September 27, 2016

Maggie Hake: Living in Leiden, Leiden becomes home

By Maggie Hake

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.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget
school is even a thing here since
I’m taking a lighter load than I’m
used to back in St. Louis. So far,
classes have been what I expected.
They’re similar to classes at
Webster St. Louis — small class
sizes, expected class participation
and an average amount of
homework (but not enough to
get in the way of traveling).

Something I really love about
Webster in St. Louis is the wide
range of cultures represented in
the classroom, which is something
I’ve seen at Webster Leiden.
A good number of students are
from the States, but many have
lived other places as well. I would
say a majority of the students
here are from places outside the
U.S., which is really exciting. Discussions
are always rich because
of the differing perspectives and
living in Europe, we talk much
more about the current news and
policies as opposed to those back
in the states.

Although campus life isn’t
quite as busy as Webster St. Louis,
I’m happy to report that the
people at Webster Leiden are just
as friendly. Because the campus
is very small, I run into familiar
faces often (which is something I
love and have grown accustom to
at Webster St. Louis).

I have been lucky enough
to spend time getting to know
Webster Leiden students, who
have given the advice on all
things Leiden — the best places
to grocery shop, where to go out
and even where to travel within
Europe. When we visited Barcelona,
we planned a lot of our
trip based on recommendations
from a Webster Leiden friend.
We ended up seeing things we
probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Because of the diversity of
the people I’m living with, hanging
out with and taking classes
with, a lot of the education I’m
receiving comes from the people
I spend time with outside of the
classroom. As for the campus,
it’s just two buildings — the Living
and Learning Center where
the dorms are located, as well
as an art classroom/gallery, and
the main building where most
classes and offices are held.

Since each class only meets
once a week here, I only have
classes Tuesday, Wednesday and
Thursday, which means optimal
travel time. I’m taking a pretty
wide variety of classes — one
fills a requirement for my major,
another a Webster Leads
requirement, a gen-ed and two
electives. As I mentioned earlier,
I’m thankful that the homework
hasn’t been overwhelming. It
takes a lot of the stress off when
we’re spending a large portion of
our weekends out of the country.

But after a long weekend of traveling,
it has started to feel very
good to come back to Leiden.
Many of us are beginning
to experience a growing feeling
when we return to Leiden. We
step off the train, walk out of the
station, feel the rain, see the canals
and feel at home. It’s a beautiful
feeling.

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