Buffeting at the information market

The Welcoming Ceremony for new international students in the Martinikerk last Tuesday was the busiest ever. Never before have the University had to turn people away.

The University of Groningen welcomed an estimated 1,500 new international students to the city’s Martinikerk. ‘We have never seen this number before. The whole church was full’, said Jessica Winters, from the University. Luckily, though, the Information Market afterwards was accessible to everyone.


Most of the students had only been in the city for a couple of days and some were witnessing their first Groningen daylight. ‘I slept a lot yesterday’, said Gergely Bártfai (20) while rubbing his eyes. ‘I’m going to study Geography. I have come from Hungary to see this and been in a bus for a long time.’

However, he had already found time to do some sightseeing. ‘I took the number five bus and travelled through the city. It looks really nice.’

Sara Butkovic (25), from Croatia, has been in Groningen longer. She is here to do an International Law Master’s Human Rights specialization. ‘It’s really hard to find a job with a Master’s degree in Italy, where I studied, so I decided to do my Master’s here.’ Of course, an added attraction is her Dutch boyfriend, who’s also studying in Groningen. ‘Quite convenient, I must say’, she smiles.

She has already started a Dutch course at the Language Centre. ‘I can say “Heineken” and “broccoli’’ in Dutch, and I can also ask you how you are.’


Then there’s the traffic, which baffles many new international students. Ling Liu (22), from China, who is studying Nanoscience, knows all about it. ‘Many kind people on bikes’, is how she describes Groningen. She decided to blend in.

‘I’m living in the Housing Office, which is quite a distance from Zernike, where I have my classes, so I bought a bike’, she says. ‘The traffic is quite heavy, but you get used to it. Because I’m not very tall, I have a children’s bike, a pink one.’