HOPping in The Hague: introduction week for students in The Hague
Kitesurfing, colonising the Binnenhof and most important of all - meeting fellow students. More then 700 students of Leiden University in The Hague get to know the city and one another during the HOPweek.
Comedy and kitesurfing
Hundreds of students are on a city safari in The Hague. The sun-drenched squares are teeming with groups of new students who are getting to know their new city or which trams go to the beach. The programme is taking place at some of The Hague's most famous beauty spots. The 19th-century Passage, with its shops and cafés all topped by an arched glass room, is the backdrop to a comedy night with stand-up comedian Greg Shapiro.
Student city by the sea
The students first do some finding out about their faculty and their programme and after that they're off to the beach for some kitesurfing or taking a dip in the sea. 'We are the only student city in the Netherlands that can say it's by the sea, although, it goes without saying, that we don't exploit that,' comments Pim Visser, chairman of the HOPweek committee.
On Tuesday, Rector magnificus Carel Stolker welcomed the new students in the Kloosterkerk. He talked about the international status of The Hague, thanks to its many international courts, NGOs and UN organisations. Stolker hopes that students will be inspired to make a contribution to resolving such global problems as climate change. 'You are part of a new generation of world citizens who have to help resolve these problems. Our lecturers and researchers will be investing in you over the coming years, but you are the people who will actually have to do it.' Stolker also hopes to see more of The Hague's students in Leiden: 'Leiden is just 10 minutes away!'
Integrating with the locals
The many practical challenges - asking a local to marry you, for instance - aim to bring the students in contact with other inhabitants of The Hague. Last week, Gaby de Bruin (Public Administration) took part in the EL CID week in Leiden and this week it's the turn of the HOPweek. 'I want to meet as many students as possible and my programme has subjects in both Leiden and The Hague. This introduction week is super international. There are at least seven different nationalities in my group. It's really interesting to mee so many people from different countries and it's great that The Hague is becoming more of a student city.'
Dealing with the Dutch
The HOPweek is a first: never before have students of Leiden University who are studying in The Hague had a whole introduction week in the capital. The increase in the number of students at the Faculty of Governhance and Global Affairs and at other faculties that now also have programmes in The Hague has made the intro week in the city not only fun, but also a necessity. These students represent a diverse community with many different nationalities. 'We want them to integrate as much as possible with one another,' Visser comments. They are given all kinds of tips about the Dutch - such as their famous directness, for example - in the 'Dealing with the Dutch' workshop.
Jakob Semb Aasmundsen from Norway
Jakob will be studying Global Challenges at Leiden University College The Hague. Why did he choose this study? ‘I want to focus on global issues and how they are approached. In this programme I can specialise later in human diversity and how different cultures can co-exist successfully. The Hague itself is a great example. I come from a small town in Norway and for me The Hague is exciting and so international. I'm definitely going to learn Dutch because it's a beautiful language: in some ways it sounds quite charming, but at the same time it has all those hard 'g' sounds.'
Andrea Guzman from Colombia
Colombian student Andrea is exploring the Binnenhof with her group. She's particularly impressed with the open feel of the city. 'The Hague is very welcoming. I've only been here a few days but I have already had lots of spontaneous talks with people in the streets and at cafés. And I love the mix of classical and modern European architecture. My International Studies programme has a good combination of languages and cultures. For me as a Colombian it's interesting to study them from a European perspective. There's just one thing I need - a nice, affordable room. Has anyone got any tips for me?'
(LvP/Photos: Monique Shaw)