My exchange to The Netherlands Maddie Ford

When it was really windy my host dad Joel, host uncle Arnaud and I created a new game, we call it bolderkar racing! we got out Joels kitesuft trainer kite and used it to pull us along the dyke in the wind. It was greta

I just came back from a brief holiday to the Dutch island Terschelling. It certainly wasn't a tropical island though... The wind was howling like crazy on the first day but luckily the weather got better as time went by. I got to know my extended host family a lot better and It was great fun. One thing I am confused about in the Netherlands is ticks in the dunes. In NZ if you go to the beach and run around in the sand dunes the only thing you have to worry about is sand down your pants... but here in the Netherlands you always have to check for ticks. If you get a tick you have to get it out asap otherwise you could get lyme disease (pretty serious, eek) None of this stopped me though, We played verstoppetje (hide and seek) in the dunes for hours and none of us got ticks...

I've had a super last couple of weeks with a lot of exploring and fun! Two weekends ago I travelled to the southern province Limburg with my host family, we went to the Drielandenpunt (a place where Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany all meet) We also went to the highest point in the Netherlands, the two places were conveniently in the same spot! We stayed with some friends of my host family in a really cool village and I got to practice my Dutch a lot with the kids there. Last weekend was Hemelvaartsvakantie (four day weekend) and we travelled to Zeeland. Did you know New Zealand was actually named by Abel Tasman after the dutch province Zeeland?! We stayed in a fancy campsite with a bouncy pillow, indoor playground, flying fox and swimming pool. We cycled to the Deltaworks and across a few of the famous Dutch dykes. We also cycled to a nature reserve called Neeltje Jans. Unfortunately I got a stomach bug and vomited a few times on one of the days but I recovered quickly and had a great time. There was a bustling beach near our campsite and we visited it a few times. Not to mention that it was 24-28 degrees the whole time so it was super lekker weather!

One of the things that I love about the Netherlands is how varying it is and close everything is. You get a bit of everything here, Beautiful forests, stunning beaches, giant cities, historic cultural places... The only thing they don't have are mountains but we have plenty of them in NZ so I don't mind :)

I went on a trip to Gouda with travel active and made a video of it for them. It was a really fun day, glad I could be a .part of it.

14th of April!

Last Sunday on the 13th of April I went into Amsterdam with Esther, Tui and Becky ( Es and Joels friend from England). We had a great time! We went to Body worlds museum, at the museum they displayed real dead bodies. It was so interesting and surprisingly not creepy. We also discovered that it was Tony Chocolonely's 10th birthday and they were giving away free chocolate! Tui and I stocked up and I really want to go back there. If you come to The Netherlands I really recommend trying Tony's Chocolonely because it is so delicious and they're goal is for the world to have a 100% slavery free chocolate world.

At Tony's Chocolonely

Last month I partook in the the 2019 youth climate strike. It was an experience I will never forget. I travelled by train with my friends to Amsterdam and we walked from Dam square to Museum square chanting and showing the we care about the climate and our futures. Over 6,000 students took part in the strike and I am so glad I did too.

Dutch food is Great! Holland has a few of its own specialities and a lot of things that I am used to having in New Zealand so its a great opportunity to try new things but not get overwhelmed. Here are a few that I've had the opportunity to try! Drop is a typical Dutch liquorice, here in Holland there are many, many, many varieties ranging from sweet to extra salty. I have to admit the salty drop is not my cup of tea but it was still an interesting flavour to try.

one drop variety

Another dutch treat is a Stroopwafel. Stroopwafels are two thin spiced biscuits with a layer of sticky syrup in between, they are really easy to find in almost any supermarket but you can also buy them from stalls on the streets. The street stalls also sell the offcuts from making the round biscuits for less than 1 euro and they are my favourite!

The stroopwafel crumbs

Next up we have kibbling, Kibbling is basically the dutch fish and chips except that it is traditionally made from cod (although cod is now too expensive) You usually have several pieces of kibbeling and a tasty dipping sauce with it. While I'm taking about fish, another typical Dutch one is haring. Haring is a small fish that you eat raw, It comes with diced raw onion and a few slices of gherkin, You are supposed to eat it by holding it above your head with your neck tipped back. I didn't mind haring but I think I still prefer cooked fish though :)

My first Haring

Hagelslag is another dutch speciality. It consists of a slice of bread with butter and white, milk or Dark chocolate sprinkles, It is really tasty but in my host family we have a rule of only one slice of bread with hagelslag per day because otherwise the whole box is devoured within a week.

Boerenkoel is a traditional dutch dinner, It is mashed potato with kale and a curvy sausage on top. Although mashed potato and kale doesn't sound great it is actually delicious and one of my new favourites.

Last of all is the warme chocolade melk. It is pretty much the same as any other cultures hot chocolate except it almost always comes with a huge swirl of slagroom (whipped cream) on top. The cream makes it just so much better and I don't mind that it is less healthy :)

Dutch foods!

I have now been attending "Het Schoter Middelbarre" school for about a month now, I have to admit that settling into a new school is more difficult than I thought it would be but it is all coming together now. Everyone is really kind and friendly with me at school. Some students are very comfortable speaking English to me and others are too afraid, everyone speaks really good English and I appreciate all the translations. My Dutch has now progressed quite substantially and sometimes people speak to me in Dutch. At the beginning when the other students talk between themselves you can't help feeling left out or worrying that they are talking about you, but once you get to know people you realise this is not the case. Although It may be really difficult and scary trying to speak a new language it is really worth it and the other students are all really impressed and appreciate your attempts at learning their language.

While getting used to a new school I have also realised how much effort it is to make new friends. In New Zealand I have a practically perfect group of friends and we all get along like a house on fire. Me and my NZ friends I have pretty much been in the same class for four years and I haven't had much of an opportunity or need to make new friends. I have now made some really good friends and at my new school and we have heaps of fun together. Living in Holland has made me realise how important it is to keep making new connections with people and always making new friends. I never thought about it before but I the future I'm not going to always be around my high school friends so it is really important to know how to make new friends and get to know people.

Another challenging part of settling in is missing usual routines and what you "could" be doing if you were at home. One of the things I have now realised is how much effort parents put into organising activities for you, for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to find a dance school to take lessons at and I have discovered how many carefully crafted emails it takes to organise going to just one dance class a week. I now understand the length of this process and I am so grateful to my mum for organising 10 + hours of dance classes per week as well as juggling my brother and her own personal activities . Living in The Netherlands has given me a great opportunity to take organisation into my own hands and I think this is a beneficial experience for the future.

Day trip to Leiden

Sunday 17th February- Today I went on a double decker train to Leiden with my local co-ordinator and two other exchange students, we explored some beautifully grand historical churches that were built in 1150! We also visited the Leiden windmill visited a few shops and a small market. It was a perfect sunny day too! I think winter is finally leaving (fingers crossed)

In the past week I've been going on quite a few runs around my neighbourhood, It's been a great way learn about my town and get some exercise in.

Heres a few pics of sights from my runs -->

My trip to, and first week in The Netherlands has been an experience I will never forget. From saying goodbye in Auckland to independently navigating the extensive Pudong Airport. From the Aussies teasing me about bringing Marmite and meeting new people and forgetting all their confusing Dutch names. My trip to Holland was definitely a challenge and not everything went as smoothly as I hoped it but that hasn't stopped me from grabbing hold of the good times and letting the not so good ones slip through my fingers. While I write this it is snowing for the second time since I arrived and I thought I might say that is quite a magic sight watching the snowflakes fall swiftly to the ground while I am rugged up on the couch with some "warme chocolademelk" and Kiki the host cat curled up on top of me.

A few weeks before I arrived in Holland my host family contacted me to ask if I wanted to run in the famous Vondelparc loop with them and their extended family. At first I was a little sceptical as in my head I thought that I would need time to settle in before trying out new things but then I remembered NZIIU and Travel Actives advice, "try out the first 5 things you wouldn't normally do" so I entered the event and a few weeks later did it. It was a great way to bond with people I am going to see a lot in the next half year and I have no regrets.

Pictured here is my host uncle, Me and my host mum Esther

My orientation in Soest was exciting. I met so many friendly people in the same situation as me and it was nice to connect with others who know how you're feeling. Our first day was in in Amsterdam where we did the "This is Holland 5D experience" and went up to the A'DAM lookout, we then drove off to the Jaap Eden ice skating rink and I learnt to ice skate! While on the orientation we spent two days of intense but really helpful dutch lessons and also cycled to nearby historical town Amersfoort. I had a superb time while on the orientation I made some great friends that I hope to see again soon. On the Saturday after I arrived my host family came to pick me up and we headed to Haarlem, my home for the next 6 months.

Some snapshots of my first week
I leave for the Netherlands in 2 days! This is me with all my gear working out what to pack...
Created By
Maddie Ford

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