Whew! Fresh from sitting an exam, I bring you my previously promised post on travelling during the Erasmus year. Let us commence…
I must admit (with no small measure of shame) that when I initially was told that I was going to be spending a year studying in Groningen, my first action upon putting down the phone was to…ahem…look it up on Wikipedia.
I know, I know, I’m ludicrously ill informed and a bit rubbish, please accept my apologies. Anyway, my Wikipedia knowledge satisfied me that the place looked nice enough, and an Eddie Izzard stand up routine had convinced me that the Dutch were cool, so that was that. I was to be spending the year in a (ever s0 slightly) far flung place and hopefully making some new friends along the way, which seemed like a good enough deal to me.
And if that’s what I wanted out of this experience, then I certainly got it, but I was also gifted with a whole lot more to boot. You see, a year on Erasmus isn’t just spending a year in a foreign country with an assortment of lovely people from all across the globe. No, it’s spending a year in a foreign country with an assortment of people from all across the globe who are also away from home and thus, are up for a bit of an adventure of the travelling variety.
As a result, during the year I have visited (with various different friends); Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Brussels, Mons, London and Copenhagen. To me, that seems like a lot of different new places to see, but some of my friends with a bit more disposable cash have been away every weekend without fail, seeing Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, France, Italy, Spain…In fact, I’m pretty sure that between them, if they’d put their mind to it, they could have mapped out Europe.
Although you might not be quite as ambitious as my aforementioned friends, I heartily encourage anyone that’s thinking of spending their Erasmus year in Groningen, or elsewhere in the Netherlands, to try and take at least a few weekends off to do a spot of travelling. The Netherlands is a good base to get pretty much anywhere from, with Easyjet flying to a host of different locations from Amsterdam, cheap Ryanair flights from just across the border in Bremen, and some decent enough bus & rail deals to the surrounding countries.
For me, my most memorable trips were probably Berlin and London, the former because I got to fall in love with with that captivating, glorious mess of a city, and the latter because I was able to introduce a city that I’ve always loved to friends who were quickly equally besotted.
My Erasmus experience is winding down now, with not much time at all remaining before I’m once more in Scotland, back waitressing in a pokey wee cafe in the middle of nowhere. But, at the very least, I’ll know that in the past year I’ve seen a fair bit more of what Europe has to offer.