Universiteit Leiden

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Pubs, the beach and study spots: students get to know The Hague

Almost a thousand students started HOPweek in The Hague on Monday morning. During this introduction week bachelor’s and master’s students get to know the city, the university and each other.

At the Hofvijver lake in The Hague, mentors stand holding handmade signs with a number on them. They are trying to gather all the members of their group on the sunny first day of HOPweek. Complete groups sit in a circle on the grass getting to know each other. Others are already walking into town to discover the best cafés, study spots and nightlife venues.

Carlotta from Germany is the only one with her mentor. The rest couldn’t find the registration area and had to be shown the way. Carlotta has never been to the Netherlands before and is hoping to get to know The Hague and new people during HOPweek. ‘I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Netherlands from friends who studied here. But it's honestly because I really like the International Studies programme. It really stood out to me. I found the combination of economics, history, culture and politics very interesting. And it’s cool to have the possibility to specialise in one region and learn another language.’

Milena and Anna are mentors of a group this week because they found last year’s introduction week really useful. Anna: ‘I made friends that I’m still super close with. And it’s such a great chance to get to know the city and the university. You feel welcome in a new country where you might feel lost if weren’t part of HOPweek’, Anna, who comes from Germany, explains. Milena: ‘I found out what the university is about and really liked the overall vibe of the introduction week. So I thought it was really cool to give that to new students.’

In the morning they have already shown the new students all the ‘nice cute cafés’ you might not find on your own and study spots outside the university. Milena: ‘And places to go out, obviously.’ But they haven’t forgotten the university. Anna: ‘The campus tour last year was super helpful. Our mentor showed us where to print, study, eat and stuff like that. That was super valuable because otherwise you’d get lost in the building and wouldn’t know what you can do there.’

HOPweek is for both Dutch and international students and is therefore all in English. The programme includes a city tour, an introduction to the faculties, an information market, a beach day, a pub crawl, a sports day, workshops and parties.

Dutch Security Studies student Luc is sitting on a bench by the Hofvijver waiting until for the rest of the group to arrive. What is he looking forward to during this HOPweek? ‘I want to find out more about the city and to get to know the other students. I haven’t really taken a proper look at the programme. I’ve just come along and will see what happens.’ Luc already lives in The Hague but wants to find a student room. ‘It’s a bit difficult to find a room. But I’m sure it’ll work out in the end.’

Lasse has had more luck. He recently found a room near the main train station. ‘It’s a funny story. I met a girl and she had a place and then her housemates left. She texted and said it was an emergency and that she needed two new housemates. I knew someone else and so I immediately got an apartment without any worries.’ This will help him focus on his International Studies programme. ‘I come from Germany and want to do an English programme and meet people from other countries. I think that opens the world for you.’

Introduction week for international students

HOPweek is until Friday. The  OWL for international students starts on 28 August. EL CID week in Leiden has already been and gone.

Text: Dagmar Aarts
Photos: Patrice Börger

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