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.