Students and one of the lecturers in front of a whiteboard

University Groningen, the Netherlands

Blog entry 3 - 5 cities in 4 days

Wed, 28 Oct 2015 | Universität Groningen

…sounds exhausting and I have to say, it was!!!

But it was definitely fun and whetted my appetite for more Dutch cultural and extraordinary experiences. The Netherlands have a lot of sights to offer and a huge number of church towers - straight and crooked.

The "Randstad", as it is fondly called by the Dutch, is divided into the areas around Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. It is a mystery to me why such a term was used, but it is logical and easy to remember.

The longer I am here, the more difficult it becomes for me to sum up all my experiences in one diary entry. It should remain entertaining and exciting and shouldn’t be too detailed. But that's exactly where the difficulty lies. Sometimes, picking out the best isn’t that easy.

Now back to my little city trip: of course each of these five cities has its own special charm. Whether small and cute or focused on business with an extraordinary skyline I was positively surprised of every city. Of course, Rotterdam, with the largest port in Europe, cannot be compared to Leiden, also known as "Little Amsterdam". And yet I couldn't say which city I liked best, because truly all of them had their own special flair.

Of course we also had to stay overnight somewhere and some of you might shake your heads when I say “Couchsurfing” and yet there was the appeal to just give it a try. In the end, I have to say, it was one of the best experiences I've had here so far. The first night in The Hague I and my roommate slept in a real students’ hostel with a student from Indonesia. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea to get rice served with curry for breakfast, but that's the Indonesian food culture and apart from that it was really delicious.

We were also warmly welcomed by our second host and spent two wonderful days in Rotterdam thanks to his numerous tips. The 19 windmills of Kinderdijk are one of the most famous sights in the Netherlands and have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

I hope it doesn't give the impression that I'm lazing around all day and not studying, because that's not the case. Here the semesters are divided into two terms and after each term there is an exam period. The Dutch study system is really exhausting and you constantly have write reports, give presentations and at the same time you have to study for the written exams. In addition, I took a very demanding Dutch course in order to be able to speak the language really well. So I am actually permanently busy.

In one week I have to submit my assignment counting 10,000 words, which is almost the size of a bachelor thesis. Yeees... it is really challenging and only those, who word the hardest, can make it. But no matter how challenging it is and how hard the exams are, the lecturers are incredibly open-minded, they take their time and try to make everything possible for the students and help them as far as they can. A few days ago I was seeking to talk with a lecturer because I was unsure about a task. Besides a helpful conversation, I was offered a few tomatoes and the opportunity to come back to him if I had any questions. Where else would you experience this situation?

But now I say goodbye with this photo from Utrecht. Funnily, I didn't know that the rabbit Miffy had its origin there.

See you in two weeks and have I nice autumn time!

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