What is ESN?
Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Switzerland is the non-profit oriented, politically independent and voluntary umbrella association of all 14 Swiss local ESN Sections. It is also a part of ESN International, the largest student association in Europe, present in more than 1000 Higher Education Institutions from 42 countries, forming a strong and growing network.
The mission of ESN is to work for the creation of a more mobile and flexible education environment by supporting and developing the student exchange from different levels and providing an intercultural experience also to those students who cannot access a period abroad ("internationalisation at home").
Who are we for?
The students who are returning from an exchange are being supported in the reintegration process in their home countries by keeping contact with an international environment. Many local Sections members are former exchange students, often because they have had good experiences from their exchange period or because they felt a lack of help during their exchange. They also understand better the issues and challenges in a foreign environment.
However, the main focus of ESN is placed on current exchange students, who often face problems (and feel abandoned) in their new environments. Therefore, ESN offers help in the academic, social and practical integration process. This is mainly done through activities in the local sections, which include cultural and social events such as trips to various places within the country, film nights, language projects, international food festivals and last, but not least, parties. In addition to that, many sections have introduced mentor systems, which help the international students mainly in academic and practical integration.
ESN also provides relevant information and encourages future exchange students to gain international experience and gain relevant insight into different cultures.
What do we do?
To accomplish our mission, we encourage collaborations between the local Sections, support them through training and different projects and play the role of intermediary between them and ESN International.
The different projects of ESN International which we promote include the Buddy System, which aims to assign local buddies to exchange and international students, to help them get integrated at their arrival and get support throughout their stay abroad. Every year a team of exchange students and ESN members are also sent to the International Erasmus Games (IEG), an international sports tournament taking place each year
Our activities also include the support of intersection and national events, such as Titanic Lémanique, a gala evening organised in Spring on the largest boat of Lake Geneva by the local Sections of Lausanne, with participants from all over Switzerland and Europe. The next national event, Swiss Train Rallye, is a nation-wide visit of the different cities in Switzerland by train in one weekend, with teams from each Swiss Sections meeting for challenges in each city, allowing them to discover the culture and history of each city. Finally, the National Erasmus Games is the national sport competition
The variety of activity can be divided into six causes ESN members advocate for on all levels of the organisation: culture, education & youth, environmental sustainability, health & well-being, skills & employability and social inclusion.