Heidi: Groningen – The most hipster city I have ever lived in!

I moved to Groningen in September 2013 to start studying at the Hanze UAS, I just recently moved back to Estonia. I remember the very first week before classes started when I literally didn’t know anyone in the city and just went around exploring. Although I had travelled a lot before, it was my first time living alone in a new country. During the first year there was a lot of exploring Dutch and other cultures, both in my studies and outside of the university. Compared to Estonians, the Dutch are more open, when you meet someone new, Estonians are a bit more reserved. For example everybody on the street  will greet you once you have made eye contact with them, at the beginning I was very confused by this, since in Estonia I would only do that if somebody I know walks by.Heidi pic 3

Mostly, I learned that I am way more Estonian that I would have though of 🙂 Love of black bread and “kohuke” has only grown since my time in the Netherlands.

At some point during my stay abroad I adapted to this new state where I felt equally home in Groningen and Estonia. There are many things I love about the city, the Netherlands and Dutch culture that I now miss in Estonia. For example, the prices of flowers are ridiculous in the Netherlands compared to Estonia, so I often had fresh flowers at home (50 tulips=10€, 25 daffodils = 5€). Also I’m not a fan of Estonian cheese, so buying tasty cheese from supermarket is super nice. Also the selection of fresh vegetables and fruits in the market is divine 🙂 Going to the market at Vismarkt is something I now miss (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 9.00-17.00 in the city centre).

Liitu meie uudiskirjaga, et olla esimene, kes meie uutest blogilugudest kuuleb!

I got use to biking pretty quickly, and now when I don’t bike in extreme weather conditions anymore it’s fun to look back and remember the bike crashes and extremely stormy weathers when the bike didn’t move at all 😀 Almost no one you know in Groningen (expect Dutch and German students) will have a car, so everything you would normally do with a car will be done on bike – transporting furniture and so on. Riding ‘a bakfiets’ is a cool experience, but can be quite uncomfortable. Something really cool about Groningen is the various events and festivals that are always happening around the city, to name a few – Maak Festival, Let’sGro festival, Jonge  Harten Theater festival, Open Door concerts, as well as, Kei Week, Noorderzon, Eurosonic and many others. Make awesome plans for Kings day- it’s worth it! There are also places like Free Cafe Groningen and living room concerts and many other events organised by locals. You will find yourself saying ‘’lekker’’ a lot!

Heidi pic 4 Heidi pic 2Practical information

I’ll write a bit about finding an apartment in Groningen as it can be a bit of a hustle. Join many Facebook groups and write to all the posts, posted in different Facebook groups (Groningen rooms, roommate Groningen, Woonkamer Groningen and many more) write a personal and fun message. It’s important to show up to viewings, as it’s almost impossible to find a place to live without meeting them in person. Students move in Groningen a lot, I had 4 different places in Groningen. Usually, the first place is not so good one, but no worries, once you meet nice people you quickly understand that the best rooms (location, price, size, cleanliness etc) are exchanged through friends or friends of friends. I have lived in Beijum (about 20 minute bike ride from city centre) in a very nice house, with cool roommates, and the best landlady. I had about 15 square meter room that, which was 350€/per month (including everything). Then I lived in 2 different places in the city centre (Herebinnensingel, Nieuwe Ebbingestraat) I had about 20 square meter rooms with own kitchen, prices 450-600€. A room in a student room in a good location is 350€+ depending on the size and location. Agency can be an option, but ask them about their fees up front and I would recommend trying on your own via Facebook before. Kamernet is very popular for house searching, personally for me has never worked but you might as well try the 15-30€ investment. If you get the news that you have been accepted, start looking for a place! If you leave it to August or September you might end up with a pricy bad place or end up living in hotel. Hopefully this gives you some reference point 🙂 If something goes very badly you can also consult Frently, a student company that is specialised in rental disputes in Groningen (it’s free, you only pay a % if you win), they are very nice. Buying groceries in Groningen can be expensive. To compare, Albert Heijn = Selver,  Jumbo= Rimi/Prisma, Lidl= Säästumarket. I would still recommend the market for fresh produce. Buckwheat (tatar) can be bought from Turkish and Russian stores (2 in Poelestraat) 1kg =2.50€ if I remember correctly. Best place to buy a bike are second hand stores or Facebook groups, a decent city bike is around 70-90€. Invest in bike locks. I would not recommend the Gemeente Sale (you will hear about it when you are there) because yes they might have cheap bikes, but the condition is not very good, you have to be there 6 in the morning, and you have no time inside to test your bike, so you might end up with a bad bike for too much money. It’s not the worst idea to visit Fietsverda Fietsen and rent a bike from them. They have a long term rental system, you pay year fee and they give you a bike (with insurance, all the maintenance etc), they bikes are very decent.

I absolutely loved my time in Groningen and I will miss the people and places there! Have fun exploring and don’t stay in your room, but go to the events (ps! students can often go for free, just look for the chances) and have fun! If you get homesick or need an ID-card reader just find some Estonians from Eestlased Groningenis Facebook group 😉

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