Going Dutch

2 minutes

InterExchange Working Abroad Ambassador Julie, Au Pair Netherlands:

My first week in the Netherlands passed like a whirlwind. I envisioned a relaxing plane ride from Houston to Amsterdam, during which I could catch up on reading, writing and sleeping.

My home away from home[/caption]

Instead, I somehow managed to a) sit in the wrong seat, b) fall asleep within the first half hour and almost miss my meal, and c) have a bottle of eye drops explode in my face.

Did I mention I'm not the most graceful person?

No matter, I still had at least four hours… wait, what?! We're here? Before I knew it, I had landed in Amsterdam, with none of my to-do list items completed! I hurriedly grabbed my belongings, went to baggage claim, and staked out a spot at a Starbucks (I know, they're everywhere) to wait for my host family.

After they arrived, we embarked on the two-hour car drive back to Venlo. We chatted the entire way, with the exception of me dozing off for about twenty minutes. I was able to drop off the luggage in my new room, get a quick tour of the house, and then we were off again! The neighborhood was hosting their second annual running marathon, a festive community event. Nearly EVERY family was out in the street, armed with a drink in one hand and a fried appetizer in the other (the Dutch love their fried food). There were tables, chairs and several live instrumental bands – one on every street in fact, so the music could follow the runners! I was able to catch the last four laps of the race, and the enthusiasm of the crowd never wavered.

Nick made A LOT of wishes with this handful of dandelions.[/caption]

I began working the following day, and I was up bright and early. I spent the week getting acclimated to my new life as an au pair for Nick (age 8), Timo (age 6), and Klara (age 2). During the day, I mostly do household chores and look after Klara. One-on-one sessions with Nick and Timo allow me to give them more individual attention and help them with their English. And on Wednesdays and Fridays, I prepare dinner (this week is corn chowder and pizza).

At the end of the first week, I finally felt like I could relax and take in my surroundings. The area where they live is beautiful and diverse: I can cycle to a local nature preserve, as well as the Venlo city center. Just outside the front door is a small park and a pond, which I'm told freezes over in the winter. Ice skating, anyone?

My to do list may still be unfinished, but I am so grateful that I was immersed in Dutch culture from the beginning. It allowed me to transition to life in the Netherlands with ease, and now I feel more prepared for future adventures.

Find out more about being an au pair in Europe on the Working Abroad website!

Au Pair Netherlands
Au Pair Netherlands

Enjoy the beauty and fun culture of Holland with a loving Dutch host family!

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