Groningen: Do's and Don'ts for International Students

Groningen, one of the top destinations for international students. Find out the do's, don'ts and what to expect as a student in Groningen!


3 minute read
Updated on 12 May 2022

Studying abroad is sure to be one of the most fascinating times of your life, filled with memories that you’ll enjoy for years to come. This is why it is so important to choose the perfect location for your studies, and it’s not surprising that many look to the Netherlands. Filled with areas that truly embody the definition of a “student city,” the Netherlands continues to be one of the best countries for international exchanges throughout all of Europe.

When deciding which city to call home, Groningen typically jumps to the top of the list. With a population of just over 200,000, approximately 55,000 of those inhabitants are students. How’s that for a fun ratio? So, let’s uncover more of what to expect in Groningen, making your move to your new home a breeze.

A bit about Groningen:

Groningen is the kind of place that makes you instantly feel at ease. With the large population of young people and renowned universities like the University of Groningen, Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the International Business School Groningen right on your doorstep, this city is vivid, vibrant and just bursting with energy.

Its compact size is also very convenient, making it easy to start finding your way around and exploring your new home. Most things are located within walking distance, like restaurants, pubs, bars (some even without closing times) cinemas, theatres, museums and shopping districts, meaning there’s always something fun to do. Some areas are even pedestrian-only, truly adding to the intimate feel of Groningen.

And if you have even a passing interest in sports, you’ve definitely landed in the right place. There are professional organizations like FC Groningen (football), ACLO (soccer) and the Groningen Grizzlies (ice hockey), to name a few. There are also plenty of sporting opportunities to participate in with the wide variety of student organizations that are present on the university campuses.

Additionally, Groningen has been nominated for the “Best City Center” and the “Safest City in the Netherlands.” Having a city center that is not only lively but safe as well, can be extremely important, especially to a new student in a foreign location.

When you relocate to Groningen, you will find so many things to see and do. However, there are also certain things that you should make sure NOT to do. Let’s check out a few on both sides of the page, to ensure that you make the most of your time in Groningen.

When in Groningen, DO:

  1. Make a good effort to learn the language. Even a couple of common words and phrases can go a long way.

  2. Be sure to sign up to experience KEI-Week, which is an introduction for all new students at Hanze University Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen Academy of Obstetrics and Stenden University. They'll take all attendees on a tour of Groningen, making sure you know the best things to do and see while studying in the city.

  3. Participate in the Introduction Week of ESN, which is a huge event offered by the Erasmus Student Network, specifically for international students.

  4. Spend some time at the well-known park, Noorderplantsoen, which is where you’ll find many students relaxing, barbecuing or playing football when spring and summer come.

  5. Find that Groningen is the ideal destination for a pub crawl. As that there is typically no entrance fee for the bars, you can go from one to the next. Each offers a different atmosphere, so you can experience them all until you pick a favorite. One of the most popular is Paradigm, which plays mostly techno music and is the center of the city’s dance scene. Chupito’s is also great for shots.

  6. Participate in dozens of sports! Not only will you stay in shape while studying abroad, but it’s a great way to meet other like-minded students.

  7. Purchase a strong lock for your bike.

  8. Spend a lazy afternoon at the Groninger Museum, taking in the modern and contemporary art.

  9. Climb The Martinitoren, a high church steeple in the city’s center. Affectionately known as the Martini Tower, this point will offer spectacular views.

  10. Do all of your grocery shopping before 8 p.m.

When in Groningen, DON’T:

  1. Never jump at the first roommate you come across. Learn a bit about them, so you can see if they’re a good choice for a roommate.

  2. With so many places to lock up your bike, don’t forget where you put it. When you’re unfamiliar with a city, it can be quite tricky trying to place where you may have left it.

  3. Speaking of bikes, don’t purchase one from a stranger or someone off the streets, as that you could get damaged merchandise or even receive a fine. Look for advertisements in your social media groups, shop at a secondhand store or ask friends if they know of anyone selling a good used bike.

  4. Don’t miss out on the inexpensive lunches at De Uurwerker, where you can dine in the courtyard on warm days.

  5. Drinking alcoholic beverages on the streets is against the law.

  6. Don’t forget that most young people in Groningen will also speak English.

  7. Dutch people expect promptness, so try not be late to class or appointments!

  8. Don’t miss out on some of the top festivals in Groningen, including Eurosonic, Noorderzon and many food truck events.

The people of Groningen have a saying, "Er gaat niets boven Groningen". This basically means that there is nothing better than Groningen. After you spend a few days exploring its lovely city, meeting its friendly people and studying at one of its world-class universities, you’ll probably be ready to agree. Enjoy your time in Groningen!

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