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“I’ve recently noticed that when I mention ‘home’, I refer to Groningen.”

Zaneta Mlcakova, 23, is originally from the Czech Republic. She has been living in Groningen for three years now. For a long time, living in Groningen had been one of her goals. Her best friend was already studying in the city and Zaneta came to visit her every single holiday. That way, she got to experience some parts of the student life here, even before she became a student herself. “There was something special about Groningen. That’s why it was always my one and only choice: I either stay in Czech or I go to Groningen.”

Groningen is different from every other city that Zaneta already knew. It is not very common in the Czech Republic to have student cities with student associations and international scholars. “I also like the parties here. People party till early in the morning and you can go out every day of the week”, she says while smiling.

After three years of living here, she can really say that she feels at home in Groningen. “I’ve recently noticed that when I mention home, I refer to Groningen.” A feeling which partly originates from the fact that this was the place where she became self-sufficient. “Here I had to rely on myself for the first time. I moved to a different country, with no family to help me. That really defined my personal growth. I was a child when I came here, but I was able to build a new life for myself and to become independent.”

Zaneta can often be found in one of the many cafes and restaurants that Groningen has to offer. She used to work at Blue Bananas, the place in Groningen for the best American pancakes. “Blue Bananas is the first place I go after a holiday, just to say hi.” Besides that, she also likes to hang out or study at Coffee Company and Room. “I love that there are always new places to discover in Groningen.”

There are a couple of things that Zaneta qualifies as typically Dutch. “Definitely the amount of beer that people drink here, it is different from what I’ve experienced in other countries” she says with a smile on her face. She also mentions fried food, a staple in the Groningen nightlife. During the night, you will find big groups of people surrounding ‘de Hoek’; a snackbar with rows and rows of shiny metal boxes with small see-through flaps, filled with fried snacks. Tap your card on the machine, open one of the flaps and grab your snack to go. It’s simple and fast: perfect for a night out.

As a tip for new students in Groningen, Zaneta underlines that it’s important to meet as many new people as possible. “I’m a social person. The first year I came here, I wanted to be as active as possible. It was during Covid, so it was quite challenging.” By joining different associations and getting a job in the city, she got to know a lot of people. “Everyone is in the same boat as you are, so just connect with them. Join associations like your study association, Dizkartez or ESN and visit open days. And go to KEI-week! Not a lot of international students know about the KEI-week, but it’s a great opportunity to meet new friends and to get to know the city.”

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