This is a selection of links to websites that we have found useful: if you have any you would like to add, please do let us know!
Soak up Dutch (like a sponge)
Glorious blog by Marianne Orchard on learning Dutch and living in the Netherlands. She writes at least 3x a week, so put it on your favourites and make yourself smile! Lots of useful information as well as amusement, and great motivational help for learning the language. She is also preparing a practical Dutch course, Soak Up Dutch, so make sure you don't miss it!
This is a group that you can join. You'll then get updates via email (or you can opt out of email updates and just check for new messages on the website). With over 600 members, it's the central place to meet other foreigners, and find out about activities geared toward the international community in the Leiden area. Members of the group organize restaurant evenings, pub nights, and Dutch conversation nights.
This is a new group that spun off from Leiden Expats. It is intended for the foodies amongst us so that we can share recipes, tips on where to get cooking ingredients, and review restaurants. The group also organizes wine tastings and dinners.
Gemeente.leiden English and Gemeente leiden Dutch
This is the central site for the municipal government. It's the clearing house for finding out about all those pesky things you need to take care of while living in Leiden, such as registering the birth of a new baby, getting a new passport or driver's license, applying for permits of all sorts (you need a permit for just about everything!), registering a move, requesting extra rubbish pick-up, or getting a copy of your registration in the city ( uittreksel ). Many of these requests can be made at home as long as you have a "digiD" (a sort of digital identification number). There is also information on the site about how to get a "digiD." Not all information is available on the English language site, but you can make an appointment online to see someone "live" at the City Hall, which saves waiting around there for hours.
As the name of the site implies, this is a general portal to the city of Leiden. There's information about events and activities going on in the city, as well as links to information about schools, sports, working here, and maps. This is different from the municipal government site, though a link to the municipality's site is provided on the homepage of the portal.
This is the site to find out about things like swimming pools and their swimming times, football clubs for kids, and general sporting classes, clubs, and activities. It's not an easy site to navigate, especially if your Dutch isn't that great. However, there is a lot of good information to be found on the site. For instance, if you're the parent of a school -aged child, keep a look out for the "kennismaking cursus" (introductory courses) offered via sportbedrijf (link below). They are remarkably cheap and are a wonderful way of getting your child acquainted with a sport without paying an arm and a leg and making a year-long commitment. Most of the courses last 6-10 sessions. They also have introductory courses for adults, too!
Access is a non-profit organization set up to support the expat community in the Netherlands. They offer a dizzying array of courses in English - everything from "Having a baby in the Netherlands" to "Pinot Noir: An Introduction." They are also a wonderful resource if you're looking for counseling in your own language (they have contact with counselors in a quite amazing number of languages). The activities are mostly based in either Amsterdam or The Hague.
Out in Leiden www.leidsuitburo.nl
This is the Leiden site of a national group of "out in" websites. Although it's all in Dutch, it's fairly easy to navigate, and is a nice way to find out what's going on in Leiden. If you click on the "op genre" button, you'll get a list of choices, such as "kids" (jeugd), "dance" (dans), etc. which allows you to focus your search.
The English Theatre www.theenglishtheatre.nl
The English Theatre is a small non-profit theater organization that produces and promotes professional English language plays. Tickets can be booked online via the website's Ticketshop. Most shows are in The Hague.
This is a national site (only in Dutch) listing the movie schedules for the whole country. Go to the right side of the site and pull down Leiden from the category "stad" to find out what movies are playing and when and at what movie theater.
This is the central site for the libraries in Leiden and Leiderdorp. It's more than just an online search engine for the catalog, however. It's also the place to find out and sign up for the impressive variety of courses offered by the "Center for Culture and the Arts" which now falls under the library umbrella organization. There are cooking classes for adults, music, dance, and art classes for kids and adults, and many languages classes offered. Most of the site is in Dutch, though the registration for classes can be done in English (click on the British flag).
Silvester is a lovely children's book store in the center of Leiden. Don't get hung up on the kabouters. Even if Steiner/Waldorf/anthroposophy isn't your thing, this store has much to offer. There are a lot of books in a variety of languages - English, Spanish, Swedish, German (to name but a few) - in the back room of the store. They also offer fun activities for kids on Wednesday afternoons and on weekends. You can find out about many of the activities on their website, and can also register for the activities directly online. We list many of these activities on the Home in Leiden "What's On" calendar, as well.
If you're an animal lover, please consider adopting an animal that needs a home from the shelter. The animal shelter out in Stevenshof does an amazing job of taking care of the growing number of homeless dogs, cats, and other assorted animals that come their way. Their website lists the pets up for adoption at any given time. Part of this site is in English. Just click on "English" button at the top.
A NL-wide site with all sorts of useful information about - well, the name says it all! More expat-orientated than Home in Leiden, and obviously less local.
A clever map-based website that allows you to locate baby/child-related shops, services and businesses in your area. Not much for Leiden as yet - but you can email her and add your tips!
Janneke writes in Dutch about third culture kids (aka children that grow up in a culture other than that of their parents). She was born in Zambia, lived in Malawi and Zimbabwe (for a total of 19 years!) and then came to the University in Leiden for her studies. She's Dutch (with lots of African influence) and knows a lot about being third culture.
Health insurance - http://www.consumentenbond.nl/zorgverzekering/
The Consumentenbond is the Dutch consumer interest group, with a monthly magazine, the Consumentengids (comparable to the British 'Which?'). They have an excellent website with information about all health insurers and options, experiences/reviews from others, information and advice - and it is completely independent and unbiased . And the exciting news is that from early December 2014, much of all this lovely impartial information and advice will also be available in English .
Another helpful site (in English) is www.zorgverzekering.org/eng
, which has a great deal of general information and explanation about how the system works here. For choosing an insurer, though, it's not so good, with no contact information for companies, for example. It is also not as independent as it would like to appear; its authors are shy about who they actually are, and advertisements for various insurers mysteriously appear on it at renewal time in November/December each year.