Alexandra, the only international student running for office
First off Alexandra, why the SOG?
It was the only party that promoted international student candidates and showed a particular interest in the needs of international students. Also, SOG is more than just a party; it is an organization with committees that allow us to really discuss issues and come up with solutions to problems.
How do you feel about your chances of being elected to the Council?
I’m feeling pretty positive. I think I have international students on my side. With an international student on the Council, they can see that they will be represented. There are roughly 5,000 international students in Groningen and they need a voice.
You don’t yet speak Dutch; do you think this will affect your chances of being elected?
I do understand some Dutch and it is improving all the time, but I mostly speak English, as I have only been here since September. When I approach people in English, they seem more comfortable and most Dutch students are happy to speak English. I have not found language to be a barrier here. So long as you have the right attitude, good communication skills and a good story, there’s nothing to hold you back.
What are your plans if you’re elected to the Council?
I want to help international students to learn Dutch, as most students need to speak the language to get a job. Many students aren’t entitled to free Dutch lessons, so I plan to do all I can to make the lessons cheaper, both for internationals doing their full degree here and exchange students.
Is that a promise?
I promise that I will try my utmost to make it happen.
There have been some issues about student housing. What are your plans to improve the housing situation?
Well, I can’t promise that new dorms will be built, as that’s unrealistic. Also, since the Housing Office is run by a third party, the University’s influence is limited. What I can propose is a platform where current students at the University speak to prospective students before their arrival, to help sort out their accommodation and provide information on their different options.