At first glance, probably.
On deeper inspection…Most definitely!
Last semester I responded to a student advertisement on the Facebook ISN group about partaking in Harvard National Model United Nations and going with the Leiden MUN team to New York and Boston. They asked for a simple letter of motivation and CV amongst other small details, and requested an interview.
“Interview?!?” I thought to myself at the time? What student society does that? Maybe these aren’t solely students and there was some higher influence from their academic peers. I was wrong. They were. Moreover I was briefed by a friend (who had participated in OxiMUN last semester) to turn up in a suit. So I did. “Phew”, good move. I was greeted on the top floor of the plexus building by two smartly clad students, with crest-emblazoned ties and slick greased back hairstyles to match. For the next hour I was quizzed on ethics, culture, morals, politics and general knowledge – all a bit heavy I thought, but good fun nonetheless – only the Imperial College Finance Society could compare to this level of sophistication, organisation and class, and even that is a big ‘if’.
Luckily I was chosen to be part of the delegation for the following semester, and would be attending a prep course every thursday 7-11pm, up until the conference in February plus extra weekend sessions. Where myself and 18 fellow co-delegates will be representing the wonderful Helvetic Confederation of Switzerland. The prep course itself is impeccably organised by the LMUN board with classes on philosophy, public speaking, negotiation workshops and mock MUN simulations, followed by drinks at ‘t Keizertje after each session. The schedule is definitely intense but very rewarding, and remarkable considering it’s put together by a group of bachelor students at Leiden.
But let us not digress from the point of whether Dutch students take themselves too seriously. I had been warned before coming to Leiden of the copycat dutch male student who wears a blazer and tie to informal occasions and has enough grease in his hair to rescue a baby whale stranded on the beaches of Katwijk. It has commonly been assumed that these students belong primarily to a corporal (in the latin sense, not the british military rank) society which goes by the moniker Minerva, and you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming this yourself (of course there are exceptions).
I was familiarised with the ways of Minerva in my first week in Leiden, where I took part in the El Cid week. Having no where to sleep in Leiden, I was ‘kindly’ offered by one of my mentors to sleep in his house, a Minerva frathouse on the Haagweg. Little did I know at the time that this was probably the most infamous house in Leiden and has even been featured on a dutch television series for the most filthiest houses in the entire Netherlands! Well if that wasn’t bad enough, the greeting I received at 4am when all the lovely fratboys came back from a night out (lady-less I would like to add but not to my surprise) was a swift wake up and vodka bottle down my throat. These guys definitely take partying too seriously, but alls well that ends well as they say in good ol’ England and the following week I was safely tucked away in my Hugo De Grootstraat residence taking only my studying seriously. Ok…. That is blatantly a lie but I’ll leave the post here for now…..