FAQ & Contact

Get your questions answered & contact us

Every year, a new group of students makes up the OWL board. The 2024 Owl board is the 12th OWL board and is in charge of putting the 2 Leiden University introduction programmes together. They will execute the weeklong Winter and Summer OWL for the incoming international students at Leiden University. For inquiries feel free to contact us. Please make sure to address the relevant board member.

Daniela Quimbayo

President & commissioner of participants

About Daniela

¡Hola! ¿Qué más pues? I’m Daniela, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Colombia. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in health and medical psychology here in Leiden, and I have the privilege to be the proud President of the 12th OWL board. In this role I’m the go-to person for our incredible team, providing guidance and ensuring a smooth journey for OWL 2024.

When I’m not immersed in the world of academia, you can find me lost in a good book, dancing, or in general spending time outdoors.

Excited to explore more of this beautiful country and make new connections! Can’t wait to meet you all during Winter OWL 2024. Let’s make it unforgettable!

Erik Gerisch

Commissioner of GUides and Crew

About Erik

Glück auf! I’m Erik, 21 years old and I’m from Saxony, Germany. I’m currently in my second year of the BA Linguistics, track Descriptive Linguistics. This of course means I’m passionate about languages!

During my board year for OWL, I’m responsible for recruiting and interviewing the volunteers. This includes guides on the one hand, our fantastic crew on the other. Feel free to sign up (link in the bio) and connect with lots of other internationals!

In my free time you’ll probably find me vibing to 2000s music or bar-hopping with my friends. Looking forward to this adventure!

Frequently Asked Questions


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.

The deadline for (online) registration is the 21st of January. After this you will have to come to the office to register in person, either on Monday the 29th
of January 10.00-16.00 or during the week itself. 
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.

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 descision 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.

First, please CHECK YOUR SPAM! Unfortunately our invitation tends to end up in many spam boxes. Also, 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 15th of January!

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.

You can receive a full refund for your participants fee if you sent us an email informing us of your cancellation before January 21st.
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 3 weeks after the OWL.

Please note: All refunds need to be claimed and all ordered products need to be picked up within 3 weeks after the end of the OWL

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.

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 21st 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.


“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.

In the spring term (start in February 2024) there is only the Winter 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.
If you are a Dutch Master student or a Bachelor student starting a full International Bachelor, you are also welcome to join this programme as well. Please check out the University website for details:
Leiden University Introduction Programmes.

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

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

• 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!
• FOOD COUPONS (provided by us at registration) – you need these to receive the meals we provide during the week: No coupon means no meal! If you lose your food coupons you have to buy new ones to receive the meals: so take good care of them and don’t forget to bring them! 

If you are going to be late for the registration on Tuesday the 30th 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 21st 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, please inform your guides.

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 on the App. 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

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 €6,90. 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 €70,-

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 € 10,-)

Payment & Costs

The participation in Winter OWL ’24 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 lunches and dinners are included during the OWL.

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 app.
Because not everyone is interested in the extra social activities like the PubcrOWL and the End Party, these events might not be included in the general fee and come with additional costs for those interested..

Registration for the Winter OWL ’24 opens 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 15th of January or if you are worried or you have questions, you can contact us at participants@owl.leidenuniv.nl

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

The programme of the Winter OWL will appear on the website at the beginning of 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. 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.
If you have been assigned to a group that is not from your faculty, please inform us as soon as possible!!

• 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 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

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.

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


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


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 & 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 in the Finding your way pdf-guide or 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

LeidsePas Discount Card

During the OWL online registration you will be offered the option of buying a LeidsePas discount card. This card will help you discover Leiden even on a (tight) student budget. With the LeidsePas you will receive discounts up to 50% at over 150 different venues in Leiden!

  • Discounts at shops with books, bikes & accessories, clothes, shoes, etc.
  • Discount on beer at various bars
  • Up to 50% off the museums entry fees
  • Reduced prices at a wide range of restaurants
  • Reduced membership fees for a vast amount of gyms
  • Valid until July 1st 2025
  • And much, much more…

Make sure you order through OWL and not the website to get the discount!!
For OWL we have a special offer, only valid for OWL Week Participants:
A LeidsePas for €19,95

The card can be purchased during online registration for the OWL and picked up during the week. You will be informed on details.