An article by ESN Utrecht
Even after two years, the coronavirus keeps bringing challenges to people’s social life in the Netherlands. Introduction events for your new study or sports club often cannot take place physically. At first glance this might make it harder for international students to make friends when coming to the Netherlands.
But during this pandemic, the social playing field for internationals and Dutch people has become more levelled. Previously, Dutch people had plenty of places to remain amongst themselves: they could go out to their student clubs and bars and easily make new friends via old friends. Because Dutch people in larger groups often return to speaking in their native language, it would take much more effort for an international student to mingle with them.
But due to the restrictions, Dutch people are now also more limited to their inner social circles. This means they are more eager than ever to meet new people. A beneficial side effect is that they are turning to digital ways of connection. And online, the language barrier is less of a problem. If you’re an international student, you probably have more opportunities to connect with locals than before the pandemic.
A good way to meet new people one-on-one is through dating apps. Of course, regular dating apps such as Tinder and Happn only let you get in touch with people that are attracted to you on first sight. This doesn’t have to be a problem because chatting can easily turn into a friendship if you make your intentions clear. There are also dating apps that have a specific friendship function built in, such as Bumble. Through Bumble, you can meet another person and go walking, cycling, or playing games on a friendship basis.
There are also other apps aimed at meeting new people such as Weeples and Amigos. The app Amigos has seen an enormous growth in active members during the pandemic and is labelled as the best app for spontaneous contact. Besides facilitating many one-on-one activities, one of its best features is the possibility to join or invite people for group activities, such as doing sports or drinks in a park or café. Because the groups are usually relatively small and diverse in people who are not very familiar with each other, it is easier for internationals to mingle.
Joining a committee within a society
Last but not least, joining a committee within a student association such as ESN is a good way to meet a lot of new people. The committee meetings will always take place. When there are restrictions, they will take place online. You will bond with other students while working towards a common goal, such as making a podcast, creating promotion material, or organising fundraisers. And when things reopen again, having a bond with your committee will make it easier to mingle with them and others at physical events.
Out of all societies, ESN is easiest to enter for internationals because it is created specifically to give international students a home away from home. ESN has a healthy member mix of locals and internationals with similar interests and goals. Members are invited to attend events that promote intercultural exchanges whilst still enabling access to Dutch culture. Do you want more information? Click here to visit their website