A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
By this time, probably many prospective students are already certain about their decision of coming to Leiden. While the excitement lasts, I feel like writing this blog post to give you some ideas of what to bring and what to be prepared for, because just like you, I was pretty frenzy about shopping for a new life in a foreign country. I’m an Asian girl living in various Asian countries for pretty much my whole life before coming to Leiden, so this post may benefit those with similar background the most. But don’t go away if you’re not, girls everywhere will always need the same kind of things 😉
Leiden is quite a small city, but we do have most of Netherlands’ popular supermarket chains like Albert Heijn, Hoogvliet, Jumbo, Lidl, Aldi, etc. If you’re keen on Asian food, it’s not too hard to find ingredients, but here’s something to note of:
– You can generally find fish sauce (not very good), soya sauce, chili sauce but for cooking or dressing sauce like teriyaki sauce you should go to bigger supermarkets.
– Vinegar (azijn): go for herbal azijn (brown color) or witte wine azijn instead of the normal vinegar (transparent) packed in big bottles to avoid extreme sourness.
– Rice: for my palate Thai Jasmine Rice (Jasmine Rijst) tastes the best if you like the sticky type of rice.
– Salt: salt sold here all contains iodine, in case you worry about nutrients
If you can’t find anything Asian in the supermarkets, Toko Nieuwe Wereld in Nieuwe Rijn 30 is the place to go. Here they have various types of instant noodles, more rice that caters your Asian taste, tofu, duck, spices, vegetables, etc. It’s however a pretty small shop, so perhaps you’ll prefer to stock your kitchen with goods from Amazing Oriental whenever you spend time in the neighboring city of The Hague. They have pretty much everything you’d think you need, but it doesn’t hurt to pack some of your favorite instant noodles, for example, beforehand because you’ll find them much more pricey than in your home country.
The supermarkets also sell other kinds of necessities like everywhere in the world like utensils, cosmetics, etc. Just one piece of advice from my own experience of not knowing Dutch, be careful not to confuse liquid detergent with softener – they look pretty much the same, only labels of liquid detergent have temperature written on it.
Also, there are always promotions, so check their websites regularly. If you’re an android user, this Super Deal app might worth a download.
For girls, this is probably the number 2 concern after food lol. Besides supermarkets that also sell basic stuff like shampoo, shower cream, etc., Netherlands has 2 big chains of drugstore Etos and Kruidvat, and they have nice discounts all the time! If you do a head count then these drugstores have everything a girl would need: face care, hair care, oral care, makeup, woman essentials and so on. You can also find a variety of other stuff like baby care products and healthcare products. So, yes, on the one hand they have everything. On the other, they do not!
Unlike boys, we girls just have to be picky about our skin care products, because no one’s skin is like another’s (well maybe boys just can’t care less…). Hence I strongly recommend you stock and pack your own skincare routine with you when coming here, or else you’ll experience some mild stress.
If your luggage is completely full and you absolutely have to leave 1 or 2 things behind, then let it be nourishing cream or moisturizers. The things they have here is cheap and surprisingly good. You’ll do just fine with for example Nivea’s body lotion and moisturizing cream, but probably for body only, because we always need to be extra cautious with our face.
If there’s something that you absolutely one hundred percent have to bring, it’s SUN CARE. I cannot stress this enough, because I was off guard and finding a proper sun product here just drives me crazy. The sun care sections in the aforementioned drugstores look quite… pathetic. They will give you big sigh. There are only very few of Dutch brands, and I have no comment for the quality. Just don’t work for me. Not to mention that considering the Dutch’s craze for the sun they’d probably care more about sun tan than simply protecting yourself from the UV rays and stuff. I mean, I even had to order from Amazon UK for my favorite sunblock from Neutrogena.
That said, if you’re used to using high-end brands, things can be a bit easier. Sites such as ICI Paris, Douglas and De Bijenkort offer free delivery regardless of the amount you buy. But beware that the price can’t be painfully higher than what you normally pay for. For less known brands, you may want to take a look at here and here. If you’re desperate, Google always do the trick, but the shipping price is always discouraging. I suppose we can find more things in bigger cities like The Hague or Amsterdam, which are close by, but the transportation cost is not a rosy idea either.
So bottom line is, if you have found the holy grail for your skin, make no regrets: stock and bring along! And because girls always need a million more things than boys do, I hope this kind of post can do a lot of help, or at least give you some excuse for more shopping!
to be continued