ESN treasurer Sven Blijleven is extremely happy about this. Last September ESN had to disappoint 25 of the 516 international students who had applied, due to a scarcity of participating RUG students. ‘The number of [international] students last year increased by 17 percent, and of course we cannot keep up,’ says Blijleven.
In September, when over five hundred students will sign up for the programme, he expects a shortage again – even though interest in the programme among RUG students has increased.
Hard to find
Buddies introduce international students to life in Groningen: they help students get around, find a room, buy groceries, and plug into social life. The ESN uses a survey to match international students to buddies according to university, faculty, and interests.
Each buddy can register for up to ten international students, says Angela Hurink, ESN Integration Coordinator – but most prefer a single match. ‘We actually had more buddies than the year before; they just wanted to be matched to fewer people’, Angela says. ‘If people only want to have one international as a buddy, then it’s quite hard to find that many buddies.’
The ESN encourages RUG students to participate in the programme; it’s a good way to meet new people and participate in the international community. Vincent Pool, now a masters student in Advanced International Business and Marketing, has been a buddy many times. The best part? ‘Enriching yourself with culturally different friends’, he says, ‘and actually helping new international students with issues that seem simple to you but may be complex or unfamiliar to them.’
Veronika Halásová came to Groningen from Slovakia to study international business; her ESN buddy was an instant friend. ‘I can’t really tell why we clicked so well: some people just feel like home to you’, she says. Veronika thinks everyone should participate. ‘There is really nothing you can lose by applying to this programme. Chances are you will find your new best friend or the love of your life this way.’
Learn more or become a buddy here.