During elementary and high school I lived within 5 to 10 minutes walking distance, which I found very convenient as I did not need to get up early for bus like other students. However, when I was to move to the Netherlands to continue my studies, it was impossible to find a place close to the campus. I managed to find a nice rent 8km from the school and I realized that I will not have this comfort anymore.
The journey takes about 45 minutes by bus, which is ridiculous as by bike it takes less than half an hour. Obviously, the first day in the country I bought a bike even though the last time I rode one was more than 10 years ago. Also, I was a little scared to ride in all the traffic as in my country it is not very safe to do so. The beginning was a little difficult. When I was trying a bike in the shop I could not even get on without immediately falling off. The only rescue was when the salesman lowered the seat all the way down.
The next day I went to school and it was going really nice. There were not many people and I was going slowly at my pace. Then I got to the city center. I never saw so many people biking at the same time except for when I was watching Tour de France. At some traffic lights you could not make it during the first green light. The most problematic part was when you ended up in the slow line and reached someone really slow. Yes, you could go around the person, however when there are people already going ahead in the next line it is impossible to get in there. It is one person after another and another and you end up stuck for a long time.
Sometimes I even find it better to cycle when it is raining
At the beginning of the school year it was raining quite often. I did not find it very problematic as it was still sunny and you dried quickly, but later on around November it wasn’t that enjoyable and I did not want to bike to school because of that. I struggled with the weather. Afterwards I bought the rain pants and now I do not care about the rain anymore. Sometimes I even find it better to cycle when it is raining. Everyone is going faster than usually in order to get quickly inside and no one is slowing you down.
I never saw so many people biking at the same time except for when I was watching Tour de France.
It was around that time that I started thinking about what would I do in the winter. In my country we have snow every year. I asked some of my classmates whether they cycle in the snow and I was told it does not snow here so I have nothing to worry about.
It was some Friday in December around 10 in the evening after my volleyball match and I walked out of the sports center. There was already a layer of snow on the ground and it was still snowing heavily. I did not feel like walking in this weather let alone cycling in it. But I came on my bike and I was not going to leave it there. On my surprise, it was going well and I felt like in a fairytale. Thanks to that, the next Monday I was confident to cycle to school in the snow and had no problem at all.
I am glad to admit that I grew to love cycling thanks to this country. The way the travel is adapted makes it extremely easy, convenient and comfortable. You can get everywhere just riding your bike. With my schedule I would not be able to go out and cycle very often. That is why I appreciate the fact that I can travel in this way every day and I enjoy it very much.
Guest blogger Rebeka Zanechalova
“I am an international student from Slovakia. I study applied mathematics in Enschede and I moved to the Netherlands in August 2017. I enjoy spending time outside in the nature, usually playing Geocaching.”
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