Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
Most foreign students are somewhat wary of student associations. Are they not at the expense of your study? Isn’t it all about drinking beer? And then there is this hazing… Four foreign students explain why they did decide to join an association.
Florence Humblet (20), student of European Law and a member of student association Tragos, from Liege, Belgium.
“In Belgium, student associations are renowned for their extravagant drinking. It is very different here, much more fun. Drinking is never compulsory. I became acquainted with Tragos during the Inkom; my ‘papas’ were members. I got along very well with one of them, he is my boyfriend now. I really wanted to learn Dutch and get to know more about the culture, and this is a good way to do that. It was difficult in the beginning. I was frustrated at times because I wanted to say something but I could not say it properly. It is better now; I notice that people approach me more easily now because I understand them. Of all the members in my Inkom group I was the only foreigner to join a student association. Others were afraid, for example, that they would be laughed at because they did not speak the language, but that never happened to me. Everyone is very friendly and they actually like my accent. I have never felt out of place. It takes up more time than I thought, certainly in the first year. That was because I joined a sorority, Les Must. I was really lucky to meet them; we hit it off really well. Next year I will even move into their house.”
Luca Hänβel (20), student of International Business and a member of student association Koko, from Hagen, Germany
“At least half of my Inkom group joined Koko. So I did too. I also took a look at Saurus, but I thought: doing that much sports, that is not for me. In Germany the associations are quite different, they are much more liberal in the Netherlands. Koko also has no hazing, which was very important to me. I feel that I should not have to go through some test before I am allowed to join an association. When my mother heard that I had become a member, she shouted: Oh my God, why? Ha-ha, now that she has been here – on Mother's Day at my fraternity – and saw how things are at Koko and what I do, she likes it.
“I have a year club, I’m in a committee and I am also a member of fraternity Ormètikos. This means that I am in the pub on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. You can just be part of a year club, and then it only takes up one evening a week. I would certainly recommend foreign students to join an association. You learn a lot, also about Dutch student culture. Germans are somewhat more serious, study more. Now I have a good mix between relaxation and studying.”
Georg Lang (22), a student of Economics and a member of the rowing and student association Saurus, from the neighbourhood of Cologne, Germany
“I always have to explain it to people at home. They think that a student association is right-wing populist and conservative, but here in the Netherlands it has nothing to do with politics. It is purely for your own pleasure.
“I was drawn to Saurus because of the sports aspect. I am a competitive rower this year. This means that I train eight times each week and take part in national competitions with my team. We have won a few times already, that is really cool. I was just a regular member last year, so I have seen both sides – the fun side as well as the sporting side. Being a regular member does not take up much time, there are not too many compulsory evenings. On top of that you create your own circle of friends within the association and you see all of them when you go to the clubhouse. Of course we drink on pub evenings – except the competitive rowers, who are not allowed to drink alcohol during the rowing season – but it is not compulsory.
“I think that this is the way to become acquainted with Dutch student life. It also looks good on your CV, you show that you can integrate well in a foreign country and that in addition to English you also speak another foreign language. Of course it is also just really good fun.”
Leon Kuhlmann (22), student of International Business and a member of student association Circumflex, from Bremen, Germany
“The idea of joining an association appealed to me right from the start. During the Inkom I spoke with members from all associations. The senior members from Circumflex were nicest; they said that it did not matter that I did not speak Dutch and that I could always approach the board if I had any problems. After the beach party in the pub, I signed up immediately, the atmosphere was so good. I also went to Tragos and Koko, but I did not like them as much.
I did not know what to expect of the hazing; I thought: we will see. It actually was not that bad. Of course you don’t get much sleep and there is psychological pressure, but there were also a lot of fun aspects. You really have to think about why you want to become a member, I think that is good. Everyone helps each other, which creates a bond. That you have to drink a lot is really not true. In Germany they drink three times as much. Someone in my year club does not even like beer.
My membership is not at the expense of my study. Joining a fraternity was a little too much for me, so now I only have the year club and the bar committee and that is easy to combine.”
The four large Maastricht student associations
SV Circumflex: founded on 10 June 1971, has 700 members, clubhouse De Kaap is on the Capucijnenstraat 120.
Maastricht Student Rowing Association Saurus: founded on 27 May 1983, has more than 350 members and a new clubhouse on the Bosscherweg 24.
SV KoKo: founded on 17 August 1976, has more than 650 members, clubhouse De Botermijn is on the Gebr. Hermansstraat 11-13.
MSV Tragos: founded on 11 March 1982, has 500 members, the clubhouse Fort Koning Willem I, is on the Kastanjelaan 66.