FAQ Summer 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you find answers frequently asked questions about the OWL Week

For more general information you can visit the OWL University Website





How do i register for OWL

OWL participation is by invitation only. We invite everyone who is coming in new to start the fall semester at Leiden University. We use the official University database to target the intended students and we regularly update this list and re-send invitations. If you were invited for multipal weeks, you can choose the one most suited to your needs. You are also free to attend more then one week.

Why was i invited to the OWL?

You were invited to attend the OWL because the information from the university database suggested this programme to be best suited to your needs.
In the fall semester Leiden University offers 3 different introduction programmes: ELCID, HOP and OWL. See below for more details on the differences between the programmes.

What is the difference between EL CID/HOP/OWL

Find more information on the University homepage or click on this flowchart for an overview of the three introduction weeks.

I didn't receive an invitation, what do i do?

Don’t worry! Although we sent the first invitations end of May, we regularly update and re-send the invitation. If your process of acceptance was delayed you might receive an invitation at a later stage. Please do make sure you have taken all the steps to complete your registration at Leiden University (what you need to do is stated in your acceptance letter).
You are advised to contact us if the registration deadline of the 18th of August is approaching and you have not received the invitation!
**If you are a student of Tax Law at the International Tax Centre (ITC) , your Academic programme clashes with the OWL. Therefore we do not advise you to register for OWL. You are welcome to attend the EL CID or HOP; both take place before the OWL. For more info or for contact check the University homepage

What is the deadline for registration for the Summer OWL '18?

The deadline for (online) registration is now closed. You can still sign up in person during the Warm Welcome (22-23-24 August) at KOG between 14:00-17:00 and at our Coordination Team on Saturday 25 August between 13:00-15:00

How do I cancel/deregister from Orientation Week?

You can receive a full refund if you sent us an email informing us of your cancellation before August the 18th.

We will send you a confirmation after we received your cancellation email!!

After this deadline a refund is no longer possible.

Please note: All refunds need to be claimed within 3 weeks after the end of the OWL

I have to cancel but the cancellation deadline of August the 18th has passed already. What happens now?

If you cancel/deregister after this date we can no longer offer you a refund as we have started to finalize orders and started spending the fees. But please do inform us so we can inform your Guides and we can get in touch with you about picking up useful information.

How do I report changes?

If you have relevant changes that will affect your participation in the Orientation week (namely change of e-mail address or course/faculty), please let us know as soon as possible by sending an email to: participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl.

I signed up and received a confirmation of payment but i haven't heard anything else yet?

Because we keep the online registration open until the 18th of August, we won’t be able to form or finalize the groups until after that date. Therefor you will only receive an email with additional information a few days prior to the start of the OWL.

Privacy Policy

Leiden University and the OWL have the following Privacy Statement


Is it mandatory to participate in the Orientation Week?

“Leiden University strongly recommends you to participate in the Orientation Week Leiden. It will give you a head start in both your academic and social life here in Leiden.”
– mr. Drs. H.W. te Beest, Deputy Chairman Executive Board, Leiden University

The university considers the OWL programme to be mandatory. This is because of the many advantages that the programme offers to students who do take part. To name a few:
• You are introduced to your faculty, study and fellow students
• You get acquainted with the city of Leiden and the whereabouts of the university
• All the facilities for international students are introduced, ranging from student associations to counselors and student advisers
• Experience has shown that OWL participants feel more at home, have a larger social network to fall back on and are also more likely to be successful in their study goals.
• It’s great fun and gives you the chance to meet a lot of new people!
If there is an urgent reason why you can’t fully participate, please contact the OWL committee and see what can be arranged. If it is not possible for you to join the programme at all, it is regrettable but there are no consequences.

Can someone who is not a student but who will be accompanying me during the OWL also join? (parents/partners/family etc)

No, we are very sorry but the OWL Week is organised only for registered and accepted students of the Leiden University.

Is it possible to participate less than 5 days?

We strongly recommend that you participate in the whole programme as it is a well-balanced programme designed to introduce you to as many aspects of Dutch and Leiden student life as possible. You will learn to find your way around Leiden and the University buildings, meet lots of people and besides that, we have made the programme fun and interesting! If you have to miss (a substantial) part of the programme or you will be arriving late on the first day, please let us know in advance through the registration form or by emailing to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl
If you need to leave at times during the week, please inform your Guides.

I'm attending the HOP/EL CID, can I also join the OWL?

You are welcome to attend the OWL as well. We do advise you that it might be pretty tiring and there might be some repetition in programme parts, but the OWL is a great week and a perfect way to meet new people. Please send an email to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl so we can send you a registration link.

I'm late! Who do I contact?

If you are going to be late for the registration on Monday the 27th of August, let us know as soon as possible by e-mail to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl.

If you are late signing up (online registration closes on the 18th of August) you can still join! You can come to register at alotted times just before the week. You can also sign up during the week at the registration desk at Plexus Student Centre (Kaiserstraat 25, Leiden) where you can register and pay in person. Our Coordination Team will help you on your way.

If you have already registered, met your guides and you are going to be late during the week, inform your guides.

I have a question/problem during the OWL. Who do I contact?

During the week we have the OWL headquarters set up at Plexus Student Center. A Coordination Team will be available to help you by answering your emails, phone calls and in person.
The contact details will be in the information email you receive just before the start of the OWL and it will be in the programme booklet we send you just before the beginning of the week. Your Guide can also help you to arrange things or bring you to the CT.
If you have urgent questions before the start of the week you can email us at participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl

What is the Coordination Team?

Because the OWL week is a very busy week with a lot of outdoor locations,the OWL board trains and prepares a small team of people who stay at headquarters all week; the Coordination Team.
They can help anyone with questions and are in direct contact with all the organisers at all locations through portophone contact.

What would be useful/necessary to have with me during the OWL?

• Wristband (provided by us at the registration) – keep it on for the duration of the OWL Week: You will need to show it at several parts of the programme!
• Your meal coupons (provided by us at registration) – if you lose them or forget them you have to buy new ones
• Programme booklet (we will send it to you in pdf so you can print it or keep a copy on your phone) – contains lots of useful information about the OWL
• Your group number and the emergency phone number of the OWL organisation.
• Money (debitcard/creditcard/cash*)
• ID-card or Passport.
• Raincoat/umbrella/sun lotion.
• Medicine (if needed).
* For safety reasons we only accept bills no larger then E50,-

Warm Welcome Service

This year for the first time Leiden University provides a special service to welcome new International Students.

This warm welcome will take place in August. Between the 15th and 17th for students who will be living in The Hague (prior to the HOP week) and between the 22nd and 24th for students who will live in Leiden (prior to the OWL).

When you arrive on these dates, you can join the warm welcome which consists of a reception at the airport Schiphol, and help with handeling practical matters (setting up appointments, bank account, LU card etc)
We recommend you plan your arrival in The Netherlands during these dates. It will help you settle in quickly and support you with all the necessary (practical) arrangements for your stay in The Netherlands. If you arrive later, please know that you will have to arrange these matters yourself. If you have any questions about this warm welcome service check out the WEBSITE – for the last, up-to-date information
NOTE: this is a University service, it is NOT organised by HOP or OWL

Travel from Schiphol Airport to Leiden

Owl does not organise Schiphol pick-ups. We do have some information:
The cheapest and fastest way to travel from Schiphol Airport to Leiden is by train. At Schiphol Airport, the train station is situated underneath the Schiphol Plaza in the central hall of the terminal. You will also find the ticket desks and ticket machines in the central hall. A one-way ticket (enkele reis) costs about €5,80. Direct trains to Leiden run every fifteen minutes and the journey takes around 20 minutes.

You can check out the site to plan your journey or book your e-ticket in advance. Please follow this LINK.

Travel by taxi
A taxi from Schiphol to Leiden is rather pricy:
If you book beforehand (cheapest way) it will be around €60,-

Taxicentrale Schiphol.

Taxis and buses are located just outside Leiden Central Station.
(The taxi fare to the city centre is approximately € 8.)

Drugs & alcohol policy

During the Orientation Week all use of drugs is prohibited. If participants or anyone involved in the OWL week (Guides, Crew, Student organisations etc.) is caught holding or using drugs there will be severe consequences: they will be excluded from further participation/involvement in the OWL.

Alcohol is prohibited for everyone under 18. Participants who are under 18 will receive a special participants wristband which clearly marks them as minors. If participants under 18 are caught in possession of or drinking alcohol, or if anyone involved in the OWL week is caught providing alcohol to minors, there will be severe consequences; they will be excluded from further participation/ involvement in the OWL.

During the OWL, alcohol provided at our own OWL bars is allowed for people who are of legal drinking age.
All the Guides will receive an instruction for responsible alcohol use during the Guides & Crew training before the start of the OWL week and are responsible for the welfare of participants in their group. The abuse of alcohol might have consequences for both the responsible guides and the offending participant(s).

Payment & Costs

How much does it cost to participate in the Orientation Week Programme?

The participation in Summer OWL ’18 costs €80,- The OWL is self-sufficient which means OWL gets very limited financial support from the University and has to find its own funding and use participants fees to organise the OWL week. All Lunches and dinners are included during the OWL.

How do I register and pay?

Registration for the Summer OWL ’18 will open in June. You will receive an invitation through email with information and a link to sign up.
This link takes you to our registration system; you need to complete the form and then click the payment link to complete registration. Our system accepts all major creditcards and IDEAL as ways of payment.
If the information in the form is not correct, please inform us by sending an email to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl

What else can I sign up for?

Besides the OWL itself you will also find options to sign up for a Leidse Pas.
If you are interested in booking a place at the dorm, there is a box on the form you can tick and we will send you the sign up link for the Dorm.

My payment failed. What should I do?

In case your payment fails or your credit card is not accepted, please try again.
If you are still not able to complete your payment, you can email us at participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl.

What else will I need money for during the week?

During the OWL there are several options to buy additional things: you can buy a USC Sportscard, buy or lease a bike, join a pubcrawl, get an ISN membership card and get tickets for the ISN end-party. You can also buy OWL tokens to pay for small items like the drinks and snacks at several OWL locations. You can pay cash (no larger then 50 euro bills!), by debitcard, and all VISA/American Express cards are accepted.

What are OWL tokens?

We sell OWL tokens to pay for additional food and drinks at several of the OWL locations. This means you can ONLY pay with OWL Tokens, never with cash/card directly. We sell the Tokens at all locations that you can spend them (except the USC). We do this because it helps prevent long lines and limits cash money risks.
The locations and availability details will be mentioned in the programme booklet.

Groups & Guides

When will I receive more information about my group/guides/programme?

The programme of the OWL Week is already up! Have a look and know what to expect during the week.
A couple of days prior to the start of the Orientation Week we will send you an e-mail with more information. Because we keep registration open until the 18th of August, groups cannot be finalized before this time.

You will receive the names and contact details of your guides, your group number and you will be informed about your first meeting point with your group.

Can I change groups because I know someone who is in another group?

After you have received your group number it is no longer possible to change groups.
You can let us know beforehand that you would like to be in the same group as someone you know by emailing to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl
As long as you belong to the same faculty it should be no problem.
During the OWL-week, if you have questions or problems relating to your group or Guides you can report to the Coordination team at Plexus Student Centre. They can help you.

What is the difference between a Leiden United Buddy, an ISN Mentor and an OWL Guide?

• Leiden United Buddy: Leiden United has a buddy programme that is aimed at integrating international students in the Leiden student community. You will be paired up with a local student who will be following the same course. He or she will introduce you to the active and vibrant student life that Leiden has to offer, as well as giving you the chance to build up an academic network.
• ISN Mentor: A mentor welcomes international students when they arrive at Leiden (Central Station) and help them settle in during the first days/weeks after their arrival. Mentors can help the students by guiding them through the city of Leiden and answering possible questions the students have when starting their study at the university. Besides the informational part, the programme also offers a great opportunity to organize social activities with your group and make friends.
• OWL-Guide: OWL-Guides play an important role during the Orientation Week. Two guides accompany a group of international students and help coordinate the activities of the group. Being an OWL-guide only takes one (intensive) week, while being an ISN mentor/Leiden United Buddy can last for the whole semester.

Diet Restrictions & Allergies

I have food allergies/dietary wishes can I still participate in the lunches/dinners during the OWL?

We try our hardest to accommodate for allergies/dietary wishes during the Orientation Week. If you have a serious food allergy or strict diet you can let us know by emailing to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl. Please do so as soon as possible after your registration so we can take it into consideration while planning the OWL Week.

I am a vegetarian can I still participate in the meals provided by the event?

We are making extra sure that suitable meals are provided for vegetarians. Please do not forget to correctly fill in the registration form, letting us know that you are a vegetarian. This way we can take it into consideration when planning the OWL Week.

note: the meat we serve during the week is of good quality


I have a disability, can I still participate in the OWL?

Yes, you can still register for the Orientation Week. Let us know (via email to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl ) about your disability as soon as possible. This will allow us to take your needs into consideration. We will always make sure that you are placed within a group with experienced and competent Guides. Also, keep in mind that you are not obliged to participate in every single activity. However, please inform your guides if you decide not to participate in an event. If you have any doubts or questions you can contact us at participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl


Do I have to take care of accommodation myself?

Yes, the Orientation Week Committee is not able to arrange accommodation for its participants.
It is possible however to make use of our special night dorm that we set up for the participants during the week. Please note that the DORM is only available to the (confirmed) OWL participants. You can express your interest form the dorm by ticking the box on the registration form. We will then send you a sign up link which also includes the option to pre-order a sleeping bag and/or air-mattress. Please be aware that there are NO REFUNDS for the DORM, unless you cancel your admission to Leiden University. Also, we have a limited space at the dorm so it is on a first come-first serve basis.

Do I need to bring my own air mattress/sleeping bag to the participants' night dorm?

Registrants of the dorm are required to bring their own mattress and sleeping bag.
We offer a limited amount of sleeping bags and air mattresses: a sleeping bag costs 12,50€ and an air mattress 10€. These you can pre-order along with your dorm fee. Check out the night dorm for more info.

I have not found suitable accommodation yet/my housing contract is from the 1st of September onward. What are my options?

If you haven’t been able to arrange accommodation during the OWL (or after), you still have various options to find a place to sleep in time:

1. Regularly check the OWL & ISN Facebook pages and join Facebook groups like” Rooms/Housing & Furniture Leiden University” Here you can post messages to students already living in Leiden who might have a suitable place for you during the OWL(and after)!

2. Book the StayOK hostel in The Hague (only 12 minutes from Leiden by train). It is the cheapest Hostel/Hotel option around Leiden.

3. Sign up for Couchsurfing. With Couchsurfing, you can stay with locals in every country all over the world or make use of the Airbnb.

4. Check the info on the pre-departure pages on the University homepage for more tips

5. Book a hotel in or nearby Leiden. You can find the best deals on Trivago.com or Booking.com

Can I get a refund for the dorm if i find my own accommodation after all?

No refunds are possible for cancelling the night dorm due to the first come first serve policy.
For the sleeping bags and air mattress there are also no refunds. You can pick those up at the dorm during the OWL or at the OWL office/Plexus, after the OWL week.

I forgot to tick the box for dorm on the sign-up form. Can i still book a place?

If you did not let us know on the form that you want a place at the dorm, you can send an email to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl.
We will send you the link with which you can sign up. Be advised there is a limited amount of places and it is first come-first served. We will post on Facebook and/or the website when we have reached maximum capacity

Is my luggage safe at the dorm?

We try our utmost to keep your belongings safe during the week: We have a seperate locked off room for big items. The dorm room is locked during the day except for supervised fixed time slots. You can use lockers for easy access to (small) things at all times.

Do i get a private room at the dorm?

No: the dorm is based at the University Sports Centre and consists of 2 sports rooms that have been reserved for the purpose of sleeping. You can fix your air mattress and sleeping bag and leave them there for the duration of the week. It is a simple but safe and cheap solution we offer for our “homeless” OWL participants. A simple breakfast is included in the fee. We offer a male-only and female-only dorm – if this poses a problem for you, please let us know at participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl
For more information on the dorm, check:
night dorm