We already mentioned it: Groningen is going more and more international. An increasing amount of foreign students decides to follow a course in Groningen, at the RUG or the Hanze. We can imagine that it is extremely exciting to move countries and a little help is always welcome. ESN is an international organisation that helps students finding their way when they go abroad. They’ll take any effort to make sure your time overseas will be as comfortable and unforgettable as possible. To learn more about what ESN Groningen does, we paid the board a little visit!
Johannes Drop (23) has put aside his study Technological Management for a year to focus on ESN. Nowadays he spends most of his time in their office in the heart of Groningen.
How did you end up at ESN?
“I went on exchange to France last year. When abroad I realised that I really enjoyed meeting other internationals and getting in contact with other cultures and languages. Back in the Netherlands I wondered in what way I could do something with this newfound passion. That way I arrived at ESN.”
So, what is it exactly what ESN does?
“ESN takes care of international students that come to Groningen. We help them to come in contact with other internationals, with Dutch students and to get familiar with the Dutch culture. We try to give them a home from home by organizing social activities. We want them to enjoy themselves, meet the country and feel at home.”
Where is ESN located, besides Groningen?
“ESN is established in 37 countries, with 463 sections. Wherever you can go on an Erasmus Exchange, you can find an ESN. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Western European Platform. Here the Western European sections gather and discuss how ESN develops itself. There is a huge network!”
Is ESN Groningen the biggest establishment in the Netherlands?
“Yes!” A big grin appears on Johannes’ face. “Last Introduction Week we welcomed 1200 exchange students to Groningen. Since the start of the year another 200 students arrived and in February we expect around 500 more students coming over to Groningen. A part of all those students come over for a full bachelor or master’s degree, but most of them only stay for a semester (half a year). However, in Groningen we organise the biggest Introduction Week of the Netherlands!”
“Worldwide there are 13.500 students connected to ESN!”
Where do all the International students come from?
“In Groningen there are many Germans, but I have met students from all over the world here!” Johannes faces the map hanging on the wall, after which a number of countries are listed. “From Argentina to South-Korea!”
What kind of activities do you organise?
"We organize educative, social and charity activities. The educative activities include the Energy Career Event and an International Student Conference. To get to know other students we have a wide range of social activities like the Pubquiz, Karaoke and a weekly social at the Warhol. The charity events are based on the Social Erasmus Program which include Erasmus in Schools where international students visit primary school to talk about their country and culture. We also organise excursions to the province area and to the cities in Holland in cooperation with a Professor from the RUG."
In which other ways do you help internationals?
“We organise a big Introduction Week during which we show the new international students around town. Of course we go visit the pubs, but also the other facilities that are important when living in Groningen. Besides that, we partner up anticipating internationals with mentors. Before arrival the students can get into contact with the mentor, who will explain how to get to Groningen from the airport, for instance. In the first couple of weeks the mentor is available to answer all their questions.”
Are you planning on coming over to Groningen? Take a look on the ESN website!
By Anouk Theunissen