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Experiencing the Netherlands
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This post belongs to categories: Dutch culture & Expat life in the Netherlands

Experiencing the Netherlands


I moved here with an open mind. I decided that I wasn’t going to close myself off to things that I may not have liked before. What’s the point in moving to a new country if you’re not going to experience something new?

With this mindset, I can’t say that I’ve experienced any real culture shock since coming to the Netherlands as an au pair. I’m lucky because in my home here, the host mother is American so I only speak English with the family. Everything in the Netherlands but the language is very similar to back home, so I haven’t had a hard time living here at all.

Making friends via Facebook groups

As soon as I got here, my host mom suggested that I make a post in an au pair group on Facebook to try to make friends in the area. At first I kept putting it off because normally I’d wait to meet people until I was in my language class. Not wanting to wait three weeks however, and seeing as I had decided to try new things, I ended up doing it. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to meet someone right away and we quickly became friends. After that first step, it was a lot easier to be comfortable meeting new people! It has made my weekends a lot of fun with always having something to look forward to!

Explore the country

CastleSince coming to the Netherlands in January, I’ve been able to see a lot of the country. I’ve been to more than ten different villages and seen so many different museums and historical buildings. I’ve been able to experience so much in such a short time and have enjoyed every minute of it!

My suggestion to other people, not just au pairs, is to experience as much of this beautiful country as possible. I’ve talked to people who’ve lived here their whole lives that haven’t been to some of the places I’ve seen. It’s been such a great experience, and being able to tell Dutch people about places to visit has been really exciting.

Quick tips for making the most of your stay

  • If you’re staying for a year, I’d highly suggest getting a personalized OV-chipkaart with weekend vrij. It gives you free train travel on weekends and a 40% discount during off-peak hours on weekdays. (This is only worth your money if you plan to travel a lot within the Netherlands.)
  • An OV-fiets is another good add-on to a personalized card! You can rent a bike for a day from nearly 300 locations for under €4! It saves a lot of time instead of having to walk  It’s also usually cheaper than bringing your own bike on the train with you.
  • Having a Museumkaart is one of my favourite If you are a museum-goer, I’d highly recommend getting it. Even if you opt out of getting it, having a student card of some kind gives you a discounted price for most museums!
  • Simply Google “museums in the Netherlands” and once you find one that interests you, search for other sights to see in that area.
  • Don’t just stick to the main cities like Den Haag, Leiden, and Amsterdam. There is so much to see, even in smaller villages!
  • Be flexible with your plans. I’ve found that most places very rarely update their sites so you won’t know a place is closed and under construction until you get there. (Trust me, it has happened a lot!)
  • Packing your own lunch saves a lot of money. Eating out every once in a while is great, but if you’re going out every weekend it starts to add up.

Brianna Riggs, Kickstart student

 What our students say about us

  • My experience with Kickstart has been highly beneficial in both developing language skills and improving my knowledge of the Dutch culture. Josien's support is always spot on and very intuitive in relation to personal circumstances. She spends a lot more than the official time allocated to really get to know her clients and her approach is customised accordingly. She was recommended to me by other Shell colleagues who expressed the same sentiment and I was fortunate enough to benefit from this during the time I spent with her.

    Vennasa van de Ven, Migration Manager working at Shell

  • Entering the Kickstart school premises alone gives you a push of energy and the commitment this will help to create is hardly unmatched in any other language school. The methodology and the approach used in the lessons also helps smoothly unlock the secrets of everyday Dutch. Kickstart School has helped me get in touch with the 'undutchable' culture of the Netherlands and its people. The individual language training I could experience at Kickstart School has been one of the best educational experiences I could have in Europe.

    Alessandro d’Addario, European Law Enforcement 

  • I really enjoyed my English lessons with the Kickstart School. The teacher was professional and really knew the subject. The way they teach is also great! The classes are presented in a clear and professional manner and the online exercises completed at home are very helpful. The teacher always provided useful feedback. It's a great experience to join a Kickstart course with such a friendly atmosphere of students and teachers.

    Beatriz Pedroche, Spain 

  • Kickstart has been the ideal place for me to learn. The teachers are very helpful and friendly and have always gone the "extra mile" to help me learn in a positive way. Their teaching is practical with elements that can immediately be applied to everyday living situations. Included in the lessons are cultural aspects of living in the Netherlands that make learning Dutch dynamic and fun; you learn the language and about the place and the people! The teachers took an active interest in my progress and provided valuable customized sessions that maintained my strengths and developed my weaknesses; all in a patient, fun and friendly style.

    Graeme Ting, dentist from New Zealand 

  • My first contact with Kickstart School was after 1 month of living in The Netherlands, when I started to study Dutch. At the time I didn’t have any knowledge of the language, but with their courses organized by levels I developed important language skills and learned about the Dutch culture. They all do a great job at Kickstart because their motto it’s not just a motto – they are really pleased to teach you. You learn a language in a friendly atmosphere, make new friends from all over the world, and all in a cosy building right in the heart of The Hague.

    Anca Boros, mathematics and physics teacher from Romania

  • During my time with Kickstart I have learned a lot and gained confidence. I was always challenged by the interesting assignments, but never too much. I have really enjoyed the classes!

    Sabine de Bruijn, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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