Written by Ahmad Fathan Aniq

I arrived in the Netherlands on Monday morning 12th February 2007 after having a long and tiring trip from Indonesia. Although it was a tiring trip, I enjoyed it because it was my first trip which over such a long distance and time. The trip took for about 15 hours by Malaysia Airlines. I and eleven of my friends transited once in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, and then we continued our trip to Amsterdam.

When the plane landed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, it was raining. We arrived at 6.10 am. early in the morning. The temperature at that time was 7˚ Celcius. It was extremely cold for me. Immediately I was conscious that I was in Europe, a place I had only imagined before.

On my way from Schiphol Airport to Smaragdlaan, my home now, I looked at the many birds and ducks which swam freely on the canals. It was wonderful for me, because I rarely saw like this scenery in my country. I also saw windmills which are the icon of Holland. When I was in Indonesia, I could only find windmills in the Holland bakery. Almost all Holland bakeries have small windmills at the top of buildings as a sign of Holland. So, I am rather familiar with the windmill. But what I see here now is the real thing.

Actually when I went to the Netherlands, I was in recovery time from my illness and I needed some relaxation. So my first day here was a terrible day. I had to go to International Office to register and I had to walk as fast as what the other people did here. I also had to adapt to the weather which was so cold for me, that I had to wear many clothes and a thick jacket. Fortunately, I got better here and I did not relapse.

In the morning, when I got up, I always looked at the sun to determine which way is east, west, north and south. I wonder at the way of the sun here, because it never passes right over my head, the way it does in Indonesia. I hear that in summer it will be right over our heads and the day will be longer than the night. But I don’t know exactly. Everything about natural phenomena here is new for me.

As far the food, I am still not used to eat Dutch food. I like the food but I don’t feel full if I only eat some bread. I have to eat rice as my ultimate food and I have to cook everyday. I think it wastes time so I suppose that in the future I will be able to feel full.

Before having a bicycle, every time I wanted to go out I always got on a bus. I have a certain impressions of this kind of transportation. The buses and trains here are very punctual. We do not need to wait for a long time, they come right on schedule. But I think the price for getting on the bus or the train is very expensive. So, later I bought a bicycle in order to save some money. It is nice to ride a bicycle here, because bikes have their own route. But I had a little difficulty the first time I rode a bicycle here, because I had to ride on the right hand. It is different in Indonesia which is on the left.

Holland or Leiden especially is an artistic city. There are old buildings with beautiful architectures here. The Leiden people still maintain those old buildings as well as all ancient goods. So it is not difficult to find many museums in this city.

I am also interested in the method of learning here. I can find many books in the libraries even in Indonesian language. The books which talk about Lombok literature only I can find them for about 650 titles. A big number that I never found it even in my country. Manuscripts which were written long times ago are also available here. I think it is nice to learn here. The lecturers are also so kind and friendly. One thing that I like about the people here, they are helpful.

Generally, I enjoy staying and learning in Leiden. I can learn not only from the class but also from the environment. How to communicate with other people who have different backgrounds to me, how to live this valuable life without wasting the time, and how to learn well are all kinds of learning.

Leiden, 23 February 2007