Year — Fall 2019
Application deadline: December 5, 2018
By living with a host family and attending a local school 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!
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.
Your adventure will begin in New York City, where you’ll meet your fellow AFS students from the United States. You’ll attend an overnight orientation and learn some important information for your first few days in the Netherlands. You’ll also get a chance to talk to a cultural expert who recently spent time in the area. Then you’ll travel with a group to Amsterdam, where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers.
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!
AFS students have lived all over the Netherlands. 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.See where past AFSers have lived
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.
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!
During your year abroad 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.
"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 feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.