Today marks 2 weeks of me being in the Netherlands (I made it!). Although this only sounds like a short period of time, the time since arriving has flown by and I’ve found myself so busy each day that I’ve barely been able to think about how I’ve been settling in and missing home.
After getting a blurry eyed flight to Schipol airport, I had to trundle my suitcase along to my hostel in the Hague, where I would be staying a few nights to settle in and start the search for accommodation in Leiden. I spent the day looking around the city, getting coffee and finding nice parks and canals to sit at. I also made a few friends and the hostel over breakfast, and we visited Leiden and the beautiful but very stormy beaches by the Hague. Leiden is stunning – I got pretty overwhelmed that day by how lucky I was to be studying here for a whole year.
After managing to travel to my next temporary place to stay, a shared house just outside the Hague, I then started my OWL week at the university – an introduction week just for international students. For anyone doing a year abroad, I HIGHLY recommend you attend your university’s introduction week – I made so many friends from all around Europe who were also taking the same courses I was, and it’s such a nice way to start the year, with others who are also as new and nervous as you!
I spent the week drinking a lot of Dutch beer, taking a boat tour of the city, eating amazing food with wonderful people, and staying up until sunrise sitting by Leiden’s windmill. I also ticked off one of the must-haves for studying in the Netherlands – buying a lovely little bike to ride around uni with.
Right now, my focus is on finding somewhere I can stay for the rest of the year, as unfortunately finding housing as a student, particularly as an international student in Leiden, is extremely difficult. In my group of friends, around half of them were the same as me, staying in hostels or on couch’s until they could find somewhere more permanent for the year, and this problem is the same across the Netherlands. So, for anyone looking to study here, don’t be daunted by having to find somewhere to live as it is doable, but do not rely on the university to give you accommodation, find it yourself and as soon as you find out you are studying here!