International Student Life
Enrolling at a Dutch academic institution is not just about studying – Dutch students take their work-life balance seriously (and you should too!) and highly value having a fulfilling social life outside of the classroom. And there are many ways to find your niche in the North, so we recommend looking into our tips below to feel more at home in the region.
Leeuwarden Student City is an organization catering specifically to people enrolled at the city’s educational institutions, and they host regular events (including an introduction week called Leip with lots of info to get your stay in the city started off right).
Groningen is the biggest student city in the North – nearly 25 percent of the total population are students – and therefore has the most student-focused events and organizations in the region. For English events and “language no problem” (events that do not require speaking Dutch to participate), Here & Now Groningen is a great events platform, especially for student-friendly activities. USVA is another can’t-miss hub in Groningen: it’s the cultural center for students, with classes, creative activities and performances.
The city has two separate introduction weeks for students: the KEI-Week in early to mid-August (primarily for Dutch students but increasingly popular for internationals, too) and the ESN Introduction Week just before and during the first week of classes in the autumn semester.
Student and study associations
Groningen has plenty of student associations (based on interest, academic program, identity, musical performance, and more). In Leeuwarden and Emmen, students can find more social opportunities through student associations and study-affiliated social groups. Many students from Emmen and Leeuwarden travel to Groningen (by train or bus) to enjoy a night out on the town, too. Studieverenigingen (study associations) are connected to specific academic programs, and studentenverenigingen (student associations) are more like fraternities or societies for students, regardless of what they are studying.
Dutch students party hard and play hard, which goes for athletic activities, too. In Groningen, students can attend the ACLO gym at the Zernike campus or near the central train station (plus lots of other sport-specific locations across the city) with a year-long membership for €59.95.
Leeuwarden students can take advantage of Studentensport Leeuwarden for €85 per year (or a six month membership for €50). NHL Stenden students can access sports and physical activities in Emmen, Assen and Meppel for €10 a month with the HBO-Sports pass.
The North has a thriving music scene. Groningen hosts Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) every year in January every year, which is the biggest festival act showcase in Europe. Vera and Simplon are great concert venues in town that put on shows by up-and-coming and underground acts (Vera is more focused on rock and pop, Simplon is more about hip hop). The city also has a massive electronic music scene, like the Paradigm music festival.
In Leeuwarden, Neushoorn puts on shows by all kinds of performers with plenty of English or language-no-problem acts. And there’s some great festivals in Leeuwarden too, like Welcome to the Village and Explore the North.
IWCN also hosts regular events in Leeuwarden, and several events each year in Drenthe, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on social media and favorite our events calendar so you won’t miss any of our upcoming activities near you!