FAQ & Contact

Get your questions answered & contact us

Every year, OWL welcomes new board members; this year, the 11th OWL board is made up of four students. The OWL board annually plans and executes the weeklong Winter and Summer OWL for the incoming international students at Leiden University. We are in charge of putting the program together. For inquiries feel free to contact us. Please make sure to address the relevant board member.

María Ariken Jiménez


Hey guys! My name is Maria I’m 21 and I’m from Málaga, Spain, and Singapore. Alongside my studies in psychology, where I’m currently in my third year of a bachelor’s degree, I’m also proud to serve as the President of the 11th OWL board. In this role, I act as the primary point of contact for the organization and provide guidance to the team while ensuring that we stay on track and within our overall framework. My responsibilities are varied and include developing and maintaining strong relationships with key stakeholders such as internal partners, and members working at and with Leiden University. I also oversee all board activities, effectively plan and conduct weekly meetings, and ensure that all voices are heard and that decisions are made in a clear and unanimous manner. Apart from coordinating and managing the team and its initiatives to promote the growth and success of OWL, I’m also committed to following up on agreed-upon actions and ensuring that they align with the overall vision of the board this year. Ultimately, I make sure that the OWL board continues working with integrity, and dedication, and promotes a culture of excellence, inclusivity, and innovation.

Ektha Mallya


Hey there folks! My name is Ektha Mallya, and I am thrilled to be a part of the OWL Board 2023 as the treasurer. I’m a quarter of a century old and hail from India, a country known for its rich cultural diversity! Currently, I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence from Leiden University’s esteemed Science faculty. As part of my academic pursuits, I am also enrolled in the Leiden Leadership Programme, which is an Honors course. As the Treasurer of the OWL Board 2023, my role is of utmost importance in ensuring the success of our flagship event – the OWL Week. My primary responsibility is to devise and execute a comprehensive budget plan that aligns with the objectives of the event and is sustainable and cost-efficient. As we receive sponsorships from various organizations, it is my responsibility to ensure that the funds are utilized efficiently and effectively, in a way that maximizes the value of the sponsor’s contribution. Furthermore, I am also responsible for the financial administration of the event, including reviewing invoices and liaising with the university’s financial department to ensure that we comply with all financial regulations and guidelines. In summary, my role as Treasurer requires a high level of financial acumen, attention to detail, and strong communication skills to ensure that our event is organized in a financially responsible and sustainable manner.

Lizzie Berloffa Finkelstein

Commissioner of Partners and Acquisitions

Hello hello, everyone! I’m Lizzie, the Commissioner of Partners & Acquisitions. I am a 21 year old from Brazil, doing my second year of my bachelor’s in psychology. My work is to ensure our sponsors and partners also leave their mark during OWL and form connections with participants, guides & crew. Most of my time in the office is spent contacting and closing deals with our partners and sponsors, as well as finding new ones to collaborate with! I also take care of the representation of student associations and university services during the orientation week, coming up with promotion opportunities and making sure they feel present in our programme and also have a good time!

Neža Zavasnik

Commissioner of Guides and Crew

Hi everyone, I’m Neža, a 22-year-old from the gorgeous country of Slovenia. I am OWL’s commissioner of Guides & Crew. Currently in my 4th year of my bachelor’s degree, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Violence Studies. My job entails lots of close interactions with the guides and crew. For example, after many, many interviews with all your guides, I take special care assigning the guides to your groups based on both of your studies and age. I also organize the shifts throughout the week’s events of the crew who already begin doing some hard work weeks before the start of the Introduction Week! All this planning and organization that goes on behind the scenes plays an important role in ensuring you will have everything you need throughout this memorable week. And you know what’s even better than the fun times during OWL? The lifelong connections that participants and guides forge with each other (crew too!). It feels like a privilege to be a part of creating the perfect environment for them to flourish. So let’s go OWL!


OWL board 2023

Commissioner of Participants

Exciting news for all prospective participants of the upcoming OWL! The board has decided to share the participants’ commission this year, and we can’t wait to have you onboard. Our team is dedicated to making your OWL experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. We are responsible for sending out your invites, answering any questions you may have, and creating groups based on your studies, age, and other relevant factors. Before reaching out, we recommend checking out our comprehensive FAQ page to ensure you have all the information you need. However, if you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to call us during our office hours, which are from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. We’re here to make sure you have the best OWL experience possible!

Alexander Fröhlich

Commissioner of Logistics

Hello, I’m Alex, a 21-year-old Viennese bachelor’s student majoring in philosophy and AI at Leiden and Johannes Kepler University, respectively, completing my time at Leiden next year. As a newcomer to the OWL, I am happy to learn and take responsibility as the head of Logistics. I am focused on ensuring excellent equipment and supply to enable smooth sailing for all the many fun activities we have planned for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is OWL?

OWL stands for Orientation Week Leiden and is the introduction programme for new international students to Leiden University who will be taking their courses in Leiden. 

Although the OWL is not mandatory, we strongly advise you to attend this week in which we introduce new international students to The Netherlands, the city of Leiden, the University and to Dutch student life and everything it has to offer in general. You will also meet people from your study and many other people who are very open to making connections that might last a lifetime. You will be guided by experienced older students during this week who can also help you sort out practical matters. In short, the introduction programme helps to smoothen the start of your academic adventure in Leiden

Leiden University organizes 3 different weeks, each suited most to a specific target audience. The Dutch Bachelor students and students of Hogeschool Leiden (university of applied science) are invited to join ELCID, students who are going to attend the The Hague Campus are invited to join HOP, and International students who will study in Leiden are invited for OWL. For more information: check out this flowchart!


OWL participation is by invitation only. You will receive an invitation through email with information and a link to sign up.
At a later stage we will open up and make accessible all the information on the OWL APP. We invite all international students who are coming in new to start the fall 2023 semester at Leiden University. We use the official University database to target the intended students. We update this list weekly and re-send invitations throughout the summer. The deadline is the 20th of August 2023.

The deadline for signing up is the 20th of August. The deadline for full refunds is the 21th of July. After this date we will be making payments and orders and therefore spending the fees. no refunds will be possible. Check “how do I cancel/deregister from Orientation Week” for details

The participation in OWL is 100,- euro.
The invitation email includes a link that takes you to a registration form; you need to complete the form and fulfill the payment to complete registration. Our system accepts all major credit cards and IDEAL as ways of payment.

Besides the OWL itself you will also find options to sign up for a Leidse Pas and a USC Sports Card
Note: These additional purchases are only intended for participants who sign up for the OWL week

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! We offer refunds until the 21th of July, after this we will be spending the fees and full refunds are no longer possible.

Don’t worry! Although we sent the first invitations in June, 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 you have not received an invite by the 7th of August as the deadline is the 14th of August.

Once you paid the fee, your registration is final.
If you wish to cancel from OWL because you won’t be attending Leiden University, please send an email to participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl.
There are no full refunds possible after July 21st for the fee and any additional purchases (Leidse Pas and USC Sports card):
If academic or personal changes occurred between your time of registration and the actual OWL, preventing you from being able to study at Leiden university at all, let us know asap. We advise you to wait until you are sure of your status before signing up for OWL. If you are not sure about your status before the deadline of August 14th, and that deadline is approaching rapidly, you can contact us at participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl . For personal changes you can also send us an email.

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.

Because we keep the online registration open until the 14th of August, we won’t be able to form or finalize the groups until the week after that date. Therefore you will only receive an email with additional information and access to sign in to the App a few days prior to the start of the OWL.

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

If you were invited to join a previous 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 September 2023. If you want to meet (new) people to expand your social network, you can sign up to be Guide or Crew!

Leiden University and the OWL have the following Terms and Conditions


A couple of days prior to the start of the Orientation Week we will send you an e-mail with more information. In this email, you will 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.

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.

There are two types of events. For some events, your group will get a time slot in which you can attend the event with your group. (Boat rides, dinners) Other activities you can join on individual basis or with only part of your group, for example workshops or museum visits.


The OWL programme starts with registration on Monday, 28th of August. If you can only join later during the week, it is not a problem if you let us know in advance. We will inform you what to do upon arrival and we will contact the guide of your OWL group and let them know that you will be late. You will need to visit the Coordination Team first upon arrival to pick up your bag and participant wristband. If the delay was unexpected, you can also visit the Coordination Team at Plexus Student Centre: Kaiserstraat 25, 2311GN Leiden. They will help you on your way

“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.

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.

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.

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

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.

• 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!
• ID-card or Passport.
• Your smartphone as we use the app for lots of information and to communicate any changes
• Raincoat/umbrella/sun lotion.
• Medicine (if needed).
• We provide you with a water bottle at registration which you can refill at all our locations
• Money (debitcard/creditcard/cash*)
* For safety reasons we only accept bills no larger than €50,-

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

Before you come to Leiden, there are a few things to think about and prepare. Please check out the Pre-departure page of Leiden university:
Prepare your stay

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. If participants under 18 are caught in possession of or drinking alcohol during OWL events, or if anyone involved in the OWL week is caught providing alcohol to minors at OWL events, there will be severe consequences; they will be excluded from further participation/ involvement in the OWL.
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).
Although we may serve alcohol during the OWL week, we always have non-alcoholic drinks available at any and all these events as well.

Leiden University and the OWL have the following Terms & Conditions.
For usage of the OWL app you will be asked to sign an additional agreement on online conduct.


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 if enough people are interested in this option. Please note that the DORM is only available to the (confirmed) OWL participants. You can express your interest for the dorm by ticking the box on the registration form. If the minimum interest is reached we will 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.

Yes, guests of the dorm are required to bring their own mattress and sleeping bag.
We offer a limited amount of sleeping bags and air mattresses: each for 20€. These you can pre-order along with your dorm fee and will then be waiting for you on location. They are yours to keep afterwards. Check out the night dorm for more info.

The dorm will offer a 5 night deal that ends on the 1st of September. You would pay only until you can access your room.
If you do not want to make use of the dorm, (or interest is too low for us to set it up), 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.

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

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. Please inform us as soon as possible if you need to cancel the dorm as we do an identity check every night at check in.  

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 tick the box for you and 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


We try our utmost to keep your belongings safe during the week: We have a separate 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.

No: the dorm is based at the University Sports Centre and consists of 2 large 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