By Anne-Roos Renkema
The Euroculture universities are full of surprises, as was demonstrated in the last edition of the consortium universities, that govered the hidden gems Olomouc, Krakow and Udine. All of the universities in the consortium have their own beauty, and this time we are travelling a little further north: to Groningen, Göttingen and Uppsala. The more northern universities, especially one particular very northern one, have a very obvious con: the rain, the snow, the ever-present cold. Or, in the Swedish case, the darkness. But do not be fooled by this particular con of the north of Europe, because these cities and universities have their own charm.
There’s nothing beyond Groningen
The Groningen city slogan is the following: “Er gaat niets boven Groningen“, or: “there nothing above and beyond Groningen”. It is a pun, due to its northern, and some might say peripheral, location in The Netherlands. There’s literately very little above and beyond Groningen. However, due to the small size of the Netherlands, you are only an hour and a half away from the West of The Netherlands, with cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Not that you would need to go, though, because Groningen is a beautiful and cozy city, filled with students and activities. The university is omnipresent in the historical centre, where most of the Euroculture classes take place.
Due to the student population, the city never sleeps, and there is something for everyone: from political associations to cultural ones, from theatre to sports, and from academic to student associations. You are bound to feel at home in the Groningen coffee places, and you are sure to learn a lot in the Euroculture classes you are taking, with a very dedicated staff to support you. The Netherlands are a very good spot to travel to other destinations in Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, or France, if you find the time to make trips during the weekends. However, it is fine to stay in Groningen, too – take a trip to the Groninger Museum to immerse yourself in art, or clib the Martinitower to have a few over Groningen and Ommeland.
Uppsala – ska vi ta en fika?
Uppsala is real beauty. Dominated by the Domkyrka, the city is an ancient one, and it is considered to be the academic center of Sweden or even Scandinavia. The university is therefore an excellent one. The Euroculture classes typically take place at Engelska parken, next to the Domkyrka, and the Uppsala Castle. Indeed, winters are – very much – Swedish winters, meaning that you can definitely count on your fair share of cold and snow. It provides a cozy backdrop for studying or going out for fika, the Swedish tradition of having coffee and cake. Uppsala is a 40-minute train ride from the Swedish capital Stockholm, where there is a lot to explore. It is also a relatively short trip to Helsinki, Tallinn or Riga, if you wish to explore the Nordic-Baltic region more. There are also organized student trips to Northern Sweden to visit the Sami villages and to witness the Northern Lights.
There is a lot do in Uppsala itself, too. You can join any of the legendary nations of Uppsala and enjoy the student life of Uppsala in terms of parties and gasques. Class time in Uppsala is much less than in – for example – Groningen, so there is plenty of time for trips and fun stuff, as well as for self-study. Additionally, teachers are helpful and always approachable. The university also offers Swedish language classes free of charge, so if you ever wanted to learn Swedish – now is probably the best time to do it! Lycka till!
Grüsse aus Göttingen!
Picturesque Göttingen is another option for your Euroculture adventures. Located in the middle of Germany indeed, it is a city full of history and knowledge. Architecturally speaking, it conserves most of its historical buildings as it was not very much bombed on the Second World War – exception was the train station. Scientifically observing, it was in this city, for example, that professor of Astronomy and one of the most remarkable mathematician of all time Carl Friedrich Gauß set aspects from his research that rules today’s world: in 1833, together with Wilhelm Weber, he did the first electromagnetic telegraph transmission between Paulinerkirche and the observatory. Futurely, it could have been used to develop fax, text messages and the internet. Brilliant, isn’t it?
Not big, but not so small for German patterns (around 120.000 inhabitants), Göttingen is very much a student city, and student life thrives in many restaurants and bars that can be found there. Surrounded by nature, it is perfect for hiking as soon as spring kicks in, around Bismarckturm or Göttinger Kiessee. There is no doubt that there is a lot to do and to experience. Once located just some few kilometers from former East Germany border, Göttingen offers you the opportunity of easily traveling around the whole country. In an average, it takes only two hours to cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Dortmund, Bremen and Leipzig, besides only 40 minutes to one hour to Hannover. Students are actually very pleased about their experiences in learning and also with the teaching staff. You may expect German education to be strict or that it works only through the stereotyped hierarchy, but the classes are positive and motivating due to the high level of students’ involvement. After all, you are there with your classmates, so no reason to get bored right in the centre of Europe. It is definitely possible to enjoy it a lot through the coziness of German parties and fests!
In short, the more northern universities offer a lot of good stuff: from the gezelligheid in Groningen to fika in Uppsala to a good bier fest in Göttingen – you will be sure to make a home for yourself!
Many thanks to Fangija, Nora and Guilherme for sharing their experiences!
Featured picture: Groningen (Harald, Flickr).