First days in Groningen

So, you’ve made it to the city! Congratulations on making it here. But before you begin all your adventures there are a few things you need to get done first.

1. Introduction Week

Pre Covid-19 times, at the start of the academic year, ESN would host an introduction week targeted at international students. This was for me a beneficial way to view the city and meet some new people. This year, the introduction will be held online and you can visit their website for more information.

Tip: your ESN card gets you discounts around the city.

2. Bikes Vs. public transport

As you may already know, bikes are essential to life in Groningen. They make traveling super easy and the city is super bike friendly, you will fit right in. Feel free to check out our blog that gives you all the information you will need to know before getting your bike. If you want to use the bus, you could order a personal ov-chipkaart and load credits for travel. If you use it often, we advise you to get the yearly discount that gives you a 40% discount off the normal fare. Read the terms of use.

3. Alarms

All over the Netherlands, the public warning sirens are tested at exactly 12.00 noon on the first Monday of every month. The siren sounds for 1 minute and 26 seconds without interruption. This is a test signal so there is nothing to worry about. So, no need to worry like I did. No one is invading, no one is declaring war.

4. Register at the municipality

Dutch law states that if you are going to be in the Netherlands for longer than 4 months you must register with the municipality. It is highly recommended that you do this as soon as possible because your registration gives your Burgerservicenummer (BSN number). This number is crucial for so many things like opening a bank account, opening a Digid, getting insurance. So be sure to have with you all the necessary documents and make your appointment with the Gemeente. Visit this link to find out what you need to bring with you to your appointment.

5. Bank Accounts

Once you have your BSN number, the world of banks is your oyster. It is now up to you to decide which bank you would like to open your account with. You may find that your credit or debit card from home does not get accepted in many stores here in Groningen or in the Netherlands and that is because the main card type is Maestro. The University of Groningen has a handy list of all the banks giving you all the details you would need to know about opening your Dutch account.

6. Weather

The weather in the Netherlands is unpredictable to say the least. It can go from sunny and warm to rainy and windy in a matter of hours. Essentially be prepared and be sure to check on what the weather would be like before you leave the house. One very helpful place to look is or download their app- Buienalarm