A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Leiden University is filled with international students which in turn means that many of us are far from home. Some of us have come great distances to be here, others have travelled less but are away from home nonetheless. Being a foreigner to the Netherlands means that we are faced with the reality that we may not get to travel home for holidays. However, this is not necessarily a problem, but can rather be an opportunity. There are many ways to fill the holidays spent away from home.
A few days off brings the perfect chance to travel a bit. The Netherlands is conveniently located in central Europe. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to visit some of new European friends’ homes and families. Being able to see where your friends grew up and live, who their families and friends are as well as see what they get up to on a day to day basis is always great fun. On my last few days off, I visited my Irish friend’s home. It was amazing to experience the city she had grown up in, meet her friends and get to know her family.
Alternatively, if you have friends who are also studying in Europe, live in Europe or are visiting at the same time as your holidays, you have a great chance to go and see them and spent some good time with them. In our Easter holidays I got to catch up with a friend in Stockholm who I hadn’t seen in years. It was wonderful.
Another advantage of being in central Europe is your ability to explore the rest of Europe with great ease. There are going to be many people who are in the same situation as you, where they are not able to go home for holidays. So, plan a trip with them!
Flixbus and Ryanair are extremely affordable ways to get from country to country. Hostels and Airbnb further allow for affordable trips to whatever destination you choose. Using Ryanair and Airbnb I had an amazing trip to Greece with 5 other friends, who were stuck in the Netherlands over a long weekend. We ate, drank and sat in the sun. It solidified our friendship and is something I will never forget.
If experiencing the rest of Europe is not to your fancy, or in your budget, the whole of the Netherlands is at your disposal. The country has many large, different and interesting cities to visit. All of which are easy to get to. Whether you want to have a night out in Rotterdam, a picnic in Amsterdam or go visit the Tulips in Leiden, there are a variety of activities that the Netherlands has to offer to keep you busy during the holidays.
If you’re not up for an adventure during your time off, there are still many possibilities available in the comfort of your city. Keeping in touch with friends, having dinner and movie nights or even going out for drinks is a great way to spend the holidays in the Netherlands. Staying social is key to keeping your mind off not being at home – but there are guaranteed to be a whole population of students bound to the Hague or Leiden during the holidays.
Some of the best holidays I have spent in the Netherlands have been those where I lounged around with friends the entire time. Unwinding and spending quality time together is unbeatable!