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“How did I, a short Asian girl speaking English, know what siepels are?”

Daindra

Daindra Wisaksono came to Groningen from Indonesia as part of a double degree bachelor programme with the University of Groningen. She studied at the Faculty of Economics and Business, and has recently completed her masters in Strategic Innovation Management at the same faculty.

1 martinitoren deon prins In fact, I fell in love with the city. It felt welcoming, it doesn’t force you to be someone else.

“I come from Jakarta. It’s a big city. My first impression of Groningen was mixed – it’s very charming and historical, but for me coming from a big city, it was strange: there were hardly any shops, and they close so early! Everything in Jakarta is open until 11pm. So at first I thought it was a bit boring, and that I would move away after my studies. But there is more to Groningen than meets the eye. Once you get to know the city, then you find out about what’s happening - after the shops are closed. I went to a lot of events organised by ESN, that was great. Shows, talks, dinners, pub quiz nights - that’s how people socialise here. Once I discovered that, it wasn’t boring anymore.

In fact, I fell in love with the city. It felt welcoming, it doesn’t force you to be someone else. In a big city you have to prove yourself, but Groningen is a very accepting city. It’s laid back. Everything is reachable by bike - I never realised how much I would enjoy that until I got here.

If you don't have a family, you don't cook in Jakarta. A take-out meal is just as cheap as buying cooking ingredients. That was something I had to get used to. But there are a lot of new restaurants opening here and I love exploring them all. (See Daindra’s tips below).

In terms of integration, finding friends, Groningen has been the easiest place to be. There’s an intimacy here, it’s tightly knit, because of the scale, and lots of communities – also online. I met one of my best friends through a student society here for the Model United Nations.

Pexels pixabay 533342 “How did I, a short Asian girl speaking English, know what siepels are?”

The toughest thing I have encountered here: you need to speak Dutch in order to get a good job. I speak a bit of Dutch - I am currently learning at the C1 level. And my boyfriend is Dutch, in fact he’s a Groninger, so he’s been teaching me some dialect. He recently asked me to pick up some ‘siepels’ at the Albert Heijn on my way home. I had no idea what that is, but he just told me to look out for the signs for them. Well I circled the shop three times and couldn’t find anything. So finally I asked someone, and they were so surprised they had to laugh – how did I, a short Asian girl speaking English, know what siepels are? Turns out it’s the local Groningen word for onions. So in some ways I’m already a local.

This article was written by City Central. Would you like to tell us about your Groningen? Send a mail to hallo@citycentral.nl.