City Lifestyle: Sporting in Bilbao

By Laila Lange (2021-23, Groningen and Bilbao)

City Lifestyle: Sporting in Bilbao

For many students, sports are an essential part of student life. Besides the positive effect on the overall health and wellbeing of the students, participation in sports activities has been researched to positively affect the academic performance of students, as well as broaden the social ties to fellow students. Whereas some studies concluded that there is a relationship between violence, alcohol consumption and sports participation, the overall importance of university sports should not be underestimated.

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City Lifestyle: Uppsala’s Amazing Libraries

By Carolina Reyes Chávez

I’ve never been that good when it comes to focusing on studying at home – maybe because I have everything at hand to procrastinate epically. Given that, some time ago I realized that it really helps for me to go to a place where there are more people working. Libraries happen to be the best for that -and also they have a pretty nice vibe! So, when I found that Uppsala has more than 10 libraries, I decided to go out and collect them all. Although I’ve not achieved that goal yet,  I hereby present some of my absolute favorite ones, as well as useful tips on where to heat up your lunch box or have cheap coffee for a really nice study time!

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City Lifestyle: Local Groceries in Local Groningen

By Loura Kruger-Zwart

The Netherlands has four major supermarket chains that can be found all over any city: Albert Heijn and Jumbo are the two largest, followed by Aldi and Lidl as slightly more affordable chain counterparts. Here and there you might also find a Coop or a Spar as alternatives, and while chain supermarkets tend to be close by and convenient, you pay for that convenience in both price and plastic. 

According to Business Insider Nederland, all six of the aforementioned supermarkets have average or high prices for basic goods – average prices can still be high on a student budget, and this does not take into account higher costs for non-basic and international products which can be both hard to find on chain supermarket shelves and expensive once you come across them.

Plastic packaging in major chain supermarkets is another issue: a stroll in some of these stores will show individually packed paprikas and cling-wrapped cucumbers, beside rows and rows of prechopped, plastic-encased fruits and vegetables. In 2019, supermarket chains in the Netherlands and elsewhere agreed to reduce their use of packaging materials – and there have been some improvements, like some stores opting for paper bags in bakery and fresh produce sections. However, watchdogs say that the fine print of the Sustainable Packaging Sector Plan 2019-2022 targets only the chain supermarkets’ home brands and focuses recyclability of plastic use rather than reduction. 

So, what can you do? There are indeed options for getting groceries and avoiding the chains, and wonderful Groningen is bursting with alternatives. Here you’ll find some suggestions and information on fresh markets in the city, as well as some lesser-known yet excellent (and affordable!) grocers that specialise in international products and ingredients. 

To the Market!

Markt

What: produce market
When: Tuesday, Friday & Saturday
Where: Vismarkt

Three times a week, the Vismarkt of Groningen becomes home to a bustling market of fresh groceries. Here you’ll find fruit and vegetables (minimal plastic in sight), bakery stalls that understand the needs and budgets of the city’s students, and even a stand dedicated to herbs, spices, and loose-leaf tea. Among the amazing variety, you’ll also come across flowers, cheese, eggs, and fresh snacks like stroopwafels and Belgian fries. Buying in bulk is always penny-smart, but avoiding waste is also important – consider buying fresh produce together with friends for the best deal! And don’t forget to bring your own bags! 

This link has more information about this and other markets in Groningen, so be sure to plan your week around visiting these great options.

Insider tip: while many of the stalls are the same every market day of the week, the bakeries change each time. Tuesday is great for cheap buns, snacks, and sweets, while Friday and Saturday’s bakeries trade in deluxe loaves and cakes that’ll last you all week.

Home & Abroad

If you’re on the hunt for international products and ingredients, for something you’re missing from home, or you just want to try something new from non-chain supermarket, here are five fantastic stores to support in Groningen:

Basarz
  1. Basarz 

What: Italian products and ingredients
When: 7 days 
Where: Vismarkt 34

Basarz is where you can fill all your Italian delicatessen needs, from pasta and pesto to Parma ham, olives to oils to tiramisu, and everything in between. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and always happy to help. You can also order hot meals (dinner) on a weekly basis, or pop in for a quick lunch to take away or eat on their lovely little Vismarkt terrace. Bonus: keep an eye out for the Basarz stall at the market too, for all your antipasti needs! 

  1. Le Souk

What: North African, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean (+ more) products and ingredients
When: 7 days
Where: Folkingestraat 21

Left: Le Souk interior; right: Le Souk from outside

Le Souk is a gem of Groningen, with a magnificent range of fresh produce, herbs, breads, olives, sweets, and salads. Be sure to pop into their store for all sorts of international spices, flavour-makers, dates, and grains: their small extension at the market three times a week is but a taste of the range of products they carry! Bonus: Le Souk sells cous-cous, lentils, beans, pasta, and other grains by weight – this means when appropriately measured, you can bring your own containers and avoid packaging entirely for these (and more) products

Toko Hendrik

3. Toko Hendrik

What: Indonesian, Surinamese, Latin American, Caribbean (+ more) products and ingredients
When: 6 days (closed Sunday)
Where: Korreweg 26

Toko Hendrik is a classic and welcoming toko (from Indonesia, Malay word for ‘shop’) with products from across the globe: think Indian drinks, Central American canned goods, Surinamese ice pops, Dominican seasonings, North American cereals, Mexican snacks – this local store’s range is ever changing and always delightful. You can also find some fresh produce here, even aloe vera if you’re lucky! Bonus: Sita’s Roti & Broodjes, a homely take-away lunchspot, can be found inside Toko Hendrik serving Surinamese comfort food in the form of delicious sandwiches and generous roti meals.

4. Nazar

What: Middle Eastern, Arabic, Turkish (+ more) products and ingredients
When: 7 days
Where: Boterdiep 49

Nazar

Nazar is a supermarket but far from a chain: this local store stocks over 6,000 international products and plenty of fresh produce (with minimal plastic!). Once you know your way around, it’ll fast become a staple of your grocery shopping schedule for its diverse range of kitchen necessities like tea, coffee, herbs and spices, drinks and whatever of the many other new or traditional items that catch your eye. The prices are great and the staff is always helpful and friendly! Bonus: Nazar operates as a halal supermarket in Groningen.

Amazing Oriental

5. Amazing Oriental

What: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese (+ more) products and ingredients
When: 7 days
Where: Korreweg 51

Amazing Oriental could be considered a chain supermarket since growing to have 24 stores across the Netherlands, but as the only one north of Amsterdam, I consider Groningen’s branch to be a non-major supermarket in the city – and definitely worth checking out! In this large store they have just about everything: fresh Asian fruits and vegetables are stocked regularly, alongside fresh and dried noodles, as well as frozen delicacies to make and enjoy at home. Also very popular is the plentiful range of vegetarian and vegan products, as well as all the ingredients you’d need to cook an authentic and delicious meal. Not to mention, Amazing Oriental is very student-budget friendly! Bonus: if you’ve made the mistake of grocery shopping while hungry (or just can’t wait to try some of the amazing ingredients you’ve come across instore) Amazing Oriental Groningen has a food corner where you can take a fresh full meal home for less than ten euros, or grab a bubble tea to go!

Honourable Mentions:

Leuk & Lekker (Grote Kromme Elleboog 8): a self-proclaimed culinary giftshop, here you’ll find a huge variety of oils, vinegars, rice and pastas, salts, chutneys and much more, from Europe and beyond.

Ariola (Folkingestraat 54): everything homemade and authentically Italian! Ariola is a must for a pasta lunch or dinner, or to pick up classic Italian ingredients for doing it yourself. 

Polski Smak (Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 84): the only Polish store in Groningen, Polski Smak is well equipped to supply all kinds of Polish goods: breads, sweets, beer and much more. 


Picture credits: Loura Kruger-Zwart

City Lifestyle: Student Nations

By Leonie Glaser

Besides having a high-ranking university, beautiful old buildings, and being surrounded by nature, Uppsala has a vibrant student life, unlike any other Euroculture City. The reason? Student Nations! This article will tell you everything you need to know about these Swedish traditional clubs – from the stairs in front of Värmlands to the fancy Gasques – a membership at a nation will define your Uppsala student life!

So, what are these nations? Student Nations are old student associations with their own bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, which are entirely run by students. They organise activities and have clubs ranging from choirs to sports, and from theatre to orchestra. The nations in Uppsala date back to 1630 and the names of the nations (for example, Stockholms Nation, Göteborgs Nation, and Värmlands Nation) give away their origin. The clubs were for students from certain areas of Sweden to meet people from their own region and feel a bit like home again. Nowadays, coming from a certain district is not necessary for membership anymore and even international students can join whichever nation they like!

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City Guide – Uppsala

In this addition of the Euroculture City Guides, Bryan Bayne (American/Brazilian), who spent his first semester at Palacky University Olomouc, will give you an insight into life in the Swedish city of Uppsala, where he attended Uppsala Universitet during his second semester.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city?

Bryan Bayne (BB):I love Sweden and wanted to spend a full semester there. I chose Uppsala due to its proximity to Stockholm and its reputable university.

EM: What are the aspects you appreciate the most about the city and which ones are those that you like less?

BB: Uppsala has its charms. Its quaint center is charming and its river Fyris is quite romantic. The city is unique in that it feels like a small town, but has a strong international vibe—you can find anything and anyone here. Its inhabitants are very diverse and this is the city’s greatest strength. 

What I disliked most about Uppsala was the suburban feel of the city. Apart from the charming-but-small center, most of the city is comprised of generic suburban landscapes.

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City Guide – Olomouc

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Hui-Yu (Joyce) Weng (Taiwanese), who recently finished her second semester at the University of Göttingen, will tell you all about her experiences while living in Olomouc, Czech Republic, where she attended Palacký University during her first semester.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city?

Hui-Yu Weng (HW): Olomouc seemed like a perfect choice for me. The cost of living is low, and although it is a small student city, it has everything one needs and is particularly rich in history and culture. In 2019, The New York Times described Olomouc as a great alternative to Prague because of its similar abundance of historical sites, vibrant student life, and yet, relatively few tourists! As someone on a budget but still wanting to make the most of studying abroad, I knew I would certainly enjoy living and studying in Olomouc. 

EM: What are the aspects you appreciate the most about the city and which ones are those that you like less?

HW: I like the ubiquity of Gothic and Baroque architecture in the city of Olomouc. As an ecclesiastical metropolis and former capital city of Moravia (one of the three historical Czech lands), a chapel, church, or cathedral can be found almost everywhere in the city. Besides numerous historical sites, Olomouc also offers artistic vibes with its wide variety of street art. From large murals overlooking pedestrians to small graffiti drawings filling up a mini-tunnel called Lomená Gallery, the city’s creative arts never fail to bring a smile to my face. It is also important to mention that Olomouc is very well connected to other major cities. It only takes about 1 hour by bus to Brno, 2 hours by train to Prague, 3.5 hours by train to Vienna or Bratislava, and 4.5 hours by train to Kraków.

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City Guide – Indianapolis

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Hannah Vos (American), who recently finished her second semester at the university of Olomouc, will give you an insight into life in the American city of Indianapolis – state capital of Indiana – where she studied her undergraduate degree before Euroculture.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city?

Hannah Vos (HV): Although I did not study in Indianapolis (also called “Indy”) for the Euroculture Master’s programme, I spent two years working on my undergraduate degree there. I chose Indy because, although it is the capital of Indiana, it has a great blend of small-town vs city life.

EM: What are the aspects you appreciate the most about the city and which ones are those that you like less? 

HV: One of my favorite things was hanging out in Broad Ripple, a small village north of downtown, on nice fall days. There are plenty of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants down there which are great. Possibly my least favorite part is the lack of public transportation, but right at the beginning of the coronavirus a new bus line opened, and I believe they are planning on building more in the future. So, although you have to be a little creative if you don’t have a car, all-in-all it’s a great place to be.

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City Guide – Groningen

In this edition of the Euroculturer City Guides, Luca Gentile (Luxembourgish) shares his experiences of Groningen, where he did both his BA and his first semester of the Euroculture MA at the University of Groningen. After this, he moved to Bilbao to study at the University of Deusto.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city? 

Luca Gentile (LG): Having initially completed my bachelor’s in Groningen I was already used to living in the Netherlands, but the choice of staying in ‘Grunn’ for another semester was made easy by the city itself. It is one of the biggest student cities in the Netherlands and you will most certainly feel welcome here. It is quite small and boasts an even smaller city centre but I assure you it has everything you need! From bars to clubs, the RUG library to Forum, music venues and theatre places, and parks such as Noorderplantsoen which gets filled with Dutch students as soon as a ray of sun comes out. Generally, Groningen has a lot to offer, and the student vibe is definitely worth experiencing. 

EM: What are the aspects you appreciate the most about the city and which ones are those that you like less?

LG: The fact that it is a small city is quite a great aspect, as everyone uses their bikes as their main means of transport. Therefore, you are most likely to be only a short bike ride away from your friend’s place. Biking in general is quite a Dutch thing, but in Groningen they take it to another level as the city quite literally belongs to cyclists. Another great aspect is ACLO, a huge student sports organisation that offers access to a variety of sports for a relatively low price! Bars, clubs, and nightlife in general are an obvious positive aspect of the city.

On the other hand, if you are looking for sunny weather, this city might not offer that much of it over the year, but as soon as there is sun the city really bustles with life! Also, the city is quite isolated from the rest of the Netherlands so a trip to Amsterdam will still take 2h by train for example. 

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City Guide – Göttingen

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Maike Mewes (German), who recently finished her second semester at the university of Uppsala, will give you an insight into life in the German city of Göttingen, where she studied at the University of Göttingen during her first semester.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city?

Maike Mewes (MM): I already completed my Bachelor’s degree in Göttingen – more by chance – and got to know about the Euroculture Master’s programme. Göttingen is a very beautiful city with a high percentage of students (almost 25% of the inhabitants). Located in the middle of Germany, Göttingen also offers the possibility to visit many other interesting places – either with the regional trains which are for free as a student (at least in Lower Saxony and some neighboring cities) or with the ICE which connects you to Berlin, Munich, or Cologne within only a few hours.

EM: What are the aspects you appreciate the most about the city and which ones are those that you like less?

MM: In my opinion, Göttingen is the perfect city to study! It is quite small which helps a lot to find one’s way around after a short time and not to feel lost. One can easily walk or go everywhere by bike or use the bus for free, and there are several green areas like parks and the forest around the city. The Kiessee, a small lake, is the perfect place to go for a picnic during a nice sunny afternoon with some friends.  Göttingen is also a city with a large number of students and therefore offers many possibilities to meet friends in cafés and bars and to do cultural activities, which are included in the Kultursemesterticket, like going to the theatre or concerts of the symphony orchestra (depending on the theatre/concert either for free or almost for free!). Tip: have a look at the long list of activities one can attend with the student card!

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City Guide – Udine

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Christina Huemmer (German), who did her first semester at the University of Groningen, will give you an insight into life in the Italian city of Udine, where she studies at the University of Udine for her second semester.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city? (what inspired you about the city?)

Christina Huemmer (CH): I chose Udine not just for the excellent food and the weather, but mainly the people, the language, and the whole history of this place. Before starting Euroculture and selecting the second-semester university, I never really thought about moving to Udine one day, but when looking it up, I saw the unique location in the very heart of Europe. I was always interested in cross-border studies and communication, and there is no better place than here to explore it further. Udine is really a meeting point of different worlds and cultures (Austria, Slovenia, Croatia are nearby and easily reached by public transport) and you can also feel that in the city. 

The city has a historic centre with everything you need. Something that really inspires me is that even during these strange times, I still feel like I really have the chance to be part of this city and the culture. Udine gives you the opportunity to have a real “Italian/Friulian” experience and be part of a rich culture. It seems like the people really know each other, and this also gives it a specific charm. I also found the region very interesting. Living between the mountains and beaches and close to three different other countries — no other second-semester university can offer that!

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