5 Reasons Expat Teens Love Living in the Leiden Region
You're enjoying a family dinner, and suddenly your parents hit you with the much-dreaded phrase us expat kids know all too well, "we're moving." Although your parents have been talking about moving to Leiden for a while, now it's official. You'll be moving to the Netherlands, known for cheese, bikes and much more. Being an expat teenager myself I have experienced this exact situation. However, after moving here I quickly grew to like the Leiden region. My friends and I love it here – and here's why.
The freedom we have living here is unlike any other place we've ever lived before. Public transport is extremely well organized and can get us pretty much anywhere in the Netherlands. "Being both highly reliable and comfortable it makes transportation across the country easy and fun." (Rohan, 17 years old, American School of the Hague). At this age, we're too young to drive, too lazy to get a driver's license, or too old to be brought around by our parents, so this is an ideal situation. "I definitely don’t need to nag my parents to drive me places" (Sushruta, 17 years old, University of Leiden). From Leiden we can be in Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam and many other cities within an hour. On top of that, the area has low crime rates so our parents don't have to worry about our safety when we're out exploring new places.
It's an international location
Leiden is extremely international. Alongside local Dutch people there's a vast number of expats living in Leiden, who "mix together well and create a special atmosphere not found in many other places" (Rohan) We have no problem fitting in and feeling right at home as "Leiden is a very welcoming and international community that effortlessly integrates people stemming from diverse nationalities." (Luca, 18 years old, American School of the Hague).
An accepting culture
Not only does everyone speak perfect English, the Dutch have a really accepting culture. "What I enjoy about living in the Netherlands is the open minded and accepting culture." (Rohan). The "genuine kindness and helpfulness that vibrates around the Netherlands, especially Leiden makes living here really nice." (Elena, 17 years old, American School of the Hague). The Dutch are not only accepting of different cultures, but also of sexuality. "In terms of being gay I have never come across resistance or misunderstanding of any sort." (Liam, 15 years old, American School of the Hague). Although culture shock is inevitable at first, "you get used to the culture very quickly." (Florine, 18 years old, Rijnlands Lyceum International School Oegstgeest).
Another pro of living here is that we're allowed to work, "the community offers a variety of work opportunities to allow myself and others to grow, experience, and discover new interests and hobbies." (Luca). Who wouldn't want to earn some extra cash?
For those of us not interested in working, Leiden is jam packed with places to visit and things to do so we won't be bored, "I have rarely struggled to find things to do with family and friends." (Martina, 18 years old, British School in the Netherlands).
Long story short, don't panic about moving. We love living here, and so will you.
Written by Kathelijn van der Ceelen
Kathelijn is 18 years old and has been raised internationally, having lived in the Netherlands, Malaysia and India. She is currently repatriated in the Netherlands and completed her secondary school at the American School of the Hague. Kathelijn works at the Expat Centre Leiden.