In essence, the ESN aims to create a more mobile and flexible education environment by improving international student exchange and study abroad programmes. They provide guidance for all students involved from a local, national and international level. By representing the rights and needs of international students they seek to improve, in particular, the social and practical integration of international students and the reintegration of homecoming students and also promote an intercultural experience for home students who are not studying abroad ("internationalisation at home").
ESN can be of value to you whatever role you play in the international higher education programmes, whether you are a prospective, current or former international student, or even if you are not an international student yourself, but wish to get involved in a more international environment.
If you are currently thinking about studying abroad, ESN can provide you will relevant, practical information to help you decide what academic exchange programme to study on and what to consider.
You will also be able to take advantage of the experiences of students who have already been involved in international studies programmes and get valuable advice.
If you are a current exchange student you might already have experienced the typical problems such as feeling a bit lost and abandoned in the new foreign environment. The ESN offers help in these situations by organising activities to aid the social, academic and practical integration into the new environment. These activities include cultural and social events (i.e. film nights, trips to local touristic sights, language projects, international food festivals, parties etc.) or other forms of programmes such as mentoring schemes.
Furthermore, as a current international student you can get valuable information and advice from previous international students.
If you are a former international student you can actively make use of your experiences to help other international students in the future.
Furthermore, the ESN gives you an opportunity to communicate and work with like-minded people who share similar experiences. This is also a nice way to relive your days as an international student.
Even if you are not an international student the ESN can offer you the chance to experience the cultural exchange that goes alongside the exchange programmes.
As everyone is welcome to participate in the events you will have to opportunity to meet people from many different countries and learn about their different cultures.
Moreover, you can participate in the services offered to international students by volunteering and getting involved in the integration process. In this sense, you could help organise the international students welcome week, or other events or join a volunteer in a mentoring programme.
Being an ESN member has many advantages such as the possibility to gain valuable experience in project management, being part of an international community as well as other benefits such as university credits of certain discounts. There are numerous ways to get involved. If you have decided you would like to volunteer in this environment, the first thing to do is to check out the ESN section in your local area on the ESN Website. If your local area does not have a section yet, you have the option to create your own.