News - April 1, 2004

An easy way to get more out of your study here

What can the Wageningen student associations offer international students? Wb put the question to the big student clubs and study associations. Part seven: Student associations.

Type of club: All studies have a study association. In total there are fifteen of them. They organise study-related and social activities. Examples of study-related activities include excursions to companies, lectures and training in applying for jobs, but also education and course evaluations. Social activities vary from drinks and parties to sports activities and barbecues. Some associations offer members discounts on study materials. The associations also have general meetings, a managing committee and subcommittees. Activities are usually announced on the Internet, posters and in the weekly e-mail many clubs send their members. Some also publish a newsletter.

Language: The Internet sites of nine associations are bilingual. Several clubs indicate that they have chosen to offer the information in two languages to stay attractive for Dutch students. ‘’We are Dutch and want to stay that way, so the site has to be in Dutch too,’’ responds René Bonekamp of the Veetelers (Animal Sciences). Six sites are in Dutch only. One of them, Genius Loci, says it is working on the English version. The Agrotechnology students united in Heeren XVII have a Dutch site, because they only have three international members. ‘’But our weekly e-mail is bilingual,’’ says Jim Groot from Heeren XVII.

International members: Seven clubs reported their total membership as varying between one- and three hundred. Although all seven say that they include international students in their target group, two indicate that they have no international members. Aktief Slip, the environmental sciences association has only fifteen international members out of a total of 125, although eighty percent of the students come from abroad. ‘’It’s hard to get international students involved in our activities, although we really want them to. Something seems to go wrong somewhere in the communication process, and a committee is currently looking for a solution,’’ writes a member of Aktief Slip. Minke Mulder from Genius Loci, that has no international members, also reports little success in involving international students. ‘’International students don’t take the initiative either, but that may also be because they don’t know us.’’ The club has set up a foreign committee to try and tackle the problem.

Openness: It is fairly easy for non-Dutch students to join most activities, especially the social activities. The excursions organised by Semper Florens (Plant Sciences) for example are fully in English. Most clubs also state that they switch to English when international students join meetings. The International Forestry Student Organisation Wageningen, that’s part of WSBV Sylvatica, offers students the opportunity to go conferences, including ones in other countries. ‘’Nicolas Appert (Food Technology) also has a special committee for integration, and international students are encouraged to participate in this committee,’’ writes chairwoman Olga Olthof. The committee organises all sorts of activities including dinners and excursions.

Do study associations have anything to offer non-Dutch students? If you want to get to know your Dutch fellow students, you should join the association for your study. It is also a good opportunity to get to know more about the Netherlands and Dutch culture, and of course the social activities often are fun and the study activities interesting. | Y.d.H.