Hi everyone, my name is Juraj, the guy in the far right of the picture. J’s are pronounced the Dutch way and the “r” is also a bit weird, but you don’t need to worry about the pronunciation – I gave up on that after the first couple of months I spent here at RUG.
The name might sound a bit Russian to you, however I come from a little country just a bit east from Austria and north from Hungary – Slovakia. I have been studying in Groningen for three years now and even though I know just a tiny bit of what studying in the Netherlands is like, I am here to tell you my piece. Those three years passed in a blink of an eye, yet all of them were completely different.
My first year in Groningen was spent in an international student house studying Economics. As a typical 18 years old graduate from a math specialized gymnasium back in Slovakia, Economics seemed like an optimal choice. The University of Groningen was rated well and with some financial support from DUO it was possible to survive without taking money from my parents. Obviously, nothing was as expected and my time was not spent studying, but by hanging out in the student house kitchen and working the good old 32 hours/month for Stufi at an Indian restaurant, because foreigners stick together.
Surprisingly, I passed all of my exams while doing next to nothing. Maths was way too easy for my “Russian” background and the rest just didn’t catch me at all. So why not Econometrics? So, as it is a Dutch habit to change studies after one year I ended up doing the same thing. This is not really common back home. They either finish what they started or drop out to start working. I guess there is much more pressure for young people to work as soon as possible, because what is a 25 years old bachelor with no experience worth, apart from a balanced psychology and happy life? This sort of translates further to other things as well, but I guess you get what I mean.
At the same time, this working ethic might be the biggest cultural difference there is between Slovakia and the Netherlands. Just as in Slovakia, people here try to save money as much as possible, so taking food out of the breakfast buffet tables even for dinner is absolutely common. And even though Dutch people speak way more English, one is not going to really fit without speaking some Dutch either. So, despite it kind of is the same I still miss the mountains, home and the forest just next to it. I don’t know if I am doing all of this studying right, I am not really joining any student association, not counting being a guide during the introduction week for the exchange students. All of the student associations just kind of went past me, but lately I started to join VESTING Activities a bit more and I started to realize, that these things are great and I have been missing out quite a bit. So yea, being in Groningen is amazing, surviving on my own feels great and there is still so much more to come!