Leiden University ; a short guide to the student life

Chrisa Lepida | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Continuing my “Promoting Erasmus and studying abroad” pages, I now introduce you to the University of Leiden. Let’s suppose that you are an Erasmus student or in general a student planning to study abroad for a semester or so. What are the factors that you would take into consideration before choosing your next destination and university? How would you organise your background research? What are the things that you’d love to know about your university in advance? Here’s a short research I did about one of the biggest universities in the Netherlands that welcomes thousands of Erasmus students every year.

Welcome to the University of Leiden!

Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of Europe’s leading international research universities. It has seven faculties in the arts, sciences and social sciences, spread over locations in Leiden and The Hague. The University has over 6,700 staff members and 28,130 students. The motto of the University is 'Praesidium Libertatis' – Bastion of Freedom. Since it's beginning, Leiden University has been one of Europe's leading international research-intensive universities. In the first decades of its existence, the university was host to many international students, from Europe and beyond. Since those early days, it has developed into a truly international university, annually hosting more than 3000 international and exchange students each year in its Bachelor and Master programmes, almost 1000 international PhD students and more than 800 international academic staff.

The life in the city

Leiden is one of the Netherlands' great cities. Woven with canals lined by beautiful 17th-century buildings, it's renowned for being Rembrandt’s birthplace, the home of the Netherlands’ oldest and most prestigious university (Einstein was a regular professor), and the place in which the Pilgrims raised money to lease the leaky Mayflower that took them to the New World in 1620. Leiden's cache of museums, all within walking distance of each other, are a major draw, as is wandering along its picturesque canals and soaking up its nightlife, fuelled by a strong student population.

Life tips;

1) Learn some of the language. Of course, most Dutch people can speak English fluently but showing that you are at least trying to speak their language will go a long way. 2) Get a bike. It’s just a MUST. You can’t adjust into the Dutch culture without a bike! 3) Visit more places than just Leiden. The Netherlands has lots to offer. It’s not all just coffee shops and red light districts. 4) Be careful crossing the street. Well, that goes for every country right? 5) Enjoy your time abroad!

Housing and accommodation;

Would you like to live in a historical building in the heart of Leiden? Or would you prefer to live in a modern student complex in The Hague? In any case, it’s important to start arranging your student accommodation as early as possible. There are several different ways of looking for a room.You can try finding housing yourself; if you are an international (Non-Dutch) bachelor's, master's, study abroad or exchange student, you can ask Leiden University Housing Office to arrange accommodation for you. If you are a PhD student, guest researcher, or guest lecturer, our Service Centre for International Staff can assist you to find housing in Leiden or The Hague.

Useful websites;

There are a many housing organisations and agencies offering accommodation in Leiden and The Hague. Visit their website to find out what they have on offer and how they do business. Always check whether you have to pay a fee and familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations. If you are offered a rental contract in Dutch, have it translated and read it carefully before signing.

Important info;

Average rental in shared accommodation; 400 euros. Monthly food cost; 200 euros. Average lunch price at a restaurant; 15 euros. Average Fitness subscription; 26 euros. Beer Price at a bar; 4 euros.

..and of course do not forget to join the local ESN (ISN) community!

The International Student Network (ISN) is part of the larger Erasmus Student Network (ESN)which is one of the biggest interdisciplinary student associations in Europe, founded in 1989 to support and develop student exchange. The main focus of ISN is on all current international and exchange students in Leiden. ISN facilitates academic, social and practical integration through activities and programmes. These activities include cultural and social events, such as trips to various destinations, language exchange, clubs to suit any interest, international dinners and parties. Meanwhile, the ISN Buddy Programme helps international students with academic and practical integration.

Pack your bags and choose Leiden as your Erasmus or studying abroad destination! Cheers!

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