing person.

‘I think I have been to a club twice while living here,’ he says, ‘it’s not really my thing.’

As a 27 year old, he doesn’t miss the experience of clubbing very much either. Instead, he focuses more on sports as a way to meet people and make connections in the city. That’s also his recommendation for new arrivals in Groningen. 

Joining the gym can be a good way to meet people, the more the merrier

Some popular gyms in the city centre are TrainMore and Basic-Fit. Additionally, Hanze sports centre also organizes a lot of different activities, which vary from basketball to football to swimming.

‘Living in a student accommodation might also help make connections,’ Mary says. ‘I spent the first few months in a student accommodation. There, you can meet all kinds of people from both Groningen University and Hanze University. That’s pretty cool!’

‘Just opening up about your hobbies and making small-talk with people can be fundamental for making friends.’

Since the housing crisis is evident in Groningen, student accommodations are a way of ensuring that you have a place to live once you arrive in the city. The most popular ones are The Village, SSH Housing and Sugar Home Studios.

As half of Groningen’s population is under the age of 35, the city is teeming with young people. Getting out there can be more difficult for some, but as Jan and Mary emphasize, it’s totally worth it. According to Jan, the friendly atmosphere towards and amongst internationals at Hanze should not be underestimated.

‘Just opening up about your hobbies and making small-talk with people can be fundamental for making friends.’