6 easy ways to make the best of autumn as an international student in The Netherlands

Busy as you might be, remember that life is so much more than just studying!

The academic year has started means that students’ life can be occupied by so many deadlines which can drain you at some points. Don’t worry, you can always find ways to have a school-life balance!

  1. Take a short walk whenever possible

It may sound simple, but trust me, Dutch nature won’t disappoint you. There’s a close scientific link between strolling for a walk and health benefits. Too good to be true? Well, taking a short walk has been shown to ease nervousness and boost relaxation. What’s more? Strolling away from your study can also help to improve creativity. So get stuck? Just spend some time away from your laptop and step out for some freshness.

2. Treat yourself to good food!

Personally, this works for me every single time. Do you agree that maintaining a healthy (and tasty) diet is a fancy solution to a happy life? For me, whenever I feel stressed, or depressed, I always rely on delicious dishes to revive my energy. You can choose to either order food online or eat out in restaurants with your buddies. I know it can be costly to eat out sometimes, but trust me, you’re worth it. If life is not about food, what else? Or if you are like me and love to cook, then spending time exploring new recipes can also help. I love the feeling of spending hours in the kitchen cooking my favorite dishes, and feel even better knowing that cooking at home can save me lots of money too.

3. Keep a positive attitude and have something to look forward to!

I know that life sometimes can be hard on you, but keep in mind that the hardships are just temporary and they exist to help you stronger. Enjoy the process of your journey and believe that the obstacles will just train you to be wiser. I tend not to focus too much on the negativities that the bulky workload can cause, instead, I make plans for the winter break which is something that I can look forward to. Searching for where to go, what to do, and where to stay or how to make the winter vacation as much fun as possible is just a much more relaxing and exciting process than reading 40-page articles for my study.

Dutch-autumn-vibe-in-Groningen
Groningen city in autumn

4. Do some shopping! But do not exceed your budget!

The feeling that you can investigate in yourself and make yourself look nicer or embrace your styles and charactersitics through what you wear is one of the best feelings. And especially, in the autumn there are many good deals from fashion chains, which makes shopping a good “excuse” to spend money. Furthermore, from October onwards, Christmas decorations will have been displayed in quite a number of stores. Need a change for your mood? Then I bet cute and cozy Christmas ornaments or candles can also bring you warmth. However, as a student, you may not want to surpass your monthly limit! So make a good budget plan so that life will be easier.

5. Have a short vacation (if possible)

Taking a day or two from home sounds like a good idea too! You can choose to explore the autumn nature in The Netherlands (trust me the Dutch nature in autumn won’t disappoint you!). Or a day back to childhood to some theme parks in The Netherlands sounds fun too? List of where to go can be infinite so don’t worry if you cannot decide yet! Take your time, sit back and relax, feel free to take my recommendations on such places as Efteling, Wildlands Adventure Zoo, Moco museum or simply taking a walk in De Hoge Veluwe which is the biggest national park in The Netherlands (and many more)!

treat-yourself-good-sips-of tea-or-coffee
Treat yourself to good food and drinks

6. It is totally fine to be lazy!

Don’t feel like doing any of the above-mentioned activities? It is totally fine if you decide to spend a day in your own room. Reading your favorite book(s), Netflix and chill, cooking, cleaning and re-organizing your room can still be a source of happiness. Or strolling around and having a sip of hot chocolate in your favorite cafe while looking out the streets that are full of autumn leaves can be so tranquil too.

Overall, my tip is to do whatever makes you comfortable and happy. Each of us will have different ways to spend our time and whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it!

4 Reasons why Groningen is the best student city in The Netherlands

Do you ever wonder what makes Groningen a true student city?

Vibrant city of students … and more

As the name suggests, Groningen impresses me with lots of young folks like me. There’s a high chance that you bump into a student while hovering on the streets of Groningen because more than a quarter of the city’s population is students. What makes it even more perfect is the city itself embraces both the young vibe of a dynamic student city and the old vibe of charming old blocks and buildings. Furthermore, the city of Groningen is becoming more sustainable, not only in terms of its nature which is becoming greener but also study environment for students. Since 2021, smoking ban has become effective in all universities in Groningen. Shops and stores are joining hands too by using more sustainable materials such as paper containers and avoid using plastic cutlery.

Life is not all about study!

You agree with me? Well if you need to throw a party or just wanna chill after a busy week, Groningen has a lot to offer. Home to the “Drie gezusters” – renowned for being the biggest pub in Europe makes you feel excited enough? Drie gezusters is located in the heart of Grotemarkt in the city center makes spending the night at the pubs a dream come true.
drie-gezusters-groningen

Drie Gezusters – the biggest pub in Europe

Stay in budget in one of the CHEAPEST cities in The Netherlands

NL in general is notorious for being one of the most expensive countries in Europe in terms of education, especially if you’re a non-EU student (sadly!). However, what if you still want to come to NL for your study? Well, then put Groningen on your list right away! Living in Groningen is so much more affordable compared to cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, etc. With a budget of only 500, you can already find a shelter for yourself, and from 700  – 1000 euros, you may be able to find a studio that is fully furnished. What’s more? renting a spot from student housing agencies (Lefier, SSH, etc.) is also a good way to spend your uni life, with rooms ranging from 350-ish, sounds good right? Well but if you’re a future student in other bigger cities like Rotterdam, Amsterdam, etc., then finding somewhere affordable can probably give you headaches.

Rich in hidden gems

Kardinge - Groningen

Kardinge – Groningen

The Netherlands is not all about Amsterdam. Take the 2-hour NS train and here you are, in the most beautiful and magical city to the North of The Netherlands. Be ready to be amazed by Groningen attractions. On winter days, take some walks down the streets, across the A-Brug, you’ll find a bundle of cozy little stores and cafes that make you want to pay a visit. Or spend your summer days in some greener parts of Groningen. For example, when the summer officially comes, Stadpark and Nooderplantsoen will be active with festivals or people having picnics with happy music. Or make your nature escapes by bus/ bikes and you’ll find yourself in the beautiful Kardinge or lovely old villages nearby. Are you ready to have the best of your life in this lovely town? Come and find out more!!

Are you a happy international student in The Netherlands?

So what do I do living in this land of bicycles?

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving”

How it started

The Netherlands has never been my dream destination for education, Europe was still a completely new land to me as where an international student would stream to. But in the end, I found myself land in this country where I would love to call my second home.

I reluctantly packed my luggage and stepped on the one-way flight to Amsterdam in the midst of the Corona pandemic. My decision to still go knowing that the come-back day was still an open question gave me mixed feelings. I was worried, sad and frustrated, thinking about having no acquaintances in The Netherlands, my stay had not been set yet, the virus was still present taking away thousands of lives per day. Honestly, I did not know what to expect except for the fact that I came here for a better education and (hopefully) living environment. Apart from those motivations, I was completely lost. But still I decided not to return my tickets and be here.

Tulip-season-in-Netherlands
Riding a bicycle on a winter day in Groningen

Being a happy international student

Now that I am writing these lines, I am being wrapped up in warm blanket, in my recently renovated room while the wind is blowing hard outside. All in all, my life has been getting better each day, or at least I believe so although I must admit that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The struggles behind are still there, raw and real, always! But I believe they all help to build the person I am today, much stronger and always love more to receive more!

It cannot take just seconds to paint the whole picture about my life here in The Netherlands, obviously. Therefore, my next blogs will be more detailed about life experiences in The Netherlands as an international student. How staying, studying and traveling are like, and everything else that life has to deal with.

Particularly, I will dive into my life experiences in Groningen – the biggest city to the north of The Netherlands. I bet you have never heard of it, but trust me, Netherlands is not just about Amsterdam. You may be amazed at how magnetic this student-friendly city of Groningen can be. All I could give is that this is now my tweede huis (second home) , and will always be.

So I really appreciate your patience until these last lines of my very first blog about The Netherlands!

Stay tuned for my next blogs! And hope to see ya soon in Groningen – The Netherlands!