Notes from the Netherlands

Notes From The Netherlands #2

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!

Since I last posted about my time here, so much has happened and I can’t believe it’s only been just over two weeks!
  • I got to know one of my coursemates, this amazing guy called Jack (you better be reading this Jack, haha!) a lot better, and he has definitely helped me to come out of my comfort zone and experience things I would never even have tried before – now I know I actually enjoy all this stuff I was just too scared to even try out, thanks to having someone there who I really get along with.
  • All of last week was Orientation Week, which was a very intense week full of events for Masters students. Every day there was a variety of different activities planned to help us get to know each other, as well as the city.
  • View from the Hortus Botanicus

    View from the Hortus Botanicus.

  • On Tuesday, there was a pub crawl planned for the evening. I’m not a particularly big drinker – or rather, I’m fussy about what I will actually drink. And until now, despite having already done three years at university, I’d never gone on a pub crawl. My mantra for the week was just to do everything and throw myself into it, leave my comfort zone. So I did it – and I’m so glad! I had such a fun time, and I think the fact that I enjoyed that encouraged me to do other things. And I probably also consumed more calories in alcohol than food this week as a result.
  • Wednesday night was a cocktail party at the ISN (International Student Network) house, followed by Einstein, which is a popular student bar in Leiden. Vodka definitely hits me very quickly. This night was even more fun than the last, and we got to have drinks sat on a gracht!
  • View from V&D

    View from V&D.

  • On Thursday night we went to a club called Next. This was a HUGE deal for me – as it was actually the first time I’d ever been to a club. Honestly. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected, and basically just decided to forget the fact that I can’t dance and just have fun. It was so packed, people were drinking and I’m pretty sure no-one would have noticed my dancing, whether bad or good.
  • And then Friday was the big end of week party at InCasa, so I’m pretty glad I got my first club experience before that – I felt a lot less scared this time! Another fantastic night, but a slightly earlier finish than Thursday, where I didn’t get back until 5am…
  • Overall, it’s just been an amazing time so far. Getting to know and spend time with some really wonderful people, all these new experiences, the fact that I actually had the courage to push myself into doing these things – I’m pretty proud of myself!

I can’t even begin to explain everything that happened this week, there was just so much! All I can say is that it has been completely and absolutely amazing. I know I’m going to be just fine in this wonderful city.

Sat outside The Duke of Oz during the pub crawl

Sat outside The Duke of Oz during the pub crawl.


Snapshots #4: Leiden


I’m a bit of an amateur photographer – I studied photography at A Level, and it’s always been a hobby of mine. Snapshots is the feature where I share some of that photography! All of the photos link to my Flickr account, in case you’re interested in viewing more.

Today’s theme is: Leiden. In fact this theme will probably occur a lot now…

Stadhuis (town hall)

I loved the red shutters on this building.

Oude Rijn.

Morspoort, next to one of my favourite restaurants in Leiden so far.



This bit could be Oxford. If you just ignore the Dutch above the door of course…

These aren’t as high quality as normal as they were taken on my phone!

Do you enjoy photography too? What are your favourite moments to capture?

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!


Snapshots #3: Water


I’m a bit of an amateur photographer – I studied photography at A Level, and it’s always been a hobby of mine. Snapshots is the feature where I share some of that photography! All of the photos link to my Flickr account, in case you’re interested in viewing more.

Today’s theme is: water.

At one of the millponds nearby.

Same millpond as above. The area is now a college for adults with learning disabilities, but most of the grounds are open to the public.

The Oude Rijn in Leiden, I will be moving to this beautiful city in a couple of weeks!

Bergerac, France.

Bergerac again!

At Porchester Castle in Hampshire.

Do you enjoy photography too? What are your favourite moments to capture?


Thoughts #20: On Moving To The Netherlands, Part Two


You may have seen me on Twitter, talking about how I STILL have nowhere to live for Leiden. I will be moving out there in mid-August, and I have been completely and utterly messed around by the accommodation system. If I register one way, I’m told to register another; if I register that way I’m told to register the other way – the way I was before! And now their website isn’t even working, so I’m obsessively checking it several million times a day (including at work, who luckily are very understanding) to see if it’s working. There SHOULD be rooms available soon, but the longer the website is down, the closer the moving date is, and the worse I feel. This is the reason I haven’t really been active in the blogosphere for the past week – I’m going to try and get some more posts scheduled today, but if I’m a bit quiet for a little while, you know why. The whole process has left me feeling so angry and frustrated about the whole thing.


I’ve been trying to distract myself from being too obsessive about checking the website, or getting too angry at the completely and utterly useless responses I’ve had from the housing company. I sent them a long email explaining the whole situation and how angry and confused I was about what I’d been told, and all they said back was ‘we understand your confusion and frustration’. No ‘sorry this has happened’, no ‘how can we help?’. Nothing useful. So I thought I’d share some of the reasons that I can’t wait to move to Leiden, to get rid of some of this negativity!

Rinn’s super positive list of reasons why living in Leiden will be amazing:

  • I get to meet new people from all over the world, as well as some old friends. This is one of the most exciting things for me, and Leiden is such an international university that it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will be living and studying with people from all over the world. As well as this, I’m planning on meeting up with some of my online friends that I’ve known for seven years, so a meeting is waaaay overdue.
  • I can spend time with fellow archaeology nerds. How I’ve missed them. My fellow archaeology/museum lovers. I can’t wait to meet you! 😀
  • I will experience a completely new culture and city. Leiden looks BEAUTIFUL. I only visited very briefly last March for one of the open days, but I fell in love. Cobbled streets, canals, the architecture, the language AHHHHH
  • excited gif

  • I’m hoping that I’ll pick up the language much more easily when I’m there. I mean there’s no better way to learn, right? I’m not expecting to become fluent of course, I just want to know enough to get by.
  • I’m looking forward to living independently again. I love where I live, and my relationship with my parents now is so much better than it was when I lived at home before, during sixth form. I’m much more appreciative of them and what they’ve done for me, and I really will miss them. But I really enjoyed living independently during my Bachelors degree, so I’m looking forward to that again.
  • I er… am kind of excited about Dutch supermarkets. Yeah. I have this weird thing, when I go abroad and end up in a supermarket I find it ENDLESSLY fascinating. All these new foods! All these different brands! I don’t know why… I’m looking forward to trying a variety of Dutch food, like vla, poffertjes, bitterballen and hagelslag! Oh, and olieballen look DELICIOUS. Expect posts on my experience with Dutch food, because I will be trying it all. Mmmm, smakelijk…
  • hagelslag

  • I can’t wait to be a student again. I’m going to give it my all this time, really get out and do things, make sure I take part. I got a bit lazy in second and third years before. I want to make sure I go to all the student bars, attend some parties and days out! The orientation week (with the wonderful acronym of OWL) should help with that.
  • There are LOADS of opportunities for travel. Amsterdam is a twenty minute train ride away. I’ll be visiting Belgium and Germany for sure. As long as I can spare the money and the time, I’ll be making the most of my ideal position on the continent.
  • And of course… think of the blogging opportunities. I may have less time to read and review, but I can still keep the blog active with other posts on my experiences in Leiden!

So yep, even after all this crap I’m still so excited to be going! If you’ve had experiences studying abroad then I’d love to hear them! Or if you know anything about Leiden, places to visit or eat, then please share those too!