Skip navigation

To make your visit to our website even easier and more personal we use cookies (and comparable techniques). With this cookies we and third parties are able to collect information about you and your internet behaviour on our website (and possibly outside of our website). With this information we and third parties are able to adapt content to your interests and profile. In addition, cookies allow us to share information through social media. You can read more about our cookie policy.

We ask a former student in Groningen what she wished she knew before starting to study in this amazing city.

Moving to a new place to study comes with a steep learning curve. While there are many things you can figure out on your own in Groningen - after all it’s a safe and cool town - a head start by learning from someone who’s been in your shoes never hurts.

Claire Evers wrapped up her studies at the University College Groningen (UCG) in 2022. While she’s half-Dutch it was her first time living and studying in the Netherlands. She found Groningen to be an amazing and fun place to study in and highly recommends it. Claire told Make it in the North about the top things she wish she knew before studying in Groningen:

1. Health insurance

I didn’t know that you need to have health insurance if you plan on working or studying in the Netherlands. If you don’t get it, you’ll receive a penalty from the Government. Many of my friends also didn’t know it was required. There are different rules for different circumstances particularly if you’re only studying or if you’re also working. Read up on the rules here.

2. Networking

Networking is super important in Groningen. It can get you jobs, a room and a bike. When first arriving in the city, everyone is in the same boat. Network with as many people as possible. You can easily form social groups but if you feel like you don’t match with the people, I suggest you find another group. You can learn more about building and maintaining your network in the North here.

Learning Dutch is your key into Dutch society. It also helps if you show the locals that you’re really trying. Knowing Dutch will give you access to a whole other side of the city. If you’re a student at the UG, you’re entitled to free Dutch language courses.

- -

Written by Christoph Schwaiger

3. Evaluate job perks

Many student jobs are quite similar - you’re often either in hospitality or riding a delivery bike. The pay and the kind of work doesn’t vary too much from place to place so what you need to look out for are the specific perks that a place offers. Like do they give you food while you’re on duty? Also check out who’s working there and see if they are people that you’ll get along with. Another thing some people don’t realise is that the pay you get often depends on your age. A 19-year-old and a 22-year-old might be doing the exact same tasks but the latter could be paid more. Click here for more insight into student-friendly jobs in the North.

4. Good study-work balance

While we’re on the topic of jobs, it’s important to find a realistic split between studying and working. I know so many people who came here thinking: "Ok, I’m an adult now and I need to get a job while studying." But it’s incredibly unrealistic to work 20- or 30-hour weeks while also studying full-time. I’ve had friends who’ve cried in front of their study advisors telling them they can’t seem to get anything right. Then the study advisor tells them that it’s practically impossible to balance a full-time job with a full-time study programme. So focus on your mental health and get in a good mix of study, work, and social life.

5. You can get financial aid

I wish I knew this! You can get financial aid from the government. It varies if you’re Dutch, an EU student, or from outside of the EU. But there’s assistance for housing, insurance, travel, and study loans. Apply for the funding as soon as possible as it can take some time to come through.

6. Read housing contracts thoroughly

Make sure you Google Translate everything. If something sounds sketchy, it doesn’t hurt to contact one of the free legal services to get it checked out. I’ve been through it with sketchy landlords and trusted them thinking it might be normal for the Netherlands only to have it backfire later. You’re going to be dependent on this person who is literally owning the roof over your head. Do your due diligence. While many landlords and agencies are legitimate, that doesn’t stop some people from scamming unsuspecting victims. Inform yourself about the various scams that one can come across.

8. Score food discounts at the market

The market at the Vismarkt (on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday) is a good place to buy food. Sometimes towards the end of the day you can get good discounts on produce. 

9. Seek a study advisor sooner rather than later

If you are having trouble with your studies, see your academic advisor as soon as possible. Even if it's something small, don't let it snowball. These are professionals employed to help you. If you are suffering from mental health problems, homesickness or anything else that is preventing you from studying well: make an appointment. It's also helpful because counselors keep a paper trail of your struggles. A student advisor can also help you break up your study blocks a bit so you can better handle your workload. UG students can learn more about student advisors here and about study counseling here. Hanze students can learn more about support here.

10. Get a bike ASAP

A bike is very helpful to get around the city, so get one early on. If you don’t know how to ride a bike, get your Dutch friends to teach you and have a fun day at the Stadspark. It will be very needed. It is also helpful to know who’s at fault in the case of an accident and what to do. To learn more about cycling in Groningen, check out this article.