Life in the Netherlands

Always speak as much Dutch as you can, even if you know it’s wrong. Ask as many questions about the language as possible in order to pound those crazy grammar rules into your head. Anika from DC, Year Program
It takes time for Dutch people to warm up, don't get discouraged. It's not that they don't like you, they just need time. Once they really get to know you they are very loyal friends and family Crystal from NY, Year Program
They have a totally different attitude about life, and are much tidier and conservative when it comes to family life. They also are very conservative with their money. Jeffrey from GA, Year Program
The Dutch school system is set up differently and the expectations are lower because colleges do not look at you high school grades. This wasn't that hard to get used to, yet it was always a noticeable difference in terms of how much my classmates studied. Anika from DC, Year Program
Social life was so different in the Netherlands because we could go out to bars and discos! This was not hard to get used to because it was so fun and different. Always take an invitation from people to go out.Anika from DC, Year Program
It is important for students to note that they must be very careful in dealing with their host family and friends, when in doubt, ask for permission! Take every opportunity that arises. Love your bike. Elizabeth from MA, Year Program
The Dutch generally eat much better than Americans. My family wasn't too inclined to waste, so they ate all of what they made. They are much more global than Americans, they know more about American politics than I did! And they all speak English well. David from OH, Year Program
I found it difficult adjusting to riding a bike 14 miles to school and 14 miles back every day, but I got used to it. Jeffrey from GA, Year Program
Sometimes it seemed like my host family didn't care about me or what I did, and it took me a while to figure out that was not the case. In the Netherlands, when you reach the age of 17 or 18, you are given much more freedom than children younger than you. My host family was just allowing me the freedom to do what I liked. Jean from CA, Year Program
Learn the language! If you don't learn to speak their language you will never fully understand their culture or the way they think. When you begin to function in a new language it also opens your eyes to better understand how you think and how your own culture is shaped by the language that you think in. Jean from CA, Year Program
Dutch people are very direct. They don't beat around the bush like Americans do, so if they are not happy about something, they say it. This used to hurt my feelings, but then I realized that it shouldn't, because if they never said it, then I could never fix it, and that would create a bigger problem. Emily from CA, Year Program

Digging Deeper

Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • The Hiding Place (1984)
  • Crusade in Jeans (1973)
  • The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)
  • Max Havelaar (1976)
  • The Darkroom of Damocles (2008)
  • Mama's Favorite Dutch Recipes (1970s)
  • The Secret Book of Gnomes (1982)
  • Hans Bricker, or The Silver Skates (1865)
  • The Cow Who Fell in the Canal (1950)
  • The Coffee Trader (2003)
  • The Black Tulip (1850)
LGBTQ Resources (Diversity) Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)
Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.