Flowers Keep the Cold Away

By Špela Krajnc “When my father died, I had to drop school. I was 19, but I had no choice. It was now or never.” It is a cold November Monday and Astrid is standing outside between her flowers with red hands covered with scratches. What looks like blood, is the color of the autumn…

When all the trains have left

By Anna Severinenko “It was always my dream to have my own bar. 8 years ago, it was finally about to open, everything was ready. But then the smoking ban came and killed everything.” Since last year Jack cleans the toilets and picks up garbage three times a week at the central train station in…

James Bond OO God not this again!

By James Field Height: 183cm, weight: 76 kilograms; slim build; eyes: blue; hair: black; scar down right cheek and on left shoulder; signs of plastic surgery on back of right hand; all-round athlete; expert pistol shot, boxer, knife-thrower; does not use disguises. Anyone come to mind? No? That’s because this is Ian Fleming’s description of…

“When we have an emotion, it takes over”

By Anna Portella “How many of you in the last month have not washed your hands when you left the bathroom?” with that question, behavioural economist Dan Ariely struck his audience’s weak point. He was in Groningen last month to give the lecture “The problem of self-control,” and during his hours long stay in the…

A normal life, made to order

By James Field When Layla Koopal, 66, does a good job you won’t have any idea. In fact Layla’s work has been so good at going unnoticed that she has an award from the King to prove it. Layla points to the walls of cupboards in her shop ‘Frans Koopal’ in Groningen, “60,000 wigs” she…

The Reluctant Remainer

By Matt Richards Hamish Mardell opens the door to his student room. Crammed inside: a sofa, armchair, coffee table, bed, wardrobe, chair, desk, golf clubs, shelves. A Union Jack hangs prominently on one wall. The eighteen-year-old British student arrived at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands two months ago, and will stick around for…