International students experience a double luxury in their social lives: besides the ability to join one of the regular student associations (LINK), international students can become active within the Erasmus Student Network Groningen. The Groningen chapter of this worldwide network is the largest one in Europe, with over fourteen hundred new students—permanent as well as exchange—joining the ranks each year.
Your first opportunity to connect with ESN is during the special introduction week for international students. This takes place after the general introduction week, the KEI-week, so you can join both to maximize your newfound knowledge of the city. The introduction week will already give you a good taste of ESN’s main mission: to let you experience Dutch student life to the fullest. This involves integration activities, such as an authentic Sinterklaas celebration, a lot of theme parties, and excursions to ensure that you’ll see more of the Netherlands than just lovely Groningen.
Throughout the academic year, ESN organizes a wide array of activities, ranging from social to cultural to academic. Go canoeing in the city’s canals (that’s right, not only Amsterdam has them), attend a career event, or join an excursion to the Wadden Sea for mudwalking. All of these activities are on a non-membership basis: everyone can stop by the ESN office to sign up.
Becoming a member is nevertheless very attractive: your ESN-card, which only costs 2 euros, gives you discounts at bars, restaurants, bike shops etc. all over Groningen. And no matter whether you have an ESN card or not; you are always welcome to join the International Student Night which takes place every Monday night at the Drie Gezusters. This is the biggest bar of Groningen and a perfect setting to share experiences with fellow international students and Dutch students.
Other activities include biweekly international dinners (where you can enjoy a three-course meal prepared by your fellow students for only three euros), pub quizzes once every three weeks to test your knowledge of random facts (did you know that the Dutch are only second to the Scandinavians in coffee consumption per year?—so prepare for long waiting lines in front of the coffee machines), and conferences to improve your understanding of issues that are important to Dutch society.
If you want to learn more about ESN, you can contact them via their website. This is also where you can sign up for the mentor program before the start of the academic year: you will be teamed up with a Dutch student from the same faculty who will help you get settled in Groningen, and many lasting friendships testify to the success of the program!
Any questions? Ask ESN by sending an e-mail!