Beating the Delft blues

Delta nr 15, April 2004

Local student organizations are searching for ways to enhance foreign students' social lives. A recent survey found that many foreign students feel lonely during their stay in Delft.

"Foreign students often don't know where to go in order to enrich their social lives,' says Inge Corten, member of Delftsch Overleg (DO). This umbrella organization recently surveyed 130 foreign, mainly Master's students on their housing situation, social lives and Delft's academic climate. Most students said they felt especially lonely during the first couple of months of their stay.

The survey also showed that around twenty to thirty percent of foreign students meet new people in places like the faculty pub, sports club, bar or movie theater, whereas nearly all of them said they meet new people in class. And 90 percent of the students surveyed would like to socialize with Dutch students, as well as other foreign students.

Many foreigners are unfamiliar with student societies and the difference between those and academic student societies. The latter are faculty-related and mainly deal with issues regarding academic programs and enriching professional knowledge, whereas student societies offer a way to enhance one's social life and meet people of different programs and departments. Students who participated in the survey had to name the societies they had heard of, and the ones that were mentioned most turned out to be academic societies and the Vssd, the student union.

Corten: "We're now thinking of ways to increase student societies' familiarity among foreign students. They want to get to know Dutch culture and we think student societies are part of that culture." Corten's society, the Delfts Studenten Corps (DSC), is looking into the possibility of an international membership, especially aimed at foreign MSc students. "It might be a good idea if foreign students could join sub societies and meet people that way. Sports, for instance, offer an easy way to get to know new people."

Vera, the representative board for student societies, is also thinking of introducing the various student societies to foreign students at the start of the academic year. Other plans include handing out English-language leaflets, improving the amount of information available in English on the TU Delft website and perhaps increasing the participation of foreign students in the Owee (introduction week).

"This year, all students participating in the summer course will participate in a day program and one evening program during the Owee, just like last year. But maybe we should expand that," Corten says. Around 120 foreign Master's students are expected to participate in the summer course next autumn.

The survey also revealed that three-quarters of the foreign students in Delft are unhappy with their housing situation. One in three wanted to move house after just a few months and sixty percent would prefer to share their accommodation with other students. As for quality of education, most students are quite happy. The results of the survey will be published shortly, and booklets will soon be distributed among student societies and foreign students.

Ideas wanted: Student organizations are currently thinking of ways to enhance your Delft social lives, but are there things they are overlooking? Delta's English Page is eager to hear your ideasand opinions on what can be done to improve your social life in Delft. Should there be regular day trips organized to other Dutch cities, for example, or would you like to have a Dutch student as your personal mentor, in order to show you around and introduce you to the local culture? Let us know, let your voice be heard!


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