When you’ve made the decision to study in Groningen, you might want to know where you can meet all the other students that are just as you facing Groningen for the first time. Of course you will meet lots of new people during the KEI-week, the ESN introduction week or at any general night out in the city. However, another good way to meet new students is to join one of the many student associations in Groningen.
It is quite common for Dutch students to join a student association at the time they start studying at a new university in a new city. Student associations are specifically for students and run by students. The main purpose is simple: to meet other students and have an awesome time during their years of study! Being a large student city, Groningen also has many student associations, each of them with their own character. In fact, the oldest student association of the Netherlands, Vindicat atque Polit, is housed in Groningen on a top location at the Grote Markt. Most student associations all have their own building located in or around the city centre of Groningen. Each student association organises socials, where you can meet other members to have a drink, chat or dance. Next to that, many activities, such as music, sports or cabaret evenings, are being organised by the members themselves. A student association is completely run by students, which means students are part of the board and committees, taking care of the bar and/or restaurant and are responsible for the cash-flow of the association. One of the most important reasons to join a student association is easy: to make friends.
When you decide to join a student association, you will get the time to make a group of friends. In some associations it is common that you will form a year club together with students of the same age, while other associations give you the possibility to join existing groups where you can mix with seniors. All associations however have one aspect in common: you will make friends that last for life! Most student associations in Groningen are open for international students, but you need to keep in mind that the language spoken is usually Dutch. However when you come to Groningen to study for a longer time, this can be your chance to practice the language, meet Dutch friends and have an awesome time studying in the Netherlands! For the international student that would like to socialize with other international or internationally oriented students, ESN is a good association to join. ESN organises an introduction at the beginning of each new school year, which is the ideal opportunity to get to know the city and the organisation a bit better!
Students coming to Groningen do not only leave their hometown behind, but sometimes also their religious community. To fill this gap there are religious student associations in Groningen of all sorts. Some merely have a religious background, like the Catholic association Albertus Magnus. Some, like The Navigators Student Association Groningen are open to Christians of all denominations and there is a specific Reformed association (GSV). These associations and others also vary in their religious experience, making it possible to find one which suits you.
Student associations and societies can be a great way to fully immerse yourself into student life. It can be a platform to socialize, gain new skills and express your passions and/or hobbies. As an international student, there are many organizations out there for you to explore. Here is a list of the some of the main ones:
AEGEE (Association des Etats Generaux des Etudiants de l'Europe)
AEGEE is an interdisciplinary student association, they have 350 members in Groningen. They organize excursions, events and congresses around Europe. They also have a summer university programme. Membership costs 40 euros annually.
African Student Community
This Association operates as a social and cultural organization. It serves to help integrate African students, encourage cultural exchanges with Africans and non-Africans. They organize symposiums, lectures and socials to promote awareness of topics and issues with the community and share an understanding of the culture through relevant events.
The largest student-run organization in the world. AIESEC is a leadership movement that encourages young student to reach their full potential through entrepreneurial internships, voluntary projects and board year opportunities.
ALAS: Association for Latin American Students Groningen
ALAS is open to students and non-students interested in Latin American culture. They host games nights, lectures and dinners encouraging integration and socializing.
ACSS: Association of Chinese Students and Scholars' in Groningen
ACSS is an organization for not only current students but graduates also; they have an alumni section on their website. In addition, practical information on how to settle in and a communication network for Chinese students. They also hold a range of events such as; sports, festivals, excursions and lectures.
ELSA (European Law Students Association)
ELSA caters to students and recent graduates of the Law program. They hold many intercultural law opportunities, and academic programmes such as summer and winter schools; delegations and MOOT court competitions. Whilst you do not have to be a member to take part in some activities, the options are somewhat limited.
ESN-Groningen (Erasmus Student Network)
ESN motto is ‘students helping students’. It is run by students and every semester they have an introductory week; during which they have a full week of activities run by student volunteers as a way to help introduce students to the city and student life. Many students participate and it is a great way to get to know fellow students. They also hold many events during the year, ranging from pub quizzes to fancy dress parties and comedy nights.
Groningen Indian Students Association (GISA)
This association aims to bridge the Indian and international gap between students, encourage integration and spread cultural awareness. They hold festivals such as Diwali and Holi and other social events.
GUTSA (Groningen University Turkish Student Organization)
An organization run by Turkish students of the university, they hold events and socials. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
The Hellenic Student Association Groningen is a social, cultural and non-profitable organisation, created by students of the University of Groningen. With this association we aim to help our members with any question or problem that may arise during their studies, as well as to create a more friendly and familiar environment to aid with the student’s integration in the Netherlands. Furthermore, the association focuses on promoting Hellenic culture through voluntary and social events such as Greek music concerts, Greek/Cypriot traditional events and taverna nights and many more.
IFMSA : International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations
IFMSA offers cultural exchange programmes, projects including human rights, public health and European education and integration. They also have training in leadership, presentation skills and group dynamics.
SIB-Groningen : Student Association for International Relations
SIB offers a range of social activities: an introduction camp, gala, parties and trips to other countries. On Mondays, they have lectures on international topics and enjoy some drinks after.
These next two organizations are more of a FYI. These two fraternities/sororities are two of the largest student organizations in Groningen but only accept Dutch students.
R.S.K.V. Albertus Magnus
It is a Roman Catholic Student Society Albertus Magnus- founded in 1896 and named after scientist Albertus Magnus. Their motto is ‘non scholae sed vitae’ Latin for 'One does not live to learn, but learns to live'. You may have seen their private house at Brugstraat- it’s regarded as a national monument.
Vindicat atque polit
Vindicat is the first student association in Groningen - founded in 1815 the name is their motto Latin for ‘maintain and civilize’. You may have noticed their building in the corner on the Grote markt with the ‘Hooghoudt’ sign on top- where they hold many of their events.