[Krystyna King- Events Secretary]

Trident Media* was able to have an exclusive interview with Leonid Kaptina, the President of the ESN Hertfordshire. ESN recently hosted a Buddy Meet Up event, that involved hundreds of UH and International Students. Kaptina tells us more about ESN and what his team is aiming to achieve for the upcoming year.

What does ESN stand for and what does it involve?
ESN stands for Erasmus Student Network. It is the biggest student association in Europe dealing with all international, Exchange and UK students. ESN operates across 37 countries, offering its services to over 180,000 students every year. In Hertfordshire we are a team of 16 students who work on a voluntary basis for all students to ensure we have the best time together.

Tell us about the Buddy Meet Up Event ESN hosted recently.
The Buddy Scheme was launched last year with 100 students taking part. This year we have 400 students registered on our scheme. We match incoming students with Herts students based on preferences and criteria. These local students then help the incoming students prior to arrival in the UK and throughout the year tend to become close friends and help each other with anything they can. For example, some language students choose an incoming buddy from the country whose language they are learning to speak so they can practice together.

The Buddy meet up event was held on September 23rd. Free food and drink were provided and gave buddies a chance to meet each other and as well as other students interested in meeting people from with other cultural backgrounds. It was a very social event and everyone made plenty of new friends. Our focus has been on the buddy scheme as it benefits all the students and the University. We find that many students have social integration worries before or upon arrival and an event like this gives them some comfort. We also find that many UK students who have studied abroad want to give something back to someone, who is now in the same position as they once were. No one gets paid for anything related to ESN, but it’s the satisfaction of knowing you have helped someone that makes this scheme so popular. At the end of the day we all believe at the same moto; ''students helping students''.

What is the ESNcard and how can we get one?
The ESNcard is a the membership card of ESN. It is very important to know that it is a European wide card that gives students over 2000 discounts across Europe, as well as at the majority of our trips and events. We are constantly working to get new partnerships for students, to make the card even more beneficial. We highly recommend the ESNcard to everyone at the University. Discounts can be found at www.esncard.org and to get one you need to contact the local ESN team, through our Facebook group or email at info@esnuk-herts.org.

What have you got planned for the year ahead?
A little preview for this year includes our Welcome Event, Paint-balling, The London Eye and a River Cruise. Also, nights out in Oxford, Brighton, more Buddy trips and a Warner Bros studio tour. Our bigger trips include Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Ibiza in the summer where students from all over the UK will join to have amazing weekenders!

What are you mostly looking forward to?
Everything! It has been a long and hard summer’s work but to see the success and how far ESN has come this year is just amazing! If I had to choose one trip, I definitely can’t wait for Edinburgh next month- where we will be with a thousand students from across the UK, in a wonderful cultural city.

How can people find out about future events?
To find out about our events the best way is to join our Facebook group: Erasmus Society Hertfordshire 2014-2015
You can find all the information on our website: www.esnuk-herts.org
Follow us on Twitter: @ESNHerts

The ESN Hertfordshire team is very motivated and committed to their work. Here you have some shared thoughts from other members of this amazing committee:

 - ‘Our reward is seeing everyone have the best experiences whilst at UH, by making friends for life through our buddy scheme, events and trips around the UK and Europe.’ - Leonid Kaptina, President

- ‘My buddy calls me his family here, so I'm really happy that I'm contributing to someone's happy memories.’- Chimtua Nnanna, Buddy Coordinator 

- ‘I feel the events we are putting on will really help our students to meet people of all different cultures, meet friends for life and share new experiences together.’ - Jessica Blankson, Secretary 

-‘Earn your place in the memories of beautiful people, explore every corners of Europe, make friends that last a lifetime and most of all, Have FUN!. Get yourself into the Erasmus spirit with every single event that we do because Once Erasmus Always Erasmus.’ - Michael Onuorah, Buddy Coordinator


Thank you everyone for your incredibly inspiring enthusiasm and motivation! Keep up the good work! 


Written by Krystyna King - ESN Hertfordshire Events Secretary 

*The interview was originally published in UniVerse, the University of Hertfordshire's newspaper and can also be found online at http://tridentmedia.org/esn-hertfordshire-exclusive/.