Happy Birthday, ESN!

Flaggparade ESN_147_JJE

ESN ANNIVERSARY. International students getting used to the rain of Bergen in the Flag Parade. PHOTO: JONAS EIAN

On Saturday October 18th , ESN celebrated their 25th anniversary with a flag parade. All international students were invited to participate.

  • Established on October 16th 1989, and legally registered in 1990.
  • Present in more than 430 Higher Education Institutions from 37 different countries.
  • Counts 13 500 active members (29.000 with the buddies included).
  • Offers services to 180 000 students.

Source: ESN.org

This Saturday 18th, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) in Bergen had invited all international students to a flag parade around the city center. But there was something that made it different from the other events they usually hold. It was a very special occasion.

Exactly 25 years ago from this Thursday, in Utrecht, a group of international students decided to create an organization for helping international students to get into the culture of the countries in which they were staying, and to get to know each other.

Basically, the main purpose was to make their experience as easy and satisfying as possible. Now, a quarter of a century later, ESN is the largest student organization in Europe and it’s present in every country of the continent. So it seems that ESN had quite a lot to celebrate.

The Prelude: International Dinner

The anniversary celebrations started this Friday with an international dinner, where students were invited to show the others the gastronomy of their countries. Christina Havn, President of the ESN in Bergen, explains:

Flaggparade ESN_15_JJE

PAINTING. Christina Havn, president of ESN in Bergen, painted her face like many other of the participants.

– We were about 70 people, and almost all of them brought a dish that was typical from their home country, we had a really good time. There was a very good response and people were really satisfied with it, they were proud of it because they contributed themselves.

The Flag Parade

On Saturday, members of the organization and other international students gathered in a house in Nygårdsgaten to paint flags of their home countries, paint their own faces, eat waffles and drink hot chocolate. The rain outside didn’t stop the participants from smiling, although it may have affected the attendance. But the special circumstances and the smell of waffles helped to keep the students cheerful despite the bad weather.

After the painting and the waffles, the participants went out to the rainy streets of the city centre, waving their flags and chanting. When they reached the «Blue Stone» (Blå stenen) at Torgallmenningen, they took some pictures and went back to Nygardsgaten to continue the celebration.

– It went really well. Many people came, even though the weather is awful. We’re very pleased and satisfied, said Christina Havn, smiling.

The Work of ESN

These kind of events that ESN arranges seem to be really appreciated and welcomed by international students when we ask them. Some of them, like Senta Bratz from Germany, point out the diversity of activities that ESN organizes:

Flaggparade ESN_19_JJE

FLAG PARADE PREPARATIONS. – These kind of events give international students a great opportunity to know other cultures, says russian student Aleksandra Mashkina, one of the participants.

– They offer lots of different events, like ice skating, football matches, visits and partying, she says.

– I think the work they do is really good. All Erasmus students that are here on exchange don’t know each other well, so I think it’s great that they organize events where people from different countries gather and get to know each other, practice other languages and make friends, explains Agnieszka Kropinska, an international student from Poland.

ESN shares their enthusiasm:

– We’re pretty satisfied with all that we are doing and all the participants that join our events, said Christina Havn.