ISN is strictly for fun
TU/e's International Student Network Eindhoven (ISN)
is more popular than ever under the new leadership of architecture
students Rico Koolen and Robert Tomohamat. Any activity they organise
seems to fill up almost immediately. Weekly gatherings at Paddy's
Pub are popular, making Paddy's one of the few full bars in Eindhoven
on a Tuesday night. And ISN group dinners on the second Tuesday
of the month, in various inexpensive restaurants, always attract
newcomers and therefore new members.
Koolen and Tomohamat took over
in the new academic year when long-time ISN president Mark Bax
left for a placement abroad and the final phase of his degree
in Physics. With one semester of experience as ISN 'organisers'
under their belts, Rico and Robert's enthusiasm for the job has
only increased. Although they say they could use some help, a
problem many student associations are currently facing.
"We're a very relaxed organisation. There are no obligations.
ISN is strictly for fun," says Rico Koolen. ISN's goal has
always been to create opportunities for foreign and Dutch students
in Eindhoven to meet in an informal setting. The association attracts
people from TU/e, Fontys and local companies who employ foreign
Although Tomohamat is officially still studying architecture at
TU/e, most of his attention is taken up by his computer science
course at Fontys. Both Koolen and Tomohamat are older students
(due to a number of circumstances) looking to broaden their horizons
and their circle of friends. "We'll both be finishing our
degrees within a year or two," says Tomohamat. "I'm
working at it, but studying from dawn till dusk can get boring.
Also, I'm interested in going abroad after I graduate, so I talk
to as many people as I can about their countries." He hopes
direct information from other students can help him make a more
informed choice on what to do after graduation.
ISN started out under another name as a welcome committee to Eindhoven.
Since then ambitions have grown. ISN is building a database of
Dutch students who would like to help newcomers settle in and
generally act the part of a 'buddy'. As yet, foreign students
seem to be a bit uneasy with this idea, probably because the Dutch
helpers are called 'mentors'. But Rico and Robert are confident
the idea of a Dutch buddy for every foreign student could work
well for all concerned.
The association is reaching more Dutch students who want to study
or work abroad, say Koolen and Tomohamat. ISN is working on becoming
part of the larger international Erasmus student network, hoping
to be able to offer more information on studying abroad in the
ISN organises six to eight excursions a year. A recent trip to
Luxemburg, travelling and staying at youth hostels, was unanimously
declared a great success. Other destinations are the Delta dams
in Zeeland, mediaeval cities in Belgium like Bruges or Ghent,
and of course Amsterdam. A 'dropping' is being planned for
sometime in February, before the evenings start to get lighter.
On a more local level, paint ball and bowling are popular.
Visiting one of the weekly informal meetings at Paddy's, I'm introduced
to some of the 'usual suspects', from Greece, Germany, Singapore,
I find that my idea of people from Finland being shy is blatantly
untrue, and that a student from Singapore is quite comfortable
having a beer in a rowdy Irish pub in Eindhoven. An Indian Ph.D.
student and long-time ISN member of my acquaintance is brooding
on where to eat this month, and we discuss relative merits of
'eetcafés' in Eindhoven.
ISN seems to have only one problem: a persistent lack of women
in the membership. Rico has a declared weakness for Italian girls,
but there are currently none around. But the girls from Singapore,
Germany and the Netherlands are having fun on this particular
For more information about ISN: www.tue.nl/isn.
Rico Koolen (left) and Robert Tomohamat. Photo: Bart van