Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 6: Leiden University

Our earliest morning yet!  We headed back to the Netherlands and Leiden University at 7:15.  I think the entire bus took a nap as we made our way there.  I was surprised when we pulled up to a very modern looking area and found this was where our hotel was located.  Our rooms weren't ready so after checking our bags we set out walking to the school.  The modern area gave way to a gorgeous Dutch town that was everything I had expected to see in the Netherlands and more.  Leiden if everything Amsterdam is not.  We walked a good ways until we were met on the street by dapper little man named Peter.  It turns out he was our host and he began to talk the second we met.  He did not stop they entire time we were together.  Honestly, he was one of the highlights of the visit and I am really sad I did not get a photo of him.

Leiden is steeped in history and is the oldest university in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe.  The immense pride of earning the University by withstanding a long siege is evident.  A shocking feature of the tour was the amount of space that appears to go unused.  I think we were all in awe of the lush conference rooms and the regalia storage!  I loved that Leiden is still so steeped in tradition, and we got to see the sweating room, signing wall, and the master of ceremonies.

After a most extensive tour of the main vicinity of the campus and a thorough but condensed history of the Netherlands all from my new friend Peter.  We went to the faculty dining room for lunch with some administrators and graduate students.  I was seated next to Peter and while we didn't discuss higher education, I did get some insight into the life of a Dutch administrator and the tax rates in the Netherlands.  The funniest moments of the entire trip occurred next when Peter determined we were going to see the Pilgrim memorial placard (a word he kept looking to me for) regardless of the fact Ingeborg had completely different plans set with student tour guides.  We went to the pilgrim memorial.

As our sweet, collegiate tour guides attempted to show us around they were frequently interrupted or corrected by Peter.  It was so funny.  The students were hospitable and were studying history.  Unlike American students, they were not overly concerned with what job this degree might land them.  At last our tour took us to the student center.  The service concept was over the top and I cannot imagine the sense of entitlement our students would feel if we ran this way.  It is an interesting concept though.

The Student Center completed our tour of Leiden and we strolled back to the hotel.  Chris was waiting for me and even though I was totally exhausted we hit the town.  We went to the old Roman fort which Chris had scoped out while riding bikes earlier.  It was really neat and offered breath-taking views of the city.

Pretty soon it was time to meet up for our farewell dinner.

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