Four years on and I’ve now finally officially graduated from the University of Warwick, with a degree in Politics and International Studies!
The next step? I’m off in just over a month to the University of Leiden, in The Netherlands, to study for a Masters in ‘Politics, Society and Economy of Asia’. Six months ago, I’d never have guessed that I’d be moving to The Netherlands but when my tutor suggested Leiden to me I was sold by the course on offer and it’s much cheaper than UK fees (my tuition, accommodation and entire costs of living, add up to less than the tuition fees for an equivalent UK course). Plus of course, the chance to live abroad again is always a bonus to me. So why the hell not The Netherlands?
When I embarked on my exchange year in Hong Kong, I was nervous. I had no idea what to expect, knew absolutely nothing about the place (seriously, I wouldn’t have even been able to place it on a map) and was thousands of miles away from anyone I knew. As far as moving abroad goes, it was the equivalent of being thrown in the deep end. But it was also the best year of my life. I quickly bonded with the other exchange students I lived with and together we fell in love with the city.
As far as moving to Leiden is concerned, I have all the excitement but none of the anxiety I had before Hong Kong. In theory, it should be a breeze in comparison. For starters it’s much closer so visiting home is an option, and I have actually been to The Netherlands before, if not the city of Leiden itself (but I have friends who have lived there and have sung its praises).
I’m really excited about my course, and hopefully living abroad again will stave off that longing itch I have in regards to wishing I was back in Hong Kong. After all by virtue of being in an actual city, Leiden has to be more exciting than the Warwick University campus (located somewhere in the middle of nowhere, on the outskirts of Coventry, with terrible public transport links).
I know life next year won’t actually just be continuous string of Dutch stereotypes; windmills, clogs and tulips. But I like to picture myself riding around town on my brand new bicycle (hopefully avoiding falling into any canals after a few too many drinks), partying in Amsterdam, struggling pronounce Dutch words, and consuming plenty of stroopwafels, poffertjes and Dutch cheeses. Such thoughts get me through a summer of long hours serving meals and wiping tables.