A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
The leaves are falling, Leiden has put on its best autumnal dress, and the new semester is already in full swing. To all those of you who are new in town a belated warm welcome! By now you have probably, hopefully, made yourself comfortable in your new homes: university student dorm, private shared flat or a dutch student house, wherever you were lucky enough to find a place. But after the first excitement about everything new, you might discover that you need to change a few things to make this dwelling your own personal nest!
A comfy reading chair? A stable shelf for your study books? A second pot for the sauce to go with your pasta? There are lots of things you might need, even if you are only staying for a short time. But… if you are like me then your rent eats all your income and your student purse seems to constantly have a hole. In this case, before you now make a trip to the next Ikea in Delft or Haarlem, you might want to check out cheaper and maybe more interesting options!
Ela has already written about the Ij-Hallen, a great second-hand place in Amsterdam. Leiden also has a lot of second-hand places and antique shops to offer, where you can find all the practical, useful and unnecessary but nice stuff you need, all within even the lowest student budget.
Let me take you for a quick tour to my favorite spots!
The biggest second hand shop for literally everything from books to bikes to beds, is probably the “Kringlooper – Het Warenhuis” (http://www.kringloopwarenhuis.nl/). I love the recycling principle of the Kringlooper: They take old things people have sorted out, fix them if necessary, and give them the chance to find a new owner. ‘Het Warenhuis’ is basically like a huge storage room, the Kringlooper’s workers (most of them are volunteers actually!) make sure everything is in a good state, and the prices are really fair and student-apt! ‘Het Warenhuis’ is a bit outside of Leiden’s centre in the Willem Barentszstraat 12.
There is another “Kringlooper winkel” (shop) closer to the centre: The kringloopproject in the Volmolengracht 13. It is a bit smaller, but also full of stuff: kitchen utensils, furniture and clothes. Sometimes it takes a good look to find the treasures, but before you leave that boring-looking chest of drawers behind too soon, consider its potential: maybe it would be pretty cool in blue or red? Painting and re-making furniture is fun and I find it to be a great balance to all the mind work we academics are usually busy with. Here is what I did:
By the way, buying pieces of furniture at the Kringlooper is fun for one reason alone: you can borrow something called a ‘bakfiets’, a trycicle with a huge bucket to transport your furniture home, the Dutch way! It’s definitely an adventure, and really fun!
Then there is a tiny and cosy antique shop right next to the town hall – at the corner of the Breestraat in the Koornbrugsteeg 2. In “‘t Waere Thuys” you can find tea pots and glasses, old instruments and curiosities. It’s probably gone by now, but at the beginning of the semester I spotted a special offer there! Student starter packets for 7,50, with all what you need in your student kitchen… how sweet is that?!
Other recommendations are “Warenhuis de Rex” in the Haarlemmerstraat 52, which is much bigger than it looks from the outside, and “’t Gemakje” near the Pieterskerk in the Diefsteeg 8, which is a little bit more expensive but worth a look around if you like antique things and curiosities.
Happy wandering around!
Oh, and one last advice for a really good place where to find the cheapest furniture (at least at the rare happy days when it’s not raining): The streets of Leiden! It might sound a bit odd, but believe me, I have found some great pieces on the street.
My best finds? All these chairs:
So, during your next walk discovering the city, wish for what you really need but really can’t afford and keep an eye open. There is a chance it just falls from the sky directly in front of your feet…