Thoughts

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

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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.

Grrrrr

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!

Thoughts

Thoughts #16: On Moving To The Netherlands

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As many of you already know, I will be moving to the Netherlands in August to study. I’ll be doing my Masters degree there, and with every day that passes I am simultaneously terrified and excited to be moving to this new country by myself, to live in a city where I know absolutely no-one, with a language that I love the sound of, but that still baffles me. I guess I just wanted to use this post to discuss some of my worries, both rational and irrational, and how I’m trying to overcome them!

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One of the many grachten (canals) in Leiden.

1. I’m scared that I won’t have much of a social life.

I’m generally really rubbish at meeting new people. Unless that person has an interest that I can immediately connect with (like BOOKS!), chances are I’ll feel really awkward at first. I don’t have much of a social life now – I’m back in my home town and I barely know anyone here. Most people went off to university and didn’t move back afterwards, whereas I came straight back home after university so I could save more money for my Masters. It’s not the easiest place to meet new people within my age group (small country town), and I thought it won’t matter too much because I’ll only be here for a year. That year has now turned into two, and most of my socialising is either with a few close friends spread around the country, my family or online friends.

I guess in a way I’m kind of worried that I’ve forgotten how to have a social life! Luckily, I’m pretty determined to go out there and meet lots of new people from all over the world, and make some friends for life. And I’ll find like-minded people on my course, not to mention all the different student clubs and societies! Plus I love the idea of sitting in a jazz bar with some friends – De Twee Spieghels, here I come.

2. The language barrier could be a problem.

Okay, so I don’t have to learn Dutch. My course is taught in English, and the Dutch are known for being very good at English (and languages in general) – but I would feel SO ignorant if I went not knowing a single word. I would love to be able to go into a shop or a restaurant and be able to ask for help, make a purchase or order something in Dutch, no English needed. I just want to be able to make small talk; I don’t need to know how to lecture people about the dangers of air pollution (Luftverschmutzung was a popular topic on my A Level German course… for some reason). Although in general the level of English spoken in the Netherlands is very high, that doesn’t mean everyone speaks it well. And I don’t want to seem like an ignorant tourist.

I’ve been teaching myself Dutch, very slowly, for about a year. I’m quite happy reading Dutch text, it’s the speaking part that’s hard. I have quite a few Dutch and Flemish friends who I really need to practice with, but I’m terrified of making mistakes – which is stupid, because how else do you learn? I’m starting to feel more confident with basic conversation, so I guess the next step is actually putting it to use. Plus Judith @ Paper Riot has an AMAZING feature called ‘How to Dutch’, which I’ve tested myself with!

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Stadhuis van Leiden (Leiden townhall)

3. I’m worried that studying again after two years will be really difficult.

I’ve been working for nearly two years, so I’ve kind of lost the ‘routine’ I had whilst studying. I’ve obviously had a lot more free time (or at least that’s how it feels – working 30 hours a week now vs. 9 hours of lectures and a LOT of self-study during my Bachelors), which I’ve spent reading, gaming and doing other leisurely activities.

But when I go to do my Masters, I will have to be careful with how I spend my free time. I can’t just pick up a video game whenever I feel like it, I’ll have to consider whether I have other, more important, things to be done first. Play hours of Mass Effect or do that pile of laundry? Read that new release I’ve been looking forward to, or read that set text for my next class? Cook a healthy, nutritious dinner or get something from an automaat? Make ADULT decisions about GROWN-UP things – I just can’t.

Nope.

4. And the scariest thing at all… how much time will I have for blogging?

Yep, I’m really scared about this one! I don’t want my blog to just slowly fade away. I’ll make every effort to keep posting. I highly doubt it will be as often as I do now, but I’d be happy with even just once or twice a week. There are lots of bloggers who balance out blogging and studying, and I’m sure I can take inspiration from it.

But the best thing? I can blog about my experiences studying in the Netherlands as an international student, which will be REALLY exciting and is most definitely an excuse to take ALL THE PHOTOS. Claire @ Bitches With Books has a great feature about studying at Oxford University as an international student – plus she’s doing a pretty awesome degree.

Have you had experience with moving or studying in a new city or country? Were you able to keep up old hobbies? What were the biggest changes for you?