I’m currently on exchange at Leiden University in The Netherlands, and have been since late August. I am living in a self contained apartment in an international student housing building called Kloosterpoort. I arrived to a bare room with huge white walls, and a high white ceiling, a single bed, a desk, blue plastic chair, small circular table, a book case and a grey chair in the corner by the window (which soon became my favourite spot in the room)…there were also two boxes on the floor awaiting my arrival. Inside the boxes was enough for one. One single duvet, one thin square pillow, one fitted sheet, questionable linen, one pot, one wok, one small cutting knife, three coloured handled cerated knives, three wooden spoons, a bottle/can opener, one flimsy cutting board, one spoon, one knife and one fork. Why am I telling you about the contents of my furnished apartment do you ask? Well you’d be surprised how many things you may not initially think of weren’t included.
I arrived in August after two months backpacking from China, across Russia via the trans siberian, through Eastern Europe and finally up to the Netherlands. I flew into Schipol Airport on a gloomy friday morning carrying my (at this point) 23.4 kg backpack – which the guy at check in had been kind enough to let through with 17 kg tags on it so I wouldn’t have to pay an extra luggage fee – recently bought Turkish carry on bag, and hand bag. This doesn’t sound too drastic considering I am going to be living here for who knows how long, but walking through Leiden from the visitors centre where I picked up my key and signed my contract, to my apartment on the other side of town…in the rain and taking the longest possible route as only a newbie would, whilst carrying all this luggage was no easy feat! Despite all of this my face couldn’t help but light up when I spotted my first wind mill. The smile only widened as I crossed the bridges and took in the canals of the university city I was now to call home.
Four flights of stairs later – I only later realised that there was an elevator at the side entrance to the building – and a challenging 5 minutes learning how to open my front door, and I was happily collapsed on the grey chair in the corner by the window, bags discarded against the white wall. An incredibly refreshing feeling – not just because i was still dripping from the rain – feeling of happiness, independence and freedom filled me as I sat there and called my parents from my new apartment in the Netherlands. I was here. Exhausted and content, I would soon have to unpack and settle in without the luxury of a kettle and a cup of tea.