I’ve been rather busy as of late, and as a result have more to tell than I think will fit into this Blog entry. But I shall endeavor to do the best that I can to give a potted summary of the last two weeks in Groningen!
Two weekends ago, you would have found me on a tiny island just north of the Netherlands mainland called Schiermonnikoog. Known as just ‘the island’ to me and my fellow international students, since none of us could pronounce it without a great deal of alcoholic assistance (and even then, it’s more than possible that we were just drunk enough to mistakenly believe that we’d got it right), it is a lovely place, made up almost entirely of long, white beaches and farmland perfect for cycling through.
Our days were spent in relative leisure, enjoying the scenery and drinking many a cup of coffee in little open-air cafes by the sea (luckily the usual coffeeshop/café confusion was avoided for the simple reason that there aren’t enough people living on Schiermonnikoog for the island to have a booming drugs trade). On our first night there we sampled the charms of Schiermonnikoog’s only pub/club ‘Tox Bar’, which proved to be a charming enough place, if not a bit bizarre in that you had to first line up and get tokens which could then be exchanged for beer at the bar. It was the next night that will always be my favourite memory of Schiermonnikoog however, a night spent at the beach, sharing bottles of wine and having good banter with friends until the early morning hours. Not much to beat it, in my mind.
And then it was back to civilisation. Or, well, Groningen, which is hardly a sprawling metropolis, but will just about do. Due to the fact that I ever so helpfully had my bike stolen immediately prior to my weekend away, I had to trudge to classes for the week, usually only just making it there on time as I was still running on ‘bike mode’ – the assumption that, wherever you need to go, you can get there by bike in less than five minutes. Luckily I now have a bike again, and what’s more, one that looks as if it’s just been dredged up from the canal (which it quite possibly might have been). Despite it’s looks however, it’s more than ship-shape, and I’m actually pretty happy that it doesn’t look like a particularly attractive prospect for potential bike thieves.
This weekend demonstrated one of the other fantastic things about being an exchange student living in an international student house. With such a mix of different cultures, there’s nearly always something to celebrate! On Friday it was Oktoberfest, and our common room was fully decked out in Bavarian colours and boasting an impressive supply of beer. Which, as is usually the case, disappeared within hours. Another night of fun, good company, and mild insanity ensued, as seems to be the norm when an exchange student in Groningen. I’m very glad indeed that I came!