Speaking: ESN-member Lies about what ESN Antwerp can do for you

Speaking: ESN-member Lies about what ESN Antwerp can do for you

ESN (Erasmus Student Network) is the student association for international students who are going on Erasmus in Antwerp. A bunch of brand new international students are arriving in our favorite city this week. Curious to know how ESN welcomes them? Lies Verhaegen, media member of the ESN board, is happy to tell me and you all about it!

What does ESN Antwerp do for the international students?

“Normally, we organize an Ice Breaking Week every year, in which we arrange an activity every day, so Erasmus students can get to know each other. Because physical activities are not allowed right now, we are organizing three alternative events: an online quiz, an online games night and a city rally. Erasmus and local students can participate alone or in small groups. During the other days of that week we will create content online, that’s where we give them an idea of – for example – the most tasty take-outs in Antwerp or the highlights you cannot miss here. This way we are hoping to fill the void a bit, although it’ s obviously a real pity that we won’t be able to meet all the international students in person.”

Could you tell us a bit more about those online events?

“All the activities are about the opportunity for students to get to know each other and Antwerp. We are hoping to create a safe and fun way to do this and think that participating to get to know each other is a big must for every international that’s arriving right now. The quiz will be about Belgium and Antwerp and the cityrally is a true scavenger hunt. You will get to know all of the hidden spots in our fantastisch city. The gamenight will be organized through Discord and it’s once again our goal to play games together and get to know each other.”

You also have a buddy system. Could you tell us more about that?

β€œThat’s right. With our buddy system, we match international students with local students. This way, Erasmus students are able to ask local students all the questions they might have or they could try and meet up coronaproof. Local students can show the international students around the city, guide them around the school campus, but a buddy could also be useful for banking matters or other important information. A lot of information is not available in English or the native language of the international student… that’s when a local student can help with the translation. Meeting up with one single buddy is easier in these times of the pandemic than meeting up in large groups. Therefore, we think we can provide feasible contacts via the buddy system.”

How will you match those local and international students?

“International and local students can register throughout this link. They will have the possibility to enter personal information about themselves, such as their age, the university they’re attending orplu interests. Buddies are then paired together based on that information. This way, buddy’s will have the same vibe and hopefully fit well together.”

Why should a international student take a buddy, according to you?

“Local students can answer your needs as an international student more specifically. Of course, you can always go to the general Facebook page of ESN, but a buddy who really knows you makes you feel more familiar. Your buddy will always respond quickly and the contact feels very personal. As an international student, it is always nice to know a ‘local’ in your new student city, so this person can tell you more about the city from his or her point of view and experiences.”

Why should a local student be a buddy, according to you?

“It’s always cool to get to know international students! The atmosphere around those students is always very open-minded and adventurous. You will learn about new cultures and gain a lot of knowledge from them. As soon as we are allowed to travel again, you might even have arranged a place to stay abroad through your buddy! ;-)”

Want to know more about the activities and the buddy-system of ESN? Make sure to keep an eye out on their website and Facebookpage. There’s also a Facebookgroup and Whatsappgroup filled with internationals you could join. And if you still have questions, don’t hestitate to contact the board-members by sending them an e-mail. They’re happy to help you!