The Erasmus exchange programme is well known to some people and unknown to others. It’s a scholarship that promotes studying abroad in Europe. Around nine million students use it to gain experience across the border. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is an association that organises activities and parties for these people. The association’s Delft Board started in September, so this is their second group of exchange students.
“Well, that’s partly true,” says Mina Kocaman, secretary of ESN Delft, at the start of the opening party of the Introduction Programme in the Ciccionina. “We are not only here for the six-month exchange students, but also for internationals who stay longer. Even Dutch students can join our activities if they want.” But still the board had to say goodbye to a lot of new friends last December and January. “It is sad to say goodbye. I think that is the hardest part of ESN. But it is also good to meet the new people who are arriving now. It’s fun to make new friends all the time.”
‘I have no expectations at all’
While Mina is talking, many people enter the disco. All newbies, most of them for the first time in the Netherlands. One of them is Orcan Kocaman from Turkey, who just arrived a few hours ago. “It was a very uneducated decision to come here. I heard recommendations from people in higher classes who said that Delft is good. At first sight, people look happy and the housing is good. I haven’t met my flatmates yet so that is still a surprise. I have no expectations at all, I think that is best.”
One person who does have expectations is Erik Liljeroth from Sweden. “I hope the Netherlands will give me a warm welcome, fun times, new people and that I can speak a lot of Dutch.” Dutch? “My mom is from the Netherlands and speaks Dutch at home. I want to improve mine.” Tunde Sakals from Hungary is here especially for the education. “Industrial design is big in Delft and Milan. In Milan they don’t teach in English and I can’t speak Italian, so Delft it was.”
Mina Kocaman was an exchange student in the spring of 2015. Now she’s working on the Board part time. “I used to say: ‘Once Erasmus, always Erasmus’. Erasmus means less responsibility, meeting open-minded people who want to make the best of it. It is really a free feeling, and everyone is friends with each other. I like it.”