December 8, 2016

Maggie Hake: Living in Leiden

Photo Contributed by Maggie Hake Hake stands at one of the highest points in Brussels, which overlooks the city.

Photo Contributed by Maggie Hake
Hake stands at one of the highest points in Brussels, which overlooks the city.

By Maggie Hake

Hallo from Leiden, Netherlands! By the time this article is published, I will have been living in Europe for about a month. But before I start to fill you in on all things Leiden, I want to introduce myself. My name is Maggie Hake, and I am a junior political science major and women and gender studies minor.

When studying at Webster St. Louis, I am a Gorlok Guide, connection leader and orientation leader. I’m also involved with the LGBTQ Alliance and the group I co-founded, the Webster University Feminist Collective.

There are a ton of things I love about the Webster St. Louis campus. However, I’m excited to report that there is a whole lot of worldwide Webster love for you to soak up if you choose to do so. One of the opportunities that allows this is studying abroad.

One of the most difficult decisions I have made thus far in the study abroad process was choosing a campus. I finally landed on Leiden for a few reasons. First of all, the city is absolutely stunning. Most of the roads are cobblestone, and the architecture is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the U.S. To top it all off, the campus sits right on the canal, which is lined with boats, restaurants, shops, Dutch windmills and majestic swans. It’s unreal.

The view never gets old, and everything you need is within walking distance (grocery, convenience, clothing stores, restaurants, cafés, the train and bus station, etc.). If you don’t feel like walking, bike. The bike culture in Leiden is huge. No lie, I have seen more bikes here than I have seen cars. Buying a used bike is affordable (even on a study abroad budget) because you have the option of selling it to either a shop or a student  when you leave.

Another thing I knew I wanted to experience abroad was the culture shock that comes with living some place where English is not

Photo Contributed by Maggie Hake View of downtown Leiden from the Living and Learning Center (LLC), which is the dorm building where Webster Leiden students live.

Photo Contributed by Maggie Hake
View of downtown Leiden from the Living and Learning Center (LLC), which is the dorm building where Webster Leiden students live.

the primary language. Not only are signs and labels in Dutch, but the locals primarily speak Dutch. General ways of interacting and doing things here are different from the U.S.

A huge plus to living in Leiden is its central location. I wanted to travel as much as possible, and, in January alone, I will have been to Amsterdam, Brussels,

London and Barcelona. Because traveling here is generally inexpensive, I’ve been able to have the liberating, whirlwind experience of transforming from someone who’s never left the country to a world traveler in no time.

So far, Leiden has been dreamy. Listening to and learning from the locals and Webster Leiden students who all come from diverse backgrounds has been exciting and humbling. It’s unreal that in just three months I’ll refer to all of this as “those four months I lived in Europe.” But in the meantime, I look forward to updating you with my future adventures and semester-long love affair with Leiden.

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