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By living with a host family and studying abroad in the Netherlands, you’ll have an amazing opportunity to meet all kinds of new people and get to know this open-minded, tolerant, and progressive country. Dutch schools are some of the best in the world, so you’ll have a unique opportunity to challenge yourself in a number of subjects. By the end of the year, you’ll be completely immersed in the language, history, and culture of the Netherlands and have experienced the adventure of a lifetime!

Things to know

The Netherlands is also known as Holland, and you’ll find that depending on the region, many people have strong feelings about what to call their country. Otherwise, the Dutch tend to be very friendly and boisterous. If you like riding bikes, you’re in luck! Bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation and there are bike paths all over the country. Much of the Netherlands is below sea level, so you’ll see lots of dikes holding back the icy waters of the North Sea.

What's included in your experience

  • 70 Years Experience


Graduates Eligible? Yes, high school graduates are eligible to participate.
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range
15yrs, 3 months
17yrs, 9 months at start of program
Language Skills Preferred, but not required
COVID-19 Vaccine Required

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your journey to the Netherlands

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience. 

AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you. You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in the Netherlands will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff, volunteers and meet your fellow AFSers from around the world. Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on the culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

On your way to your host community you’ll see fertile farmlands and picturesque canals, where people like to go ice-skating during the winter. You also might pass charming seaside fishing villages and bustling modern cities. Even though there aren’t as many windmills in the Netherlands as there used to be, you’re bound to come across a few!


Meeting Your Host Family

When studying abroad in the Netherlands, AFS students have lived all over the country. You’ll likely be in small town with easy access to the city—especially since the public transportation system is so good. The Dutch generally take very good care of their homes and you’ll probably find that your host family’s house is clean, comfortable, and cozy, as well as fashionably decorated.

The Dutch tend to have small and close-knit families, usually with only one or two children. Extended family often live nearby and get together regularly for holidays and special occasions. During your time with your host family you can expect to help out with the same kinds of chores that you might do at home.


Settling into daily life in the Netherlands

Teenage Life in the Netherlands

When you’re not busy at school or spending time with your host family, you’ll probably be socializing with friends. Teenagers in the Netherlands, like young people all over the world, often like to play sports. Your Dutch friends will probably enjoy hiking, ice skating in the winter, and surfing and sailing during the summer. Most teenagers also enjoy watching TV, reading, and just hanging out.


Foods You’ll Encounter

The most important meal of the day is dinner and it’s a time when Dutch families enjoy sitting down together and socializing. Dutch food tends to be simple, fresh, and wholesome. Lots of different kinds of European cooking styles are represented in Dutch cuisine and popular dishes include vegetable soup, pork chops, boiled potatoes, and sausages. Seafood is also a big part of the Dutch diet, especially herring and eel. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Holland might be the perfect place for you—you can enjoy raisin rolls, chocolate spread, puddings, syrup-filled wafers, and especially Dutch licorice!


Your High School in the Netherlands

During your year studying abroad in the Netherlands you’ll either be enrolled in a liberal arts high school for technical careers and business school, or a prep school for students planning on attending university. You’ll go to class from around 8 am to 4 pm. Schools in the Netherlands tend to encourage independent study and research. You’ll spend a lot of time working in small groups and by yourself on your own projects and assignments. To help you integrate with your school and host family, you’ll be offered Rosetta Stone to start improving your Dutch language skills.

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Netherlands? YES. Residence Permit
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In host country
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Average
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in Netherlands.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.