From Lochem to Utrecht to study
Hi, I’m Nadja, and I’m a student of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in Utrecht. I grew up in Lochem, in the east of the Netherlands, and I had already been to Utrecht a couple of times on shopping trips, to watch musicals and to attend open days at the University. I loved the city, with all its outdoor cafes and the Oudegracht, and fancied the idea of studying here. What’s more, Utrecht is home to a great university.
Because I was living pretty far away, I started looking for a room in Utrecht in 2013. Most students rent a room here, often in a student house where everyone has their own room.
Preferably by bicycle
I’ve stayed in a number of different places in Utrecht. I’m now staying on Amsterdamsestraatweg. It’s a great street boasting lots of international shops. Most of my lectures are at the Uithof and I get there by bicycle. It’s also possible to get there by bus, but I prefer cycling. I really hate catching a flat tyre, because it means I have to catch the bus. I’m used to taking the bicycle wherever I go.
But I did have to get used to the traffic. Things are totally different in Lochem. Everyone’s in a rush here and people crossing the street seem to appear from nowhere.
Lots of English and Spanish
I’m taking a gap year at the moment, doing a lot of part-time work at a sports school and doing my internship at the UAF, a Foundation for Refugee Students. I hear lots of English at the UAF, and Spanish as well as the sports school and when I’m just out and about. There are loads of international students and expats here. I love it, also because I studied in Valencia through the Erasmus programme. All of the people living here in Utrecht are open and friendly.
There’s plenty to do in Utrecht
I enjoy going for runs along the Singel. I’ve also been a member of the Triton Rowing Association for three years, so I got to experience the Singel from the water. Absolutely beautiful!
I like going out at the weekend, looking for nice places to have lunch, and there are so many great places to have coffee with friends. In that respect, Utrecht is really an exciting, fantastic city. I really like the city centre. The sidewalk cafes along the Oudegracht, as well as ‘t Ledig Erf and ‘t Wed (see photo), are great places as well.
The nightlife venues are spread across town. You really need to know where to go, because you won’t find any squares that are completely surrounded by cafes and bars. In recent weeks, I’ve been enjoying hanging out at EKKO and Tivoli.
Even though Utrecht isn’t that big – it’s more like a snug, cosy city – it takes a while to see everything. When I’d just started living here, I saw all the amazing individual venues as separate places. Now (and it’s taken a while), I’m beginning to see the connection between these places more and more. Cycling around a lot certainly helps, but I’ve still got plenty to discover about Utrecht.
It’s also really nice how different neighbourhoods continue to pop up with their own identity. In a residential area, for example, you’ll suddenly find an amazing restaurant, like Guusjes, a genuine gem in the Vogelenbuurt district. Vaartsche Rijn continues to flourish as well, with great restaurants, shops and cafes. And the Lombok district has its own unique look – incredibly international. I recently visited De Ontdekking in the Voorstraat, which is another great place with a largely international clientele.
I don’t really visit the surrounding region – which includes Amersfoort – very often. I thoroughly enjoy running in the vicinity of Rhijnauwen, with all its greenery, and yet close to the city. However, you do have to put up with a barrage of stoplights before you can really get going. Before I forget, running along the canal is also highly recommendable. You definitely discover lots of Utrecht by bicycling, running or just strolling around.