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Erasmus Shenanigans "Not all those who wander are lost"

High-rolling in Groningen

NETHERLANDS | Monday, 6 March 2017 | Views [878] | Comments [1]

Groningen (4th –5th Jan) 

The decision to extend my trip beyond the original plan was made after realizing that, Rachel and I wouldn't be able to meet during the Christmas vacation, due to a confusion about the dates. One night early in December, we hurriedly ran through a list of possible cities we could meet in to solve this problem. We landed on Copenhagen. I extended my trip dates, while Gleicy stuck to the original plan to travel back to Brno on the 4th because she had some work left to do at university.  I was meeting Rachel, who would be travelling from the UK, on the 5thThis meant I had an extra night to fill and I decided to spend the night with Veena, who attends university in a city called Groningen (pronounced grow-nin-gen) in the north of the Netherlands. It was a couple of hours by train from Amsterdam Centraal and despite being seriously groggy from the previous night, I managed to board the correct trains and change at the right platforms. Veena and her boyfriend Sam met me at Groningen Centraal. I'd heard all about Sam over the past two years and I was excited to be the first one from our mutual high school friends to meet him-hehe. The fact that he was Welsh made me more curious because I spent 5 years of my childhood growing up in Wales. The Welsh are the friendliest people you will ever meet in the world (shoutout to my Merthyr peeps)! He turned out to perfectly fit that category.  

Veena and Sam told me about their life in Groningen and how they'd settled down well after 2 years, while we ate bagels in a restaurant they often frequented. On the way to Veena's apartment, I admired the small city and its peaceful streets. It had a population of just over 200,000 people, 25% of which were students. Norwich in the UK and Brno in the Czech Republic are also student cities. Most people cycled and Veena told me about the time her bicycle was stolen. It's one of the most common thefts in the Netherlands. I remembered the previous night with Hanneke; a man on a bicycle had surreptitiously asked if we needed one. Hanneke explained that they would steal them and then sell them illegally for only €10. Trump would probably call this being smart, just like not paying his taxes.  

Veena's apartment's was on a street opposite a beautiful church. I told her she was lucky to live in such a great location; it was 5 minutes by cycle to her university and a few minutes to the closest supermarket. I didn't bother unpacking anything, I just sprawled out on her bed in my grey Amsterdam University hoodie and remained sprawled out for the next few hours. I guess the exhaustion had finally caught up with me. However, I didn't fall asleep! Actually, Sam almost fell asleep and Veena kept shaking him awake. He complained he couldn't join in on the conversation because he didn't know who or what we were talking about. It was true, Veena and I were mainly gossiping about our high school in Chennai, where we had known each other since I was 14 and she was 13. It was the worst school in the world and we complimented each other for not only escaping it, but making a new life for ourselves in different countries at such a young age (she was also 17 when she entered university). The last time I saw her was in Chennai during the summer holidays in August. Unfortunately, we were both there at the same time for only a week, during which we saw each other thrice. We were used to spending time with each other for at least a month during previous holidays and so it was especially hard to pause the catching up and get out of bed. 

Finally at around 6 pm, we left the apartment and went to a restaurant with a really chill vibe. We ordered three portions of vegan cheese fondue with warm bread and salad. This was my first time tasting fondue and I gobbled it down as if it were a race. The huge bowl of yummy cheese was gone in minutes. Next was a bottle of wine, followed by sangria. Now I wasn't used to it; cheese fondue and expensive wine are not your typical student beverages. However, Sam was talented at matched betting and he'd recently made a sizeable profit. Veena and him paid the bill and I was so touched. Also, I now want to learn how to matched bet so I could enjoy weekly fondues too. The next stop was literally, the biggest bar I've ever been to. It was actually three interconnected buildings, with each building having a different theme. We sat in the middle building, which was a sports bar. Only a handful of the hundreds of wooden tables and chairs were occupied because it was only 8 pm on a weeknight. I tasted some local drinks and we talked some more. Almost as soon as we got back to the apartment, Veena and I went to bed. At this time, we're both 19 but that night it felt like we were 99.  

The next morning I woke up to see a note she had written- she'd gone to the supermarket to buy groceries for breakfast. By the time I got out of the shower, she was back and made me a huge portion (I finished every last bit) of tofu scramble. She's the one who taught me vegan food can be delicious too. However, I don't think I will ever have what it takes to make the conversion from carnivore to herbivore. I mean, I'm only just trying to stop buying dairy milk and choose almond or soy milk instead. But not being able to understand the Czech labels makes it all a lot harder...sighWe lost track of time during breakfast and we had to hurry out of the house. However, I made the train to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport well in time and we sat outside. I asked her to come visit me in Brno (Veena, you better come soon girl!) and said we'd meet again in Chennai this summer as usual. And off I went to catch my flight to Copenhagen to meet Rachel, my university best friend, who I hadn't seen in 7 months!  

Veena and I waiting for my train to Amsterdam Schiphol

Veena and I waiting for my train to Amsterdam Schiphol

Tags: fondue, groningen, sangria, the netherlands

 

Comments

1

very nice to see Veena !

  poongi Feb 18, 2017 1:46 AM

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