Student City Groningen a Curse or Blessing?

By Valerie Scholz


Each year a wave of new students floods into Groningen, which is currently already home to about 60,000 students. Groningen’s locals or “Stadjers” have to share their city and brace their nerves.

Groningen; Oosterstraat; 2 AM: the air is buzzing with sounds. Slurred shouts and ringing laughter echo off the facades, mixing with the sharp noise of cavalry horse hoofbeats on the pavement. A vomiting girl is crouching in the shadow of a narrow alleyway.

The sidewalk resembles a maze, carelessly parked or fallen-over bicycles creating dangerous tripping hazards for pedestrians. A state of madness? No, just an ordinary weekend night in the student city of Groningen.

Daniel Stok works at the fast-food kiosk ‘Big Snack Hoek‘ on the corner of Oosterstraat and remarks that students become a plague, “when they go out at night, drink a lot of alcohol and use drugs.” Stok witnesses police interventions and conflicts “almost every week.”

Not only their ceaseless party-spirit can make students a nuisance to Stadjers, their poor performance on the busy bike lanes drive residents mad. Stadjer Meeke Breemhaan is astonished that “especially the students from abroad just can’t ride a bike!”

Stadjer Ralph Lindeman worries “young people don’t care as much to keep the city clean.” Although the police charges penalties as high as €140 for littering, empty beer cans and wine bottles can be spotted in entryways of houses or next to overflowing trash cans.

Psychology student Raima Harding is aware of students’ impact on the city of Groningen. She understands the frequent discontent due to disturbances in the locals’ daily routines. Nevertheless, she remains confident that “students from different cultures are bringing liveliness and something new, exciting to the city.”

Lastly, most of Groningen’s Stadjers also see the potential for their city deriving from the many young minds. And in spite of regular indifferences, they stay positive. Big Snack Hoek‘ employee Daniel Stok sees an advantage, as “students are very good for the business.”

The Hotel Schimmelpenninck Front Office Manager* receives guest complaints concerning noise almost every day, but she remains serene: “people shouldn’t come here for a restful holiday,” she says, “we even inform about the noise on our website.”

Master student Raima lastly suggests that international students should “embrace Dutch culture and language,” as this can lead to better mutual understanding and respect between Stadjers and students.

* Chooses to remain anonymous

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