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Every single second of my day is better by being here

Manuela Torres

Manuela Torres, from Brazil, is about to start her PhD at the Facutly of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen. Manuela came to Groningen for the masters in socio-spatial planning, after graduating from an architecture and urbanism programme in Brazil. She arrived in September 2018, barely two years ago, but has already settled in well and is involved locally - she organises the FietsFriend workshops at City Central.

“I followed a RUG summer school back in Brazil during my bachelor and that was what first attracted me to Groningen, plus the fact that there is an own faculty here for spatial sciences. I moved straight into a house with other international students, which I found through a Facebook group. The chances were small but the stars aligned for me - I know that it is harder for other students.

From the start I was so impressed by the university and the city, I felt mesmerised. The housemates in my house were so welcoming, which was wonderful. In Brazil we live with our parents basically until we marry, so it’s not common to leave home during your studies.

Uitzicht Martinitoren From the start I was so impressed by the university and the city, I felt mesmerised.

Everything is so much more human-sized here: doing everything on your bike, the cozy biking lanes where you actually see the person biking next to you, the buildings which are not so tall, and simple things like that you can see inside the houses from the street. There are so many cafes and nice places to study. Everything feels simpler and easier than back in Brazil, and even Amsterdam. It’s the ideal environment for student life - serious student life - not just partying and socialising. That’s what helped me to decide to do a research masters and to pursue an academic career here, rather than Amsterdam. Every single second of my day is better by being here: the biking, the trains, the scale of the city, just the whole environment.“

“How about the rain? I don’t mind it, I actually like the unpredictable nature of the weather. You just have to put your rain clothes on. The hardest thing for me has been being far from home. Living in Groningen is completely different reality from the first 25 years of my life - I come from the mountainous south-east region of Brazil. I am still learning how to cope with that - it has been hard to be so far away from friends who were in my daily life before I came here. I am fortunate to go back now and then, but it’s never enough time. There will always be moments that I miss being there - I used to have lunch at my grandmother’s house every Sunday, with all my cousins, and I miss that. It’s another universe.

But last Sunday, we had some friends over to the garden of our new house - and it was great: so many different nationalities together, enjoying food and music together. I could speak Portuguese with the new Italian boyfriend of my housemate - these moments are magic too.”

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