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Simon makes the ISSA podcast: ‘It is fun meeting new people and to have good conversations’

Simon van Hoeve is a student of the master’s degree programme International Relations. Every week, he makes a podcast episode for his study association, in which he discusses topics related to his study programme with his guests.

Simon started the International Studies Student Association (ISSA) podcast during Covid. ‘The idea already existed before Covid, but during lockdown I started actively working on it. It was easy to do this with a small group of people.’ In the weekly podcast he discusses different topics. ‘My study programme is about international relations and that is also the topic of the podcast. So topics related to news, politics, or international politics. In the podcast we delve deeper into a topic. Everyone can of course read about a topic in the news, but we can offer more context about how something happens and look at underlying processes. Take for example the episode about Qatar: we talk about why exactly this country wants to organise the football tournament, about what their motives are. In addition, we of course discuss human rights in the country. We are thus not really talking about football, but more about what goes on in the background.’

Student Simon van Hoeve

Speaking in public

Initially, Simon created the podcast for fellow students. ‘It is very useful and interesting for them when they want to learn more about a certain topic. We really focus on details and sometimes I am joined by professors who know a lot about a topic.’ Simon himself also learns from creating the podcast. ‘The podcast is a good way to learn how to speak in public. By now, I know much better what to say, because I have gotten more used to hosting. It is a good way to learn how to speak in public for fellow students who are guests in the podcast. I notice that after thirty episodes I don’t have to do as much editing, because I have gotten better at knowing what questions to ask.’

An international audience

The people who listen to the podcast come from all over the world: a third is from the Netherlands, the rest are from countries like the United States, Canada, France, Germany and England. ‘This is because these are students of the study programme at Leiden that went and moved back in with their parents abroad due to Covid,’ says Simon. According to Simon, there are also listeners who listen because they are interested in the study programme. ‘We made an episode about studying in Leiden, that is one of the most listened to episodes. I try to make an episode about the student perspective every semester.’


The podcast episode that Simon is most proud of is the one about the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. ‘Beforehand I knew nothing about this topic so I did a lot of research. In the end it was a good overview of the conflict, something I was very happy with. We also made a podcast episode including a top ten of events about international relations, that one was fun to make.’ A few episodes are planned for the coming period. ‘After that I am graduating, so I am busy looking for a successor who is just as passionate about making a podcast as I am!’

Listen to the ISSA podcast on Soundcloud.

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