A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Northern Germany and The Netherlands are similar in many ways: the language sounds familiar, the weather surely is and people will tell you what is on their mind just as directly. Well, although I have not experienced any massive culture shock since moving to Leiden three years ago, some interesting and often funny things have surely caught my attention as a German student. You’re coming to The Netherlands this year? Be prepared for the following.
(1) “Ah Deutschlaaaand. Wie. Geht. Es. Ihnen?” or “Oh, so you study Psychology right?” will be the reaction of whoever you meet for the first time.
(2) You will be both confused and happy about addressing your professors by their first name – especially after being called Sie by high school teachers during your final year.
(3) You will wonder why there are so many complaints about Dutch train systems and – more than anything if you’re from the countryside – fall in love with the possibility to catch a fast ride to Amsterdam or The Hague every 15 minutes.
(4) You will also be loving to pay by card everywhere you shop or eat – even on the weekly market. However, your light pocket will backfire in your hometown when the metro’s vending machines only accept coins.
(5) At first you may be sad not to have time off during early spring and late summer as your friends back home. But trust me, latest in May, you will crave spending the sunny months outside the library.
(6) You will realize – with excitement – that Gouda is an actual city but have you ever been?
(7) At first, you will wonder who on earth has told fraternity members that dual color vests looked flattering or even fashionable on anyone. But soon enough you will accept seeing groups of students wear the traditional piece with pride and on a daily basis.
(8) Same goes for the amounts of hair gel used by Dutch boys.
(9) You will realize that the soft and airy broodjes provided for lunch during introduction week fairly represent the Dutch idea of bread. You will be desperately longing for a crusty Sauerteig loaf and even surprise your mom by asking for Pumpernickel back home. But at one point, you will discover that there are, in fact, some great bakeries hidden on Leiden’s streets.
(10) You will never really understand the concept of a microwave oven/ oven microwave.
(11) You will own three bottles of the same shampoo and purchase five packages washing powder at once because there is just no other way to navigate through Dutch drug stores. And when back home, you will take a lengthy trip to Rossmann or DM, just because you missed it so much.
(12) Last but not least, as much as you will long for Germany sometimes, you will get attached to Leiden’s cozy ambiance and its scenic views which may make you want to stay forever.
For anyone who has been living in Leiden for a while: how many of the points can you cross from your list? Anything to add? I can’t wait to read your comments below.