A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
By way of introduction as yet another new blogger for the Leidener, I thought I’d tell you about some of the things I’ve loved about living in Leiden over the past 6 months.
They say that it’s people that make a place special, and I think it’s definitely true here in Leiden. While as an international student its always more difficult to get to know the locals properly, I have been fortunate to meet some really great Dutch people in my classes. When you’re out and about everyone is also very welcoming and friendly – everyone seems to be fascinated by the Kiwi girl with the strange accent, garbled attempts at communicating in Dutch, and numerous questions about the local traditions.
As an international student though, it seems a common trend to become friends with fellow internationals. The simple fact that you are all trying to navigate this new culture with a strange language, the different systems that the university operates on, and life away from the support network you have at home, means you understand each other and quickly form friendships. You can often find international students sharing tips on where to go for a particular item, how to get the best bargain (we are students after all), or sharing the best tourist destinations to visit. It’s also really great having so many friends around Europe (or further afield) to visit.
Before I arrived in Leiden I was positive that I wouldn’t need a Bicycle, even if it was so typically Dutch. At home I had managed to walk to class everyday and I was sure that I could do that again. Well, my mind was quickly changed, and it wasn’t long before a bike was parked alongside my neighbours. There’s something that seems to happen when you get on that bike, basket in front, loaded with books from the library, or food from the closest Hoogvliet – suddenly you much more like a local than the lost tourist wandering the streets.
I always thought New Zealand (home) was a small country, but compared to the Netherlands it’s huge! It still takes me by surprise how quickly and easily you can travel from one city to another. It only takes 15 minutes to travel from Leiden to Den Haag – at home it would take me that long to drive to the local supermarket! Being so close to the major airport also makes wider travel, like going to Venice for the weekend as I did with a friend last month, extremely easy.
Leiden is the most beautiful place to live. It really could be straight out of a picture book! With its many canals, cobble stone streets and church bells it’s fun to ‘show off’ the beautiful place you live to all your friends who come to visit.
There are plenty of other reasons to love Leiden but these are a few of my favourites.