A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Its been nearly a year since I arrived in Leiden on that Friday. Though crucially I had arranged for a room months in advance and was fairly happy with my choice, my first weekend was eventful but for the wrong reasons. I had to make a trip back to the airport to collect my delayed luggage(yes again!) as otherwise it wouldn’t have been delivered until the following week. This left me knackered and so I couldn’t go out to explore the market or to even buy a bike. When I finally did take a walk around the city it felt depressing as I hardly saw any humans. I guess only the new arrivals were in Leiden this early and they too were somewhere indoors.
Anyway, the point of this post is not to upset you but to cheer you up instead, especially if you are a new Masters student coming to Leiden for the first time. Last year we had to sign up to a mandatory introduction week called OWL. It was a week long programme where students were divided in groups of about 15 students who would spend most of the week together. Each group had a Leiden student as a guide who took care of a range of appointments such as registrations at the faculty, seminars for new students, picnics, meals or anything you needed help with. Every morning we’d assemble at some landmark in the city and then follow our guide around for the rest of the day. This was a wonderfully organised meetup as it helped me settle in quickly. To aid logistics, groups were divided according to faculty but there was still plenty of opportunity to interact with people studying completely different subjects. Seeing other people in your position i.e. without bikes or without a clue of where to go helped calm nerves and in fact problems were solved with team-work which also helped forge new friendships.
The first week in an alien environment can sometimes set the wrong tone at the start. If instead you can have a smooth week to begin with where all your mundane but essential administrative tasks can be taken care of along with having fun on the way and making long lasting contacts and friends, it can make you feel at home right away and who wouldn’t want that? I just had a look at the OWL webpage for this year (register by Aug 15). I am not sure if it is mandatory or not for this year and am also aware there is a cost associated with it(~60 Euros for the week) but if you are in two minds about registering for it I’d suggest you go for it. I am sure most students can take care of settling in themselves but this might just make it a little more enjoyable.
Fossils at the Naturalis museum during our OWL tour
Must watch movie # 14
Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure
I watched a spoof of this recently and realized how much I loved the movie as a kid. If you are one of the few who are yet to watch this, well let me tell you it’s about two high school friends who travel back in time to collect historical figures so that they can pass a history assignment and the rest as they say is ‘history’.