FAQ WinterOwl 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you find answers frequently asked questions about the OWL Week
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How do i register for OWL

OWL participation is by invitation only. We invite all international students who are coming in new to start the Spring semester at Leiden University. We use the official University database to target the intended students. We regularly update this list and re-send invitations.

What if i missed the deadline for online registration for the Winter OWL 2023?

The deadline for (online) registration is the 23st of January. You can always join and are welcome to do so, even if the week has already started! Come to the OWL office at Plexus, Kaiserstraat 25, and sign up with the Coordination team.

Does this invitation mean i have been accepted to Leiden University?

The invitation is in no way an official confirmation of acceptance to Leiden University. We take our information from the database and invite anyone who has applied, regardless of acceptance or not. We do this because the acceptance procedure is sometimes lengthy or halted due to administrative delays and we don’t want anyone to miss out because of this.
If you are still awaiting a decision on acceptance, we urge you to consider carefully before signing up! You can wait until the last moment to sign up as , although we do close the online registration about a week prior to the start of OWL, we never close the actual registration and you can always join by signing up in person and we will add you to a group at that point.

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

Don’t worry! Although we sent the first invitations in December, we regularly update and re-send the invitation. If your process of acceptance was delayed you might receive an invitation in 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 you have not received an invite by the 18th of January!

I started in September but i missed Summer OWL. Can i still join Winter OWL?

If you were invited to join Summer OWL, it means you are no longer a new student starting for the first time in Leiden.
The OWL is meant to provide a good start to students who have just arrived in Leiden so it is not possible to join the OWL if you are not part of the new group starting in February.
If you want to meet (new) people you can sign up to be Guide or Crew or join the ESN organisation so you can attend their activities.

How do I cancel/deregister from Orientation Week?

You can receive a full refund for your participants fee if you sent us an email informing us of your cancellation before January 23rd.
After this deadline a refund is no longer possible.

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

There are no refunds possible for any additional purchases, or for the Leidse Pas. You can pick up additional purchases during the OWL or within 2 weeks after the OWL.

Please note: All refunds need to be claimed and all ordered products need to be picked up within 2 weeks after the end of the OWL

I have to cancel but the cancellation deadline of January 23rd 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 our 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 but haven't heard anything yet

Because we keep the online registration open until the 23rd of January, we won’t be able to form or finalize the groups until the week after that date. Therefor you will only receive an email with additional information a few days prior to the start of the OWL.


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 very regrettable but there are no consequences.

What programmes are offered in the spring term?

In the spring term (start in February 2023) there is only the OWL Programme. OWL is the introduction for new International students to Leiden. For students starting their spring programme in The Hague, a part of the programme will be aimed at The Hague.
. Please check out the University website for details:
Leiden University Introduction Programmes.

Can someone who is not a student but who will be accompanying/visiting 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 fewer days?

We strongly recommend that you participate the whole programme, since you will have the opportunity to arrange your administrative affairs during this week and learn to find your way around Leiden and the University buildings. Besides, we have made the programme fun and interesting! If you have to miss (a substantial) part of the programme, please let us know in advance through the registration form or by emailing to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl

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

• Your group number and the emergency phone number of the OWL organisation.
• ID-card or Passport.
• Raincoat/umbrella/ warm clothes.
• Medicine (if needed).
Also to keep with you:
• 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!
• The App contains lots of useful information about the OWL

I'm late! Who do I contact?

If you are going to be late for the registration on Tuesday the 31st of January, 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 23rd of January) you can still join! You can come to the registration desk at Plexus Student Centre (Kaiserstraat 25, Leiden) to 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 you receive at the beginning of the week. Your Guide can also help you to arrange things or bring you to the CT.
If you have questions before the start of the week you can email us at participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl

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 €6,50. 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 from Leiden Central Station to the city centre is approximately € 8.)

Payment & Costs

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

The participation in Winter OWL ’23 costs €55,- The OWL is self-funding which means we get very limited financial support from the University and have to find our own funding and use participants fees to organise the OWL week. Most days lunch and dinner are included during the OWL.

What else will I need money for during the week?

During the OWL there will be events and organisations to sign up for which might require payment. You can find more information on these extra options in the detailed programme in the app that you will receive access to a few days prior to the start of the OWL.
Because not everyone is interested in the extra social activities like the PubcrOWL and the End Party, these events are not included in the general fee and come with additional costs for those interested..

How do I register?

Registration for the Winter OWL ’23 will open in December. You will receive an invitation through email with information and a link to sign up.
If you are a starting international student and you didn’t receive an invitation yet, check that you completed your registration for the University! We regularly update our system and re-send invitations. If you haven’t received your invite by the 18th of January or if you are worried or you have questions, you can contact us at participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl

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.

Groups & Guides

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

The programme of the Winter OWL will appear on the website in December. The programme is still subject to change though.
A couple of days prior to the start of the Orientation Week we will send you an e-mail with more information and the log in to the OWL App. You will also receive the names and contact details for 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.
We encourage you to join the group we assign you to and have a change to meet new people who will be in the same faculty as you. If there is a special reason you should be in a specific group or with a specific other person you can email to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl
As long as you belong to the same faculty it should be no problem.
If you have been assigned to a group that is not from your faculty, please inform us as soon as possible!!

What is the difference between a Leiden United Buddy, an ESN 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.
• ESN 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 program 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 ESN 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 through the sign up form or by emailing: participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl. Please do so as soon as possible so we can take it into consideration while finalizing the food orders for the OWL Week.

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

Yes, we offer vegetarian options for every meal we serve. Please do not forget to correctly fill in on the registration form that you are a vegetarian. This way we can take it into consideration when planning the OWL Week.

note: any 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


I have not found suitable accommodation yet/my housing contract starts after OWL. What are my options?

For the Winter OWL we cannot organise a DORM but 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 & ESN 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.

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