By Heawon Shin
From Argentina to Spain and from South Korea to Congo. Around 900 international students coming from more than 75 countries got acquainted with Hanze UAS, the Dutch culture, and with each other. They need to get a bike to live in ‘country of bikes’, The Netherlands.
Like this, social phenomenon that many legal aliens come from their home country to study, work and live in The Netherlands is not restricted in Hanze UAS, but also in entire Groningen. As Groningen is famous as a university city, many international students come to Groningen every half year to expand knowledges and widen their mental vision. These legal aliens look for their bikes to live in ‘the best cycling city’ in the Netherlands, Groningen.
Groningen, the best cycling city
As dutch bike culture is already well-known for many people, bikes are necessary to live more conveniently in Groningen where is well stocked with bike facilities. For the period of 2014-2018, Groningen has reserved two milion Euros per year for investments in cycling. In addition, Groningen has aimed the ‘compact city’ model that means increasing bike infrastructure like bike parking and cycle track and minimization of biking distances by arranging the main institutions in the city center since 1970s.
How to get a bike
Therefore, there is no reason not to ride bikes while living in Groningen. Then, where do the legal aliens in Groningen get a bike from? There are three ways to get a bike in case of international students in Groningen.
Most of the international students rent their bike from Swapfiets, a bike rental company having a branch in Groningen or buy secondhand bikes. There are few international students who buy a new bike. New bikes give financial burden to them and there is strong possibility to be stolen their new bikes.
International students can buy the secondhand bikes at 50-100€. Once you type ‘secondhand bike’ in Google Maps, an map application, you could find the location of various secondhand bike stores. It’s the case of Gabriel Rodriguez Romaris who comes from Spain to study in Hanze UAS for one semester. He bought a secondhand bike at 49€. “I already promised to my spanish friend who will come to Groningen next semester to sell this bike at 35€! So I can ride a bike at only 14€ for one semester!”, he says excitedly. Like this case, most of international students buy the secondhand bikes because it’s more economical.
When the beginning of semester is coming, Swapfiets get more busy. The cheapest one to rent is 12€ per month for students. It includes the repair service and double lock. A number of exchange students who stay shortly use this rent service. Dennis Zwaferink, a regional manager of Swapfiets says, “We knew it would be busy on August and we also anticipated on that.” According to Dennis Zwaferink, about 400 foreigners use their service on this semester. “Most international students aren’t used to ride a bike on daily basis. For that reason, they don’t have the skills to fix small problems and do repairs by themselves. Swapfiets provides them with the option to fix it for them. It’s included in the subscription. Also, at the end of their stay in The Netherlands, Swapfiets picks up
their bike. It’s the strengths of our company to foreigner customers”, he emphasizes. Getting a bike for legal aliens in Groningen is a piece of cake. Don’t worry about finding your bike.