Christmas dinner with international flair
Over fifty international students celebrated last Christmas at the homes of staff or students of Leiden University. As part of the Holiday Hosting Programme, the students were invited for Christmas dinner.
Many international students at Leiden University stay in the Netherlands over the holidays. Every year the International Student Advisers organise the Holiday Hosting Programme for them. Students and staff at Leiden University are called upon to open their homes for one or more international students and let them join their family Christmas dinner.
This year over fifty international students were placed with host families, both staff members and fellow students. From Texel to Tiel, spread all over the country, the students and their hosts celebrated Christmas together, and learned about their customs and traditions during the holidays. A fun, learning experience.
Petr Winnubst co-hosted for the first time this year, and celebrated Christmas together with six international students, his parents and his two sisters. ‘It was very nice to celebrate Christmas with international students this year. It is interesting to see that so many cultures have their own way of celebrating. It got everyone in a very international Christmas spirit!’ Student Ayumi Ahikari could not afford to go home over the holidays, so he signed up for the Holiday Hosting Programme. ‘It was absolutely fantastic, and actually one of the best experiences in the Netherlands. If there is a grading system, it was more than 10. We definitely had an amazing time with my host family.’
Christmas on an island
Jeremiah, another student, spent Christmas with three other internationals at a family on the island of Texel. ‘We had a wonderful breakfast followed by listening to music and the family telling us stories about the people of the city and some of their mysterious beliefs. Later in the day, we had drinks and then supper. During the Christmas evening, the mum took us on a tour through the whole of the island to see the Christmas lights in the windows throughout the town. We came back and finished the night with a Christmas movie. We exchanged gifts and left the following day after breakfast. In a nutshell, it was really amazing.’
Truusje van Tilburg, alumna and employee of the Leiden University Fund, hosted two students from China on Christmas Eve. 'For our family is was a very special experience having these two wonderful students over. It gave an extra dimension to the Christmas spirit. Sharing thoughts about culture, student’s life in both countries, their experiences in Leiden and life in general. Count me in for next year. We would love to make this a new Christmas tradition!'
Picture above: Two student hosts at their Christmas dinner