Connect International was founded in 1998 by international residents to provide for the community needs of their fellow newcomers from abroad in the northern provinces of Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland.
The organisation’s members have traditionally been international professionals and their partners, and membership includes access to useful resources – but perhaps most importantly, Connect’s main motivation has been to facilitate social connections and host community activities to ensure foreigners feel at home in the north.
The impetus behind the introduction of student membership is a closer working relationship among Connect, International Welcome Center North, and City Central.
In 2014, International Welcome Center North opened its doors at the Gedempte Zuiderdiep. The center was founded to help international residents and companies employing international staff with government formalities, provide them with relevant information, and organise webinars and seminars on topics that matter to newcomers, such as health insurance and obtaining a mortgage.
City Central began in 2018 with the goal of helping internationals become locals. Through cycling traffic rules workshops, language support, neighbourhood tours and cultivating a sense of community on Instagram, international residents (predominantly students) can get in touch with the Stadjers of Groningen and make themselves at home.
By making Connect membership more affordable for students, IWCN aims to better serve the future young professionals of the north and give them access to a wider social and professional network in the region.
Discount for students
Standard Connect membership is 25 euros per year, and the new discounted student membership for fulltime bachelor and master’s students is 15 euros (per person per year). All members will have access to upcoming events organised by all three brands, discounts on select external collaborative events, weekly tips and access to professional networking, and the opportunity to develop new activities and host them across the north.
Connect, City Central and IWCN host a broad range of activities and events in English (and Dutch) for residents in Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland to connect to other internationals and get to know the region. There are weekly recurring work out clubs, coffee mornings and pub evenings, cycling outings, cultural and city tours, among others.
The overlap among the three organisations – their focus on the north and providing for the practical and social needs of international residents – is the basis for a closer working relationship among them in the past few months.
Through the introduction of a student discount membership, City Central’s community of young and engaged international residents can feel even more at home. And with the addition of City Central’s events to the Connect calendar, existing Connect members will have free access to extra events and activities meant to help them engage with the region in a meaningful way.