A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Being an international student comes with the opportunity to establish friendships with people from various cultures and nations. By hosting thousands of international students every semester, Dutch universities are one of the best, if not the best, choice to have an international environment during your studies or exchange semester.
It was the case for me as well during my exchange year. I was feeling so lucky to have lots of friends who came to The Netherlands from different parts of the world with different stories. We shared our good and bad days together and had marvelous memories. Yet, we couldn’t have prevented the inevitable end: turning back. In my case, it is a bit different because I started my master’s degree in The Netherlands right after my exchange year. So I had a different kind of sadness, all my friends were going back home while I was still here!
During the time I was planning my Christmas trip for this year, I realized how much I missed my friends. Although we were always in contact, it was still not enough for me to fulfill my longing. However, one thing you need to know about this beautiful country is, due to its centralized location, The Netherlands provides you the opportunity to travel anywhere, especially in Europe, quite easy and with affordable prices considering student budgets. Thus, I decided to go to Portugal, Lisbon and Porto, to see my friends during Christmas break. I must tell you that it was one of the best decisions I took in 2019!
First, I went to Lisbon. I left The Netherlands while it was rainy and a bit cold but Lisbon welcomed me with sun and 17o. My friends picked me up from the airport and showed me around.
From Torre de Belem to Padrão dos Descobrimentos, we visited the historical places in Lisbon while giving breaks to taste delicious Portuguese food, as Pastel de Nata and Francesinha were being my favourites.
I must admit that I really enjoyed my trips in both Lisbon and Porto. However, the best part for me of the Portuguese trip was not the beautiful architecture, delicious food or sunny weather but the Christmas dinner.
Coming from Turkey, I never had Christmas dinner before. Knowing this, one of my friends invited me over for her family’s dinner. To be honest, I was a bit nervous to accept this offer at the beginning considering that it is a family dinner and there will be an obvious language barrier. In the end, it became one of the most precious memories for me in 2019. During the dinner, I felt so welcomed and didn’t feel like a guest but as a part of the family. This made me realize once more that I took a great decision as to become an international student in The Netherlands. Now I have families all around the world!
The moment we landed at the airport, I realized that I have missed home, The Netherlands. On my way home I got some bitterballen and oliebollens to feel that I am back home again. While I am writing this blog, I can easily understand the New Year’s Eve is upon us from the fireworks. Therefore, I would like to finish this blog with my wishes for all the best for you in 2020!
Gelukkig nieuwjaar allemaal!