Mieka’s Exchange to The Netherlands
Mieka spent November 2017 to January 2018 on exchange in The Netherlands. She shared with us her experience and what she found out about herself whilst away. You can read her story below:
My name is Mieka and I just started year 11 and was on student exchange to the Netherlands (commonly known as Holland) from November to January (2 months). I was located in the province of Friesland in a town called Lemmer.
I had learned some Dutch before I arrived online on a program called Duolingo. But, I am sure many other exchange students would agree with this, when I arrived I understood pretty much nothing. The first two weeks are very overwhelming and not being able to understand the language is very tiring. But once everything that was once completely new in daily life becomes known, in about the third week, you really get to enjoy it.
I did quite a bit of travelling in the Netherlands in my short 2 month stay. I visited Amsterdam, of course! My host family took me to the National Ballet in Amsterdam on Christmas Eve.
With my host brother, I also drove to the longest and largest dike in Holland, the Alfsluitdijk. This was an amazing view and with some great history.
I also got a train to Utrecht and looked about the beautiful city. As well as Groningen, Sloten, Den Helder, Heerenveen, Flevoland, Helmond, and Eindhoven.
The hardest part about my exchange was school, because of how hard it is to understand classes in another language. I believe that this whole experience has allowed me to develop many important skills of independence, persistence, tolerance, socialising, and communication. I believe that student exchange is a great place to improve and develop these skills.
After school finished in 2017, my host family and I went on a skiing holiday to Austria. The 9 hour drive was so worth the amazing views and skiing experience. For three nights we stayed in a ski village and skied for 3 days. Only having skied as a 10 year old, I had to learn very quickly, but I managed and by the end of the trip I was keeping up with the others.
Exchange is all about challenging yourself, not just about learning the language or for the culture or whatever your reason is. I was challenged a lot while I was on exchange, from getting myself to and from school everyday on time, to trying to understand math in Dutch, but it was these situations where I gained the most.
I would strongly recommend student exchange to anyone who is thinking of doing it. It was the best two months of my life so far and will have an everlasting impact. I have met so many new people and made friends from all around the world – Holland, Italy, Brazil, Poland and Indonesia. Exchange has also allowed me to perceive the world around me in a different way, looking at world and historical events, and people in a different light. As well as picking up the basics of the Dutch language and being able to understand a substantial amount too.