A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
When you move abroad it can be very reassuring and comforting to see familiar shops on the high street. When you walk into them it feels almost like you’re home, just for a moment. Back in the UK I used to love going in to John Lewis and just wandering around looking at all the expensive knick knacks on sale, much like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ‘nothing very bad could happen to you there.’ In Den Haag there is a department store De Bijenkorf and that’s my replacement. It’s like Debenhams and John Lewis all rolled in to one, full of shoes and handbags and home ware and everything a girl could possibly want.
However, as much as I loved wandering around John Lewis and maybe having a coffee, I couldn’t possibly afford to buy anything, what with being a poverty-stricken student and all. My clothes shop of choice was New Look, and low and behold, there’s one in Den Haag! I don’t think words could explicate my joy when I discovered this. In the bowels of V&D, down in the basement there it was, offering affordable clothes and UK style. They even gave me a 10% discount student card. While I was briefly in the UK for a trip I went to the New Look in Bath to get a skirt I wanted but found they didn’t have my size. Miserably I returned to NL assuming I would never wear that lovely faded pink retro knee-length skirt and there it was in Den Haag, waiting for me all along!
There are a few other UK favourites over here. H&M is a regular staple of the shopping streets in Holland. In fact in Amsterdam there is (honestly, no exaggeration) one on almost every street. Den Haag is further expanding in to the UK market with the development of a new Marks and Spencer department store, that marvellous bastion of Britishness, right in the centre of town. It may as well function as the British Embassy. Next to it will be a Primark, another favourite of UK students, one already existing in Rotterdam and apparently very popular with the Dutch youth also. According to legend Boots the Chemist exists somewhere in The Netherlands…
But don’t worry; it’s not a UK invasion of the Dutch high street, just a small (but welcome!) incursion.