A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Moving to the Netherlands, by yourself, is daunting enough in isolation. Add on top of that the new experience of living by yourself, it can sometimes seem like an impossible task. But never fear, the tips for living alone are here. In my first year in the Netherlands I lived by myself – okay I was surrounded by students in my building but at the end of the day it was just me. Now in my third year in the country I again am living by myself, in my beautiful 21m2 studio. In the two years living alone I have developed ways to love living alone.
This is the cardinal rule of living alone. When you go to bed alone and wake up alone, being alone for the rest of the day can be a downer. Thus, it is an absolute necessity to see friends at least three times a week – even if this is just at university. Other ways to see them are by making plans to go out. This gets you out of your room while seeing your people – two for one. Inviting friends to your place is another great way to socialize. It allows you to make memories in your new spot as well as warm up the place a little. A personal go-to idea for me is to have sleepovers – when you do this you mitigate the going to bed and waking up alone problem. It’s also very wholesome.
When you are bound to a single room or two, it is very important to make your space liveable. I’ve found that making your room yours by decorating it makes it very easy to stay there by yourself. I have a whole postcard wall and too many house plants in my room which reminds me of my room at home. Making your space homely is a must-have when it comes to living alone.
If you live in a single room, you end up doing a lot within those four walls. It becomes your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room and study spot. This can sometimes give one a bit of cabin fever and a need to escape. I’ve found that limiting the amount of time I study at home helps me separate my living space from my work space. I choose to rather study at university or in a café. The change of scenery also helps me revitalize myself while cramming for exams.
In my first year I made great friends with my “across the hall” neighbour. We ended up having endless midnight chats and coffee dates. This helped me not feel isolated within my four walls. Having someone right next door, who is 9/10 times there can give you a nice chance to socialize without having to go through the admin of making plans. And if you ever need a cup of sugar they’re right there.
When moving to a different country, and then living alone is quite a change from living with your family. I went from a bustling house of four people and three dogs to just myself. It was quite the change. Keeping in contact with them helped me to not feel so alone and beat the homesickness. Parents have also gone through the process of living alone before and often have words of wisdom to pass on (if you choose to listen, unlike me).
This is a must-have for me. When I moved out of my home, it was the first time I ever had to cook for myself. Safe to say I was useless at first, but I put in a good effort to improve my culinary skills and experimented with new recipes and foods. Learning how to cook gives you something to look forward to during meal times and doesn’t leave you surrendering to a life of cup noodles. It can also make you feel more like you’re at home with good cooking. It’s also very impressive to the people that you have over for dinner.
I know living alone can be scary but it is actually a very exciting experience. I actually prefer living by myself. I have my own space, own rules and own routine. It gives me my independence and a place to call my very own.