E-Krazy!

Today at work the receptionists were wearing fluorescent orange leis. Promotional orange sports shirts lined the entrance hall, and, at lunch, my colleague won a prize-draw and received a shining new orange football, with ‘Holland’ emblazoned across it. As I rode the bus home, I passed cars with scarves and flags streaming from their windows,…

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A Night at the Musuem

The tram shuddered to a stop in front of a long, low, beige-brick building. We’d arrived at the Gemeentemuseum, in the suburbs of the Hague, for a ‘night at the museum’. Better termed an evening at the museum, this was an event advertised for the large expat population in the Hague, and was a chance…

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Election Season!

Late last month, the Dutch government became the latest victim of the financial crisis, collapsing over an impasse on the passing of austerity measures. This means that in the early autumn, there’ll be a general election here, with all its attendant campaigning, leafleting, ‘knocking-up’ and, unfortunately, but almost inevitably, a lot of flag-waving xenophobic nationalism…

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Urinating Statues and European Politicians – A Trip to Brussels

I’ve been hearing the siren call of Brussels for quite some time now. As a student of international relations and international law, the impact of events in the Belgian capital in these fields is difficult to ignore. And the jobs market tends to reflect this influence, with think-tanks, public relations agencies, NGO headquarters and all…

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Flatness in Flevoland

I thought that it couldn’t get any flatter. Then it did. As you’ll all know, the Netherlands is well-known for its lack of mountains, hills, valleys, and anything else that might break the even curvature of the earth’s surface. This reputation is not entirely based in fact – the East, and the South East especially,…

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That Ball’s The Wrong Shape…

If you’re a rugby fan, it’s that time of the year again. Those of us with a drop of Celtic blood in us rediscover our patriotism, anyone who ever touched an oddly-misshapen ball or pulled on torn school rugby kit as a teenager becomes an expert on the offside rule, and Saturdays are spent in…

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Back to British winter…

The thaw has arrived. The snow is gone. Small greying lumps of ice sit crushed in the gutters, tricking inattentive cyclists and sending them skidding sideways into deep, oily, muddy puddles. Instead of huddling by radiators inside the law faculty, defrosting, I’m now having to trek to the bathrooms, to squeeze the water out of…

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Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside. One of Leiden’s big advantages is also one of its most under-reported amongst the international students here. I’ve spoken to people who spend a whole year here without being aware of it. It’s a short ride away, offers the opportunity to get away from it all…

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Te huur or not te huur? – The housing question

When I first decided to come to Leiden, I joined all sorts of housing groups, mailing lists, student collectives, anything really, that would help me to find somewhere to live in or around a town with far too many students and far too few rooms. Having safely installed myself in Oegstgeest (which might as well…

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A taste of the Deep South…

The Netherlands is famed for its tolerance, openness and multiculturalism. A rich, if not always proud, imperial history has resulted in a wide range of influences on Dutch life, and, very noticeably, on Dutch cuisine. Traditionally, there’s been a predominance of cheese and ham, and the general rule was that if it’s not sweet and…

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