A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
To nature. That’s what I’ve been feeling ever since I came to the Netherlands.
May is finishing now, yet here I am, still armed with coat and scarf, listening to my friend complaining how hot it gets in China, enjoying the chilly, colorful and reviving spring.
This year is not normal. They say it’s the coldest spring the Netherlands ever have. Well, I wouldn’t complain. There were several bright days that lit up the world. Looking at the pink, the yellow, the green shining under the sun, I remembered last year, my first spring in the Netherlands. I was taking pictures everywhere because the spring here is so much different from the spring in Beijing – too short to realize, here it is quite a long, slow period where you can really observe the changes around. Beside the trees and flowers, what attract me most are the animals which I barely ever saw before coming here.
You can see wild animals almost everywhere – hares, squirrels, ducks, geese, seagulls, and all kinds of birds that I don’t know the names. It is always interesting to see a group of ducks and geese lazily sitting under the sun or eagerly rushing to some people with food. Now it is spring, so a new generation of those animals is brought to birth. I find it so much fun to watch those tiny little ducklings following their mom and dad, learning the skills to survive. I couldn’t help taking some pictures of such lovely moments. But my friends told me that usually most of those ducklings couldn’t survive after several days, “last year there were six at the beginning,” she said to me during lunch break when we saw a small fluffy duckling trying to get to its food but being blown away by the wind all the time, “then a week later there were only two left.” At the same time of feeling sad and sorry for those cute creatures, I think it vividly reflects how cruel but efficient natural selection is to keep the balance of the whole nature.
Maybe I’m acting ignorant for being impressed by such common things, but for people who grow up in the city in China like me, “nature” is definitely not something you see every day. That’s why I feel that I have never been so close to nature like this. In big cities like Beijing and Xi’an, air pollution is a big problem. Every year the days when you can see the clear blue sky can almost be counted just using ten fingers. But here whenever there is sunshine, there is blue sky. Even just taken by my old 7.0 megapixel compact camera, the pictures are described by my friends as “clear” and “like postcards”.
When I sent the animal photos to my families, I got some very funny feedback. Some asked “how can you take pictures so close without scaring them away”, some joked “if it were in China, they would have already ended up in the kitchen pot”, which reminds me of a joke I read before.
Western people love nature. They put every piece of green in their heart.
Chinese people also love nature. We put every piece of green in our cooking pot.
Well, that’s the good thing about China. We have rich food-focused culture which results in the diverse delicacies. While the good thing about the Netherlands is that it has a very nature-friendly environment, which always gives me a very pleasant and relaxing mood.