What is your name and age? Where are you from?
My name is Romi and I am 20 years old. I am coming from Slovakia.
What is the name of your university, study programme, which discipline? When did you start studying?
I am studying at the University of Groningen and currently, I am doing my first year in International Business. I started my studies In September 2016.
What made you choose this programme? How did you decide?
I have always been interested in math and I was hoping that this study would include courses associated with mathematics and calculations. For example, I really liked financial accounting. However, the study itself is rather broad with a lot of different courses, giving a great opportunity to explore what I actually enjoy and want to do in the future. It will also be helpful in when making the decision about the Master programme.
So overall, since the study is not as specific as, for example, medicine is, I feel that it will give me more freedom in the future than other programmes do.
What were the main challenges you had to face before being accepted to your university?
I cannot recall anything really challenging. I had to apply through Studielink which was really easy and clear. Moreover, I had to write a motivation letter, make the IELTS test and some other paper work. It was perhaps time-consuming but definitely not difficult.
However, I faced the biggest challenge after getting accepted, namely finding an accommodation. This was quite hard, especially since I could not visit the houses unlike Dutch students who were already in Groningen. Thus, I would really suggest to start looking for accommodation early.
What are three things you like most about the university? Why?
Group work! I know that many people do not like working in a group but I think it is really interesting. It gives a great opportunity to see various problems from other people’s point of view and forces you to learn how to handle conflict situations.
The second thing would probably be the opportunity to study abroad. The international Business programme includes an opportunity to study one semester abroad in one of the partner universities all over the world. I really want to spend my semester in South-America. For example, I could go to Brazil, Uruguay, or some other beautiful place.
Lastly, I really like the fact that the university offers free language studies for its students. For example, I am learning Dutch right now and I am not paying anything for it!
If you could improve anything about the university, what would it be?
I have friends studying in the United Kingdom and I have heard that they can watch all the lectures from home since lectures are being recorded. I think this is very student-friendly and my university should consider that as well. However, no one would probably go to lectures then.
The second thing is the high price I had to pay for the study books. Although I bought some of the books second-hand, I still paid 250 EUR in total. However, I know that many students also copy the books in copy-shops which will save them a lot of money.
What are three things you like the most about the city?
First, I love the atmosphere here! The small city is filled with students and everyone is so friendly here. I have made so many Dutch as well as international friends.
I also like the fact that everyone is biking. It is so cool! You can get to almost everywhere by bike and it will never take longer than 20 minutes which makes the city very convenient since everything is so close.
It is almost impossible not to like the fact that the city is filled with parks. I spend so much time in Noorderplatsoen, which is one of the biggest and, in my opinion, nicest parks in Groningen. For example, during the summer, it is so nice to sit by the pond with my friends and just talk and sunbathe or, during the colder days, just walk and enjoy the nature. There are also some free music festivals there during the summer time!
Name one thing you would have liked to be different about the city? Why?
When I moved here, I had to make myself a BSN-number. The number was required when I wanted to open a Dutch bank account and also when I wanted to find myself a part-job or apply for student finance. The wait to receive the number was so long, I had to go to the Municipality of Groningen in order to apply, and after weeks of waiting, it came as a letter. I wish that this could be done through the internet as the procedure itself was rather easy and seemed quick as well.
How would you rate your experience on a scale from zero to ten (0 – It is/was a total disaster, 10 – I have/had the time of my life)? Why?
10 out of 10! As I said before, I have made so many international friends and, what is the most important, we are all in the same situation and can give as well as get so much help and support from each other. I really do not regret coming to study here instead of staying to Slovakia. Here, I am in a completely different environment which gives me so much extra experience which I would have missed out at home. By saying that, I definitely recommend coming to study in Groningen for everyone!
Is there anything that you would do differently if you could do it over again?
Yes, I would not stress myself out so much in the beginning of the study. I tried to be a good student by making summaries of every chapter and learn every single thing on a book page. However, I realised pretty soon that this is pointless, time-consuming and does not let me enjoy the so called student life. When I finally found the balance, I had more fun, I was less stressed but still managed to have good grades as well.
What are your future plans after graduating?
Hmm..it is hard to say because I am definitely not sure yet what is that I really like. However, it would be cool to come up with some fun idea and create my own company or, since I love to travel and learn new languages, I could maybe found my own language school. If after three years I still do not know though, I would probably just do some voluntary work such as teaching languages in some interesting country.
Share your favourite spot, at the university and in the city with us!
My favorite place in the university is the canteen and its terrace during warm and sunny days. A lot of students are gathering there and, although it can get pretty crowded during the lunch time, it is still a great place to socialize and enjoy some free time with my friends in between the classes.
As I already said, the best place in the city is Noorderplatsoen! The park is huge but so peaceful and an awesome place to relax after a stressful exam period.
Were you inspired by Romi's story?