Room for everyone at a sun-drenched EL CID
Thousands of first-year students and hundreds of mentors kicked off the EL CID on Monday morning. This year for the first time, the introduction week of Leiden University and Leiden University of Applied Sciences was also open for students of Regional Training Centre mboRijnland and the Leiden Instrument Makers School (LiS).
For Mayor Henri Lenferink this was the last time he would address the new group of students in his role as Mayor of Leiden. His message to students was to have fun, but keep in mind this very special city. 'Leiden is located between New York and Moscow, between London and Berlin, between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and between the beach and the Heineken brewery.' Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl also wished the students a good week and, above all, a good start to their studies.
Mentors Artyam and Joep are friends at the rowing club and wanted to experience EL CID one more time, but this year as mentors. 'We can already see that everyone in our group is chatting away to one another. It's great that the group dynamics has already got off to a good start,' says Artyam. ‘We're going to show them Leiden and take them along to some fun activities,' Joep adds.
During the preparatory mentor day a lot of attention was paid to such issues as inclusion, racism and drink and drugs use, and how to make it easier for students to talk about these issues. Artyam: ‘The aim is for everyone to have a fun week, but that's only possible if everyone feels safe.' What are these two mentors themselves looking forward to most? There are no prizes for guessing: the water sports party. 'That's definitely going to be the high point.'
The theme of this year's EL CID: Leiden Unlocked. Referring to the start of student life for the over 3,500 participants. 88 students from mboRijnland and the LiS have their own programme and will also join some of the EL CID activities. Everyone is welcome at the Leiden First-Years' Festival.
For Reagan, EL CID is a chance to meet his fellow students, and also to get to know the Netherlands. He came to Leiden from Curaçao at the start of August, and is staying with his aunt. 'It feels great; I haven't missed home so far, but that may well come later. Right now, I'm keen to find out more about the Netherlands.' Reagan will be studying Molecular Science & Technology. ‘I love calculus, chemistry and organic chemistry, so this programme really appealed to me.'
Hannah was studying Japanese Studies at the university but came to the conclusion that she would prefer to do something more practical. So she is now starting a nursing programme at the university of applied sciences. 'I switched programmes because I want to work with people, helping people and doing something for others.' She already knows Leiden, and the EL CID too isn't completely new for her. 'Two years ago I took part in a corona-style introduction week, but this time I'm looking forward to having a proper EL CID.'
Involving Leiden businesses
This year there is a new event: Leiden Sound. Three Leiden bands will be performing at the Garenmarkt and three Leiden beer breweries will be selling their beer there. The aim of the event is to involve Leiden businesses in EL CID and to show the musical side of student life.
Her group thinks it's hilarious that she is being interviewed: ‘You’re gonna get famous.’ But English-speaking Shaneeva from Amsterdam is happy to answer a few questions. She is going to study South and Southeast Asian Studies in Leiden. ‘I've always been interested in Asian culture and history and this programme is taught in English, which I think is important for me and for my future.' She will continue to live in Amsterdam for now, but she likes Leiden a lot. 'Leiden is a super city, but living on my own here? I'd like that, but I don't know if I could manage it financially.' The EL CID parties aren't really her scene. 'Maybe the karaoke, and in any event the art and craft activities are more my kind of thing.'
Max is also enjoying meeting his fellow students of International Business Law. ‘I'm not sure exactly what I want to do yet. With this programme I can go into Law, but business is also an option,' he says. The EL CID atmosphere has got off to a great start. 'Everyone was bopping along and clapping to the dance, so I think it's going to be a fun week. I'm really looking forward to the last night party.'
The Hague and international students
Text: Tim Senden
Photos: Rob Dorresteijn