They tend to drift apart: the international students and the new Dutch students. While the Dutch ones had already been foraging around in Delft for a couple of days, getting acquainted with all the fraternities and sports clubs the university city has to offer, many international students have had their hands full coping with practicalities such as visas, insurance, registration, and banking. So it was about time for some joint activities.
‘Our aim was to have as many international as Dutch students here’
From a distance, you can discern the long queue in front of the Aula. And from even further away you can hear the loud techno music. It is only eleven o'clock in the evening, but the party is already sold out. “I am afraid we have to disappoint a lot of people who are standing in line and do not have an entrance ticket,” says Berend de Klerk, who works for the OWee.
"I believe we can call this party a success,” he adds, after glancing around. Hundreds of students from all nationalities and Dutch undergraduates are dancing to the heavy beats. Some are wearing earplugs. “Our aim was to have as many international as Dutch students here.”
This is the second time that the IP is running joint activities with the OWee and the Central International Office (CIO). Each year TU Delft welcomes more and more international students; this year they numbered 2400. The IP is responding to this trend. Previously, its activities were specifically geared separately to the needs of Dutch students and international students. The disadvantage of this was that the two groups met for the first time in class and tended to mix among themselves.
So are the students mingling on the dance floor?
Freshman Carlo, who will be studying at the Faculty of Technology, Policy, and Management, just arrived on the scene. He is looking for the fellow students of his introduction group. “There's no way that I am going to talk to international students. You can barely hear each other. I am not going to shout in English.”
Language is not the only barrier. Age, too, so it seems.
“Look around you,” says Mechanical Engineering master student Teun Nipius. “The new Dutch students are about 18 years old, whereas the internationals are mainly master students of 22 or 23. The internationals are used to parties like this. They have seen many before. Another reason why international and Dutch students hardly mingle is the fact that Delft is a city of fraternities. International students do not join these associations because they are here for too short a period. But what is also needed here is more beer, then the tongues might loosen up.”
Prayash Panda, an Aerospace master student from Calcutta (India), believes that the music is not helping the mingling either.
“It is just boom, boom, boom that we hear. And the DJ is not saying anything. The music is not uplifting. It is a pity because there is so much good electronic music in The Netherlands.”
Panda is accompanied by Electrical Engineering master student Karishma Kumar, from Delhi (India). “The music should be more interactive, with songs that we can sing along with. Maybe that would help us to get to know Dutch students.”
Student of Industrial Design Annelies Maltha, on the other hand, is very enthusiastic. “As a fourth-year student, I have witnessed several introduction parties. I have the impression that the Owee is now really doing its best to bring international students and Dutch students together. It is true that it is difficult to talk here due to the loud music. But until 10 pm there was a lounge area with a little band. That was cool. There was a great atmosphere there.”