A word of warning!
The first few weeks in a new country are expensive. No matter how well you’ve budgeted and how much money you’ve put aside, obstacles will come and they will be relentless. It’s important to not let this get to you but also to not become complacent and be realistic before moving abroad about how much money to be saving. I consider myself to be fairly responsible and I always have a plan, but even still I had managed to spend all the money my parents had given me and the entire first instalment of my student loan in a matter of weeks.
The 3 October in Leiden is a festival like nothing I’ve ever seen. The entire city is a party- there are multiple stages for live music, beer trucks, food trucks, an amusement park, rides, everything. From the night of the 2 October until late the next day Leiden is the place to be. The atmosphere is incredible, and people of all ages join in the celebrations. The festival celebrates the anniversary of the Siege of Leiden during the Eighty Years war. The city had been captured by the Spanish and citizens were starving, then without explanation the Spanish left and the people raided their tents and ate hutspot- a dish made of carrots and potatoes. One of my friends studying here from America had about 20 of us round for dinner- braised beef and hutspot- before we went out to join the festivities. While watching the fireworks later, we promised to make every effort to return here next year.
Block 1 exams
Revising for exams for modules that you have only been taking for 6 weeks is a little strange. At King’s we are used to year-long modules, where the level of understanding needs to be in depth and reading your cases in full is imperative. Here it is unnecessary to read beyond the summary of a case and as such there is a lot more memorising and a lot less legal reasoning. In terms of getting the most out of your year abroad this is perfect- you end up with a base level knowledge about a lot of interesting topics, with spare time to socialise, exercise and travel.
Many of the students here are studying abroad for just one semester, and as such want to make the most of being in Europe, which means a lot of travelling. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is with a student trips company. I quickly applied to be a trip leader for a group called Wanderlust and have been lucky enough to go to Oktoberfest, Zurich, Lucern, Rheinfall and I will be leaving for a trip to Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna in a few days. These trips are a great way of meeting even more like-minded people and much easier than having to organise everything yourself.