I have always been quite determined about how my future would be; I would graduate high school, go to law school and then become a great lawyer. However, this path didn’t come out as easy as I thought it would be.
After high school I started my first year at the University of Groningen, doing a regular law study. I remember the first lecture we ever had on Monday morning 9 am, with over 600 students in the cinema. Yes, the cinema, because we were with so many people. The lectures were quite interesting. However I had a lot of subjects (like administrative law, history of law etc.) that didn’t meet my interests. My motivation to go to these lectures became less and less, since nobody would notice I wasn’t there, because of the large number of students. Every week you could notice that there were less people than the week before, and the only people that you actually knew there were the people you had met in a working group (a group to make your homework and where you could discuss it). It was a lot of reading and listening. After the first semester I decided to drop out. I had no clue what I would do next, since I always thought I would do a law study and I had not considered any second options yet.
I started working in a call center, and believe me, after you have worked there -full-time- for half a year you have all the motivation in the world to start a new study again. I began looking at different studies all over the Netherlands. I saw a couple of interesting studies, but nothing that really caught my attention enough to apply for it. Eventually, I found out about the concept of a University College. This seemed very interesting to me, since here I could just follow the courses which I actually wanted to follow. In this way I did not have to follow any courses that did not meet my interests or courses that would not be important for my future career.
There were more aspects of a UC that seemed great to me; I did not have to be in the cinema with 600 others where I would be just a number and nobody would know me, since a UC has small classes where you can actually ask questions and where the lecturers actually know me. Moreover, at a UC I can develop more skills than at a regular study, since at a UC you get workshops on, for instance, presentation skills, complicated decision-making, debating, compromising etc. This is something that will be very helpful in my future career.
I was quite determined to go to a University College after I found out about it. However, I now had a new choice. Did I wanted to go to Utrecht and have a new, fresh start over there, or did I wanted to stay in Groningen where everything was already quite familiar? I decided to take a look at how the UCs were constructed. I eventually chose to stay in Groningen, because of several reasons.
First of all, the city Groningen itself. Groningen is a student-city and that’s what I love about this city. All the students in Groningen come here to study, but moreover to have a great time while studying. The atmosphere in the city is great and everything is very student-based. We actually are the second youngest city in the world, because we have so many students (we also have the largest share of students in a city in the Netherlands). Moreover, it is a big city (relatively seen in the Netherlands), but it has the atmosphere of a smaller town, and to be honest; I already knew my way in Groningen and this was very convenient to me.
Don’t get me wrong, yes I was kind of biased since I am familiar with the city Groningen, but I also wanted to give Utrecht a fair chance, since I thought it would be nice for the fresh start that I wanted to make. I went to Utrecht multiple times, and I like the city, but it just doesn’t have the atmosphere that Groningen has. This was already one important reason to stay in Groningen.
Besides this, the quality of both UCs is very high. So, I just looked at how the program is set up. I liked the fact that in Groningen you can choose every elective you like, and combine this with a minor in a field you like. In this way you can combine the topics you think are important and interesting. My major in Groningen will for instance be ‘Philosophy, Politics & International Law’, which is Social Sciences, and I wanted to combine this with ‘International Relations’, which is Humanities. In this way I can specialize already, and I do not have to follow courses that are not relevant for my career path. This was kind of my struggle with UCU (University College Utrecht), since there you have to follow courses from all the three different disciplines in the first year (this means courses from Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences). This was not really the kind of specializing that I wanted to do, since this would be a little bit too broad for me.
Another reason why I chose UCG over other UCs in the Netherlands is that the “bubble-feeling” is not really applicable here. Since there are so many (international) students, student organizations, student associations etc. in Groningen, there are a lot of opportunities for students to meet students outside of UCG. This means that the bubble-idea (the idea that people only know -and socially interact- with each other within a UC) does not apply. Of course, you spend a lot of time with the people from your UC, but by performing sports and going to the student-facilities in Groningen, you can make more friends and have more social interaction.
All this together resulted for me to stay in Groningen and to start my new study at University College Groningen. I never regretted my decision and I’m almost ready to finish my first year at UCG (with grades that are higher than I ever had in high school or at the regular study of law). I’m very motivated and I am having the time of my life here in Groningen. No ragrets!
Rosemarijn (First year student at UCG)