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!
Today is the day I leave the Netherlands, and it’s kind of hard to believe. I spent so long waiting to come here, and it’s gone by in a flash. It’s going to be an emotional day, most likely with some (a lot) of tears. I actually had a little cry going home at Christmas, so I’m not sure what it’s going to be like now I’m leaving for good… In a way, I’m looking forward to returning to the UK, there are plenty of things I miss about it, but I know I will also miss my third adopted home country. But what am I going to miss most?
- Cycling everywhere. I absolutely love this; I love cycling and it’s so quick and means I don’t need to spend money on public transport. Whilst I could still do this at home, it’s not the same. The area where I live is VERY hilly and the UK just doesn’t have the same system for bikes as the Netherlands. There’s very few bike paths, nowhere to lock a bike… it’s just not the same. I’m going to miss my fiets!
- The beautiful buildings. I really love Dutch architecture, and all the tall houses and buildings with huge windows.
- The canals. Water everywhere! Although I think I really love this because it reminds me of home – my town is full of streams and millponds, so I’m used to being surrounded by water. The canals bring a real charm to Leiden and other Dutch cities, and it means we get all kinds of exciting wildlife just hanging around – like herons sitting on top of lamp posts!
- The food. I already discussed my favourite Dutch foods, so I won’t go into much detail here. But maybe it’s kind of a good thing that I won’t be near any stroopwafels…
- Independence. I will have to move back home with my parents for a little while until I find a job, and that’s going to be another big change. It was the same when I finished university last time. Of course I love being home and spending time with them, but it’s also nice to have my own space too. It will be especially odd after being not only away from home, but having lived in another country by myself.
- Travelling. I didn’t quite travel as much as I wanted to, but it’s so easy to do it from Leiden! I managed to go to Belgium and Germany, and within the Netherlands I went to Amsterdam (many times), The Hague, Delft, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and other places. Plus the beach is only a 40 minute bike ride away!
- The atmosphere. Dutch people are much more relaxed than the English. I loved strolling through the town, just seeing people sitting in the sun, often on boats, having a coffee or a nice cold beer. The working week is generally shorter and everyone just seems a lot more easy-going. I love it.
- And last, but definitely not least… my friends. If you read my posts about coming here before August then you’ll know I was sort of terrified of not making any friends. But I did, and I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been. My friends, not the university, made the experience here an amazing one. I’m going to be so sad to leave everyone, even if we will (hopefully) not be that far apart in the end. Plus it means I now have contacts all over the world!
I may end up doing some sort of ‘wrap up’ posts of things I forgot, but this may also be the last post in this series. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my Dutch adventures, even if I didn’t post quite as often as I’d hoped!
In all, my time in Leiden has been absolutely fantastic. I do not regret making the decision to come here at all. I’ve met some fantastic people, had a wonderful time and completely gone out of my comfort zone in ways I would have never expected just one or two years ago. THANK YOU to everyone who has been a part of my life here, I am going to miss you all so much.