A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
What are the top essential things that you should have in order to survive in the Netherlands in general and in Leiden in particular? What would make your Leiden experience unique? What define you as a ‘true’ Leideners? After 9 months living here, I have cut down my list of Leideners’ must-haves into 3 most important things.
1. A bike
Whether you realize it or not, you don’t really need a bike to survive here. I remember buying and selling my bikes twice, just because I prefer walking and it’s more convenient for me that way. You may disagree with me saying that it will be much easier and faster to go around if you have a bike. But that’s precisely the point. A bike will just make your life easier. My own experience proves it’s actually the other way around. But anyways this argument does not really mean anything because essentially a bike will make you very ”Dutch,” and if you’re here for the Dutch experience and you really want to mingle in then that’s all that counts. Get a bike, ride it to school, ride it to the supermarkets, ride it to the train station, ride it with friends. I’ve been to a lot of countries where people also use bikes a lot, well people use bikes everywhere in the world but there are some parts where the bike takes on a much greater significance for the local inhabitants than others. And the Dutch are the one who really incorporates the bike into their daily lives in a very serious manner. And it sure means a lot in Dutch culture. In Leiden people often have this joke that the only crime you may encounter here is getting your bike stolen. So, embrace it, get a bike, get it stolen (or hopefully, not) and you will have many cool stories to tell about your life as a Leideners!
2. A parka
Don’t bring umbrellas and raincoats, they are just too mainstream. At least for the Dutch. Joking aside, after experiencing days of terrible weather here I’ve come to the realization that the Dutch don’t wear raincoats or don’t use umbrellas for none other reason than … they are useless. Like really. Go outside on a rainy day and you will know. On the first day of arrival I bought a really cute orange umbrella (because, well, Dutch and the orange color) from Hema and it was broken right at the first time I used it. Then I bought another one and the wind broke it again and I just give up. Raincoats seem to be better protection but it’s not very convenient given our mobility. So do it like the people here, invest in a very good parka which is water-proof and also can work as a windbreaker. Find a nice one so you can wear it all the time, find an orange one even. And never be afraid of Dutch unpredictable weather anymore!
Don’t be too intimidated, because we can see rainbows after the rain. Leiden’s weather can be pretty depressing most of the time but we do have days of beautiful sunshine. A bit too much of sunshine even. Like seriously, I’m from a tropical country but the sun here can still be too much for me. On a particular sunny days I would find my eyes become very irritated and teary even. You may like it much more than I do, but whichever the case still carry with you a pair of sunglasses to save your eyes from those harmful UV rays.
What’s in your list? 😀