A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Since arriving in Leiden I have owned a number of bicycles. Ideally I only wanted to own one that would see me through my time here but that simply was not to be.
It all began the early last September. The leaves were falling, the temperature was dropping and I needed a way of conveying myself to classes somewhat faster than walking pace. Looking around I noticed a large number of people whizzing past me on contraptions consisting of two wheels and a seat. I decided ‘I want me one of them!’ and pottered off to my nearest local dealer. Walking up to the counter I said to the gentleman, ‘Look my good man, I have sixty euros in my pocket and I would like to buy one of your two wheeled contraptions.’ ‘A bicycle?’ he asked. ‘Bi-cy-cle?’ I repeated, trying this new and interesting word out. He pointed at the two wheeled transport to which I nodded furiously in agreement.
He showed me a variety of bicycles but my heart was stolen by a slightly too small blue bike. The fact that it was only fifty euros may have played a part in my infatuation. ‘I’ll take her!’ I exclaimed and off I cycled, pleased with my purchase. I named her Penelope after Odysseus’s faithful wife, hoping for the same devotion from my bicycle.
But my joy was not long lived. Two weeks before the end of the Christmas term, having left her at central station she ran off in to the night with a suspicious looking man with a pair of pliers.
Though my heart was broken I knew I would need a new bike so I arranged for an Erasmus friend to leave hers for me when she went home. It was terrible. I named her Lilith after the Biblical demon that eats children. The next one was so unserviceable it never even received a name. Is a bicycle a bicycle if it doesn’t cycle?
However, all was not lost. Knowing my terrible plight, my boyfriend’s parents took their two spare bikes to the shop and had them amalgamated in to one superbike. This one is named Megatron and I am convinced that if you wait outside my house at night for long enough you will find a Transformer wrestling with a bike lock wrapped around its feet.