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.

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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!

Thoughts

Thoughts #24: On Moving To The Netherlands, Part Three

thoughts_16

As you may or may not know, I will soon be starting my Masters degree at the University of Leiden. I’ve already posted on the topic twice before, first to discuss my worries, and then to rant a little about my problems with finding accommodation, and to make a list of reasons why it will be amazing (my attempt to combat the negativity!). But guess what? Today is The Big Day.

Eeek!

Yup, today I fly out to Amsterdam. My flight is at 5.30pm and AHHHHHHHH. We’re staying in a hotel tonight, then we can pick my keys up tomorrow afternoon and move in! Then my parents are helping me to settle in, get in some basic supplies, and they’re flying home on Sunday night. It will be scary and exciting and emotional and so many different feels but I CANNOT WAIT.

But what might this mean for the blog?

Posts might be less frequent.

Although I honestly have no idea. I already have the rest of this month scheduled (and perhaps September by the time this post goes up) so I’m sorted for a few weeks at least. I don’t know how crazy my timetable will be, plus there’s so many new things to do, so I have no idea how often I’ll be posting.

You’ll see some posts on my experiences.

I won’t just be posting about books, now I’ll be talking about my year studying abroad. The culture, getting to grips with the language, the food, various trips I go on – I want to cover it all!

I’ll probably be slower to respond to comments.

Both on my own blog, and commenting on others. I’ll get there eventually!

I may be quieter on social media for a bit.

This first week might not be so different, since I’m moving in a week before Orientation Week and also I think before many others (a lot of people seem to be unable to move into their accommodation until September 1st, which is weird). I’ll mostly be using the week for exploring the city and getting to know my way around, and how active I am depends on how many people I meet during this quieter week.

So see you when I see you, lovely readers!