Are you dying to know how first-year students experienced the previous study year (2017-2018) at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences? Keep calm, Nynke and Thijs got you covered in this article!

First Year Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning

By Nynke de Haan

The past academic year was my first year at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. It was nice, busy at times, and especially a lot of fun! Last summer (‘17), I made a late (but great) decision to study Human Geography and Urban and Spatial Planning (HGP) at the University of Groningen. The year before (’16, I started studying Dutch Language and Culture. When I graduated from secondary school I was in doubt about whether to study Dutch or Geography. I, back then, chose to study Dutch because I like reading and writing stories and I wanted to learn more about literature. Yet, after a year of studying Dutch Language and Culture, I felt like there was móre going in the world than the Dutch language. I, therefore, started thinking about the other thing I wanted to study in secondary school, which was HGP. So during the summer
holidays, I emailed the study advisors Nienke Harteveld and Saskia Enuma. I had to do an extra assignment and then I was accepted! I felt really nervous about starting a second bachelor, but in the end, it was and still is, a great experience.

The introduction week is a really nice opportunity to get to know a lot of people. First of all, you meet the people in your learning community and, second, in course meetings you meet a lot of people from other learning communities as well. The faculty of spatial sciences is a small faculty, so I quickly felt home and made friends.

Another good way to make friends is going to the introduction weekend on Ameland. I was not able to go there because I had to work, but it is also a nice opportunity to meet a lot of people. Studying is not all about friends, but they do make studying much
better!

In this study, there are a lot more group projects than I expected. It is fun to work on a project together with students, but it can be challenging as well. I think it is very educational to work in group projects and I’ve learned a lot about it the past year. Most often, you do the group projects with students from your Learning Community (LC). It is nice to do this because you get to know them better.

The Learning Communities are not all about studying. With my learning community, we had to do three learning community activities, which could be anything as long as they were study related. They could be activities that Ibn Battuta organized (such as lectures or excursions), but they could also be activities that we came up with ourselves. My learning community and I went to the Lecturer of the Year Lecture, had a tour at the new Groninger Forum and we went to a movie. You can actually get subsidized by the faculty to do these activities if they cost you any money, so that makes them even more fun, haha!

The Lecturer of the Year award is a yearly award for the best lecturer of the year. Last year (16-17), this was Viktor Venhorst and we all went to his lecture. I absolutely recommend you to visit a lecture with your LC because they are interesting and enjoyable. I am in the Lecture Committee (Le’cie) this year, so I hope to see you there!

We also visited the construction site of the Groninger Forum. The New Groninger Forum is currently under construction and will in the future be housing a library, a cinema, a bicycle park and a lot of other things. The new Groninger Forum can be found at the Grote Markt and its completion is planned in 2019. One of the students of the Faculty works at the VVV office and he gave us interesting insights into the construction of the new Groninger Forum. The VVV office can also be found at the Grote Markt.

The movie we went to was about life around the Arctic Circle and it was screened in DOT. DOT is a cinema located at the city beach and has a 360-degree screen. It was a really cool experience. I liked going to the movie with my learning community because the setting was informal. I had a great first year at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. I hope you will enjoy this study just as much as I do!

First Year Spatial Planning & Design

By Thijs van Soest

First of all, I would like to welcome you to the University of Groningen, and especially to the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. I hope you all enjoyed your summer holidays and I hope you are all totally rested and prepared because, from this point onwards, your dedication to this study is required. Of course, you will have plenty of time for relaxing, socializing and other activities alongside studying, but especially in the first weeks, I’d advise to mainly focus your time on your schoolwork. I found out the hard way, by failing one of the semester 1A courses.

Talking about the courses, more or less the first half year (periods 1A&1B) is the more theoretical part of the year, and the second half year (semesters 2A&2B) is the more practical part. However, all the courses have both theoretical and practical subjects. I personally prefer practical subjects over theoretical, so I liked it that is a relatively big part of this study is practically orientated. I found this course not too hard and when you put enough time in
studying, it won’t have to be very difficult, but still, around 35% of the first year student stopped throughout the year. What I found nice about this study, is that it’s such a small scale study. That makes it easier to get to know the other students from your study (and faculty), it’s simpler to get in contact with your lecturers when needed, and it makes the study more personal in my opinion. With that last statement am I meaning that you won’t get the feeling that the lectures are just ‘teaching the mass’, but that I experienced them as very informal and interactive.

A big part of studying is your student life. Maybe you are or just became a member of a student association or maybe not, but to everybody I would advise: if you are not yet a member of our study association (Ibn Battuta), become one as soon as possible. Not
only can you get a discount on your study books, but it’s also a very accessible way of getting to know new people in Groningen. My first real introduction with Ibn Battuta was the introduction weekend on Ameland. From then, I regularly participated in activities they organized and I went with them on trips, e.g. to Frankfurt and Blaimont. Furthermore, once or twice a month on Tuesday, they organize a social drink in ‘t Gat van Groningen, a bar in the Poelestraat. These social drinks are perfect for meeting new people or just for hanging out with friends.

Probably most of you already have a room somewhere in Groningen. I, however, decided at the beginning of the year that I didn’t find it worth the money. Looking back, that was a wrong decision. I lived in Zwolle, a one-hour train drive from Groningen. Although that doesn’t sound that far, a one-way travel from my house to Zernike is around 1 hour and 40 minutes. The
first semester the schedule was quite okay for traveling, however later in the year when lectures started earlier and the days were longer, traveling became a bother. Also, every time I wanted to go out with friends in Groningen, I had to sleep at their places. A few times is not a big problem, but after a while it becomes annoying and you’re starting to begin feeling guilty. Combined with the fact that the last train home leaves before 23:30, I missed quite some student life. I now have a room since half May, and it’s a clear improvement over traveling every day. I would advise everyone of you to find a room in Groningen if you don’t have one
now to live the optimal student life.

This was a short summary of my experiences as a first-year Spatial Planning and Design student at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. I hope I have informed you well, and I hope my experiences may help you the upcoming year. What rests is wishing you all good luck with this study, and don’t forget to also live your life!

 

Thijs and many other first-year students of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the introduction weekend in 2017 (source: Ibn Battuta).

These articles were first published in the First year edition (Year 49 of Girugten – issue 01 –  september 2018).