Treacle waffles and chopsticks

Taco van der Eb

By Marleen van Wesel

“We’re here mainly for the bike sale”, explained Christin Motsche (23) from Germany. She and the other members of her group, some fifteen students from South Korea, White Russia, Taiwan, Hungary, Italy and China, are visiting the Sports Centre Festival at the University Sports Centre. The visit was part of a two-day introduction programme for international students held last Thursday and Friday. However, besides the bike sale, there was not much to do at the festival three quarters of an hour after it started. Motsche added: “Well, there are treacle waffles too, but we’ve had quite a lot of them by now.” Even the bike sale was disappointing. “The announcement said that all the bikes would be priced between thirty and seventy Euros. Well, maybe there was one bike that cost thirty Euros but it has already been sold, because these piles of rust cost seventy.”When all the sale form were blown across the football pitch by a gust of wind – to the bike seller’s dismay -  Motsche and her group couldn’t hide their grins. These students are about to start the Asian Studies course. Minuk Nam (26), an elegant South Korean student who had been lugging an impressive collection of bags along all day, chose Leiden because its Asian Studies had a good reputation. “You can major in a good number of subjects”, remarked David Colozza (23) from Italy: “Leiden is just round the corner for me, thanks to RyanAir. If you fly from Florence, where I come from, you can get there just as fast as you can to Rome or Milan by train, where I could have gone. And everyone speaks English here, even the bus drivers and the girls at the tills.” The first lesson followed only five minutes later: a mini language course at the Sports Centre Festival. ‘Fluent Dutch in 10 minutes’, the sign above the stall looked promising. “Pff, how do you say ‘difficult’ in Dutch?” sighed Abby Huang (23) from Taiwan. The class must have been particularly effective, because after ten minutes, she could actually introduce herself and count to ten. She also wanted to know the Dutch for “free” but as the language teacher had already moved on to the next group, Colozza taught her to say the phrases she had just learnt in Italian. A mini language course might be amusing, but the introduction programme for international students was less fun than the El Cid. “We spent most of our time doing serious things”, said Nam. “There was a scavenger hunt last night – apparently. But our whole group went to the pub because it rained too much.” Lunch – a stir-fry served with chopsticks, was followed by a Tai Chi class. One of Nam’s bags proved to contain a complete sports outfit, and she quickly changed out her skirt and killer heels and into her gym kit. Despite the Asian elements in the introduction, Chinese Helln (25) doesn’t feel at home in Leiden yet. “The communication here, even about unimportant matters, is so different to China. It wasn’t actually my choice to come here – my parents thought I should go to a Dutch university for a year because it would be good for my career,” she revealed, after some hesitation, between bites of a treacle waffle. “However, I do like these biscuits.”

Deel dit bericht: