A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Young. Passionate. Enthusiastic. Brave. Curious. Energetic. Active. Positive.
I’m sitting lazily in front of my laptop and typing down these great words with a poker face. Next to my left hand is a large portion of chips, and next to my right hand is my smart phone popping sounds of notifications (from Facebook). I suddenly felt some pressure somewhere in my brain. “Hey! You’re only 19, a second-year student at college; but now you look older than a 91-year-old senior.” Hearing this lingering voice from my ego, I nervously jumped away to look into the mirror. I saw a girl looking sleepy and tired, her eyelids falling down and her body chubby and clumsy. I can totally say that it’s coursework that has kept me at home; however, it’s almost Spring Break and I can’t find any excuses for my procrastination and laziness.
What can I do then? I thought of hitchhiking to Ljubljana with my fellow classmates, but Slovenia is kind of distant and now it seems that its surrounding areas are not very secure. Some friends suggested visiting Berlin, but unfortunately they got occupied by other important activities that made this suggestion not possible. I remember that last year I went traveling alone to Rotterdam, Delft, Utrecht and some other towns within the Netherlands. And this year? A sparkle flashed quickly in my mind. I’ve always wanted to visit Frankfurt, which is the hometown of my academic tutor, and I really need to practice my poor German somehow. Yes! I’ll go to Frankfurt!
I was very excited about this idea. Obviously I couldn’t wait to get the preparations done as soon as possible, so I booked train tickets (at a very nice bargain, fast and cheap) from Utrecht to Frankfurt and for the way back. I was still excited when I moved on to hotel-booking, and I found this.
Almost all the beds and rooms for the best hostel were booked out on the dates I need! What in the world! Then I checked some websites about hotel booking, and it scared me massively when I saw the number of beds/rooms available decreasing swiftly. Considering the access of transportation, I forced myself to book a bed in a mixed 8-people room in a hostel close to the central station of Frankfurt.
And guess what I got in the confirmation email from the hostel I chose? “Again we’d like to point out that we are in the MIDDLE of the REDLIGHT DISTRICT … So, now you know. We have “warned” you. We think that it is safe and rather entertaining, but we like our guests to be happy, also with the location.” WHAAAAAT! Just imagine a very very traditional and conventional Chinese girl getting mad at herself for a whole day. Yeah it sounds stupid but I thought red light districts only exist in Amsterdam… OK. I’ve made the reservation and it’s non-refundable. Arrrh. Let me see the comments. Most of the tourists said that as long as you don’t go back to the hostel late at night, it should be alright. I said to myself, “Girl, nothing is perfect. Be brave! I’ll bring a backpack with me, traveling around freely, while protecting myself at the same time.”
To my surprise, my dearest parents supported me in traveling alone to Frankfurt, and they even joked that I can be their tour guide later when they visit Europe (of course I didn’t tell them that it’s a MIXED room in a hostel right in the MIDDLE of the REDLIGHT DISTRICT). Sighing with relief, I began writing down the things I need to bring and take care of on a checklist. I am nervous, anxious, but also excited about the trip in almost a week. Becoming a skilled backpacker takes long, and I’m only a greenhand in this. I sincerely wish myself good luck in the preparations, in my security, and of course in the trip as a whole. More stories will follow soon earlier next month. Tips for me as a greenhand backpacker are definitely appreciated. OK. I thought of some stuff to bring along, let me write them down as well… Ciao for now!
by Xueyan Xing (coming all the way from China; studying at Leiden University College The Hague)