No, not literally cats and dogs. But it does rain quite a lot here in the Netherlands. Though the frequency and intensity of the rain here matches that of Pune, the icy cold winds here are the real deal. The rain is frequent, unpredictable and comes in short bursts, very much like the rains in Pune. But unlike Pune, the winds here are strong and cold enough to instill a dread. There is no well-defined monsoon either. It rains almost throughout the year, and the most during August-October. Seeing this weather I was reminded of the poem-
go to Spain.
come back again.”
Perhaps the Dutch came up with that one!?
As long as I am inside a building somewhere, I feel snug and warm. But as soon as I step out, my fingers and face go numb in the cold. I know, there are ways to protect my precious body parts. I have bought all the required paraphernalia from the local stores to insulate myself. I am amazed however to see many Dutch people go about as if everything is normal. So I have decided to learn and adapt to the weather. I am kind of enjoying it though. Here it is quite the opposite of the heat and humidity of Bhubaneswar, my hometown (and the city of temples). Temperatures now hover around 8 degrees Celsius and sometimes dip to about 2 degrees Celsius. But thanks to the heater in my room I don’t feel any of these variations. Moreover, thanks to apps like Buienradar and Google Weather, I can track the movement of the clouds and plan accordingly. I honestly never felt the need for weather apps before coming here!
I found this video below funny and quite informative about the weather in the Netherlands.
Another variation I noticed here is that the time of sunrise and sunset is quite different from what we usually observe in India. When I arrived here (in August) the sun usually set around 10 pm, which was really strange for most of us Indians. We are not used to seeing the sun after 7 pm (at the most). Eventually the day-time shortened as the summer passed by. Now the sun sets at about 5 pm which is the normal time for us. But the sun doesn’t rise until 8 in the morning! Since my classes start at 8:45 I have to wake up even when the sky is still dark.
It rarely ever snows here in Delft, as per the statistics. But I have my fingers crossed to see the first snowfall of my life! Now let me get back to my heap of assignments with a hot cup of coffee.
That’s right. If you join TU Delft, you will need a bike for sure. Be it for exploring the beautiful town that is Delft to buying your weekly groceries, you will definitely need a bike. I learnt it the hard way when I had to walk for miles just to get some breakfast cereal (one of the perks of living in-campus, but that’s for another post). I missed my Honda Unicorn that day the most! I bought a bike promptly and joined the hundreds of cyclists plying around Delft. I felt like a true citizen of Delft that day too. I have roamed around several places including Rotterdam and the Hague on my bike and I am proud of how environment-friendly I have become.
I recommend getting a bike because it’s cheaper and greener than public transport (in the long run), and just more convenient. You won’t have to worry too much about buying a bike though. There are a range of options to fetch a trendy bicycle for yourself. During the Introduction Programme there are ‘Student Bike Sales’ when students sell their bikes at a decent price. You can get a good bike for about a hundred bucks (that’s Euros I am referring to). If you are lucky you can also get a good bargain in the sale. But do remember to get a receipt from the seller and register the bike on the online database, for your own reference. Bikes are the most stolen item in Netherlands. So buy a good lock for the bike as well. You can also buy second-hand bikes from the ‘Student Bike’ store in Delft city-center. They sell properly serviced bikes at a decent price and also offer reduced servicing rates for their customers. If you are not too keen on buying a second-hand bike you can always get a new bike from one of the numerous bike stores across Delft or from the Decathlon stores in Rotterdam or Hague. A new bike might be costly but it is a worthy investment for sure.
If you are worried about buying all kinds of tools to maintain your bike, then don’t be. All the tools you need are available in the stand in front of Aula (that’s the conference center). You can also top up your tyre pressure with the air pump in the basement Applied Sciences (TN) building. The best part? All these are available for free! I recently saved some bucks by replacing a punctured tube by myself using these tools.
Windmill by the sunset
Road to Hague
That's my ride
On the way to Pijnacker
After you have bought your bike you can travel far and wide on the well-maintained bicycle lanes spread throughout Netherlands (I believe). I haven’t scoured every square-inch of the country (yet) but I am sure I would find a bicycle-track almost everywhere. So I don’t have to constantly worry about being run over by motorized vehicles. Even if some roads don’t have bicycle lanes, cyclists are still allowed. The drivers here are really nice to bikers too. These bicycle tracks have taken me to some amazingly beautiful places around Delft. That’s one of my usual pastimes here which I plan to continue as long as weather permits. Stay tuned for more updates!