It's chilling outside. The sky is bleak, and everything looks gray. I walk past the train station and head to the University building, a ten-minute walk from my hotel. It's 8 am, and a thick fog cloaks my vision.
I pass by busy people dressed in thick coats and gloves, making their way through a sea of people to get to school, work, or leisure. The streets are full of bicycles or walking people, and hardly do I see cars. It's expensive to own a car in Leiden.
The houses are old, and to the casual observer, they almost look alike, and in the exact same way that they appear in postcards: thin, brick-walled buildings that go for at least three storeys high. These houses are beside the canals that run across the city. It won't be the Netherlands without the canals.
Locals tell me I came at the wrong time: winter hasn't completely left yet, and it's still too cold for the tulips to be in full bloom. But I have layers upon layers of clothing upon me, a thermal jacket, a scarf hugging my neck, and thick socks. I keep my hands in my pockets and, for the fun of it, occasionally exhale through the mouth: I love the sight of white mist that forms in front of my face. For the first time in my life, I feel like a European.