Universiteit Leiden

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The whole world is studying in Leiden

An impressive 1,300 international students from 84 different nations got to know each other at the University in Orientation Week Leiden. Where do they come from and why did they choose Leiden?

Flora (Taiwan, Art history)

The chance to study in Rembrandt’s home town. Flora from Taiwan is mad about Dutch painting from the Golden Age, which is why she chose Leiden. Although she has only just arrived in the Netherlands, she has already bought a Museum Card. ‘I can’t wait to visit all the museums here.’ Flora is very international: before she came here she studied at St Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland. She likes Leiden so far. ‘Life is very relaxed here. I’m getting to know people quickly and can be myself. I’ve also discovered how fantastic it is to go everywhere by bike.’

Dutch games

During the Orientation Week Leiden (OWL), the students were also introduced to some traditional Dutch games. Our reporter Lauren Spencer asked some of the international students about their experiences so far.

Madison (United States, Master's in Developmental Psychology)

Madison from Oregon in the United States is here because Leiden is ‘one of the best places’ in the world to study Developmental Psychology. She is fascinated by the research in psychologist Eveline Crone’s brain lab in Leiden. She isn’t really suffering from culture shock. ‘Oregon and Leiden have more similarities than differences.’ Madison couldn’t leave her dog John behind, so brought him too. ‘It’s even easier for dogs to integrate, because they speak a universal language.’ But thanks to this introduction week she too is rapidly getting to know lots of people. ‘Everyone here is in the same phase and that makes starting the programme not scary but exciting in a good way.’

Marc (Spain, Master's in Molecular Genetics)

Leiden is the only European university that offers a Master’s in Molecular Genetics. That’s what brought Spanish student Marc to Leiden. He studied in Barcelona before he came here, and the much smaller Leiden is a breath of fresh air. ‘I don’t like lots of traffic, so Leiden is a nice city for me to study in.’ He won’t be feeling lonely, because his brother and a good friend are also studying here. But Marc is making the most of the opportunity to meet lots of new students at the Orientation Week. He’s impressed by how many different nationalities there are. ‘It feels as if the whole world is studying in Leiden.’  

Tatiana (The Netherlands, Master's in Evolutionairy Biology)

Dutch biology student Tatiana comes from Voorschoten and wasn’t bothered about being close to home. But she ended up in Leiden anyway, because Leiden is the only place to offer Evolutionary Biology. It was a conscious decision to participate in the international Orientation Week. ‘I want to get to know foreign students in Leiden.’ She hopes that by joining in she will do her bit for integration between Dutch and foreign students. ‘Before this I spent some time studying in Australia and hardly knew any Australians, but practically only other foreign students. I thought it was a shame. I hope that it will be different in Leiden.’ Her very diverse group, with Spanish, Slovenian, German, Mexican and Dutch students, is a promising start.