A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
As the celebration of Leidens Ontzet has been kicked off since yesterday night with various events across the city, everyone must be in festive mood. And drunk. Some Leideners were perhaps getting a bit too hyper? Because something not very pleasant happened to me yesterday.
As I walked back home from class (along the street leading to the central Hoogvliet), I came across these 2 young kids carrying each other on a bicycle who splashed whichever type of liquid there was in their drinking cup right at me. I don’t remember if they were saying anything (and wouldn’t understand anyways), all I could recall is they quickly left in hysterical laughs. Fortunately the distant was far enough so that I didn’t got hit (or was it their intention to splash the thing precisely next to my feet?), but I was damn shocked. This has never happened to me before, in Leiden or elsewhere.
I mean, it’s just a small incident, and those kids might just be naughty, but I can’t help being sad and thinking that has got a lot to do with the fact that I’m a tiny little Asian girl. This makes me reflect upon my 7 months living in Leiden. It has been a pleasant experience, I should say, and I almost never felt like I’m not welcomed here, not even one bit. The more European countries that I’ve been to, the more I appreciate the Netherlands and how Dutch people never hesitate to communicate with you in English, which makes things so much easier. If anything, my Dutch friends have been wonderful people. They are more than being helpful. The closest I got to being annoyed might be the few times random Leideners on the street said “ni hao” to me. Which is understandable, because apparently to Westerners every Asian speaks Chinese… Or this one time when I crossed the street, there was this one guy pulling off his car right in front of me and spoke something in Dutch – nasty things I could guess. Those can be considered funny episodes nevertheless, and I didn’t have any hard feelings about it. But yesterday I had to admit that I felt discriminated for the first time living here.
This one would pass, eventually. But the fact that it was these young kids acting totally on the spur of the moment really gives me this itchy feeling of how friendly to foreigners, or precisely Asians, the Dutch really is.