OWL Week: Dutch students are welcome too

The introduction week for international students started this week. “OWL-some”, as the organising committee say, although it would be nicer if the fraternities were more welcoming.

Ariana Manduzai (aged 25, Chair, Journalism and New Media Master’s Degree Programme): “OWL stands for Orientation Week Leiden, the summer and winter introduction weeks for international students. And now, for the first time at Leiden, Master’s students can sign up too. That’s the great thing about OWL and how I found out about it: I was at Groningen before.”
Edouard Bonneville (aged 21, Treasurer, Statistical Science – from France): “OWL is fantastic; I usually have something to complain about anything organised by other people but when I did the OWL, it was all good. I wanted to see what it was like behind the screens and I thought it would be nice to help people have a good week.”
Anna-Maria Hilscher (aged 21, Participants, Psychology – from Germany): “Organising a week like this sounded like a great challenge.”
Annemarie de Jong (aged 21, logistics, China Studies): “Besides, it’s nice for international students to have something like OWL. It’s ready-made network. It’s not always easy to live abroad – I’ve lived in China so I should know.”
Manduzai: “You don’t just build up a network for one week, you make friends for life here. I’m still in touch with the mentors from my week.”
Bonneville: “It’s a pleasant, matey club. But I think it’s a pity that many fraternities are not more welcoming to international students – even if it’s just the sports clubs. They really don’t host anything in English or do anything extra for international students. They stick to an introduction, but the students need something after that week too.”
Hilscher: “Actually, I think it’s more difficult to find a part-time job here in Leiden. You really do need to speak Dutch for that. I’m trying to learn, but it’s difficult.”
Manduzai: “The university does its best, by offering more and more courses in English and by communicating mostly in English.”
Bonneville: “Dutch universities are very serious, perhaps even too serious, about that. In England, where I also did a course, they didn’t make much effort at all. They didn’t organise anything extra and there was absolutely nothing to compare with OWL. I think that it’s enough for the university to offer English lessons and to communicate in English.”
Manduzai: “It’s not up to us. All we can do is give international students an incredible time while they’re here. We don’t just have the introduction weeks: we hold parties and organise trips as well. Dutch students are welcome too, by the way!”
Hilscher: “Yeah, I’m looking forward to the city tour and the big party at the end of the introduction week. The party is fun because of the atmosphere. By then, everyone has lost their shyness.”
Manduzai: “The city tour is fun, because everything comes together. You get to know the town and each other.”
De Jong: “The ice skating is always fun too. Lots of people have never done it before,”
Bonneville: “I mostly wonder how we’re going to manage it all. There’s so much to do!”
Manduzai: “It’s gonna be OWL-some anyway.”

By Marlies Rothoff

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