'In Leiden it's easy to construct an experience to suit your interests.'

Leiden University student Cynthia Lange from Wisconsin felt ‘like Gulliver in Lilliput’ when she arrived in Leiden. Now she feels very comfortable here and appreciates the small distances, both geographically and between people. ‘The topic for my MA thesis, for instance, is the result of an informal chat with a professor.’

Why did you come to Leiden and what are you studying here?

‘I usually describe what initially brought me to Leiden as "serendipity" since my boyfriend is Dutch. Currently I am following the Linguistics MA programme and work as an assistant for the Bridging the Unbridgeable research project, which is headed by Professor Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade. I’m helping to compile a database of usage guides and usage problems in English which promises to be a great resource for investigating a wide variety research questions.’

To be really Dutch you have to eat your herring raw!

To be really Dutch you have to eat your herring raw!

What differences do you notice compared with your home country?

‘Things like streets and doorways are smaller here than in my region of the United States, so in the beginning I felt oversized: a bit like Gulliver in Lilliput. Now, when I go back to the U.S., I feel like I’m in Brobdingnag – very small in relation to the infrastructure. I also really like the bricks and cobblestones in Leiden. They contrast rather sharply with the "asphalt approach" to construction found where I come from. I find it a beautiful idea that at some point in time a person has touched and placed each stone with great skill and care.’ 

Anything else about Leiden University or the city that you like or dislike?

‘It's relatively easy to construct an experience in Leiden which suits your own interests. There are all sorts of clubs, organisations and opportunities to connect with people with similar or different interests and backgrounds. I’m involved with the Leiden world music podium De-X and Leiden University’s Honours Academy. What makes the educational experience at Leiden University exceptional is that, in addition to excellent teaching, students have access to experts from many fields in a variety of contexts. The topic for my MA thesis - which is about the use of the comma in English - developed as a result of an informal chat with a professor. Also, the library is fantastic!’

What are your plans for after your studies?

‘My focus right now is simply to learn as much as possible in the next year. The academic skills, self-discipline and research materials that I have developed and acquired during my study in Leiden allow me to feel confident that I will be able to do good work in a variety of fields related to my study – either in the Netherlands or abroad.’

What do you think you will remember most about Leiden?

‘I will remember the nice people I’ve met through my experience in Leiden for the rest of my life – and I hope to remain in contact with many of them! I love the Dutch people, language and culture; my affection for, and interest in, this city and country will also remain with me.’

(17 December 2012 / Cynthia Lange / LvP)

See also

Bridging the unbridgeable

Studying in Leiden



Last Modified: 08-09-2015