A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
This morning at half past nine, I left Anna van Buerenplein, the student building I have stayed for a year, with my last luggage. I have practiced today and the goodbye for countless times in my mind, but as I left my room keys in the housing office mailbox, I felt less sad than I had imagined. It’s life, and you have to move on.
I still remember the first day I arrived in the Hague. As soon as I left the central station, a girl came up to me, asking if I’m a Leiden University student (because I had two big suitcases with me and was heading in the direction of the housing office). She helped me with my suitcase and led me to the housing office to pick up my contract and keys; afterwards, she walked me back to Anna van Buerenplein.
I’ve made some friends here in the building, some of whom I knew from friends, and some of whom I met through various ways. I have spoken to many people I don’t really know – in the elevator, before the garage room door… Only a few days ago, a girl sneezed in the elevator, so I said ‘bless you’, and she replied by a ‘thank you. Your shirt is pretty cool’.
One of my neighbors plays guitar nearly every day at midnight. He also smokes weed heavily. The other neighbor cooks late at night, which I hate because it always smells so good. I sometimes play my guitar at three o’clock in the morning and play music loud in the early morning. The people living in the opposite building New Babylon form my favorite human zoo.
I know my way to the three Albert Heijn in the neighborhood; I love the narrow streets of the city center; I have been to some music festivals and gigs; I love the beach, it is magnificent in every way; I love going to Pathe alone on winter nights, watching a movie I had been expecting for months, and maybe crying a little in the sparsely seated cinema; My love for the central library, especially the comics section, is beyond words.
Most importantly, I love the people I have met in the Hague. I once walked with an Austrian guy back to the central station at 4 o’clock in the morning. We talked about history and cities all the way. Just yesterday, two complete strangers offered to lend me their suitcases for a few days without asking for any payback. I have always been in love with nice people, and the people in the Hague strike me as amazing.
Hemingway describes Paris as a moveable feast for you could take it away with you. I guess the Hague is none the different. At least for me, I will take the Hague with me, to other places in the world.