- The good:cozy parties and friendly company
- The bad: some dinners are only for members
- The size: 200-400 members
- The people: students and professionals from Spanish/Portuguese-speaking countries
The moment the door of the restaurant opens, Groningen suddenly seems like a much warmer city. That gezellig ambience is there: bachata songs are in the playlist, Spanish words are being spoken in every corner and delicious smells of warm, exotic food fill the air. It’s the Traditional Dinner, a monthly event hosted in a Dutch-Colombian restaurant that gives students the opportunity to cook dishes originating from Latin countries.
ALAS, the Association of Latin American Students Groningen, works with the international community to organize monthly events open to the public. Every first Wednesday of the month they host Movie Nights where Latin American films are screened and followed by a debate. They also organise ALAS Informa to boost the careers of Latinos living in Groningen, as well as to provide them with basic information about the Dutch lifestyle.
Open, informal and respectful
Founded in 2010, ALAS is an active organization for students and professionals living in Groningen. Unsurprisingly, most of the members come from Latin countries, but other internationals interested in their culture are welcome. ‘
ALAS has a different mind-set compared with other associations. ‘I like it because they are open, informal and respectful. It is a place where I have made really good friends’, says Jorrit Saaltink, a Dutch International Relations student.
For those living far from home, like PhD student of humanities Camila Martínez from Chile, being part of ALAS is ‘a great community feeling, because we can speak our native language and share together the experience of living abroad’. For Mónica Lobato, also PhD student of Health Psychology from Chile, choosing ALAS was easy: ‘As a Latin American, I feel represented by them and it is a community that makes me feel at home.’
Discover the city
Last year, ALAS, together with other student associations in Groningen, initiated a cultural event for the Let’s Gro festival. ‘That was how Experience Groningen was born. It’s an event that aims to welcome new international students and help them to discover the city and province of Groningen’, ALAS president Angélica López, PhD student of Psychology explains.