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Section in the Spotlight: Working together towards integration — ESN Groningen

Fri, 24/11/2023 - 14:47
Friday, 24 November, 2023 - 13:47Old city with a young heart 

Welcome to the vibrant city of Groningen, where students from around the world come together to study, live and work. Nestled in the northern part of the Netherlands, Groningen is a true university town. Thanks to its numerous educational institutions, the city is home to a large student population, with nearly 25% of the overall population being students. This makes Groningen not only the Dutch city with the highest student density but also the youngest city in the Netherlands and even one of the youngest cities in Europe. Echoing the sentiment of the common Dutch saying, "Er gaat niets boven Groningen" (There is nothing above Groningen), this phrase encapsulates the unrivalled essence of Groningen. This saying not only resonates within the local community but also embodies the spirit of internationals who find a home away from home in this exceptional city. At the heart of this international experience lies ESN Groningen, a dynamic and inclusive community dedicated to fostering cross-cultural connections and creating unforgettable memories, making it the perfect complement to the unmatched charm of Groningen itself.

 

First and foremost 

Established in 1987, ESN Groningen has since come a long way. Under the motto “Students helping students”, the section has evolved into a dynamic force, organising over 150 activities annually for students. These initiatives include a grand Introduction Week at the beginning of each semester, ensuring that the approximately 3000 new incoming students embark on their Groningen experience with the best possible start. These weeks are the largest Introduction Week for international and internationally oriented students in Groningen. Packed with events with info about the city, local associations on Sports and Culture Day, parties with live bands, and practical activities like Dutch language lessons and a crash course on “how to bike”, this week is the best week to lay the foundation for friendships throughout their time in Groningen.

To ensure everything runs smoothly, the ESN Groningen Board is composed of six dedicated students working full-time to enhance the overall experience for ESN's members. This core team collaborates with 10 committees boasting 70+ active members, all passionately contributing to the planning and execution of events throughout the year. To motivate and encourage these volunteers, we have a Committee Competition in which active members do all sorts of fun challenges, dances, and activities to earn points. In doing so, the committees compete against each other in a friendly manner to enhance teamwork, creativity, and the overall impact of their events. Nothing beats the friendly competition!

Something for everyone 

Whether you are an exchange student, a degree student or doing an internship, ESN Groningen offers a lot of activities. In line with the causes of ESN, ESN Groningen's mission lies in a commitment to celebrate diversity and increase local integration. Language cafes and International Dinners are just a glimpse of these activities. One event that is truly special is Integration Night, offering students the chance to partake in various traditional activities within the historic buildings of the city's largest Dutch student associations. The primary aim of the night is to provide a platform for both local and international students to come together, socialise, and foster cross-cultural connections.

Then, of course, to cater to all the party lovers, there are weekly ESN Wednesdays, pub quizzes and monthly themed parties. For people who are more interested in live music, our signature event, Live Music Night (LMN), goes beyond the typical concert experience. With over 60 musicians uniting to play music from all over the world, LMN stands as a powerful symbol of inclusivity. From classic tunes to traditional melodies, LMN fosters an environment where everyone can come together, connect, and share in the joy of music. Every semester, it is great to see that these events attract more people and have become a staple in ESN Groningen.

Another Section's highlight is the excursions, created by its own Excursion Committee, dedicated to unveiling the world's beauty to students, whether within the Netherlands or beyond. The committee thrives on the idea that travelling makes the world connected. Without travelling, you will not discover new places, new cultures and new ideas. In the spirit of this, they invite students to join them on an adventure. Be it a day trip navigating the picturesque canals of Giethoorn or exploring the vibrant streets of Copenhagen, each excursion is thoughtfully curated to offer a distinctive blend of history, culture, and adventure. These experiences not only showcase the beauty of the destinations but also foster connections among the participants, creating memories that last a lifetime.

 

Building Blocks for Success

However, ESN is not just about fun and travel; ESN Groningen is well aware of that. In Groningen, various projects and programmes are in place to ensure a smooth start for incoming students. The Buddy Programme, for instance, pairs incoming international students with local buddies creating a supportive network that extends beyond academic studies. These buddies not only assist with practical matters but also contribute to a sense of belonging by helping students navigate the city

Recognising the power of language as a connector, the Language Exchange Programme of ESN Groningen is designed to foster an inclusive environment for both incoming and local students. This initiative encourages students to engage in one-on-one language exchange, where shared language experiences not only enhance communication skills but also cultivate a profound appreciation for the diverse languages and cultures present in Groningen. 

Last but not least, since last year, the Ambassador Programme has played a crucial role in supporting students who may find studying abroad challenging in the beginning. This programme aims to promote international mobility and instil courage in students contemplating exchange experiences. By matching individuals — from local students (Dutch or international) with exchange experience to those seeking guidance — the Ambassador Programme provides a valuable support system for those navigating the complexities of studying abroad.

Final words 

In the heart of Groningen, ESN Groningen stands as a testament to the city's unique charm, celebrating diversity and fostering a sense of community. As it continues to evolve its Introduction Weeks, activities and programmes, ESN Groningen remains dedicated to its mission of connecting cultures and creating memories that echo the sentiment ingrained in the local saying "Er gaat niets boven Groningen." Whether you are a prospective student or a current member of the ESN Groningen community, they invite you to be part of a community where every experience is a chance to discover, learn, and create memories that last a lifetime. See you in Groningen!

Categories: ESN International