A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Here we are in our second part of the “Affordable student life” series, if you are interested in the first part (“How to work in the Netherlands”) click here.
As we all know, even when working, students follow the philosophy “the cheaper the better”. Therefore, here some good tips to enjoy your stay in the Netherlands without having to think about the wallet getting thinner.
The free shop: Furniture, books, cutlery, clothes and..whatever.
Not many people know that in the center of Leiden there is a very peculiar shop run by volunteers: Weggeefwinkel Leiden. In this crazy place you can take up to 5 things absolutely for free, and they have the most random stuff. The purpose is to reduce waste for things that can be re-used. My “purchase”? A lonely planet guide for Indonesia, an electric orange squeezer, a sweater, knives and forks. All in good conditions, all free. If you want to help them go on with the activity you can give a standard 50 cents donation in the end, but they will never force you and it is really up to you.
Buying second hand
Of course, you won’t find everything you need in Weggeefwinkel, but don’t worry! First of all, always look at the market on Facebook, people and especially students sell there all their stuff when they move, from bikes to sofas. I bought there a small oven for 20 euros in great conditions and a friend of mine got a sofa for free! Another alternative is to visit an established institution for broke students: Kringloopwinkel. These second-hand shops are all over Leiden and again they sell all kinds of stuff, if not for free at least at a very very cheap price.
Good-quality (and cheap) groceries.
The market, every student knows, is the best alternative when you want to eat healthy local products at a cheap price. However, Leiden’s market has a plus: the 1 euro bowls. Many stands with vegetables and fruits have discovered the universal truth at the basis of this series of articles: students are penniless. Therefore, many vendors sell ripe but still good vegetables and fruits in abundant quantities inside bowls at the price of 1 euro. I always buy these vegetables (of course check first if they look good, but they generally do) and they make the most part of my groceries. Apart from the bowls, in general, the market is cheaper, healthier and more fun to buy food at. I totally recommend it.
You may be one of those students that cannot see books in their free time, due to the trauma of studying in the library 12 hours a day. I respect you. But if you are like me, you may need a new not-university-related reading every once in a while to keep yourself sane. In that case here my two favorite recommendations: Bookstore De Slegte Leiden and Mayflower Bookshop. In both bookshops, you will find a huge offer of second-hand books in English (sometimes even in other languages), at ridiculously cheap prices.
As always, your sustainability-obsessed blogger has something to add: these tips are proof that living a more sustainable lifestyle is actually cheap. Buying second hand is not only good for the wallet but also good for the environment, as it will reduce waste and the emissions that come with the production of these goods. Buying the 1 euro bowls at the supermarket, when feasible, helps reduce food waste, another great contributor to CO2 emissions. Finally, second-hand books, of course, contribute reducing deforestation and again CO2 emissions. Sometimes buying new at Action, Hema or other cheap shops may be easier and even cheaper, but please consider also second-hand alternatives.
What do you think about these tips? Do you have some to add? write them in the comments!