"We throw the best parties"

ISN helps with housing, public transport and phone subscriptions too.

Marc de Haan

Marleen van Wesel

As the board of the Leiden section of the International Student Network is aware, most of the stuff that goes on in Leiden goes on at the student fraternities. ISN wants to help students "to link up".

Marjon Hilhorst (24, Political Science, Master in international organisation): "We’re the board of ISN Leiden, the Leiden section of the Erasmus Student Network, the largest student organisation in Europe."

Marta op den Akker (21, Italian): "A home, away from home, for all international students."

Margot Möslinger (26, Industrial Ecology, from Austria): "There are more than five hundred sections, spread over forty countries. The Leiden branch was set up 25 years ago this year."

Natalie Pommerel (23, pre-Master in Anthropology): We have about 700 members."

Op den Akker: "There are some Dutch too – they’ve often been exchange students themselves."

Pommerel: "I spent six months in Indonesia, but I was also a mentor during the OWL, the Leiden orientation week for international students."

Hilhorst: "Our Weekly Drinks on Wednesday at café Einstein is attracting more and more Dutch students too, perhaps because our members throw the best parties. Go crazy, that’s all part of being on an exchange."

Op den Akker: "At the OWL’s closing party, we had a thousand people in Gebr. de Nobel. We’d only been on the board a month."

Pommerel: "By contrast, the OWL committee was about to resign. It was a tough week. A girl on the OWL committee gave me a hug whenever I needed one. And afterwards they gave us new cuddle buddy: Sho, the cuddly pig."

Möslinger: "He’s our mascot now. International ESN boards always try to steal each other’s mascot. They haven’t got Sho so far, but later in the year, he’s coming with us to Costa Brava, where all the ESN committees will meet up."

Nicolò De Sandre (23, ICT & Business Master, from Italy): "He was given to us at the CoBo (constitution drinks, ed.), along with lots of other presents. Our committee’s been to other CoBos. There is always a beadle beating the floor with his staff to announce each committee with a lot of clamour. I’d never seen anything like it before."

Op den Akker: "CoBos are sooo Dutch! When we mention disputen – the sub-fraternities – and ragging to international ESN colleagues, they look at you as if you’re weird."

Pommerel: "A lot of what goes on in Leiden goes on at the student fraternities, making it hard for international students to meet people."

Ana Schröder (20, International Bachelor in Psychology, from Germany): "That’s right! It’s difficult too because everything is so connected. If you want a phone subscription, you need a Dutch bank account which means you need to register with the municipality. It’s difficult to know where to start, especially if you’re only here for a few months."

Pommerel: "The biggest problem is housing. If you thought it was hard for Dutch students, you should hear the stories international students have to tell."

De Sandre: "Public transport is complicated too."

Möslinger: "And expensive! Many international students attend lectures in The Hague. They have to pay the full price for train tickets because they don’t have student OV (public transport cards)."

Hilhorst: "Last week was International Student Week. On Friday, we’re hosting a Cocktail Party. Actually, we do every month."

Schröder: "And Thursday is Tosti Thursday, like every Thursday."

Möslinger: "For us, every week is International Student Week."

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