Notes from the Netherlands

Notes From The Netherlands #1

Note from the Netherlands

Notes from the Netherlands is my feature where I discuss my time studying at Leiden University. I want to blog about this amazing experience as much as I can!

I’ve now been in Leiden for nine days, and I feel so at home already. Here are some of my observations:
  • Dutch is tricky. Well I already knew that, but I’m scared of speaking it – but I’m getting better. Yesterday, I managed to go through an entire supermarket trip understanding everything and not having to use English. I didn’t give the cashier a blank look when she asked if I wanted my receipt, yay!
  • I will probably get run over one day because I’ll never get used to cars being on the other side of the road.
  • Loads of houses in the city have the names of the families or inhabitants on the front door, which is strange to me!
  • They also have HUGE windows (good) with no curtains (bad). So I end up looking into houses then immediately feeling bad for doing so.
  • Most shops don’t give change under 10 cents, which means NO MORE EVIL TINY COINS.
  • Everything just feels so relaxed. People aren’t rushing to get about, they’re polite and it seems so clean. More people on bikes means less pollution.
  • There are lots of canals (obviously), little lakes, green spaces and ducks, so I feel right at home.
  • Dutch cats don’t like me as much as English ones. *sobs*
  • This place is just AMAZING for photo opportunities.
  • I haven’t really been homesick, which is a surprise. But I’ve also had a long time to wait for this, and get adjusted to the fact that I’ll be living in a different country.

So what have I been up to?

My parents came over with me, to help take my stuff and get me settled in. I’m so glad they did, I think it would have been an entirely different story without them. They stayed until Sunday morning, and from Sunday to Wednesday morning I was by myself. I got various admin jobs done like opening my Dutch bank account and signing my tenancy agreement, I bought much needed household items and did some exploring.

Then on Wednesday, I finally met up with two of my coursemates, and then we met two more coursemates yesterday. It was really nice to finally hang out with people and have a face to face conversation again (there’s almost no-one in my halls of residence at the moment as they’re renovating most of the rooms, so it’s quiet). We explored the city (including the bookshops, yesssss), visited the botanical gardens, took a look inside two of the big churches, sampled some appeltaart, climbed up to De Burcht for a view over the city, visited the antiquities museum and even spent one evening in an English pub before coming back to mine after closing time for a cup of tea. So very English.

It’s been a really lovely few days getting to know people and spend time with them, and tomorrow I will meet even more – because that’s when the Orientation Week finally starts! I just know that this year is going to be an amazing experience already, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Tot ziens!

22 thoughts on “Notes From The Netherlands #1”

  1. I’m so jealous! You should record yourself on one of your supermarket trips. And have you tried talking to the cats in Dutch? Maybe that’ll work. Although Judith says most Dutch people prefer English so perhaps cats do too.

    1. Haha, I’d feel like such an idiot if I did that! I’d probably get some odd looks walking around with a camera in there… And no, not yet, I need to work out some phrases for them…

  2. That’s definitely odd about the names on people’s houses! Out in the less populated areas sometimes you’ll see family names on mailboxes (the ones by the road anyway), but normally people go for as much anonymity as possible. Those Dutch must be freindly people.

    I really can’t imagine living with no curtains, though. That’s way too strange for me. o_o

    I’m loving all your updates on Instagram. I hope you keep up with those!

    1. Yeah, sometimes they just have them on the doors but some people have specially made signs. And all apartments have spaces for names by the buzzers too! Although I have seen that at home, admittedly – it just gets used less. I even have room to add my name next to my buzzer here ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      Will definitely keep posting to Instagram. There’s just so much to photograph ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Is it very strange? ๐Ÿ˜› Yesterday I even understood the total to pay without having to look at the screen, yessssss. Sometimes they say numbers too quickly.

  3. Sounds like have a great time there already. And just like Mel mentioned it is so fun to see my country for another point of view, it’s like seeing it with different eyes and seeing the beautifull spots again.
    For me the window size feels normal, we do have curtains everywhere in our house though.
    One I visited the UK I thought it was so wierd the cars drive on the different size of the road, difficult to get used to.
    I visited De Burcht one of the first time we visited Leiden, in sumemr you often see people lying in the grass there.

    1. It really is ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh that’s good to hear!

      I love the huge windows. That’s what our house is like in the UK, massive windows everywhere – but they don’t look out directly onto the street and we have curtains!

  4. Hahaha I have to keep myself from looking inside houses when I’m in The Netherlands too. I don’t understand the habit of not putting up curtains or shutters or whatever and I live right next to that country… Also agree on everyone being super friendly and seeming always happy!

    1. It’s so tempting, but then you look in and see an old couple just watching TV or something and feel bad! But I guess if they don’t put anything up they have to expect it ๐Ÿ˜›

  5. Rinn you have no idea how jealous of you right now! Being in the Netherlands just looks so awesome! I’ll be looking forward to the rest of your study abroad experience!

    1. Haha, so many of my friends have said that ๐Ÿ™‚ It really has been such an exciting two weeks already, and I hope the rest are just as brilliant but perhaps go slowly – a year can past by too quickly!

  6. Glad to hear you’ve gotten off to such a good start! I’m quite impressed that you’re putting so much effort into using Dutch – a lot of people would just bumble through without it. You’re clearly made of sterner stuff ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Well I’d quite honestly feel horribly ignorant if I didn’t even learn basics! I still hate how it’s instinct to say ‘hello’ rather than ‘hallo’ or ‘goede morgen’ etc – or thank you instead of dank je wel if someone just holds a door open or something.

  7. Glad to hear you’re settling in to life at Leiden and having a lot of fun. That’s cool too about the language, yay about the supermarket! Your photos on Instagram are gorgeous ๐Ÿ˜€ Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures and experiences there ๐Ÿ™‚

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