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 Post subject: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:06 am 
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Since the 'products' thread viewtopic.php?f=59&t=21063 was getting offtopic (not so much about products anymore), I made a new thread for other kinds of talking.

Bhadra wrote:
Things being in Dutch isn't a bad thing, I'm trying to learn to speak and read as much as I can before I get there (plus I like a challenge). It's not the same living in a country and not being able to speak the language. Plus being half Dutch I feel a little obliged to learn, in a good way.

Failing that there is always Google and Mac translate.

Lutin I would appreciate a tour, that would be cool. The only other person I know in Groningen is a German girl from Hamburg, you you have officially doubled the circle of people I know :D and she isn't vegan either.

What do you study/do at the University?


I'm in my last year as a PhD at the RUG. ....There are quite a few Germans around. Most of the Psychology Faculty is German, actually. Not many Dutchies there, they all go elsewhere (Rotterdam or Nijmegen). Did you see the PM I sent with more specific Groningen info? And sure, I'd be happy to show you around.

When I started a couple of years ago, Dutch was definitely required. But the university has been actively (aggressively) recruiting from abroad --- one of the grad programme directors recently told me the RUG is now the most international university in the Netherlands --- so there's a lot more English in the city now, too. A lot. Dutch is definitely helpful, e.g. my dept. is one of the last primarily Dutch depts. in the university, so even dept./research group meetings default to Dutch unless I specifically ask to switch to English. But pretty much in every other context, English is the norm.

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 Post subject: Re: People and events and etc. in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:59 am 
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Thanks for starting the thread sorry for going OT.

Yeah the Girl I know from Hamburg is doing Undergrad Psychology. I suspect its because the admission standards in Holland are a little different, and it may be easier to get in to Psych in Holland than Germany. Whats your Phd in?

I'm doing an Ma, hoping to move on to Phd after research masters.

I guess the international recruiting might be good for opportunities in academia, but it may have something of a cultural impact. Which is to say it would have a cultural impact on Groningen. It will be interesting to see as much of my experience of the Netherlands is small towns which aren't so cosmopolitan.

I didn't get your Pm, are there some settings I need to change for that?


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 Post subject: Re: People and events and etc. in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:21 am 
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Bhadra wrote:
I didn't get your Pm, are there some settings I need to change for that?


Bizarre. I saw it in my outbox folder for a little while, and can't find it now. I just resent it. I think the default for PM's is that, when one is sent, a message will go to your username's email address telling you you have one. If you look at the very top right of the screen, there is a link to your PM folder ("0/1/whatever new messages").

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:43 am 
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I got your second PM.

I will reply in due course.

Yeah I don't get how it didn't come through either.


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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:11 pm 
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Hi Bhadra, it's good to see you found your way to the PPK boards! (sorry I didn't respond sooner, I took a bit of an internet break during our vacation)

What happened to you Leiden plans? Groningen is nice too though and more vegan friendly I think.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:47 pm 
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Good to hear from you Cornelie.

The crux of what happened with Leiden was that my application fell into an administrative black hole and a faculty debate about people doing one year long premasters programs. Meanwhile I applied to Groningen as a backup and was accepted into the masters program (albeit with a MASSIVE reading list to catch me up to speed.) and had to make a call.

In the end the fact that Leiden had sat on my application for so long that I was no longer able to apply for accommodation kind of sealed the deal. That and asking me to do two papers in Dutch, it was becoming untenable.

Its a shame as I did like the look of Leiden's faculty.

I may look into doing my research MA at Leiden, but there is some fun stuff going on in the faculty at Groningen so I guess time will tell on that one.


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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:49 pm 
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Actually I had a question as you are both Phd's and I'm hoping to go down that rout.

How difficult was it to get employed for you Phd?
Is it a case of who you know?

If this thread isn't appropriate pm or email me. thanks :)


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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:02 am 
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Good for you keeping your options open and having a backup plan! University politics/administration issues are the worst.

For getting PhD employment, it definitely helps to have good connections, or at least have one professor or post-doc who thinks you are the bee's knees. That could be enough to get a PhD in their project group.

For independent NWO funded PhD projects (and all PhD's really), it's important to get really good grades for your master; publish your thesis or another relevant project, peer reviewed if you can; and write a slamming application that speaks to the interests of non-specialists, has relevance in your field and seems doable all at the same time. Those things are much easier if you have the support of an experienced scholar, so it's always a good idea to find someone to mentor you.

This advice is very much based on my personal experience, so lutin probably has thing to add, based on hers.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:53 pm 
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Thanks Cornelie, I suspected as much.

The Icing on the cake of going to Groningen for me is that there is one Prof who comes from a similar academic background as me and is doing stuff I find super interesting. Hopefully I can work something out with him, I'm not really going to know till I meet people in person.

Getting peer reviewed, and writing something that is the 'business' is defiantly going to require some assistance.

Here's hoping it works out.

Here's also hoping finding some part time work will work out too.


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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:13 am 
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Which faculty are you in? Practices for hiring PhD's vary greatly from faculty to faculty, and research cluster to research cluster. e.g. in mine, I don't think anyone would expect publications. Obviously, having any would help, but it's definitely not required. fwiw, I'm at the Centre for Language and Cognition, and am affiliated with the Neuroscience grad programme. For both, it is extremely rare to have PhD's working on their own project. It is much more common to be hired to work on a PI's grant, in which case your project fits into their framework and you apply for the privilege of doing the PI's work. In pretty much all cases, being a PhD means being a full employee of the university, so on paper, we're treated differently (better) than PhD's elsewhere. (Bursary = scholarship PhD's, who have devised their own projects still exist, kind of, but their numbers of so few that they hardly bear speaking about.) I think it's pretty awesome, but it's definitely a difference I had to get used to. My background is US/Poland/India, and PhD's are treated ... very differently there.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:14 am 
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If you're in Natural Sciences or Psychology, part time university-related work should be pretty easy to come by. For the other faculties, not so much. For the actual Groningen world, I don't know. Pretty much everyone I've heard of wants fluency in Dutch.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:08 pm 
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I'm visiting Amsterdam with my boyfriend soon and the choice of public transport options is confusing the heck out of me!

We will need to get from Schiphol airport to our hotel near the Zuideramstel area, then from there into the city for activities. We're staying for 5 nights. Googlemaps is telling me there are buses, metro and sprinter (is that a train?) options to get to the hotel although we're going to have to walk about 1.7 kilometres whatever we choose.

I'm trying to work out whether to buy an anonymous OV chipcard, or if I just need to get a GVB pass. Any advice?

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:25 pm 
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just grab an OV chip card. the tricky part with that will be topping it up - iirc you can't load it up with foreign bank cards and the machines don't accept notes. either have coins, or go to a desk to do it with notes.

if you have a smartphone, grab the 9292 app (or use the website: http://9292.nl/en) which has options with costs laid out a little better than gmaps imo. and it's better for "show me the next bus near me" typed things.

but yup, I'd just grab a train in. I caught the Schipol->Zuid more times than I can count :) way easier than bussing. when you're in town, work out what's nearest (metro, bus, tram) and wing it from there. they'll all work with the OV chip card, so you'll be fine.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:34 pm 
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Another vote for OV and the 9292 app. Plus, since July?, OV chipcard has been required. I think. I didn't register the changes because I already had one, but maybe cornelie knows?

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:39 pm 
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+ (obvs) if you'd like a meetup, say so :)

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:03 pm 
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Yes, get an OV chipcard, like lutin says you'll need it for all the public transport. The GVB card is not valid on the train or the Schiphol bus and in the city it's only worth it if you plan to use a lot of public transport (like four or more rides a day).

Take a train (sprinter or intercity) from the airport to Zuid and once you are in the city use the metro and tram to get around. Nowhere in Amsterdam do you need to walk 1.7 kilometers if you don't feel like it.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:48 am 
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The OV chipkaart costs about 7 euro, I think, but you can turn it in at the end of your visit and get a refund. Sprinters are trains! From what I can tell, they don't stop at all of the stops and they aren't as "comfortable" - meaning there's more standing room. They remind me of an express train in New York. The Intercity ones stop at all of the stops.

The buses here are great, so don't be afraid of them like I was at first! Most (if not all, now) have little LED screens that list the stops coming up. Then when you need to get off, you just press the button and swipe your OV chipkaart on the way out. It's super easy. Plus, if worse comes to worse, you can always ask someone on the train if they speak English, which they often do, and then for help.


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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:15 pm 
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Does the OV ChipKaart work for trains outside of Amsterdam?

Because when I arrive in the Netherlands depart my bus in Amsterdam, but need to get to Groningen. I know the train and bus stations are next to each other but I'm just wondering the best way for me to go about paying for transport and being keyed up if I need a travel card or not.


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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:23 pm 
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they surely do

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:44 pm 
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Yes, the OV chipcard works on almost every type of public transport in the whole country, except for a few ferries in the back-country that only except cash.

For people who live in the Netherlands and use the train a lot, it can be worthwhile to get a personal discount OV chipcard from NS (the train company). For instance, the Dal Voordeel discount costs €50 per year and gets you a 40% discount on your train tickets if you travel between 9am and 4pm or after 6:30 pm. There are several of these discount systems that fit various travel schedules. The NS chipcard can also be used on the tram, bus etc., but you only get the discount on the train.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:51 pm 
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Awesome Cornelie thanks.

I guess I could get something for being a student when I finally get my ID right?
I don't know if I will use the trains a lot… It kind of depends on a couple things. Guess we will see.


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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:49 am 
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Dropscone, where in Zuideramstel are you staying? I lived in that neighborhood, and I know that a bunch of hotels cluster around the RAI train station. That station was always a lot more convenient for me than Zuid, and the RAI has direct trains to and from Schiphol. If you are indeed near there, tram line 4 is the quickest way to get into the city.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:11 am 
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Bhadra wrote:
Awesome Cornelie thanks.

I guess I could get something for being a student when I finally get my ID right?
I don't know if I will use the trains a lot… It kind of depends on a couple things. Guess we will see.


If you count as Dutch, then as a master's student, I'm pretty sure you will get a free train pass from the government. Otherwise, you have to pay full price for trains (e.g. all the Germans who do master's studies in NL don't get the free pass). Going from Groningen to pretty much anywhere in NL 4x with the OV discount from NS (which Cornelia mentioned) will pay for itself. Sometimes there are specials at Blokker, Albert Heijn or Kruidvat, where a limited number of 'day passes' are sold at a huge discount, but you have to be quick.

If you want to compare trip costs, check out www.ns.nl for the train schedule and fees -- they show full price and each of the discounts they offer.

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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:08 am 
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Gah… well no free pass for me then :(

I do count as a Dutch citizen as my mother is dutch, but we didn't formalise it with the dutch govt after we realised that in terms of student funding I'm still counted as being British.

I guess at this rate if I do my Phd in the Netherlands then I will get it in my last year. Go me.

Thanks for the input.

Oh one question I do have Lutin, how bad does Groningen get during the winter? are we talking regular snow, and frozen canals.
Does that mean Ice skating… i've never done that, even though its not so high on my bucket list.
I'm a little low on winter clothes and like to know if i need to stock up.

Also is there a Dutch facsimile of Next? or Top Man? (mens clothing stores)


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 Post subject: Re: Life in the Lowlands
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:10 pm 
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This year, temperatures hovered around 0 and there was only one half-day of snow (which iced over and then melted pretty much immediately). In 2013, there were 2-3 glorious weeks of winter during which canals and lakes were frozen. I was on the ice at the Patererswoldsemeer every day it was safe to skate on the lake. So, it's different every year. January's often coldest. Wet, cold rain is often more of a problem than proper winter. I have rain pants (since Denmark), and they serve me well, but I also appear to be the only one in town using them. Likewise a helmet when biking.

Not at all sure about men's fashion. I know there's a Bijenkorf in town, but for serious fashion you should go elsewhere (Amsterdam). I also know almost nothing about fashion, though, so take my words with buckets of salt.

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